When COVID spread across the globe, Mark Wojtowicz (’99), was already feeling the crush of the corporate grind in Chicago and thinking of ways to reset his thinking. He thought back to his time as a counselor at Loras All-Sports Camp.
“I needed a palette cleanser and thought if I go back to camp, I can find something that I know has heart and lean into the values and nostalgia. I had previously filled out the application to work as a coach but never sent it in. When COVID hit, that is when I really started getting serious.”
The pandemic also affected Rich Weitz. His twin daughters were old enough to attend their first camp in 2021 but missed out when it was canceled. A Dubuque native now living in Kansas City, Weitz attended the camp while growing up and wanted his kids to have the same experience. In 2022, his daughters attended for the first time, and Rich assisted as a coach.
This past summer, Mark joined Rich as a coach. They were not alone as two other coaching positions were filled by their good friends Tom Kettmann (’97) and Mike Poleski (’98), two other former All-Sports Camp counselors excited to share the experience with their friends and children.
“It was always a goal of mine, if I had a family, to come back for a week while they attended the camp. We all had a similar mindset,” Mike said. “One by one, the four of us aligned on things this year.”
All-Sports Camp left an indelible impression on all four men when they were younger. For Rich, the atmosphere and meaning behind the camp meant a lot. Mike and Tom’s camp experience shaped their career paths working with youth. Mike has taught for the past twenty-two years and works in the Cicero, Illinois School District. Tom is in Marion, Iowa, and works as a school counselor.
Mark explained, “We have all had a similar experience when we try to explain to our friends what we are doing, they kind of nod and say okay, but in the back of their minds, they are thinking, ‘What are you doing?’ It’s not their fault, they can’t possibly know the little things we experienced here that make it so meaningful. That makes us feel even more connected. We are on the inside of something special. We are in the right place.”
“It has really been great for all of us. We are having fun. Our kids are having fun. The plan is to continue doing this each year,” Rich said.
“Being at Loras is about relationships. That is why students come here for college. It is also why kids return for the camp each year–creating relationships where everyone meets new people, has fun, and pulls in the same direction. That is why Loras is such a fantastic place; it has the same values interwoven all the way through,” he said. Tom echoed
2023 All-Sports Camp By the Numbers
* Number of campers: 2466
* Number of states represented: 27
* Number of coaches & counselors 191
* Number of sports offered: 36