Comments from former Campers and Parents
Testimonials from the 2021 Camp Season
I am writing you today in support of the curriculum changes you made in 2021 to Franke Park Day Camp to eliminate the Native American cultural imitation and appropriation. Thank you for addressing this! We are looking forward to finally sending our children to this camp. Well done, FW Parks.
While I am not from Fort Wayne, I was excited to learn about this opportunity and have heard so many people speak with great fondness of this camp experience. Unfortunately, when I learned more about the camp “ceremonies” where children took important Native American items and used them as costumes, props, and toys I did not feel comfortable sending my children.
Please keep these changes so that a new generation and many future ones can learn about this remarkable land and genuinely honor — not dishonor and imitate—the people who are indigenous here.
I loved Franke Park Day camp as a kid! As did my siblings and neighbors! I recently heard about the decision to not use Native American Themes at the camp. I also heard a bit about this process and how you asked a local tribe leader if the camps expressions were respectful. I wanted to say as a past camper and a graduate of Northside high school, thank you. Thank you so much for helping end cultural appropriation in our city. Thank you for recognizing that the camp can be just as fun without disrespecting the Native American culture.
I was in the first class to graduate at Northside as not a “RedSkin”, but a legend (2017).
I know this decision you made for the camp got you a lot of hate from people who don’t like change. But as a young person from Fort Wayne I want to thank you all for making this change.
Thank you for taking responsibility and asking the hard questions and making decisions that are not easy.
Thank you !
My daughters have been fortunate to attend Franke Park Day Camp for the last 3 years (not counting 2020). We have loved it all the way. We loved it with the American Indian themes and they still loved it this year with the more nature theme. Did they miss some of the American Indian activities? Yes, but I couldn’t have been more proud to hear my 8 year old tell me that it was said that it wasn’t their story to tell. You have taught them a wonderful lesson in respecting others and respecting history.
I hope someday we will find an honorable and respectable way of incorporating American Indian culture back into the camp, but until then, we will still enjoy the experiences Franke park has to offer and I will happily wash muddy, wet, dirty clothes for the week my daughters attend.
You have made the right decision and I’m proud to support Franke Park Day Camp!
Testimonials from Previous Years
Thank you for such an amazing week of Franke Park Day Camp. The City is blessed to have such a wonderful program for children to attend. Chris and the counselors provide excellent care and education for the campers! Thank you to the City of Fort Wayne for continuing this camp year after year1 (our girls are THIRD generation campers) We are looking forward to 2020.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for a wonderful week at camp. Our son had a blast and can not wait to attend again next year. As a working parent, it means a lot to us to have a place where our children can go during the summer, be safe, have fun and make new friends.
Thank you for Franke Day Camp. Our daughter participated in her 8th summer of camp by being a 2nd year CIT this summer. It is a wonderful program that has taught her camping skills, independence, team work leadership, Indiana and American Native’s history in a respectful and responsible way. Values of honesty, gentleness, kindness, thoughtfulness and patience are key elements of the camper’s experience. Thank you –R. Simunck
I wanted something consistent for my kids since we move frequently. They know they will always go back home for Franke and Big Pow Wow no matter where the military takes us. They look forward to it every year. Thank you so much. S. Martin
Over 20 years ago my husband and I sent our first granddaughter to Franke when she was 4 we have since sent all 7 of our other grandchildren to the camp, 3 of them are still attending. Also that original granddaughter’s son started camp last year. All of these children loved going to Franke. We hear the camp songs all year long and they look forward with great anticipation to the time they spend there. Thanks for such a great program. G. Murphy
We love Chris Freehill! He made every possible accommodation for my special needs child. We will absolutely return!-J. Hegerman
Franke Park is the one camp that my son wants to attend year after year, multiple times each summer he looks forward to it each summer. He can’t wait to get this dog tag, be a Junior-Leader, and be a Franke Park counselor someday. Chris and the rest of the staff are amazing. They completely know what they’re doing and you can tell they truly love spending the summer interacting with the campers. Counselor Aaron is awesome. I would highly recommend this camp to anyone-K. Mast
My 15 yr old daughter needed a safe, productive active place to spend her summer days while my husband and I worked. She gained skills and had experiences that will stay with her through life- initially, she wasn’t sure she wanted to spend her summer at Day Camp but quickly began enjoying it, singing the camp songs at home, telling stories about the children and embracing the experience-J. Rusk
Our daughter loves being part of the Franke Park program as a CIT. Thank you for keeping this program fantastic and affordable- L. Buchanan
Every day my son would get in the car with a smile from ear to ear he said “well I’m kind of into nature you know” he can’t wait until next year and is already talking about being a counselor-Connie
My son asked me if he could attend the next week at camp because he loved it so much-his counselor (Russell) was an excellent role model and my son said he wants to be a counselor too someday. Such great memories and friendships made at camp-A. Bowman
Hello Chris, and Karla! Thanks for all you do. Addy loves camp as much as I do-Big Pow Wow was super amazing this year-Alyssa
We were blown away by how amazing the experience was for our son and for the family at the Wednesday night gathering and Pow Wow. My son developed a passion for nature, camping, and learning about Native Americans, and he loved the activities each day. We laughed and had so much fun as a family Wednesday night, and I thought the Pow Wow was very moving, beautiful and powerful. Thank you for an incredible summer experience. J. Beineke
We travel from Chicago for our 3 kids to attend camp each summer! They love their week at Franke and want to attend until they can become counselors. They enjoy the messiness of camp, the new friends made, the ceremonial Pow Wow and the singing. Thank you for this excellent experience-A. Schiltz Naperville, IL
I will keep sending my son to Franke Park. We just love the activities and the great history of the program-Julie S.
Thank you Chris- for making Franke Day Camp so special for our girls. Wouldn’t be summer without it- We really appreciate all the hard work you have put into it- Steve and Lisa D.
Awesome, our second year and already looking forward to 2016. Erin My sons have attended since they were 4 years old, now one is a counselor and the other is a CIT. This program is priceless. Donna S.
Absolutely the best camp staff around!!! Such an awesome experience for all ages-Jen F.
I loved seeing my children come home muddy, sweaty and smiling! Kids rarely get this type of fun anymore-Andrea J.
Love it, love it, love it! My son wants to be a counselor when he is older. The mud slide rules. Angie and Foster T.
I continue to be impressed with this camp after 6 years of my son attending! He plans to continue and I plan to start my second son next year as well. Dawn C.
This is a “must-do” for all kids. The hands-on activities are great. The staff is great and it is an overall great experience-Kathleen S.
You all worked with my children and step children so wonderfully. Their week at camp for the summer of 2014 was just 2 weeks after we lost their father and my kid’s step-dad. You all allowed them to move around tribes so they could all be together. They all returned for summer 2015 and forgot about the tragedy they all went through together. I as a mom thank you all. Hayley Wiggins It is great-treats boys and girls the same. They work side-by-side and play side-by-side-Dorothy R.
Fantastic year after year! The counselors are always enthusiastic; help kids who are new to the joys of getting dirty and enjoying nature. You expose the campers to such great Indian knowledge, tradition, camping skills and social skills. We travel from Chicago each summer for them to attend-Angie S.
We continue to be impressed with the job Chris Freehill does as Day Camp Supervisor. Chris’s caring and cheerful disposition is reflected in the counselors. Their focus is putting the needs of the children first. The camp is run efficiently and the grounds are very well maintained. The environment that Chris has created is safe and filled with fun and memories for our four children. How fortunate Fort Wayne is to offer this program. Thank you. Tom & Liz M.
Franke Day Camp is such a special treasure for Fort Wayne. My daughter has requested to attend two weeks next year. Future counselors thank you for keeping the valued traditions alive and passing them on to a new generation-Jennifer M.
Each year I think “I’m going to sit down and send you a thank you.” As you know, time gets away, and another year passes. Well, today is the day.
My heart is so full after another summer has come and gone, leaving Mason and Carter raving about your program. I try to explain Franke Day Camp to people who are unfamiliar. I actually say the words “I don’t know how to explain what makes kids wear jeans on a hot summer day. Clothe themselves in bugspray. Eat the same lunch every day. It’s magic. There is something magical about that camp.”
How many years did it take for Mason to finally earn some of those awards? I could not have been more proud. And to see him have a seat at the drum. What an HONOR. Thank you for empowering my son.
I wanted to share, through tears last night, Carter asked “What if Chris isn’t there when I’m old enough to be a counselor. What if the new person hates me?” From the grounds, to the counselors to YOU – Carter relies on it ‘being there’ for him. He is already counting the days to next summer.
Chris, whatever it is. Heart. God. MAGIC. Thank you. For sweaty summers. For bugs. Peanut butter sandwiches. Muddy clothes. Feathers. Friendships. Connections. History. Future. For MAGIC.
I appreciate your program more than you know. Thank you for making a difference to my boys, and to Jason & I. See you next year! Holly C.
Your program turned my daughter from an indoor computer girl to a girl that loves the woods and outdoors. Adriene S.
You have a wonderful program. Louis C.
We love Franke and look forward to it every year. Cornwells
For more than 50 years Franke Park Day Camp has provided kids of Fort Wayne with an awesome outdoor learning experience which teaches respect for others and nature, more than ever we need to have kids enjoy the outdoors so they will learn to protect it. My kids come all the way from Michigan to attend every summer. Jody P
As always, it is great fun for the boys to be outdoors, make friends and learn new skills. Renee S.
Love the camp. Perfect wholesome environment for teens (younger ages too). Brenda B.
In this day and age of video games and smart phones it is great to have a program that gets the kids to love nature outdoor skills and the history of our community; they loved getting dirty too. Thank You. Lisa K.
What a special experience for our children-deep in tradition, Franke Park Day Camp is what a camp should be. Courtney J.
Awesome. Keep it going for future generations! The camp is perfect for everyone-a balance of learning and lots of fun. Did I mention the fun factor. Anna R.
*This is such an outstanding camp. I am so impressed with the history and tradition. My kids have a great time, learn a lot and can’t wait to be CIT’S! Heather B.
*Great program! Angela G.
*Keep up the good work! Ann G.
*Franke Park Day Camp is a wonderful adventure for the kids! They can’t wait to do it again next summer! Stephanie W.
*I have been very pleased with this program since my son started attending when he was 6 all the way through to our two daughters attending. Heather F.
*I grew up in Fort Wayne and did not attend Day Camp-didn’t know about it. I wish I could have. It is a wonderful program. I wish they had something similar in South Bend. Thank you for this amazing experience. Michele M.
*Franke Day Camp has become an enjoyable family tradition that our kids look forward to attending each summer. Mike & Staci M.
*The counselors are so engaging and fun for our kids. They keep the pace of the camp fun and interesting. Without the awesome counselors, it wouldn’t be as great, so good job on your hiring practices! Linda B.
*They enjoyed being outside and doing activities that they normally don’t have the opportunity to do. Thank you for providing this unique program. Michele B.
*My daughter’s counselor Courtney was so good with the children. My daughter had a great time because of her counselor. She had a lot of Fun Times. Lisa W.
*This is the one camp my kids say they HAVE to go to every year! Rebecca S.
*Nature! Friendships! Counselors! Activities! That’s why our families keep coming back! Helen H.
· A wonderful and trustworthy place to share with my kids! Thanks! Maria E.
· I love that Franke Day Camp is something special I can share with my children. I went to Franke Day Camp for ten years and loved every minute of it. We sing the songs all summer long. ---Jennifer S.
· The CIT program taught my son leadership skills. He realized this at soccer practice where he was leading the Defense. He said the skills he learned working as a CIT allows him to positively encounter and direct the freshman and sophomores. ---Darlene C.
· I attended Franke Day Camp as a child, as did my mother, my daughter and my grandson. Four generations have attended and we love it! –Tracy S.
· I feel good knowing that my children are participating in and enjoying a camp with such a positive history that dates back several decades. ---Catherine P.
· An excellent camp program that my kids enjoy year after year. ---Renee S.
· This is our third generation of campers and as soon as our daughter is old enough, she will enjoy the camp as well! The tradition and values continue! –Tasha H.
· My son has attended Franke Park Day camp two years in a row. He loves camp and loves his counselors. I love that he’s making fun childhood memories! ---Heidi W.
· Keep it up! It provided stability to my child’s life! Laurenel H.·
· Franke Park Day Camp is a great opportunity for children to explore nature and the outdoors in a safe, supervised environment! Not to mention having fun and getting dirty with mom’s approval! ---Alissa S.
· This was our first year at Franke Park and we loved it! My son came home after the first day and said he was going back next year! –Carla T.
· My daughter is part Native American and really embraces this opportunity to be exposed to that culture. –Julie P.
* My kids and nephews and nieces have looked forward each year to the fun and traditional Franke Day Camp! Kids can still be kids! Thank you. Helen Hershberger.
* We love all of the programs Park & Recreation offers, from the concerts to the camps, all are worth the money! Deb and Duane Warnick
* It is hard to believe that my child has attended Franke Park Day Camp for 13 years! It is an incredible program and would highly recommend it to parents of children of all ages. Keep up the good work. Deborah Vian
* My children are third generation of campers at Franke Day Camp. We love Franke Day Camp. Angela F.
* Both of my children loved Day Camp and are still singing the songs weeks later. I did not attend as a child and am so glad that I decided to send my children. Both of them brought friends and they loved it just as much. We can't wait for next year. Jodi B.
* This is a great program. We started by sending our 1st granddaughter in 1996. We now have 8 grandchildren and as part of their birthday present we send as many as want to go to Franke. They all love it and look forward to it all summer. Georgia M.
* Mr. Freehill does an excellent job! Best camp! Denny Gerlock would be very proud of him! Carrie B.
* Thank you for your time and commitment in making this a positive experience for my kids. My son is more apt to contribute and help out than he was before the program. He has learned the joy of being part of a group and being helpful. Donna S.
* We love the tradition of Franke Par! My son feels liked, safe, appreciated and he always looks forward to summer to attend camp. He loves all the camp offers and wants to be a camp CIT and a counselor when he can. Heather H.
* I thought they put it together really well and they did everything I would want to do. Ray (age 10).
* My son has been participating in the camp since he was a little boy and he just completed his 4th year of being a CIT and absolutely loves the program. He attended all but one week this summer and looks forward to his last CIT year next summer. Rita D.
* At Franke Day Camp my child always feels like part of a huge family. She will talk about her adventures all year long awaiting the next summer for new adventures! D. Stump
* I think Franke Day Camp is one of Fort Wayne's best kept secrets. Both my girls think Franke is the highlight of the year. Nancy T.
* The camp staff is very caring and enthusiastic. My children always look forward to attending and learn more each year. I knew they are in a safe, fun, educational environment. I'm proud the program is still going strong! Amy B.
* Having the children involved in the program over the past 20 years the camp has maintained high standards, staff dedicated to the campers and a great environment for the kids to have fun and make friends. J.T.
* Chris Freehill is the best. Our boy's loved the camp. Everyday was different and exciting. As parents we were happy with the safe secure environment. Nothing is better for children to get outside and explore nature. Rod & Sue F.
* Going to Franke Park was always something I most look forward to in the summer. I couldn't wait for my children to have the same experiences. Gretchen A.
* Franke teaches children respect for nature, respect for other children, and respect for Native American culture and is a week of good clean fun! Plus no video games, computers or cell phones. Judy C.
*By the way, your program is one of the finest I've seen. My children all (5 of them) went when Denny Gerlock ran it. Now their children are going. I hope to live to have great grand children going singing the same old songs. Thank you and the whole staff for keeping the tradition alive. Joan U.
*Chris Freehill is a true blessing, what an asset he is for the program. I hope he continues with the program for years ahead. Sarah
*The counselors are great at making the kids feel special. This year my middle son’s counselor knew that he loves cicadas so she collected a bunch of them from her own yard, took digital pictures of a cicada emerging and brought these in for my son! That is above and beyond the call of duty! Doreen C.
*I loved Franke Park Day Camp as a child and my children love it just the same! It is a wonderful program. They want to stay with it all the way through and look forward to becoming CIT’s, then possibly someday becoming counselors. Ashley H.
*Three generations of our family have attended Franke! We hope to make it to the sixth generation. Monica W.
*Franke Park Day Camp has helped my daughter develop confidence and leadership skills in a natural, low-pressure setting with great counselors to offer encouragement and, if necessary, discipline. Karen F.
*Every day my children came home so excited that they couldn’t stop talking about all the fun they had at camp. They sang the songs for months after camp! Cindy S.
*Never give up doing a great job. Miguel H., age 7
Comments from the staff throughout the years
When asked whether staff would be a Franke Day Camp counselor again, the overwhelming response is always Yes! Some of the comments are below:
I think this program is amazing for children.
The staff is so welcoming and the kids are so much fun to work with.
I feel like I am with family at camp.
I love this program, grew up in it. Am ecstatic to be part of it.
Love the staff. Love the kids!!
This is the best job I've ever had. I currently wouldn't change a thing.
I grew up in this program and love passing on the memories I experienced.
I love the connections you make with the kids and the people skills you learn are incredible.
I love sharing the program with campers. I also enjoy bonding with staff each year.
It is the best feeling to be a counselor to kids who are interested in nature and the program. I love this job.
This is such a unique camp and the organization of Chris keeps everything running smoothly.
This is my favorite job, and I can’t believe this program exists!
This is the best summer job. The staff is like a family and working with the kids is fun and rewarding.
My fun-filled days pass by quickly and I feel greatly rewarded (although exhausted-in a good way!) at the end of the day.
The experience has been awesome. It is crazy that we get paid to have the opportunity to play with kids outdoors all day. Not a negative thing to say.
* I would love to be a counselor again. I love everything about this camp and I think it is a great experience for the kids. I'm happy to be apart of it.
* I love being with the kids and not only watching them have fun but having fun myself.
* The program is well organized and provides a great experience for interacting with children.
* The staff is great. I learned a lot over the summer and I think overall it was a great experience.
* I would be in a heartbeat. The kids are phenomenal and the staff is unmatched.
* I would love to be a counselor again. This has been as great as being a campers was if not better.
* The job is rewarding and our supervisor is a great leader and an outstanding boss.
* I think that Franke is a wonderful place to work. The staff is like a family and nothing is better than playing with kids in the woods all day, it keeps me young at heart.
* The kids are so much fun. Supervisor is great and program is well organized.
* It is great to work with such a great group of people and the kids are amazing.
* I love the kids and this job.
* It's a great summer job!
* This is the most fun and rewarding job I have ever had.
* I love the program, the children and my peers. The ensemble is wonderful!
* I love the outdoors and working with the children and the tradition of Franke Park Day Camp.
* Counseling kids is a dream come true. The staff, supervisors and especially the kids bring boundless job! My cup overruns.
*It's a very rewarding experience as well as one I'll never forget. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. You bet I'll be back.
*I've grown up with the camp and being a counselor makes this long experience much better.
*I love the program and what it stands for and teaches the kids. Kid's these days don't really learn about Native Americans. Also, I love kids and love working with them teaching them new things.
*Best job around. I've been at camp for 3/4 of my life.
*I couldn't ask for a more enjoyable job.
*It's very fun and also a very fulfilling experience. I enjoy sharing these experiences first hand with a new generation of children.
*I love the kids and the staff.
*I have been at Franke every year except one since I was 6 years old and I like the fun and traditions it has.