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Generations of campers celebrate 85 years of York YWCA's Camp Cann-Edi-On


The bridge that carries Sheep Bridge Road over Conewago Creek — and, presumably, lends the street its name — is largely unremarkable.

Its blue paint has faded, and it has taller iron rivets than many bridges around, but the average person probably wouldn't think twice about it, beyond the original moment of uncertainty over the fact that it's a one-lane bridge for a two-way road.

But for people who as children attended Camp Cann-Edi-On any time during its 85 years of existence, the bridge elicits an intense emotional reaction.

"When I cross that bridge, I get tears in my eye," said Joyce Ward, who was a camper there in the early 1960s.

"That magical bridge," said Leslie Bentz, one of the camp council members, who said it always transports her back to when she'd be coming to camp in the late '60s. "I still get all those feelings."

Katherine Slater Adame, another council member, said she still feels the excitement, too. She gets goosebumps when she crosses it.

The camp held an 85th-anniversary reunion celebration last weekend, drawing 30 or 40 people. The group spanned all ages, which made it especially striking when they all had some weirdly similar tales.

Adame said a camper from this summer asked earlier on Saturday about a ghost story the kid had heard.

"Does anybody know anything about Max the horse?" the camper had asked.

The answer from several people who hadn't camped there in many years was a yes, Adame said.

"Like three or four generations were like, 'I got some stories about that,'" she said.

Bentz and Adame remember hearing about a ghost horse buried "under cabin 13."

Cann-Edi-On: The camp's name comes from some wordplay on the name of Edith Cannon, a long-ago YWCA board member who helped find land for the camp, and it seems to be pronounced pretty close to "Canadian." It sprawls across 220 acres at 870 Sheep Bridge Road in Newberry Township.

The camp had gone through a bit of a downswing in recent years, but a concerted effort from a bunch of volunteers has it on its way back up, Bentz said.

These days, it's a day camp that this past summer hosted about 100 kids between the ages of 6 and 14.

The goal's to make it a year-round facility and the best day camp in the area, Bentz said. They've been working

with Kinsley Construction to renovate and improve some of the buildings.

Bentz said it's important for kids to be able to spend time in nature — especially kids who live in an urban environment and don't get to do so normally.

"Children need to be connected to nature for their development," Bentz said.

She said the YWCA hopes to integrate it into several of their other programs.

'Camaraderie': A few women sitting around a table in the dining hall for dinner Saturday night probably knew each other best five decades ago.

Joyce Ward — aka "Little Mouse" — as well as Sandy Leathery and Jo-An Hovis had stayed in the same cabin, and Betty Foster Slater — Katherine's mom — had been their counselor sometime, they decided, around 1961. The four women reminisced about camp songs and people they knew.

They recognise some of the same vibes around camp today as they knew back then, and in many ways, the campers' experiences are similar.

They still have that "sense of camaraderie," Leathery said, that level of knowing someone you only get from living with her.

"You learn everybody's habits," she said. "Everybody's things."

— Reach Sean Cotter at scotter@yorkdispatch.com.