Camp News
Camp Stories

It Runs in the Family

By Katy Borum

June 22, 2018

Victory Junction Camper Stories It Runs in the Family

Our volunteers often hear about Victory Junction through close friends or family who have experienced camp through volunteering here themselves. That’s how Audrey Merkel and Shirley Burkhart got involved.


Audrey and Shirley heard about camp through Melissa Blatt, Audrey’s daughter. Melissa is a school teacher who has been a volunteer since 2005. Audrey has volunteered for the past three summers and Shirley for the past five.

Victory Junction Camper Stories It Runs in the Family

While at camp, Audrey and Shirley spend most of their time in the Fuel Stop (our dining hall) making sure it is all set up for camper’s meals. When they are not organizing or gearing up for the rush of campers at meal times, Audrey and Shirley go to different program areas helping campers with activities such as swimming at the waterpark, boating & fishing, and woodshop.

“My favorite part of camp is just watching the kids. They are so inspiring.” – Audrey Merkel

Audrey, Shirley, and Melissa travel all the way from Pennsylvania each summer to volunteer but their work for Victory Junction doesn’t stop when they leave our gates. Melissa organizes and hosts fundraisers throughout the year that benefit Victory Junction. She holds an annual chili cook off and Victory in the Valley, a yearly motorcycle charity ride.

While Melissa is busy with the fundraisers, Audrey and Shirley hold semi-annual bear making parties. Every camper receives a homemade teddy bear and blanket so they can take a piece of camp with them when they go home.

“When I first heard about Victory Junction I told my husband I had to go there to volunteer.”- Melissa Blatt
Victory Junction Camper Stories It Runs in the Family

Not only do these ladies volunteer and fundraise for us, they also recruit others in their efforts! Some of their fellow teachers and friends volunteer at camp during the summer and help make bears year round. The stories and memories shared by these three ladies about Victory Junction spread like wildfire and influence others to do their part for camp in anyway they can.


Dedication, generosity and passion drive their hard and much appreciated work. We are grateful it runs in the family and that they have become a part of ours.