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Posted June 25, 2021 | By Amanda Valderrama, Special to the Ocala Gazette

Lindstrom celebrates 25 years at Camp Kiwanis

Bob Lindstrom poses with some of the camp T-shirts he’s accumulated during the 25 years working at Camp Kiwanis. [Scott Mitchell/Submitted]

For the last 25 summers, Bob Lindstrom’s days start with the ringing of the 7:30 a.m. bell at Camp Kiwanis.

The bell is at the center of the traditional summer sleep-away camp tucked away in the Ocala National Forest. The bell rings throughout the day, signaling lunch, dinner and lights out. 

Since 2013, Lindstrom has manned the bell that wakes up more than 100 campers sleeping in their dormitories each morning.

As the assistant director at the camp, it’s his responsibility to make sure that campers are getting to where they need to be.

“My day normally ends at 11:15 at night, after the last counselor has gone back to their cabin and turned in their phone. So, it’s a long day, but it’s worth it,” he said.

Lindstrom has spent 25 years working at the camp, which operates for four weeks during the summer and hosts children ages 7-13.

Not long after he joined Belleview Middle School in 1994, the school principal asked if wanted to work at the camp, which has operated since the 1940s. 

The camp has been a cooperative program between Marion County Public Schools and the Kiwanis Club of Ocala. The camp staff is all employees of the school system.

Lindstrom took over as assistant director in 2013 after 23-year camp veteran Bill Krysalka retired.

“He showed me the ropes of what camp is about,” Lindstrom said.

Another colleague that has influenced Lindstrom is Scott Mitchell, the longtime camp director.

They have worked together for the past 16 years.

“He is one of the most dedicated people I know, and he truly has the best interest of the children at heart,” said Mitchell.

Lindstrom is incredibly thankful for the relationships that he has developed with the staff and counselors.

“The general feeling of camp itself is a magical place,” he said. “I have kids here that live in a country club, and I have kids that are at a disadvantage, and yet they all seem to come together, and I wish the world could be like that too.”

According to Lindstrom, it is the people that run the camp that make it all happen. He gave much praise to the camp counselors as well. Both his sons served as counselors.

Lindstrom plans to retire from teaching in 2023, and with that, he will also have to leave Camp Kiwanis. Although he will miss teaching and being at camp, Lindstrom said he is ready for this next chapter in life.

“We’re definitely going to miss him,” said Mitchell. “He loves camp, and that spills into everything he has done here.”

For Lindstrom, Camp Kiwanis will always be like a second home to him.

“I can come out here when there’s no one and still hear kids on the playground,” he said.

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