By Sarah Gianelli EBS Associate Editor

BIG SKY – Nine-year-old Ophir Elementary students Dylan Manka and Harper Morris were awarded the third annual Harbor Kingston DeWaard Camp Moonlight Community Service Award on June 6.

The award provides a full scholarship to Camp Moonlight, which runs July 24-27 and July 31-Aug. 3 out of the Madison Village Base Area at Big Sky Resort. Geared for youth aged 4-17, Camp Moonlight is an adventure-oriented program that emphasizes education, awareness and conservation values while fostering a greater appreciation for the natural world.

The award is named after Harbor DeWaard, a local 6-year-old who died in January 2015. DeWaard was a past Camp Moonlight attendee, and volunteered at the Big Sky Community Food Bank.

“Harbor had been a camper at Camp Moonlight the summer before he passed and he was someone that the other kids in his group could always look to as an example of kindness, integrity and fun,” said Heather Morris, chair of the Moonlight Community Foundation. “He was all-in, in everything he did.”

After Harbor passed, MCF board members brainstormed about how to keep his spirit alive at camp. Harbor’s mother, Candice Brownmiller, shared how much her son loved Big Sky and helping others, having instilled the importance of community service in him at a young age. 

The resulting scholarship application asks kids to draw a picture or write an essay about their love of Big Sky and the importance of community service. A committee comprised of Brownmiller and two MCF board members selects the winners from the unattributed submissions.

Manka, an ascending fourth grader, wrote an essay detailing service-oriented work that included working at the food bank, preparing care packages for the hospital, participating in Girls on the Run, raising money for the ski team, adopting pets, and mucking horse stalls. Her future community service goals entail picking up litter, recycling and continuing to work at the food bank and helping animals in need.

Morris’ submission conveyed her enthusiasm for keeping Big Sky clean and beautiful through both words and imagery.

On the first day of camp, Manka and Morris will be awarded the honorary superhero capes that have become symbolic of the celebration of Harbor DeWaard’s memory. Then, they and 148 other campers (split between the two sessions) will embark on multiple fun-filled days of archery, fishing, horseback riding, art, Native American drumming and storytelling, a team-building adventure course and more.

Visit campmoonlightmt.com for more information.