By Richard Bombach, Camp Balcones Springs
This week, I had the absolute pleasure of getting to “know” Katie Milne. Both of our schedules were a little bonkers this week, so we had to communicate via email and each had a small list of areas that we covered to get a feel of what the other was about. What’s great about working in the camping world, is that you never see one word answers. Everybody has a story to tell and a story that should be heard. Katie is no exception.
Katie is the camp dream. A camper that started at 9 years-old and immediately fell in love with what camp brought to her world. From 1996 – 2008, Katie spent her summers at Camp Al-Gon-Quian, which is 4 hours north of Ann Arbor, Michigan – her hometown. Camp Al-Gon-Quian is an overnight residential camp associated with the Ann Arbor YMCA. Katie worked her way up the ranks, from being a camper, a counselor, administrator, and eventually an assistant director in 2008, in which she thought would be her last encounter as a staff member for her beloved summer camp.
After graduating from the University of Colorado – Boulder with a degree in journalism and a minor in women’s studies, Katie moved away from the mountains, skiing, and snow to Chicago to pursue a job with her journalism degree, although admittedly, her passion for that particular occupation was gone. (Sidenote: I’m blogging about somebody in the journalism field that could probably rip this piece to shreds– no judging, Katie.) In 2010, she had an opportunity to get back into camping (in a way) through one of her Chi Omega sorority sisters; a new startup company in Boulder was building registration and business management systems for camps. This startup was called CampMinder, and it would be her way out of the windy city and back to the mountains. Some of you may have heard of it. It’s kind of a big deal. Katie worked in client development for CampMinder for over 7 years, in which she was instrumental in building a client base from 180 camps to 800 camps by the time she left!
Holy. Freaking. Cow. Way to go, Katie!
While her role at CampMinder was impactful, it no longer fit within her life goals. Katie said that her heart was always going to be in Michigan and the Midwest, and knew it was time to go back. She moved in with her best friends, which happen to be her parents and said it was “the most beautiful blessing ever.” In February of this year, Katie was able to apply for her dream job: To be the Camp Director at the camp she fell in love with as a child, Camp Al-Gon-Quian.
Katie has been at Camp Al-Gon-Quian for 6 weeks now, just coming off of one her busiest weekends which kicked off their annual campaign to raise money to send underprivileged youth to summer camp. Although she’s been out of the camp game for 10 years, she is excited to find ways to impact the lives of children and staff for the next several years. In her words, “it’s a dream come true.”
Outside of summer camp, Katie has always loved sports and the outdoors. She was a 3-sport varsity athlete in high school and also studied ballet for 10 years. These days, she loves to be outdoors, whether it’s biking, skiing, hiking, kayaking, or paddleboarding. She still saves some time for dance, although there was a shift from ballet to hip-hop around 10 years ago.
Katie is excited about The Summer Camp Society so she can gain more insight into what camp directors are facing throughout the year and learning new ways that she can better serve her campers and staff for years to come.
It was an absolute pleasure to learn about Katie and her passion for her camp. Thank you for taking the time to fill me in on what will be an incredible adventure, at a place you can finally call home.