Rachel has directed Camp Farnsworth through Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains for the past two years. Farnsworth serves primarily overnight campers but also runs day camp at the same time for the first two weeks of the summer. Rachel lives in Utah during the school year, though her camp is in Vermont. When not at camp she loves to play sports and has been on a roller derby team. She enjoys hiking, traveling and going on adventures, which include exploring new places with minimal planning. Along her travels she has been to 45 of the 50 states! Here is my interview with her:
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love creative programming and getting to come up with radical, new, out-of-the-box ideas. I love to encourage counselors to do the same and come up with their own crazy ideas. I loved being a counselor with all my heart and soul and I love training counselors to do the same. My motto is “The answer is always yes, unless it has to be no”.
What was the most challenging part of your job last summer?
Finding balance between what I have to do in the office and what I want to do out around camp. I have found that the days I spend more time in the office are the ones that are the most challenging. I also feel that being a relatively young director, close in age to the staff, can also be challenging.
Do you have a mentor in the camping world?
Megan, who is the previous director at Farnsworth. She was the camp director when I was a counselor and we also worked together at another camp as well. She is definitely my go-to human.
What is a piece of advice that someone has given you that you still reflect on?
A director that I used to work for told me that “perfect is the enemy of great”. I think about it a lot when I know that I am obsessing over something or not willing to release a project because I don’t feel that it’s good enough yet. One of the staff this summer told me “you’re good but you’re not God”, which I think is another way to say the same thing.
What is a piece of advice that you have for other Camp Directors or staff?
The rule I live by that I think is most important is to remember why you do it. I don’t think that many people wandered into the camp world by mistake. They are here for a reason. You also need to keep an eye on the person that you were as a counselor and how you can bring that level of passion back into camp.
What do you hope to gain from The Summer Camp Society?
I think I am just looking to learn from other people. I want to learn what trials are common so that we can brainstorm solutions. My big dream is to one day open my own camp, and I want to learn what awesome and unique things are being done and what I can pull from that.
Can you tell me more about your future camp?
I think it will be a private camp; I tend to lean towards the radical side of working with youth. I have too much of a desire to push for radical exploration to fit in with the molds of a structured organization. I love the idea of Adventure Playgrounds where kids can engage with the world around them to learn. I intended to teach before I found camp and I wanted to be in Montessori, so kid-guided discovery was always something that I believed in.
What is one happy camper (or staff) story from this past summer?
I had a new counselor who was trying to internalize my message of making camp unforgettable. She had a camper who was very upset because they had received a letter from home that said their family was going to go on vacation to Maine without her while she was at camp. The counselor asked what it was that the camper really wanted to do in Maine and she responded that she wanted to surf. The counselor then rigged up a bunch of canoes tied to a windsurf board and had counselors paddle the canoes so that the camper could surf at camp. It was just the most camp answer to the problem.
What was the best job you ever had?
The years where I was a unit leader were the best. I never felt like I was as good as something as I did then. I loved getting to do awesome things everyday with cool teenagers. I truly woke up thinking “this is great, we’re going to do something awesome today”.