TSCS Members

What is a security plan, and why you should have one.

A security plan is the policies and procedures outlining your strategies to prevent and respond to crime at camp. 

What is Your Plan?

Do you have emergency procedures at your camp? Do you know what to do in case of a fire, flood, medical trauma, or tornado? Do you know some preventative measures to keep campers from hurting themselves or camp property? If you answered yes, (and goodness let’s hope you did), then you should have a security plan at your camp. Just like any other procedure at camp, a security plan helps you react to unforeseeable events. Our camper parents trust us to care for and protect their children, our owners trust us to care for and protect camp property, and our staff trust us to care for and protect them. So, let’s make that happen.

So, what should your plan look like? Well, for starters, it doesn’t have to be complicated like the plans to the Death Star. You simply need to answer two questions: What are you protecting? How are you going to protect it?

What are you protecting?

There are 3 types of assets you should consider when creating a security plan. The first is people (obviously, but let’s be more specific). This can include campers, staff members, visitors - at my camp we include animals. The second is facilities: buildings, equipment, nature, etc. Third is information: records, files, confidential information, passwords, etc. I encourage you to go into great detail when listing your assets, the more you know about what you’re protecting, the better you can figure out how.

How are you going to protect it?

Okay, now that we’ve decided (and prioritized) the things that need guarding, we can determine how we’re going to do so. With people, you may consider communication techniques (walkie talkies), visitor check-in, staff trainings, safety drills, etc. For facilities, think of locking doors, lighting dark paths, managing equipment logs, signing responsibility waivers. Lastly, for information a simple lock or password will do but maybe you can develop ways to train staff about confidentiality in the workplace. 

More Than Just Words on Paper

Sometimes, security plans are more than just words on paper. We must extract these meanings and put them into action: share your plans with staff, share it with your camper parents, get input from other camps and experts. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is to take a member of your local law enforcement agency to lunch. Have a discussion about your plan, ask for advice, and give them a tour of camp (I cannot express how important this last one is). 

When creating a security plan, one thing is for sure: something is better than nothing! Don’t worry about creating the most crime-proof camp possible, just worry about getting started to protect what you love most <3

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Katie Dougherty
Program Director
Heart O' the Hills Camp

Criminal Justice has been a passion my whole life! My dad was a military police officer in investigations, so I was always surrounded by cop shows and police life. I have a Criminal Justice Degree from the University of Central Florida with two certificates: Crime Scene Investigation & Criminal Profiling. At UCF I was a member of Alpha Phi Sigma (Criminal Justice Honor Society) as well as Lambda Alpha Epsilon (National Criminal Justice Fraternity). During college I was a 911 Operator for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and involved in many volunteer programs for the local Orlando police & fire departments.

I am currently the Program Director at Heart O’ the Hills camp for girls. I spent every summer between 2003 – 2013 at this beautiful place. In January 2018, I moved to Texas from Florida to begin my position as a full-time staff member here at The Heart.


Produce a Summer Video for Your Camp for <$5

This video cost $5

At Friends Camp, we are a pretty small, non-profit operation. Having a "videographer" on staff, or even freeing up a counselor to regularly take video and edit it, isn't in our budget. We were so excited to figure out a solution that worked for us to make an amazing camp video that didn’t cost a lot in time, money, or effort. 

Led by a few of our amazing summer staff (including Summer Camp Society member Lauren), we created a 1-second-per-day video. Check it out below! Here’s the 6 steps you need to take to make your own.

  1. Download an app that will let you take one-second-per-day of video. We used 1 Second Everyday (https://1se.co/). It costs $4.99, and it actually lets you add 2 1-second clips for each day.

  2. Find someone on your staff who can remember to take a short video clip or two each day. Put a reminder on their calendar or somewhere they will see it each day. Our office manager Emma loved this task, because it was an excuse to get out of the office! PS If they miss a day, nothing bad will happen.

  3. The app will let you edit the clips take. It’s SO easy. Partway through the summer, check in on your progress. Do you have enough active clips? Enough of peoples’ faces? Is there something you want to capture that you haven’t yet?

  4. Decide what you want your background sound to be. A favorite camp song of the summer? Or, you could have your staff sing a camp song and record it as a voice memo on your phone.

  5. Find a tech-savvy counselor to make the background music the right length and to add a beginning and ending screen. Say what you will about “Gen Z”, but damn they are good at this kind of thing.

  6. Share all over social media!

Summer Camp Society folks also had some great suggestions about additional ways to use the one-second-a-day video at camp. What other ideas do you have to use this at camp?

  1. Surreptitiously put together a video and surprise your staff with it on the last day.

  2. Have a shared phone that staff can grab and take video, so the video comes from lots of different folks’ perspectives. Even include campers!

Want New Ideas For All Camp Games and Staff Training Sessions?

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ANNA HOPKINS
DIRECTOR -
FRIENDS CAMP
FACILITATOR -
THE SUMMER CAMP SOCIETY
ANNA@THESUMMERCAMPSOCIETY.COM

Sending a Camper Home: Guidelines for Myself

A post from Anna Hopkins, Camp Director at Friends Camp in Maine, co-facilitator of the Emerging Leaders Semester, and one of the best camp directors you probably haven’t heard of, yet.

Anna describing “The Bat” at TSCS Conference Spring 2018

In our weekly TSCS Executive Semester online meeting, we were discussing the topic of sending campers home from camp. Inspired by lessons learned from my camp mentor Nat Shed, I have a little list of "guidelines" for myself to follow any time I send a camper home from camp. I left an abbreviated version of these in a top drawer in my desk this summer, with the intention that it would help me follow good protocol and not get too absorbed in the emotional back-and-forth of kicking a kid out of camp. Jack asked if I could share. Here goes!

(1) There’s usually no need to make a decision this second. It's okay to take a little time to call my mentor/ write a pro-con list/ be quiet for 20 minutes and find the truth of whether or not this camper stay at camp.

(2) If a camper is going home, call the family and arrange a pick-up plan before you tell the child. The last thing you want is an angry or devastated child who then needs to wait 24 hours for a pick-up because his parents are out of town. Tell the camper they are going home about 1-2 hours before parents or guardians arrive, depending on the child and situation.

(3) The time before the child leaves can still be valuable for them. Have a staff member or two who they trust spend time with them, and see if they can have a productive conversation about leaving camp. Maybe they can toss a ball around and discuss their successes and challenges over the last week.

(4) When the child does leave, have an "exit meeting" with the parent and child. Make sure you highlight the child's successes to the parent. If the child is getting kicked out of camp, chances are this has happened to them elsewhere. No child is 100% failure. Failures hurt and add up over time, and if you can help this child see how they still have light inside of them (while being really clear about what boundaries they crossed), that is a good thing. 

(5) If this camper might be able to return next summer, make sure to tell the child and the parents, separately and together. If it’s true, the “you are still welcome here” message can be deeply impactful to campers and families. [Thanks Jason for this addition!]

(6) I tell the camper's cabin group that evening, with a 2-ish sentence explanation. I say it's okay to be sad or to be happy about it, and if people want to talk they can talk to me or their counselor. Kids are not typically surprised.

(7) I tell the whole camp briefly at our next business meeting (happen daily in the morning). I don't offer details about that child, but I let the whole group know they had to leave. I suggest we hold that camper in the Light (Quaker language) and tell campers they are welcome to ask questions to me or another point person if they have them.

(8) Follow up with the camper’s counselor(s). They probably feel like they failed. Go for a walk with them, and reassure them (or have an assistant director with more time go for a walk with them). You can also ask if there’s anything they'd like to do differently next time and hear their perspective on how you handled it as a camp director.

(8) Make a note in the camper's file on CampMinder about everything that happened. I will forget portions by next year, and it will be relevant if this camper wants to try coming back to camp.

(9) Do a face mask that evening after everyone else at camp is asleep. Being the camp director is hard sometimes. Unload to your non-camp support system if you need to. Sometimes someone needs to take care of you, so you can do your best taking care of camp.

Want more free stuff to make running camp easier and awesomer?

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Anna Hopkins
Director -
Friends Camp
Facilitator -
The Summer Camp Society
anna@thesummercampsociety.com

Our First Summer with a Gender-Expansive Cabin 

In 2018, we offered our first gender-expansive cabin option (in addition to boys’ and girls’ cabins). We are really glad we did it, and we plan to continue this option. Here’s a few of the things we learned:

  1. Our camper families were WAY more supportive than we thought they might be. They weren’t just “okay” with this—they were amped about it

  2. We don’t have changing rooms or bathrooms in any of our camper cabins. We ordered a simple changing tent from Amazon, and now I want to order one for ALL our cabins. It is easy to set up (pop-up), portable, and helped make campers feel comfortable with the changing situation. Under $30-- order here!

  3. We also modified a bathroom to be an “everybody” bathroom this summer, and made sure the gender-expansive cabin was close by. We used tall stalls (almost floor-to-ceiling). This bathroom was open to all campers who felt more comfortable using it.

  4. This cabin was designed to help gender non-binary, trans, or other campers feel more comfortable at camp, but of course those folks were also welcome in a girls or goys cabin if that felt more comfortable. This cabin was not designed to exclude or separate gender non-binary folks, but rather recognize and affirm their identities. 

  5. In order to have enough campers to fill the space, it was also open to cis-gender campers who felt like it was a good space for them. I had to approach a few families specifically in order to get enough campers signed up, but I don’t anticipate having to do this in the future now that campers know what it’s all about.

  6. We had multiple campers who attended camp ONLY because this cabin was an option. You probably have some, too. We didn’t know who we were excluding with the binary model until we broke out of it.

  7. We had very experienced staff members lead this group. Both happened to be gender non-binary, but we think cis folks could also lead the space well with proper support.

  8. When I wrote a letter to our families explaining it, I had all parties I possibly could read the letter first (board members, parents, staff members, fellow camp directors). This helped me make sure I was addressing all concerns, being proactive, and using the most inclusive language I could. I also  read the letter aloud to the whole staff right before our teen sessions began, to remind them of the reasons behind the decision.

  9. There’s a wonderful website you can point confused parents to—www.genderspectrum.org.

  10. In case it’s helpful to you, here’s the text of the letter we sent to families! 

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Dear Parents,

I am writing to you about a new cabin option we are piloting at Friends Camp during the Fell Session this year. As a Quaker camp, we affirm our campers and families of all identities—this means we work hard to affirm your child for who they are when it comes to family background, racial identity, religious beliefs, gender identity, and more. To affirm and nurture our youth, we are going to offer an optional gender-expansive cabin in addition to our boys’ and girls’ cabin units.

We are proud to be a camp for kids of all genders, where campers are free to make platonic friendships with others regardless of gender. At the same time, we value the opportunity for single-gender spaces, especially with our teens. Our young adult counselors are well-positioned to be role models and provide guidance to campers who are developing their identities as young women and men. To be with others experiencing similar challenges and joys around growing up can be an important factor in youth development. We value our girls’ and boys’ cabins and do not plan to eliminate this element of our program.

While we value single-gender experiences in our cabins at camp, some of our campers don’t fit in the boxes of “boy” or “girl.” In order to offer a gender-identity affirming experience for all campers, we will offer a cabin for campers who identify outside the gender binary where they can be with campers and staff members who also identify outside the binary. Some campers might describe their identity as “non-binary,” others might use terms such as “a-gender,” “gender-non-conforming,” or “genderqueer.” An umbrella term used by many engaged in our society’s work for gender justice and inclusion is “gender-expansive.” We hope that by creating a gender-expansive cabin option, campers who are often targeted by misunderstanding or forced to conform to gender expectations not true to who they are will be able to fully be themselves in a safe and supportive space. 

If you and your camper are interested in them being in a gender-expansive cabin this summer, contact me before July 15th. This cabin is open to all interested families. Even if your camper does not identify as gender-expansive but you and they feel this cabin would be a good place for them, please do let me know. If you don’t contact me, your camper will stay in a cabin of the gender specified when you registered for camp. 

A few questions you might have:

- I’m not familiar with the term non-binary gender identity or gender expansiveness. What is all this about? According to www.genderspectrum.org, gender-expansive is an umbrella term used for individuals that broaden their own culture’s commonly held definitions of gender, including expectations for its expression, identities, roles, and/or other perceived gender norms. Gender-expansive individuals include those with transgender and non-binary identities, as well as those whose gender in some way is seen to be stretching society’s notions of gender.

- My camper is a boy (or a girl) and isn’t questioning their gender identity. Is that still going to be okay? Is this decision going to change their time at camp? Unless you specifically ask for your camper to be in this cabin, he or she will stay in the cabin you specified when you signed up for camp. We are offering this option to our campers who opt in. We work to make sure that all campers going home from Friends Camp have had an affirming experience, including your camper who loves being a boy or being a girl!

- Is this definitely happening? It is subject to interest. We would love to have enough interested campers to make this a reality, but we are not 100% sure it will happen this summer. If we don’t have enough campers enroll to fill a cabin, I will be in touch with interested families to make a plan.

- Why this session? Why now? For a while, we have hoped to be able to offer this option at Friends Camp. Our Camp Committee felt this year’s Fell Session was the right time to give it a try, since we have some wonderful staff members excited about helping out and we have had some families specifically request this option.

- How will my camper maintain their privacy in this cabin? Our cabins are all one room, without a changing room or bathroom. We will provide a changing screen in this cabin, to increase camper comfort. Campers are always welcome to change in the private bathrooms at camp, as well. (We hope to have these in all cabins someday!) Consent and appropriate boundaries are taught and required everywhere at camp.

- What if my camper says they want to be in the gender-inclusive cabin once they arrive at camp? While we recognize that teenage identities are often in flux and may change, we aren’t able to change a camper’s cabin assignment once they are at Friends Camp. If your child is interested in this option (and you are, as well), we need to hear by July 15th. Of course, it is up to you as a parent/ guardian which cabin assignment is right for your camper.

- My child is interested in this cabin option, but I don’t want their experience at camp to be ALL about gender. This cabin will simply be a “home base” at camp, and all campers will participate in the normal program at camp. We hope this space will allow them a chance to have some conversations about gender if they want to, but more importantly to just be themselves and enjoy the regular parts of the camp experience. 

It has always been and still is okay to be yourself at Friends Camp, whether or not we end up having a gender-inclusive cabin at camp this summer. As always, I am happy to speak with parents about any concerns related to this issue. You can reach me at (207) 445-2361 or director@friendscamp.org.

Warmly,
Anna Hopkins
Camp Director

Anna Hopkins is the newest facilitator for The Summer Camp Society Semester.

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Anna Hopkins
Director
Friends Camp
Facilitator The Summer Camp Society
anna@thesummercampsociety.org

Getting Diagnosed with a Chronic Illness Made Me a Better Camp Director

By Katrina Dearden

Director, Rock Hill Camp

Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson

During my second summer as a Camp Director, I began to notice some unexplained joint pain.  It progressed throughout the summer until it got to the point where I found myself cradling my arm in tears outside the dining hall trying to open the door.  By the time I got a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis the following February, I was in so much pain that reaching across my body to shut off the alarm in the morning was unbearable. Too many mornings the alarm would snooze itself, not because I slept through it but because it took me that long to make my body roll over (and I won’t even get into the act of actually sitting up).  

It’s hard to learn that you are sick with a chronic illness; unlike every other time you have been sick or injured in life, this time there is no amount of medication or surgery or recovery time to get you back to normal.  There is no cure. You have to learn that you have a new normal. They tell you to mourn the loss of your health as you would a loved one. So I began my healing journey.

Through medications and adapting a version of the paleo diet and lifestyle, I have gained back so much of my life.  I will never be fully back to who I was pre-diagnosis, but I am pretty close. In some ways I think I am even better than before.  I’m certainly a better Camp Director. I’m sharing some of what I learned on this journey with you so that you too can reap the benefits without the physical pain.  

Stress management:

I now feel stress so much sooner than before, because now I feel it in my bones (specifically my right elbow always gives the first warning, thanks friend!).  When you feel stress sooner you can react sooner. The motivation to remain calm is much stronger when you know that if you don’t, there’s a good chance a pain flare will be set off that can last for days.  

I was always a very stressed-out person. I wanted everything to go perfectly, but now I am much better about choosing my battles and deciding what is worth it to worrying about (hint: it’s not much).  I have learned more methods to reduce anxiety and I make sure to spend more time outside. There will always be work to get done in the office. But it turns out the longer you are in the office, the more work appears.  You can leave, I promise. What needs to get done will get done. Since I am now a calmer person, staff are more likely to come to me with questions so we can figure out how to handle a situation before it becomes a problem.  When you seem stressed, staff don’t want to come up and “bother you” with their questions, no matter how many times you have told them they should. The problem they had questions about ends up escalating until it becomes a bigger issue to deal with.  So take a breath, step outside, and play a game with the campers. Remember why you chose this job to begin with. Let the call go to voicemail. You will answer it eventually, and you will be in a better frame of mind when you do.

Prioritizing health:

On a plane, they tell you if the oxygen masks drop down to fix your own first before you can help anyone else.  I always knew this analogy, but I didn’t really understand it until I lived it. I know that if I go into flare I won’t be able to help anybody, and I truly love my job at camp.  In order to keep my body healthy enough to continue in this line of work, I had to prioritize my health. No more saying “I’ll sleep in September,” because now if I don’t get enough sleep, my joints deteriorate at a more rapid pace, and once that happens it happens, it can’t be reversed.  

I set a strict schedule to leave the office by a reasonable time at night to go to bed (except, of course, if an emergency comes up).  At first, this was difficult for me. I felt like I needed to be the last one to leave at night and the first one in every morning. But once I communicated my plan and started to leave at night, the rest of the office started to go to bed at a more reasonable time as well.  Turns out they felt like because I was still working, they should be too! Which comes back to my point from before: as long as you are working, work will come up. So you can’t stay until the work is done because it never is. The important stuff already got done. How do I know?  Because that stuff you handled right as it came up. That’s how camp works. So go to bed; your body will thank you and you’ll have a clearer head to jump into the work with tomorrow.

I also make sure I eat a healthy diet.  I cleared away all the unhealthy snacks that we all reach for at camp, and I replaced them with grapes, carrot sticks, and other healthy options.  If it’s in reach, that’s what you are going to eat. Nutrition is something that truly slowed down the progression of my disease, gave me my energy back, and made me feel almost back to normal.  But that’s a whole separate post on its own (drink your bone broth kids!).

Asking for help:

As Camp Directors, sometimes we get caught up thinking we have to have all the answers all the time.  “Don’t let them see you sweat.” I no longer have that luxury.

My first summer living with my illness I tried to hide it.  I only told the leadership team and even then, I didn’t tell them much.  I was afraid they would think I couldn’t do my job. As you can imagine, this didn’t go well.  

For the first time in my life there were parts of my job that I could not physically do at times (I was very much still figuring out meds and I hadn’t truly embraced the nutrition as much as I should have). As much as I thought I was hiding what was going on, everyone could read the pain on my face, making it more of an issue than it was.

Flash forward to my second summer post-diagnosis.  This time I fit my personal story into staff training.  I made a whole session on using weaknesses as strengths.  I got personal. I cried (I didn’t mean to). I wrote what I felt were my limitations down on an index card and threw it into the fire.  I invited the staff to do the same. We shared our stories. I learned some things about some of the staff I had worked with for years and had no idea what they struggled with.  Because we shared, the whole staff felt more connected as a community. We talked about why it’s important to ask for help and why this was something we wanted to model for our campers, and that summer went so much better.  Now on the mornings when I was walking a little funny, staff knew why and would just quietly take whatever I was carrying from my hands so I didn’t have to struggle down the hill. Or they would hold a line a little longer so I could catch up without campers recognizing that anything was different.  We all did little things for everyone else on the team as well to help with their battle that otherwise we wouldn’t have known they were fighting. We developed a new level of understanding that made camp better for the whole community which absolutely left a positive impact on our campers. I plan to do the same exercise again this year, and you should, too.

Empathizing with camper parents:

This one is just pure bonus.  I always had an answer for every parent concern and I thought I was great at explaining our procedures to parents, specifically for food allergies or dietary concerns, and for medication passes. Now that I have lived that lifestyle I have such a deeper understanding of the questions.  Not that my answers before weren’t correct, they were. I still describe the same processes, but now parents can hear it in my voice that I truly understand it. Empathy is just deeper than sympathy. I can honestly tell them I too have dietary concerns and the kitchen accommodates me, so I know they can accommodate your camper.  I can lean into the kid and tell them that we can be buddies walking up to the kitchen door for special plates. I can hear relief in the parents’ voices that I never got before. I’ve even had multiple families sign up for camp specifically because of these conversations that I wouldn’t have gotten to sign up before. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is one you can learn from me without experiencing it yourself.  Guess I just get to keep it as my personal win.

So breathe deep, get some sleep, eat good food and ask for help.  Your camp will thank you.

-The Chronic Camp Director

Katrina Dearden is the director of Rock Hill Camp in Mahopac, New York, which is part of Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson. She completed the first semester of The Summer Camp Society in the Fall of 2017 and is currently part of our second semester cohort. Contact her at kmzdearden@gmail.com

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DARLING Framework for Staff Training - James Davis

A few years ago I worked with James Davis to put together a simple framework for helping staff make effective choices in unstructured or transition times. Ok, James made up all the important stuff, but I edited the video and helped set up the studio. We all have our roles to play. The vidoes disappeared into the internet abscess for a while, but now we have rescued them!

Introducing the DARLING framework

D - dangerous
A - alone
R - rough play
L - listless (bored)
I - intense competition
N - needs help
G - grow connection

James put together some simple videos below that you can use with your staff to help them see these situations more effectively. 

The D.A.R.L.I.N.G Framework - Intro

The D.A.R.L.I.N.G Framework #2 - Dangerous

The D.A.R.L.I.N.G Framework #3 - arling

The D.A.R.L.I.N.G Framework #4 - Address The Group

James is now the owner at Longacre Leadership Camp outside of Harrisburg PA, a board member at Camp Stomping Ground, and podcast host with his wife, Taylor, of One Free Family. I hope this helps and I hope you have a great summer!

Want more tips for great seasonal leadership?

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JACK SCHOTT
CO-FOUNDER/DIRECTOR CAMP STOMPING GROUND
CO-FOUNDER THE SUMMER CAMP SOCIETY
JACK@CAMPSTOMPINGGROUND.ORG
STOMPING GROUND ORIGIN STORY

From (Kell)sie to Shining Sea

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By Lindsey Sigler, Camp Fern

2018 Spring Cohort Member

If you ever get the chance to have a conversation with Kellsie Sedlak, DO IT!  She is the Group Manager at Cape Cod Sea Camps (CCSC) in Brewster, MA and she is very passionate about the camping industry, although she originally planned to pursue a career in marine biology.  She spent 3 summers working at CCSC as a counselor and then went on to spend time at a zoo camp in Missouri where she was in charge of the reptile room (how cool?!) and then she worked at YMCA Camp Edwards in Wisconsin before returning to CCSC when the Group Manager job became available.
 
Kellsie has many hobbies that she partakes in like playing and coaching basketball and bike riding.  In fact, I got to chat with her while she was at Disney World for the ½ marathon weekend.  It did not take us long to realize that we had a lot in common, from the master’s program we are enrolled in to the position we play in basketball; who knows, you may have something in common with her too!  I enjoyed our conversation so much that I forgot to write down a lot of what I was learning about her, BUT I did get the answers to my 10 favorite questions.  If you are a fan of “Inside the Actors Studio” you will know exactly what’s coming (If you’ve never watched it you totally should!).
 
1.  What is your favorite word?  Dingus
2.  What is your least favorite word?  Can’t
3.  What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?  Emotions, she is very vulnerable to things.
4.  What turns you off?  Can’t
5.  What is your favorite curse word?  I’ll let you get to know her to find this one out – it’s a good one :-)
6.  What sound or noise do you love?  The ocean at high tide
7.  What sound or noise do you hate?  The screeching of knives against a plate
8.  What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  Marine Biologist
9.  What profession would you not like to do?  Coroner or Petco rat cage cleaner
10.  If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?  I’m actually impressed

Meet Meredith Stensaas from Mass Audubon's Wildwood Camp!

By Patty Rudd

Day Camp Director, YMCA Camp Copneconic

Spring 2018 Cohort Member

Getting to know you...

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This week I was thrilled to be paired with Meredith Stensaas, Assistant Camp Director at Mass Audubon’s Wildwood Camp in New Hampshire. Meredith has been involved in Camping since 2010 taking on all aspects of camp life from Outdoor Education to Summer Camp. While the majority of her Camp career has been at Wildwood, she has also served as an Outdoor Education Instructor at Camps throughout the Northeast. Meredith instantly struck me as the quintessential camp person- kind, intelligent, and warm.

It's a small world after all!

When Meredith first reached out to me to set up our conversation she mentioned that she had been to Fenton, MI before and actually knew where my camp was. I am well aware that the Greater Flint area is not a tourist hotspot so I was very intrigued to find out that her husband is also a fellow Michigander who grew up in the Flint area.

Kung Foo Fighting...

Not only is Meredith a super wonderful camp person, but she also sings in a choir and knows karate- WHAT?!? Also, as a long suffering Detroit Lions fan, I was thrilled to find out that Meredith is from Philadelphia and is an Eagles fan! What a pleasure it was speaking with her this week.

 

How to Take Up Residence in a New State

By Hannah Russell, Director Camp Little Oak

Spring 2018 TSCS Cohort Member

As camp professionals, changing jobs generally means a new state.  This can be intimidating, especially for those who grew up with their roots in one spot.  Even beyond the emotional impact of not being in your usual habitat, the sheer number of things that one would never anticipate needing to do when you move states is overwhelming.  So, here are some things that you need to do when you get to your new home.

To help you think about these aspects, I have split them into 5 categories: car, legal, financial, medical and social.  Of course, these are not all of the things that you need to do (if you have children, this gets vastly more complicated), but here is some quick guidance.

As a last caveat, there are many things on this list about what it takes to start a new job with a new team.  But this will focus on the personal side of putting down your new roots.

Car

1.     Car registration:

Some states have laws about how many days you can be resident in the state without transferring your registration.  Be sure to check on that.

2.     Driver’s license:

Some states also have laws about the limit on this as well

3.     Car plates:

In states, license plates are issued separately from registration.  Don’t assume that one will get you the other in every state.  Most states have a checklist on their DMV website to tell you about their rules

4.     Insurance change:

 This one might actually save you some money.  Insurance companies use zip code to estimate the probability of your car being broken into or being involved in a hit-and-run while you’re not in the car.  If you are moving to an area with less incidents, you might get a little check in the mail to make up the difference.  Also, the laws that insurance companies follow are different depending on where the car is insured, so they have to change some things on their end.  But, it’s usually not too much of a headache.  Many large insurance companies can change the state where the car is registered over the phone!

5.     Car maintenance and repair:

Before you are in that awkward situation, establish a relationship with a mechanic.  Ask around for where your neighbors take their cars for maintenance and repair.

Legal

1.     Voter’s registration:

You get to be represented in a new state!  Be sure to update the voter’s registration.  This can often be done online.  Find the website for your new state’s Secretary of State, and there should be instructions.

2.     Males: selective service update

If you are a male between 18 and 26, you are legally required to update your draft registration.  After the age of 26, you are not in the prime draft age range, and you are not required to update in peace time. 

3.     Address:

Be sure to submit a forwarding address request to the post office!  Beyond that, as things are forwarded to you, be sure to update whoever is sending you things!

Financial

1.     Changing Banks:

Much of the time in today’s world, changing banks is not actually required.  But, you should change your address at the bank.

2.     Update delivery addresses on any automated deliveries

If you have any automated deliveries, such as Amazon Prime, be sure to update the delivery address.

3.     Update address with any lien-holders

If you have any active loans (such as on your car), make sure that you update your lienholders about your location change. 

Medical

1.     Finding new providers

Ask around, check with your insurance company, and establish care with a new provider before you need it.

2.     Choosing a new pharmacy

In this same boat, make sure that you decide your new pharmacy, whether you prefer big-box stores or mom-and-pop shops. 

3.     Forward any existing, repeating prescriptions to a new pharmacy

If you take any prescriptions that have refills, make sure they are forwarded to your new pharmacy.

Social

1.     Put down your roots

This is a little vague, but having roots is as important as changing your address.  Think what is important to you right now.  Do you really enjoy your book club?  Need your scheduled volunteer opportunity?  Really get fulfilled by your volleyball league?  If so, look around and find those things in your new home.  Become a part of your new society.

2.     Library

I always consider that I’m not moved in until I have my new library card.  It’s amazing how tethered you feel once you know your library. Even if you don’t routinely read or borrow, there are a lot of community activities attached to the library.

3.     Place of worship

If you’re religious, make sure you scope out a new place of worship.  Finding a new church, synagogue, mosque or temple is an important step in find your new place in a community.

Extras for those with pets:

If you have pets, make sure you find a new vet, groomer and kennel.

Of course, there are more things that you’ll need to do, and you’ll probably find more along the way.  But as you forge into a new state, find your new identity and love your new home.  You’ll do just great!

Introducing the Spring 2018 TSCS Cohort: Meet Katie Milne

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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.

I Believe In Love - Levi Miller

I believe in love.

I know that seems like the cheesiest damn thing to say. But, I believe in love more than anything. I believe that the power it has over us, can either destroy us, or free us. Love is such an abstract thing, that most people have a hard time defining it without using the word itself. I believe that love has, at many points in my life saved me, but also what I perceived as the absence of love has torn me to pieces.

There are many different types of love floating around in the Universe. I can be “In Love” with a romantic partner. I can love my best friends. I can love a dog I meet on the street. I can love the pasta I had for dinner last night. I can also love myself. However, it is important to note, that each of these different types of love can be forgotten if you don’t work to remind yourself of their existence.

The Variety Pack of Love

As I have learned to appreciate this variety pack of love that the universe has provided, I have discovered the most important, and likely the best kind, is the love I have found for myself. While I’ve spent the last few years processing the various demons of my past, I learned that if you have love and compassion for yourself, being alone with your thoughts becomes infinitely easier. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy spending time with myself before I loved myself. I can’t imagine how I could’ve expected others to want to spend time with me while I was pretending my way through the world, each day pasting on one of many rehearsed smiles.

People are often inspired by my story and ask how I knew it was time to begin this journey truth is that I had finally pushed enough people away, that I had nobody else around to expect love from. I had only myself, a Netflix subscription, and the four walls of my college dorm room. I spent countless nights awake trying to avoid my thoughts by watching as many female centric dramas as I could get my hands on. I would sleep all day, only getting up to eat and use the bathroom. Then, I would do it all over again day after day. It was a miserable existence. But, I learned, that no matter how loud I had those headphones turned up, there was always a little voice somewhere in me that was louder.

The voice said, “love”. That was it.

It said “love”; over, and over, and over again.

The voice had always been there. I had just run out of things to cover it up.There are only so many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy to watch. One night, I was lying in bed having an existential crisis because Netflix kept asking if I was still there and I, for one, take that very personally. As I laid there in my crusty sweatpants and dirty sheets, I let my mind wander to the last time I felt real, genuine self-love.

That was at camp.

I eventually wandered away from Netflix to find the home page of the summer camp I had attended for one summer as a 13-year-old. This was the beginning of what has been the greatest life changing adventure, I think, in history. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. But, I applied to work for 10 weeks. Five years later, I realize I had no damn clue what I was doing at the time. I guess sometimes it’s a blessing to be young and dumb.

I remember the first couple of nights during staff training I cried a lot. One kind soul saw my puffy eyes as I tried to get back to my cabin without anybody seeing me. She forced me into conversation in a dark gazebo, in the middle of the woods, at midnight. I thought she would try to murder me.

Then, we talked, and we talked, and the sun started to come up as I finally had the courage to say what I’d been holding in. “ I hate myself” I blurted out before I could catch the words and pull them back into my throat.

“You clearly love yourself enough to come here and talk about yourself.” That was the response. Not, a hug, or sympathetic tears. Just that. But, she was so right.

I later learned that the better phrasing of that ugly statement is something like, “I hate… about how I’m acting right now.” Or “I hate… about how I handled that.”. But, I suppose I can’t go back and change the things I said about myself then. I only control the love I give myself right now.

I believe that once the soul knows the taste of loving itself, it’ll never go back. I learned that at camp.

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Levi Miller
Day Camp Coordinator
Camp Jewell YMCA

Summer Camp Leads To Self-Discovery by Hannah Weiner

I believe summer camp leads to self-discovery.

When I was ten years old, I started going to an overnight camp in the Detroit suburbs. The camp, while dear to my heart, offered nothing special: Jewish programming, crafts, sports, a manmade lake. But I returned year after year, even embarking on their specialty outdoor tripping camps. I’d return home a smelly, swearing, smiling version of myself, and it would last me most of the school year.

The summer I was ten, I learned I could beat the boys at floor hockey. The summer I was twelve, I learned how to hike.Each summer fostered a love (or strong distaste) for something new: a love of stir fry, a deep hatred for the Blob, a love of kayaking. I knew my summer self strongly. I knew what I liked, I knew what I disliked, which meant I knew what I valued.

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Camp exposed me to things I otherwise wouldn’t have experienced (i.e. stir fry, kayaking, etc.). And those things are awesome—they lead to great stories and picturesque memories. Yet in between those moments of trying new things and learning to love something (or someone), I learned how to try new things, how to love something, and how to love people fiercely.

And, if you are lucky enough, camp will teach you how to love yourself.

Like most people who went to camp, I met many of my greatest friends from my years at camp. These people understand me on a core level. We don’t need to exchange pleasantries because we just appreciate each other’s presence. For a thirteen year-old who felt so insecure and so different from everyone else in school, it meant the world to me that I could retreat to a place where people found the good in me.

At camp, without makeup or screens or bedrooms to disappear in, I lived vulnerably with others. At camp, our counselors taught us to embrace the weirdness and uniqueness within ourselves; sure, it was weird that I laughed much harder at fart jokes than anyone else my age, but I was accepted and loved. At camp, we could do ridiculous Russian accents, we could do a slip ’n’ slide slide on a rainy day and laugh at our muddy faces, and we could swap secrets at night, silently understanding our cabin’s holiness was to be respected. We loved each other not despite our faults, secrets, and strange quirks, but because of them.

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Now, as a representative of camp, parents ask me at camp fairs, “So, what is your camp about?” And I respond, passionately using words like “friendship” and “leadership skills” and “self-confidence.” I can repeat those words all I want—wrap it in a bow and call it “personal development,” but camp specializes in the intangibles, the indescribables, and the invisible. Camp taught me to love, to be loved, and to get weird with others. That’s not easy to market, nor is it easy to explain the value to young parents

The camp experience is different for every kid: other campers hated kayaking and the outdoors or loved being the star of the camp play. Those are amazing things to recognize as a child, and maybe they would have discovered that without camp. But there is power in knowing yourself. There is power in learning how to find your niche. And, most importantly, there is power in learning yourself alongside a bunch of other kids who are learning themselves, somewhere in the woods.

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Hannah Weiner
Assistant Director for Camper Development
Fleur de Lis Camp

Jami Biodrowski by Eli Rolli

Easterseals of Nebraska is incredibly fortunate to have Jami Biodrowski as their Director of Camp, Respite and Recreation. Jami directs all of the operations of the overnight summer camp program put on by the Easterseals of Nebraska. This camp specializes in providing an overnight camp experience for people with disabilities. Campers range from 5 years of age to 85.

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Jami grew up going to 4-H Camp and her first professional camping experience was with a 4-H Camp. In college Jami studied Geology with plans to become a Volcanologist, but like many of us she found herself drawn back to the camping profession. Her favorite part of summer camp is watching the staff grow throughout the summer. She joined the Summer Camp Society to network and learn from other camp pros.

Outside of camp, Jami loves being a parent and enjoys going on road trips. She is also an animal lover. Her family has 3 farm cats (meow) and one dog (woof woof).

A Profile of Katrina Dearden by Rachel Estey

Like many college students Katrina spent her summers working a summer job, preparing for the upcoming academic year, and perusing the job boards for the career she was gearing up for. In this particular case Katrina was spending her summers working as a counselor at the summer camp she had attended as a child while preparing for an engineering career. Through the winding, twisting road of young adulthood and career goals, Katrina shifted her focus from engineering to summer camp and has never looked back!

While she was pursuing an engineering degree in school there was still the love of summers at camp. Despite being yelled at by engineering professors for not spending her summers doing engineering stuff, Katrina couldn’t resist going back to camp. The summer after graduation, she was applying to all kinds of engineering jobs and she convinced herself that she would go back for “one final summer” while she waited to hear back from applications and continued to apply for engineering jobs through the summer. She had set a self-imposed deadline that she was going to have a job before camp ended for the summer, and continued to pursue that goal. It was only during the last week and a half of the summer camp season that the director of her camp encouraged her to check out the ACA camp jobs board and upon realizing that working at camp could be a year-round option her “mind was blown!”

She pursued camp jobs with the same intensity as her pursuit of engineering jobs and met her own self-imposed deadline by mere moments. In her own words “Kids were on the bus pulling away and the phone rang and I was offered a job at an outdoor center, I met my self-imposed deadline by minutes, loved the job, and haven’t searched for an engineering job since.” I had the chance to ask Katrina some questions about her life in the camp career she never expected to have!

Rachel: I’ve been thinking a lot about passion and following dreams and the idea that maybe there is something we’re all “meant to do”. What do you think it is that you are meant to do?

Katrina: Definitely something outdoors. I’m at my mentally healthiest when I am outside. I would like to think that it would have something to do with teaching, but not necessarily children. I would want to help people explore nature and see nature in a new way.

What would you be doing right now if you didn’t work in the camp industry? 

If it was in engineering I would probably be a surveyor, being outdoors all the time. There is lots of number crunching. I don’t love numbers, but I like logic.

What is your favorite activity at camp?

 I really like joining the teenage campers in whatever activity they are doing whether it’s canoeing or an arts & crafts activity or anything. When I want to get out of the office one of my office one of my favorite things to do is grab a bag of bananagrams and join up with a random unit that is in unstructured time.

What would you tell college-aged you if you could go back in time?

Change your major! It is possible to be at camp forever!

What are your life plans going forward from here?

I had a strategic plan, but it didn’t work out and that worked out in my favor so I no longer have one. I think I would like to go back to outdoor education eventually, work at a year-round facility. Going from camp to a cubicle every Fall is rough, I’m not meant to spend too much time in an office. Offices AT camp are different because you can get outside, walk around, and enjoy the camp.

The next bunch of questions are definitely weird, but I want to know who you are not just what you do! So, first question…Favorite quote?

My favorite quotes change all the time, but currently it is from Harry Potter and it is “of course this is happening inside your head Harry, but why on earth would that mean it isn’t real?”

It is believed that Plato once said “an unexamined life is not worth living”. In your opinion is that true or false?

If you’re overthinking life you aren’t living it. If you’re examining it too much you’re no longer enjoying it. I think I’m going to say false, because overthinking makes things less enjoyable.

If you were stuck in an airport what magazine would you pick up to read?

I’m not much of a magazine reader, I would consider a National Geographic, but I’d probably pick up a logic puzzle or Sudoku book.

Last question! What is something that you think is true that almost no one would agree with you on?

Fairies are real! They might not exist in the way that people imagine them, write about them, or depict them, but they are out there. Magic is what keeps nature alive.

The winding road from future engineer to summer camp professional lead Katrina to a career she is passionate about, in a field that supports her passion for being outdoors. I am thrilled to have been able to talk to her about her career path, airport reading habits, and love of nature. I’m looking forward to seeing where her life, sans strategic plan, brings her in the future!

Photo: Katrina starts off Color Wars this summer by releasing color powder off of one of her camp's zip lines!

 

Meet Katie Bean! By Levi Miller

Katie Bean was subjected to answering a ton of ridiculous questions in rapid succession by Levi Miller. She was a great sport! Here are the results:

Levi: I’m so excited to finally be talking! I can’t wait to share with the world, how fun you are!

Katie: Thank you! Just please don’t ask me about how long it’s been since I washed my hair. Ask me anything! I’m ready!

L: If you could add any color to the Crayola collection what color would you add?

K: Maple Tree Green, because I love the outdoors and trees

L: Do you want to be a tree?

K: No, that’s ridiculous.

L: If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

K: I would pay off my student loans. I would also make a generous donation to my camp. My family is very important to me and I would pay for my siblings to go to college. A trip to Sweden would be my frivolous purchase. I’d mostly do boring things like investing.

L: Who inspires you, in the camping industry?

K: Jack and Laura at Stomping Ground are so inspiring. The courage they had to travel across America and then having the drive to take everything they learned to start their own camp is incredible. They have had success with a unique path and that is fantastic to see.

L: How many windows are there in New York City?

A: One Bajillion

L: Is that a real number?

K: Probably not.

L: If you were gifted an elephant and you had to keep it, what would you do with it?

K: I would parade it around and show everybody how cool I am.

L: Really?

K: No, no, definitely not. I would use it for a camp equestrian program. Like, for the highest level of riders.

L: What do you do with a camper that doesn’t want to participate in an activity?

K: I explain challenge by choice as well as I want them to know about learning zones and comfort zones. Once kids know about those things they are generally more likely to entertain the idea of doing something they are nervous about.

L: If you could play a game of Monopoly with any three people, living or dead, who would you choose?

K: Me, myself, and I.

L: Really?

K: No, of course not! I would have to say Rockefeller, Oprah, and Obama. They are all just people I have  a lot of questions for.

L: What are you known for in your work places?

K: I am known for being direct. People can count on me to tell them the truth while being kind and compassionate.

L: What is your 90’s jam?

K: Easy! Return of the Mack!

L: I’ll have to look it up, I’m not well versed.

K: It’s the so good!

L: What’s your best advice for people going into an interview?

K: Don’t over or undersell yourself. Just be you. Be the best version of yourself. If you tell the truth about everything, you don’t have to remember anything. Just be honest and real.

L: Thank you so much for going on this ridiculous ride with me! You are super brave for answering all of my questions!

K: Thank you so much! Have a great day!

If you want to learn more about Katie Bean, check out this Buzzfeed Quiz! See how much you already know and maybe you’ll find something you have in common!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/millerlevir/katie-bean-the-legend-35umb?utm_term=.giBvvPpdj

“Maintaining quality--that’s the most boring goal in human history!”

An Interview with Ben Clawson by Sarah Kurtz McKinnon

Growing up, Ben Clawson, the camp director at Lindley G. Cook 4H Camp in Stokes Forest, New Jersey, did not think he would find himself living and working in the woods as an adult. His father was a National Park Ranger, so throughout his childhood, Ben moved with his family to different national parks.  Despite his beautiful surroundings, the young Ben longed to live in a city or even a town.

But starting in 1995, Ben attended the Lindley G. Cook 4H Camp as a camper--and he has not missed a summer since. When the opportunity arose for Ben to become the interim director for summer 2016 and assume the role of director in 2017, he dropped his big city dreams to commit to making camp happen for the hundreds of kids and staff who come to 4H camp each summer.

I interviewed Ben to learn a little more about him, his job, and his aspirations.  Here are his responses:

Kurtz: Ben, what’s your educational background?

Ben: I have a bachelor’s of fine arts in Theatre from Montclair State University in New Jersey. I have virtually no outdoor education or camping background; that’s all been in-the-field learning.

Kurtz: Tell me more about that BFA.

Ben: I was and still am a playwright. I find that it transfers so well and so easily.  I really view camp as a creative endeavor.  It’s something brand new that you make up for the group every season with a team of other people who have their own levels of creative control and responsibility.

Kurtz: As a kid, what kind of camper were you?

Ben: I was probably the extra-loud, extra-outrageous, extra look-at-me kind of camper.  The one that 75% of the staff loved and the other 25% of the staff couldn’t stand and would argue with the other 75% of the staff about. I was the kid who built up to the talent show every week. The talent show was always the pinnacle of my camp week.

Kurtz: We need details on that, please!

Ben: It’s even more ridiculous because it’s true.  During my first year at camp, Forrest Gump had recently come out. That whole summer, I did a Forrest Gump impression with my best friend, who pretended to be Lieutenant Dan. We did a detailed, scene-by-scene version of the movie for the talent show with some other campers involved. It went on for 10 minutes or so and then the staff realized we were planning on going on for about two more hours. They eventually kicked us off the stage.

A couple years after that, my talent show act was largely surrounding a hand-held cow puppet. That pretty much sums it up.

Kurtz: Are you still in the talent show now?

Ben: I endeavor not to be as camp director. I feel like I’m front and center enough. Any time there is an opportunity for a camper or counselor to be that focal point instead of me, I try to take it and give that to someone else.

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Kurtz: I heard you became a father this past year!  Congratulations.  How has that changed your approach to running camp?

Ben: Because he’s an infant right now, I’d say that the way it will change my perspective for working with 8- to 16-year-olds is probably still ahead of me.  The infant is such a different creature; it blows my mind that one day he will turn into one of our campers.  I think I am slowly getting more sympathy for the sad parents who are having a difficult time entrusting the health and safety of their camper to us.  I think I will get even more that way as he grows up and I will have to give him to other people for a small amount of time.

Kurtz: Did you meet your wife at camp?

Ben: Yep--but I almost wish it was something way simpler like, “we met online”!  We actually met when we were campers here!  We did not start dating until we re-met in our 20s.  We knew each other since we were kids at camp, like 12 years old.  And now we live here.

Kurtz: This was your second summer as the director.  With the knowledge and expectations that you have now, what would you go back and tell yourself before you were about to embark on that first summer?

Ben: I think and I will probably need to continue telling myself this: I think the idea that especially when it comes to facility hiccups, we are ready to handle the things that break.  And if something breaks, you will call someone and they will fix it!

Coming from a programming land, stuff I don’t understand like what holds up the docks, or well water permits...that was stuff I feel like I had a borderline phobia of.  I think the idea is that when the problem arises, you can deal with it intelligently.  There aren’t so many things that will fall apart that will be catastrophic, so don’t waste time being frightened.

The second thing is to trust the team of summer staff around me.  The success of the past couple of years is really due to that team.

Kurtz: What are your personal goals for the next year, either for yourself or for camp.

Ben: For camp, we had a really good summer last year [in 2016], and then going into my second summer this year, I wanted to maintain and duplicate that quality.  And we did that.  But then at the end of summer, I realized that even though I needed that to be my goal, I could never make that the goal again!  Maintaining quality--that’s the most boring goal in human history!  I feel like we had a really successful summer that first, and I needed to have another to be ready to think that we could get way bigger, way hungrier, and think about something great and new!

For now, we are looking at adding new bunks and doing improvements to up our capacity...on the program side of things, on the last night of camp this summer, I saw one of the cabins run the best evening program I had ever seen. They had made such a tight community on a cabin level, and my goal is to make that camp-wide.

Kurtz: Anything else I didn’t ask you about that you want to share?

Ben: I have the tendency to ramble on, so I try to never make matters worse by floating topics of my own!

Thanks, Ben, for your insights! We’re thrilled to have you as part of The Summer Camp Society and can’t wait to learn with you and help get more kids to even better camps!

Fast Facts

Name: Ben Clawson

Camp: Lindley G. Cook 4H Camp

Title: Camp Director

Location: Stokes Forest, New Jersey

Number of years at camp: Ben started as a camper in summer 1995, and has been back each summer since!

Meet Anna Hopkins, Director of Friends Camp By Meghan McCarthy

For the past year Anna has taken on any and everything on her own.  Anna is the only full time year round staff member at Friends Camp and she enjoys it that way.  I spent 40 minutes on the phone with Anna on Monday morning, and here is what you need to know:

Anna started in camping like many do, as a child. She attended a camp in the Northeast corner of Maryland.  Anna was “entranced by camp as a kid”. She said she always looked forward to her time at camp each summer.  After spending a few summers working at her childhood camp, she moved on and began working at Friends Camp in 2011,Where she worked her way up the ranks and is now the Director.

Friends Camp is a Quaker camp and Anna loves being able to give kids a space to talk freely about Faith.  She says that Friends Camp is open to all, but it gives those who do attend and are Quaker the opportunity to connect with others with similar values.

While Anna and I were chatting, I asked Anna to do a little bragging, boy does Anna has lots to be proud of!  In the past year Anna was able to increase enrollment at Friends Camp by ten percent.  For a one-woman team, Anna should be shouting that from the rooftops! Anna spilled her secrets with me on what helped her accomplish such great growth! First she streamlined her online presence, she updated the Friends Camp website and made it much more user friendly.  Second she skipped the camp fairs where she was one of many camps and asked local Quaker schools to host her during a parent event.  She was able to get in front of the right people without them being overwhelmed by so many other camp choices.  Lastly, Anna said that she was able to empower families to help her do some recruiting as well.  She sent camper families brochures and info about camp that they could share with friends.  Growing camp enrollment is no small task. Anna had a plan and was able to see all her hard work pay off!

Any idea is better when seasoned by others

Anna is very excited and hopeful for what is to come from The Summer Camp Society this fall.  She said that she got involved with The Summer Camp Society because she can often feel alone but she wanted a peer group to be able to connect with and share ideas with.  She said something that I really loved and it could not be truer, “Any idea is better when seasoned by others” and that is exactly what TSCS will do not only for Anna but for all of us who are participating.