My absolute favorite part of camp leadership (and leadership generally!) is helping staff walk along their own personal growth journey. It doesn’t matter if staff are working on something that relates directly to their time at camp. I absolutely love sitting down with someone, and helping them to recognize their work with their own eyes. Camp is a space that makes room for those conversations – for people to sit down together and cry and laugh and grow. And I love it for that!
I never planned on ending up in camping. I just kept saying yes to every opportunity I got at YMCA Camp Minikani, my camping home located about 30 minutes outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I started at age 8 as an overnight camper, became a Leadership Trainee for three summers beginning at age 15, counseled for 2 summers, and spent four summers as a seasonal administrator. I was a Minicamp Director, an Outdoor Leadership Training Director, a Boys Unit Director, and the Assistant Summer Camp Director. In September of 2016, I took on Minikani’s Summer Camp Director position, and served in the capacity through the summer of 2019.
It never seemed like a legitimate option to leave. Camp has always been so obviously the best thing for me to be doing at any given point in my life. But now I have! I’m planning on figuring out the new ways to operationalize the core of what camp gave me – the ability and opportunity to develop people in exactly the ways they want and to. While I do that, I’ll be driving around the country with my best buddy Kevin. I’ll be running, playing guitar, and spending time meeting new people.
Before diving into camping full time, I had the opportunity to experience several different parts of the world. I taught English to high schoolers in rural Thailand. I worked as an Americorps Coach for Playworks at Hopkins Lloyd Community in Milwaukee. I worked with kids in outdoor education during my time as a student at Williams College in Massachusetts. That’s sparked a passion in justice, in conversation around diversity and inclusion, and in challenging how we bring those topics to life in camping. I can’t wait to have more of those conversations as part of The Summer Camp Society.