Just Getting Started…
Most children begin their summer camp journey at around eight years old. I started at twenty one months old. It was not my choice, of course. In 1997, my dad was offered the opportunity of a lifetime to work at a summer camp. My mom and I along with my two month old little brother went along for the ride. Little did we know that that summer would transform all of our lives. Twenty two summers later, Camp Wekeela has not only been my second home but a place that has given me a sense of purpose, amazing role models, a second family, a cultured, diverse sense of the world and best friends. Each summer spent at Camp Wekeela taught me new skills and life lessons; whether it was how to build a fire, how to dance without caring what others thought, or how to comfort a child in distress. Camp Wekeela was a catalyst for many amazing changes over the ten years I spent as a camper and seven years as a counselor.
When I had to face the uncertainty of post-graduation employment last spring, at the end of my senior year at Boston University, my decision was an easy one. With a degree in hospitality management and the experience working for a hotel my entire senior year, I pondered what was next for me. I did what everyone else was doing; I blindly applied to hotels and other venues related to my field of study. I went to information sessions. I went on interviews. But my heart was never really into those applications or info sessions or interviews. I knew that I wanted to live my dream of working for Wekeela. I had already planned to return that summer to run our Leaders In Training program with my kids- kids I had been with for 6 years now.
When I went on job interviews it was usually inferred that “this whole camp thing doesn’t really work for us.” I didn’t have the passion for any of the jobs I was interviewing for. In March, not knowing what I was going to do for the rest of my life and facing the pressure and confusion, I called my parents. I knew what I was passionate about, I knew what made me happy, and I knew that I could make a career out of it. I had to see what they thought. Much to my surprise and happiness, it didn’t take much convincing – they made me an offer.
I ultimately did get job offers from hotels but of course I chose to join my parents, working full-time for Camp Wekeela. I started my journey as a twenty one month old and now at twenty one years old I was continuing on it. A few weeks after graduation, I transitioned and started to learn the ins-and-outs of the camp industry. I worked diligently over the summer as the L.I.T. Coordinator, traveling to New Orleans and Camp Sunshine on service trips; learning what the new role of being an administrator at camp would be like; and learning more about the magic behind-the-scenes. The real fun started when I got home from Maine and nestled into our office in New Jersey.
Over the past few months, I’ve learned everything from bookkeeping and accounting, to analyzing Google AdWords as well as the correct way to answer the phone.
I’ve learned the challenges of being a salesperson. I’ve traveled to Boston, Chicago, Maryland, Washington D.C., South Florida, Los Angeles, New York City, Portland, Maine, Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, Los Angeles, San Francisco, all in the course of a few months. On these travels, I often get the question, “do you enjoy working for camp?” I always laugh when I hear that. I ask a question back, “how could I not?” I travel around the country and the world to meet families to discuss the power and impact summer camp makes on children and staff. How could I not love what I do? I even was paid a very thoughtful compliment by one mom in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. She told me that she loved the “youthful vigor” I brought to the camp fair she had attended and that she found that other camps “just did not have the same vibe.” I was truly flattered. This meant that she can see how passionate I am about my love for my camp and my career. I didn’t think at twenty two years old, I could make that kind of impression on someone, or let alone, have them trust that Wekeela is the right choice for her children.
I love my job. I have learned a valuable lesson and it happened very quickly (along with a little luck on my side): you have to wake up every day and love what you do. I am fortunate to do what I love too. My life is happy and I feel fulfilled knowing that I believe in myself. I work diligently to express that Wekeela is one of the best sleepaway camps in the world. As the calendar flips towards springtime, we are obsessed with summertime. As we get busy planning Wekeela Twenty-Eighteen, I am especially excited because my campers will be Junior Counselors this upcoming summer, starting on their own journey with their own set of “kids.” Wekeela will always be my home, I am one lucky person. And I am just getting started.