Recently I had lunch with former Mishawaka camper and counselor, Greg Turk. Greg was a camper in the 80’s and directed Camp’s horseback riding program for several years. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and it was great to catch up. Most of our conversation was about Mishawaka and some of our years together on staff. Greg told me a funny story I hadn’t heard about him picking up a mutual friend and first year staff member at the airport.
Greg also picked me up from the airport before my first staff training over twenty years ago. Mishawaka was so much fun as a camper and profoundly affected my development into young adulthood. As high school graduation neared and I began to think about what I wanted to study in college, working with people, especially youth, was at the top of the list. One of the reasons I applied to work at Camp was because I wanted the experience of working with youth to help me decide on which field I would enter after college.
I was fortunate enough to be a counselor at Camp for over ten years before taking on the role as Boys Camp Director three years ago. For this summer, we have all of our staff and most of our campers signed up; our focus now is on getting Camp ready and staff training. The lake is unfrozen and the spring weather has finally arrived and all have started working on projects outdoors. Staff will arrive at Camp for a week of training in less than six weeks!
I remember feeling anxious when I arrived for staff training, not knowing what to expect now that I was a counselor. I wanted to do a good job and try and earn the respect of my fellow counselors and the administration that hired me. Greg gave me a lot of good advice on the bus ride up and checked in on me throughout the summer. I returned the next summer as a Belding counselor for the eight to eleven year-old campers. Greg taught me even more in his role as Head of Belding and continued to check-in on me to make sure I was doing ok.
Our staff slogan is ‘Every decision I make will result in the campers having the best possible experience.’ Hiring a dynamic and qualified staff is the first step towards ensuring each camper has this experience.
Training and supporting them during training and while the campers are at Camp is equally as important. Our staff love working with our campers and try hard to make each day special. I think if you asked them, they would also tell you they love working with the other staff members. We count on each other every day to make sure the campers are safe and every challenge is met. Whether in the cabin, on a trip, or on the waterfront our staff are constantly teaching and helping each other make sure every camper has the best possible experience.
As Boys Camp Director, one of the best parts of my job is working with young adults who have dedicated their entire summer to Mishawaka and our campers. Every summer I learn a lot from our staff and am inspired when I see them in action, being that role model our campers look up to. I can only hope that in twenty years I will have lunch with one of them.
Boys Camp Director