Visiting New Paltz
A couple of weeks ago, Laura and I were in SUNY New Paltz hoping to recruit some staff. Klee, one of our summer staff members, had organized an event at the honors college. We had pizza and were all set to give a presentation about camp, show a video, and talk about the life long memories, friends, and impact you can have working at Stomping Ground. Then we started talking with the students.
It was clear that they weren’t there for Stomping Ground. They were there because they didn’t know what was next. They were nervous about how to set themselves up for a career that let them be who they wanted to be, make an impact, and also make a living. So we stopped talking and started listening. Instead of pitching camp we started brainstorming how we could all help each other.
It was awesome. It gave me empathy into what life is like for driven, compassionate, and unsure college kids in 2018.
On the drive home, Laura and I couldn’t stop talking about how awesome the students we met were and thinking about ways we could help them. Becca wants to be an actor, I know an actor in NYC, maybe we could connect them. Jackie isn’t sure what she wants to do, she desperately wants to do something that matters, but her parents are nervous that she won’t make a living. This problem solving space is where I love to live.
Partnering with Staff After Camp
Stomping Ground is all about partnering with kids to help them get more of what they are wanting, to help them accomplish their goals, and realize their dreams. That’s what our staff do each summer with kids. We have talked a big talk about this, but I think we need to take a hard look at how we can be more useful to our staff at camp and after they leave.
The most useful job you could ever have
Our dream is that someday working at Stomping Ground is one of the most useful jobs you could ever have. We understand that our staff are choosing between high powered internships, Teach for America, starting their own business, and more. We want to create an opportunity that they are choosing not just because we are more fun, but because we provide more value for their long term career. It’s a big dream.
There are a lot of factors that go into deciding what to do over the summer, and we will never be perfect for everyone. What we hope to do is create an opportunity where if you would love working at Stomping Ground because of the kids, the community, and the impact than the choice should also help your long term career. It should help not only because of the experience, but also because of more tangible aspects like connections, skills, and more.
The Stomping Ground Support Network
Our first step in the process of creating the best career advancement opportunity is the Stomping Ground Support Network. This is a group of people ready to help current and former Stomping Ground staff.
We launched it last week and have been amazed by the response. So far in our network we have lawyers, teachers, venture capitalists, social workers, professors, graduate program recruiters, consultants, speakers, scientists, school administrators, entrepreneurs, camp directors, financial advisors, nurses, and more.
These folks signed up ready to help you think about getting started in their fields. They are camper parents, staff alumni, friends, and people who just want to help. In many ways they are just like the Stomping Ground staff. They want to make the world a radically more empathetic place and believe in thinking differently about partnering with kids. With that goal and mission they are ready to help you start your career in finance, law, pharmacy, teaching, you name it. I am beyond grateful for these supporters and cannot wait to connect our amazing staff with these amazing professionals.
It's All About Relationships
A staff applicant asked me last week what the biggest thing I have learned since starting Stomping Ground was. I stumbled. Then I stammered through something about trusting kids and staff to create empathetic communities. I am sure I didn’t make much sense. I think what I meant to say is more like this...
The biggest thing I have learned since starting Stomping Ground is that everything is about relationships. I probably would have said I knew that years ago, but I believe it more and more everyday. Stomping Ground works because of the relationships we build at camp. The relationship between a nervous first time camper and their compassionate staff, the relationships in a cabin of kids from different backgrounds, the relationship between long time camper parents and Laura, the staff relationships each summer, and more. Relationships are the cornerstone of camp, but more than that, I am coming to understand that relationships are core to every aspect of life including our careers.
Networking vs Relationship Building
Networking has a terrible connotation with most of my millennial friends. It seems somehow sleazy or not genuine, and it can be. But it also can be just about connection, about authentic friendship building and shared understanding. That is what we hope to create at camp and through the Stomping Ground Support Network, a shared understanding and commitment to helping each other. I am sure the network will grow and change, and I hope we can find ways to bring value to the volunteers in the network and the staff looking to start their careers.
Looking for a great community, impactful job, and powerful network? Let’s talk about working at Stomping Ground this summer. Stomping Ground Staff