A post by Allison Klee (everyone just calls her Klee). Summer Staff 2016-2018 (and forever?), hardest working person on the planet, maker of this video, dance party counselor, graduating college in three years, Stevie Nix enthusiast, and an incredible friend.
I spend a lot of time trying to convince my friends to work at Stomping Ground but I think I’m pretty bad at it because I get so overwhelmed trying to explain how awesome it is, I end up just freaking out, and they don’t take what I say too seriously. That being said, I’ve tried writing this a bunch of different ways and deleting it every time because nothing sounds good enough when talking about camp. I know one thing for certain: I love Stomping Ground because of the staff, the campers, the support that come from both. Maybe even more than that, the feeling that what I’m doing matters and is important to people. That it is bigger than just me.
Stomping Ground’s Secret Sauce
I’ve worked a lot of different part-time jobs including food service, retail, party planning, catering, etc. I’ve learned a lot of important things at all of them. However, there is no greater support or staff camaraderie in any of these positions that compare to summer camp. I’m sure a lot of camp counselors would say this. AND, what Stomping Ground has to offer that is unique, is Jack and Laura (the founders and directors). It’s only December and I’m pretty sure they’ve already written me five different recommendation letters and been my references for everything from AmeriCorps programs, to on-campus employment, to internships, to a mother from Care.com who specifically listed an experienced camp counselor as a preferred quality of her child’s babysitter. But it’s more than recommendation letters and endless trust and support. Jack and Laura are two of the most hard-working bosses I have ever had. They deeply care about what staff members want to get out of camp, and go out of their way to make sure staff feel welcomed. You want to be an actor? Cool, Jack and Laura will immediately start brainstorming with you about organizing theatre projects at camp. They take it one step further. Not only will they help you change camp to fit your interest, help your resume, or let you try things, they instantly open up their network and help you after camp. Want to be an actor? Cool, Jack and Laura know some people in NYC recruiting for a play, do you want to chat with them? Maybe shadow them for a day?
I’m saying all of this because when I beg my friends to work at camp a lot of them say they need “real” experience in their field, or do internships to figure out what the field they’re interested in even is. Why not experiment in a place that’s devoted to experimentation? Better yet, why not take advantage of an opportunity to try new things and implement your biggest ideas with other people who are amazing at talking about big ideas? Plus Jack and Laura are great at helping camp look good on a resume or connecting you with some good people.
Loving kids and getting to hang out with them 24/7 as a camp counselor is the obvious draw to working at summer camp. But what’s hard to put into words is everything else that comes with it. There’s something about going to bed at night realizing that you’re getting paid to write songs with 10-year-olds, or have a kid look at you with 3-day old paint in his hair and pancakes in his hand and say, “this is the best week of my life” or walk by a kid playing in a pile of dirt and not think to yourself, “why is that kid playing in a pile of dirt?” There’s something about these moments. Something I can’t explain, but you can feel it.
Quacking on the Playground
At a campfire, another staff member Brian put it perfectly for me. He said, “I’ve done a lot of interesting things in my life but laughing with a girl quacking on the playground at camp will always be the best thing I ever do.”
I know I’m only 20 years old and haven’t done pretty much anything cool, but I’m pretty sure working at Stomping Ground has been one of the best things I’ve ever done, and one of the best things I’ll ever do.