I’m unsure how to even begin to express my excitement for this upcoming year. Stomping Ground quickly became one of the best things to happen to me since my first summer on staff in 2016, and the part of my year that I look forward to most. I can’t believe I get to live this excitement year round, and learn from two of the most impressive, creative, and intelligent bosses I have ever had. Since day one of working for Jack and Laura, I was immediately engrossed in how intensely they care about the work they do and the risk they took in starting this crazy idea that is Stomping Ground. Jack and Laura consistently go above and beyond when it comes to supporting their staff, providing kids with the best possible experiences, and never settling for less when it comes to making camp better… I AM #IN.
STAFF ORIENTATION WITH CAMPERS
One of my favorite parts of this past summer was running a week-long option for kids called “Staff Orientation.” We had about 10 campers and the first day they each received a folder and clipboard with their name on it, just like staff arriving to Stomping Ground for the first time do. Throughout the week we had campers fill out mock application forms, role-played some difficult situations counselors may face, and had a discussion panel with Jack, Laura, one of our board members, and a couple other staff members as well. The outcomes were hysterical, ridiculous, and certainly memorable. As a group we came up with some awesome outrageous activities to play with campers, and dreamed up some big ideas for Embers, village time, and night games. Our discussions and activities were usually pretty silly, one camper actually cried from laughing so hard which I will never forget. But the last day of the option, we did an Embers activity that Laura leads with all of staff each night of staff orientation. The group sits in a circle, and we pass around a bucket of beads for each person to take one. As the bucket is passed, people have the opportunity to share a moment they are grateful for, or an “ah-ha” moment of realization that they had from the day. Each person then receives a string to put their beads on. During this activity, campers shared some learning moments from the week, one of my favorites being, “This week I learned that I actually really want to be on staff someday, and my favorite part about camp are the counselors.” This was one of my favorite options I ran all summer because like camp, it was the perfect balance of bizarre, crazy fun, and magical moments that allowed us to connect on a deeper level and recognize the unique opportunities that can’t happen in many spaces besides summer camp.
Something I am greatly looking forward to this year is staff recruitment. As I have mentioned before, I spend a lot of my time begging some of my bestest friends to come work at Stomping Ground. I love talking about the possibilities that camp can provide for staff members, and genuinely believe it provides people with some of the most important and innovative skills it takes to get a job “in the real world.” I look forward to visiting colleges and universities, and partnering with local organizations to recruit staff who are invested in the mission of Stomping Ground, and simply want to spend their summer having fun and meeting incredible people.
Know someone that would make a great camp counselor? Send me an email.
NON PROFIT PARTNERSHIPS
Another part of this position I am excited about is maintaining the partnerships Laura has created between Stomping Ground and other nonprofits in Rochester. I had no idea how big of a part this is in Laura’s work, and am already realizing the impact she’s had on so many organizations. In just my first week on the job, I had several coordinators from organizations Laura volunteered at ask me if I would be continuing the work Laura had started, and how much of a help and impact Laura made on their organization. I am grateful I have Laura for support as I navigate these relationships, and am excited to learn from professionals who have similar ideas on how to better create and improve our community that Stomping Ground builds.
Jack and Laura are constantly reminding me that while I will have concrete responsibilities and things I just have to get done in this position, this job is ultimately what I want to make of it and they want to help me figure out what I am most passionate about when it comes to working for camp and nonprofits in general. I can’t imagine a better way to spend my first year after graduating college, or a more ideal “real job” to take after college. I feel incredibly fortunate that Jack and Laura are just as invested in me helping Stomping Ground improve as they are about helping me figure out the kind of work I want to do in the future.
CONNECTING WITH YOU!
I can’t wait to connect with all of the campers and their parents this year and hear more of their stories. I love Stomping Ground so much, and am going to work so hard this year to make Stomping Ground even better than it already it is. IT IS SO GOOD TO BE TOGETHER.
****Klee and Laura will be calling our our existing families this fall for feedback and to connect. If you want to chat sooner send Klee a text/email or give her a call. We are beyond excited to welcome Klee to our team. LOVE Jack