Dear Longacre Family,
I am so thankful for you. I haven’t even had a day at summer camp, yet I feel so connected to you. I am thankful for your warm welcome, the inspiration you spark in youth, and the positive change you are making on the world. I would like to take a moment to introduce myself, your new Camp Director, share what has brought me to this camp, and to say thank you for everything that you will do for me and that you already have done for the world.
As a camper my days were spent on a lake on Cape Cod, where I dreamed about arts and crafts, canoeing, and lip-sync all year long. I remember the first time I cooked mac-and-cheese over a fire, the first time I performed in a talent show, and the first time a good friend was heartbroken and our cabin was there to comfort her. I looked forward to meeting new people, spending every day in the lake, and reuniting with my old friends. My favorite camp memory was the day we “snuck out” during rest hour, and our counselors brought us to the boy’s Dining Hall to decorate it for one of our friends in our brother cabin’s birthday. Our counselors gave us experiences to make memories that last a lifetime, with friends that I still have to this day. Camp gave me a support system, confidence, and independence. I could advocate for what I wanted and needed, all while having fun with my friends.
During the summer before I went to college, I became a camp counselor. It was the first job that I had which I liked and I excelled at. I learned responsibility, creativity, and teamwork in a way completely different than ever before. It wasn’t until I was responsible for someone else’s child that I realized how much my actions need to be intentional and compassionate. I got to sing "repeat after me" songs, take trips to the science museum, eat ice cream on the beach, and hangout with the coolest people I knew: my campers. I spent my next four years looking forward to the best summer job in the world, and knew that it would prepare me for working as a teacher, which is what I had planned on doing for my as long as I could remember.
I went to Springfield College in Massachusetts and studied elementary education in the classroom while also experiencing transformational leadership through various clubs and activities I participated in. While I took classes on how to teach math to 6th graders, I facilitated orientation workshops and organized opportunities for reflection and self-growth in my peers. I realized that I didn’t want to teach the future generations how to fill in a multiple-choice standardized test, but instead I wanted to inspire them to learn about others to then discover their own selves.
I studied abroad with Semester at Sea, traveling to 13 countries in a semester, studying and experiencing the world for the first time. I was immersed in cultural exchange, navigating my way through cities and trails unknown to me, that were the homes of so many people that were so different from me. I learned that through these differences, we are all actually quite similar. Love and connection drives so many of us, and a good meal shared with those you love can solve almost anything. It was through my travels that I knew that I wanted to provide people with a place to explore their differences, feel loved and build connections, not only with each other, but through food.
These realizations turned into applying for my first real world job after college: camp counselor. I met some awesome people at a camp conference who made me realize that I could work at camp all year round, which sounded awesome to me, and I ended up working as an assistant camp director at Frost Valley YMCA's Farm Camp in the Catskills. I had never worked or lived on a farm before, but I knew I wanted to work at camp, so I took the job, which ended up being one of the most formative times for my career. I realized that I could combine my passion for sustainable food and the shared meal through farm programming, along with my passion for creating safe spaces in the world for youth to learn, lead, create, and dream. Camp allows for all of these things, where we are able to build a sustainable world through meaningful connections that we build with ourselves, others, and our earth. My life has been devoted to that ever since, and I have spent the past 4 summers as a full time camp Director at the oldest YMCA Camp in the country.
That brings me to now, and the decision I made to be a part of Longacre Leadership Camp. From the second I stepped onto the farm I could feel magic in the air. Weeze was the first person I met. Her passion, strength, humor, and care for everyone she interacts with made me feel welcome, inspired, and simply just so happy. Being able to see the farm through her eyes, talk about the successes and struggles of camp, and brainstorming about ways to make Longacre thrive with Weeze were some of the most energized conversations I had experienced in a long time. I am so grateful for her. I am thankful that I will be able to support Longacre alongside one of its strongest forces.
Meeting Weeze was proof to me that Longacre’s community is strong, supportive, and true. I also received such a warm welcome from the Longacre Alumni when my position was announced. I was immediately invited to the Longacre Alumni group, and felt so empowered by a group of people that I had never met before. I cannot wait to meet as many of you as I can! As I speak with James and Jack about the phone calls they have shared with current camp families, I am more and more excited to begin speaking to all of you myself. I really cannot wait to meet you! I can already tell that the strength of this community comes from the trust and support that holds it up. It is through these connections that the world becomes a little bit better.
Longacre creates a community that is based on trust, communication, hard work, and leadership. Our mission and values make that happen; they guide staff to intentionally provide this supportive and empathetic community for the campers. The campers all have a responsibility to communicate directly, to make decisions that benefit the community, and to make a positive impact on the farm, all while developing passion for farming, leadership, and service. I am thrilled to be a part of this magic. Longacre’s mission is unique, and I am thankful to have a hand in providing youth experiences where they can grow into leaders and change agents. I am thankful that we get to do this on a beautiful farm.