“Camp is for the camper” is a motto that Chief Margie Newman pounded into the heads of the entire camp staff at Camp of the Rising Son. My first summer at CRS was 1994. I was in between my junior and senior year of high school. I wasn’t quiet sure where I was going to college or what I would do with the rest of my life, but those words would play a huge role in some of the decisions I would make in my young adult life.
I studied elementary education at Delta State so I could leave my options open to work at summer camps. I worked at CRS, Twin Lakes, Cedar Point, and a few other special needs camps during college. I knew that camp was for the camper and I loved working at camps. I became a student of camping. I joined the American Camping Association just so I could learn more about camp management. I have lived camp, breathed camp, and eaten a lot of camp stew in my eighteen years of camp obsession.
For the past seven years I have spent every summer day around a man made, chlorinated lake. I have made Aviation Challenge my camping passion. I pulled my hair out at times, had the police called once, and enjoyed every mildew moment driving the Raptor. If you cut me, I think I would bleed OD green. Working around the lake has given me the experience of Be Ready Camp. BRC has taught me more about leadership than any workshop or leadership activity ever could.
Currently I am making the transition away from Aviation Challenge to help in Education. I don’t want to leave my roots of camp management. I enjoy calling parents and encouraging campers to overcome homesickness. I really don’t want to move away from camp, the kids, or the staff. I am torn, what is best for camp and the campers?
I have learned that leaders must make clear decisions. Have your ever been faced with a decision where your heart and your head were further apart than Nancy Pelosi and Sarah Palin? That is what I have been facing recently, to move on or move up? I am reminded of Chief Margie’s motto, camp is for the camper! At camp, it doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as you are putting the campers first.