Now as a teacher I make the point to focus on creating a classroom community, and developing a sense of belonging to each other and ourselves, before focusing on learning. If kids feel out of place they won’t learn, but if someone feels like they belong, they will take more academic risks. You have to take care of your heart so that you can use your brain better. At Friends Camp I learned that everyone can feel like they belong, which takes work and intentionality.
When did you work at camp?
Well, I was a camper there from 1999 until 2002 and then I was counselor in 2006, 2007, and 2009. And I’ll tell you that in the summer of 2008 I did a teaching program for the summer instead of going to camp because I thought it would be more focused on what I wanted to do after college, but I just missed camp!
How did you hear about Friends Camp?
I heard about camp from a friend who went to my Quaker school in South Jersey, and she heard about it from a girl named Laura Sawyer, and later, Laura Sawyer and I worked at camp together and became good friends.
When did you know you wanted to be a counselor?
I always knew I wanted to work at camp when I was a kid. Friends Camp was this magical place where literally anybody could belong — I had never felt so instantly a part of a community. I went to a Quaker school pre-K through 12, too, and Friends Camp did it right.
What was your favorite part of working at camp?
I think my favorite part was that we could create flexible programming for kids. We could do anything that kids were excited or curious about. There was a whole range of things we could do as counselors. And then I also always think about Vespers. It was a moment where we could try to pause and that was really meaningful. Friends Camp was practicing mindfulness before it became a self help phenomenon, before the rest of the United States decided it mattered!
Do you remember a program you ran that you really liked?
In 2009 I ran a program with a guy named Pete, and I can’t remember the exact name but it was called something like “Pete and Kate Teaching You how to Date.” We said it was about dating but it was really about learning how to love yourself. We took ourselves on dates, wrote ourselves love letters, and we went on an ice cream date. It was about building healthy relationships but in a very Friends Camp way.
Do you have a specific special memory from your times at camp?
What comes to mind is every time I did the swim to the island as a camper or a counselor. The strength it instilled in me, and the belief in my body, those swims were really special. I’ve always been a swimmer and those swims made me feel very powerful and strong, and I’ve always been overweight and doing the island swim was an opportunity for me to feel like I could show how strong I was.
What do you do now?
I am a high school English teacher in Boston. I pretty much always knew that it was what I wanted to do. I had really amazing high school English teachers and I wanted to be just like them.
What do you feel like you learned from working at Friends Camp?
I learned the value of creating a space where everyone belongs, where every opinion, thought, and idea is appreciated, loved, respected, and honored. Now as a teacher I make the point to focus on creating a classroom community, and developing a sense of belonging to each other and ourselves, before focusing on learning. If kids feel out of place they won’t learn, but if someone feels like they belong, they will take more academic risks. You have to take care of your heart so that you can use your brain better. At Friends Camp I learned that everyone can feel like they belong, which takes work and intentionality. You have to make the intention of putting community first. Friends Camp is a magical place!