During summer staff interviews recently, many of our candidates told us how much this place [Holiday Lake] has helped mold them into the person they are. I reflect on my experience at camp and I can honestly say I have no idea where my life would be without camp and Holiday Lake. I don’t believe I was ever a shy kid and always made friends easily, but camp is where I made lifelong friends, met people who would mentor me and celebrate life with me and even one who introduced me to my husband. I attended a few different camps as a child but 4-H Camp was always my favorite. It was a place I could be silly, sing songs, and be a leader.
I applied for summer staff because Jennifer Bowen (my awesome 4-H Agent) said they still needed people so I took a chance and called. Bryan, the recently promoted Center Director, answered my call. Cut to a few summers previous to that when Bryan was Program Director I helped with Cloverbud. Long story short, I had a sprained wrist, couldn’t go canoeing so I skipped that class and helped with another. Bryan thought I was being a slacker and was mixed up with some trouble makers who were also there to help. All a misunderstanding, but when Bryan answered the phone I was sure I wouldn’t get the job. Luckily he doesn’t hold grudges and Jennifer was in his office at the time. He told me where to get an application and I got set up with an interview. Phew! I showed up for my interview, application in hand, and nervous. I can’t even remember the interview with Nate honestly because I was so nervous. On the way home I got the call from Nate that I was hired and to be back at the center by 5 to leave for Statewide Staff Training in the morning. Talk about a last minute hire.
Heading into the summer I had planned to be an interior design major, until I discovered that you could do camp as a career! I heard about Radford’s rec program and I was sold. I even told Nate that one day I wanted his job. After four years on summer staff I was so grateful to receive a fulltime position at the center, now I am living the dream!
So you see, without this place, I have no idea where I would be. Camp has taught me so many things about myself as a leader, and given me opportunities to do things I never would have ever gotten a chance to do. Where else can you shoot a bow and arrow, high-five someone 25 ft. in the air on the climbing wall, and then perform in the talent show, all in one day? Where else can you meet tons of new friends, gain independence and leadership skills, all while having fun and being who you were really meant to be?
Heather Benninghove ~ Salmon