The summer of 2001 was definitely a life changer for me. I came to Camp Jewell on a whim because I happened to see a table set up at the student union center at Denison University. After a brief interview on the spot, I decided I was up for an adventure. I left the familiarity of my typical Ohio summers to try something new—camp. I knew no one and had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never attended camp and had no idea what it was all about.
I was a counselor in Senior Village that summer and it was absolutely amazing. I met incredible people from all over the world. I was surprised how quickly we clicked and how strong our bonds were after just a few short months. The people I met were fun, adventurous, hilarious and simply put, they were good people. I went on incredible adventures all over New England, seeing new places and doing new things like backpacking and mountain biking (not lots of chances to do those things in Ohio!). I remember crying my eyes out the morning I had to fly home. It was hard to leave all my new friends behind. That fall, during my senior year of college, a crew of camp friends from England, New Zealand and Australia came to visit. They had been making their round visiting their camp friends at colleges all over and we had a blast! I was also fortunate enough to visit/be visited by some of my other fellow senior camp counselors that year.
I had a feeling I would return for another summer after college graduation in 2002 and luckily it worked out. This time I was going to be a trip leader and I knew quite a few friends from the summer before who were also returning for more camp fun. I knew it would be special, but I never imagined just HOW special.
My first day back at camp I met the new trip leaders, including Chris Cartnick. He was an experienced camp guy and everyone immediately liked him … including me. Right from the start we were doing fun, adventurous things together. We headed to Cape Cod for the trippers break-in trip. Spending two weeks straight with Chris, we really got to know each other quickly. We clicked right from the start. I knew that he was the man I was going to marry within a few weeks of meeting him! Looking back it was the most incredible summer either of us has ever had. We were traveling to awesome places like San Diego, Mexico, Acadia National Park, and Cape Cod. We were doing things like rock climbing, kayaking, biking, and hiking. We were role models and leaders for a great group of teenagers. And, we fell in love.
When the summer was ending, we were trying to decide what to do with our lives. Luckily we were young enough that neither of us had commitments and the timing was perfect so the world was ours. We decided to spend the next month traveling across the country and visiting National Parks I had never been to. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
After our trip out west we decided to move to Burlington, Vermont and the rest is history!
We did go back to Jewell to do trips again the following summer (2003) and stayed on to work during the following fall as program staff, where we continued to meet new amazing friends. I loved it so much I recommended it to my little sister, my college roommate and a childhood friend, all of whom came to work at Jewell at some point.
As an added family bonus, this summer my nephew Oliver went on the Cape Cod bike trip with Camp Jewell, which happens to be one of the trips Chris and I led in 2003. This is a big step for Oliver, considering he has always been a Camp Woodstocker, and we are happy to have converted him!
Working at Camp Jewell taught me the benefits of stepping outside your comfort zone and continuing to challenge yourself by keeping things interesting and allowing you to keep growing as a person. Camp Jewell introduced me to many new outdoor activities and experiences that now I cannot imagine my life without and I look forward to sharing these with my own children. Those summers at camp also led Chris and me to professions in which we work with children.
We now live in Farmington, CT with our two daughters, Sadie and Grace. I am a kindergarten teacher and Chris just went back to school to become a school counselor. We visit Camp Jewell once or twice a year with our kids. I know that the decision I made 14 years ago to take a leap of faith and travel halfway across the country is a pivotal moment in my life that brought me to where I am today. It holds a VERY special place in our hearts. I know that it was fate that brought us together, but Camp Jewell definitely played a huge role in our fortune. We both continue to look back on those summers at Camp Jewell as some of the fondest of times. How lucky we are. We can’t wait for our next visit!