by Alison Parker – Staff, 2004-2006, 2008
The summer when I was 18, I was looking to put my canoe tripping skills to use and find a job at a summer camp as a tripper. I had a few job offers – all at camps that I knew nothing about. I had narrowed it down to two camps, and asked my Mom for help deciding which camp to work at, and she told me one thing – look at how much a week at camp costs. Two weeks at Camp Big Canoe was less than half of what the other one cost for just one week. Right away I accepted my job to work at Camp Big Canoe. That’s where I found a place where all campers are welcomed, staff held car washes to pay for building repairs and camp scholarships, and absolutely everyone who worked (or volunteered) at camp was there not just for a job, but because they loved it with every part of them. That’s the kind of place I wanted to be.
My time at Camp Big Canoe feels short – 4 summers on staff – but it’s had a really big impact on me. I did a lot of growing up and learning over those summers, and everything I’ve learned from my fellow staff and campers has helped shaped the work I do with young people today. I have so many wonderful memories from those years: eating cinnamon rolls, getting lost on the wrong river, uncontrollable laughter, my first encounter with a rattlesnake, stargazing, singing campfire songs that I use at Brownies all the time, meeting countless amazing people, and so much more.
I had no idea what to expect when I showed up the first summer, and I am so grateful I made that decision!