MY CAMP BIOGRAPHY
I’m a life-long camp enthusiast beginning in 1st grade when I went to church camp for the first time. Here’s the short-list of my crazy camp past.
How many camp-jobs have you had?
Cub Scout Committee Chairman
National Standards Commission
Check-out these amazing professionals.
BOB DITTER, M.ED., LCSW
Bob Ditter is a well regarded child, adolescent and family therapist from Boston, Massachusetts. He is a nationally recognized trainer and consultant and works with organizations that work with young people.
Deborah Gilboa, MD
Respected parenting and youth development expert, Deborah Gilboa is a board certified attending family physician at Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill Health Center, caring for diverse patients from 100+ countries, speaking 47 different languages.
CHRIS THURBER, PhD
Chris Thurber is a favorite keynoter and workshop leader at international, national and regional conferences on education, youth development, mental health and summer camp.
Michelle is the Big Wheel and founder of Training Wheels. She is a dynamic keynote speaker and a highly-regarded consultant in the areas of leadership, teambuilding, and experiential learning.
Dr. Jim Cain is the author of 16 team and community building texts, including the classic Teamwork & Teamplay, A Teachable Moment, Find Something To Do! and his latest book, 100 Activities that Build Unity, Community & Connection. He is also the creator of the innovative T&T Training Cards.
Michael is best known for his highly practical, “use-it-immediately”, approach and entertaining and engaging teaching methods. He is a frequent staff development speaker for schools, camps, recreation programs, child care centers and community service organizations and is a keynoter for many national, state, and international professional associations.
MY FAVORITE "FEEL-GOOD" CAMP STORY
SECRET SUPER POWERS
Young Mateo was an 8 yr old camper attending a week-long resident camp program, (a rental group event), as a camper with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, (MDA).
Every child attending the camp was afflicted with muscular dystrophy however, each camper was at a different stages of the disease. Early-stage kids were pretty mobile, needing only some basic crutches and sometimes leg-braces. Mid-stage kids were in wheelchairs and advance-stage kids were completely immobile and traveled in fully automated electric chairs, often with the need for head and next support.
The theme for the week was Super Heroes, so all the camp counselors, personal aides and staff were dressed in a colorful variety of Super-Man, Batman and Wonder Woman outfits, (and I few I’ve never seen before).
During the opening ceremony, each camper was instructed to select their own personal superpower. They were told that they could share the secret with their camp counselor but not to tell anybody else. The idea of being, that at the end of the week, during the closing campfire, everyone’s secret superpowers would be revealed. At various times during the week, different things would happen that would allow the campers to try to guess each other’s secret superpower and they would write notes about each other and put them in a big box on the main stage.
Anticipating the arrival of this group, we have modified our zip line at to the area several months earlier to accommodate limited mobility and wheelchair-bound campers.
Thursday morning have been designated as the time that these kids would go up to the zip line and so after breakfast everyone headed in that direction.
As you might imagine, it took up the pretty much the whole day to get this group through the activity. Just the process of getting everyone into a safety harness Took at least five times longer than usual.
When finally it was Mateo’s turn, he worked his way up to the front of the line and onto the zip launching platform. He would keep his leg braces on for his trip down the zip line but would need to turn over his crutches to his camp facilitator.
Once the safety tether was attached to his harness, a very strange look came across his face. It’s not unusual for kids, and adults, to feel fear right before going down the zip line. The look on Mateo’s face was different. He looked concerned and worried.
His camp facilitator asked him if anything was wrong and walked over toward Mateo and asked him if anything was wrong. Mateo said;
“My secret super power is flying,
but now it won’t be a secret anymore.”
A feeling of relief, goose bumps and a “down-to-our-soul”, feeling that this was why we were here, came across everyone there. Even the volunteer fire fighters who had come to help the kids that day were crying.
Mateo soared across the canyon, (if only for a few seconds), free from the gravity he had spent most of his young life fighting. He wore a smile on his face like no other and all the assembled campers, staff and volunteers cheered like he had scored the winning touchdown of the Superbowl.
There was not a dry eye in the house as we were all filled with an extreme sense of purpose and clarity.
In that moment, we were one, one family, one community, one super hero fan club.