Meet our Camp Apprentice, Meghan!
apprentice. ap·pren·tice [əˈpren(t)əs/]. noun: a person who works for another in order to learn a trade.
This year our leadership team has grown and we've welcomed Meghan Houston as our Camp Apprentice. As you know, we love making up words, so it should come as no surprise that we often call her our Campprentice. Meghan has many years of experience as a counselor and unit leader at Camp Promise-West, and in her new role, has been working with us year-round to help plan camp and will be joining us at all three camps this summer. Check out our interview below to learn more about Meghan and her role at Camp Promise.
When did you first join the Camp Promise family?
I did not go to any summer camps when I was a kid, but in 2011 a friend invited me to apply to be a counselor at Camp Promise. And the rest is history...once you're in, you're always in! I really can't believe that was already 6 years ago. Since then, I've been a counselor and most recently a unit leader. Those roles really showed me what camp is all about and having seen camp from our participants' perspectives will for sure help me in my new role now.
Tell us a little bit about the Camp Apprentice role and what you do.
As the Camp Apprentice, my goal is to learn about all things camp and help out as much as possible. To do this, Libby and Terin are training me and teaching me how they put camp together. The three of us meet each week over the phone to select theme days, discuss what worked and didn't work in previous years, build the activity schedules for each camp, and plan for orientation and staff training. I spend a lot of time researching fun swag and emailing guest vendors and performers who we want to invite to camp, plus, I'm also learning how to do staff and camper interviews and am helping pair up campers and counselors. And, when the summer finally arrives, I'll be on site at all three camps, helping run staff training, implementing programming and coordinating logistics.
What is one of the most surprising things you've learned working behind the scenes at Camp Promise?
I am starting to learn about the many small details that go into camp and the need to be detail-oriented. Decisions we make in January impact those we make in February and then in March, and so on. For example, we can't order hospital beds for campers until we know how many campers need a hospital bed, which is why we ask that on the application and in the camper interviews. Relatedly, how many hospital beds fit in each cabin or room impacts the cabin assignments, and how many counselors sign up impacts how many campers we can accept. As you see, everything is connected and there's a huge domino effect to each decision we make. The amount of coordination that goes into making camp happen is just pure magic!
What challenges do you think you'll face this summer?
I've only been to Camp Promise-West before, so it's hard to say. I've been told each camp has its own culture and traditions, so I am eager to see those and am excited to meet so many new faces!
You've been a counselor and UL for so many years now, is there anything you think you'll miss as you move from the cabins and join the leadership team this summer?
Going from counselor to unit leader to Campprentice has felt like a natural progression for me. It meant the world to me when I was a counselor and unit leader, and now as the Campprentice, I'm just so glad to continue engaging with this organization and being a part of it. While I won't be in the cabins as a unit leader at Camp Promise-Rockies and Camp Promise-East this summer, I do hope to be at Camp Promise-West. And, since Camp Promise-West is my old stomping ground where I learned how to be a counselor and unit leader, I know those roots will definitely help me in my Campprentice role across the board.
What's been your favorite part of being a Campprentice so far?
Being able to see the other side of the curtain into the wizardry that is Camp Promise programming. Learning from and working with Libby and Terin has been just outrageously awesome! I cannot wait to see what's next.
What is your #1 tip for new counselors and campers headed to Camp Promise this summer?
I would have to say that my #1 tips is to go all in! Do your best to empower each other to "say yes", try new things, wear that crazy hat, paint your whole body green. You will be amazed at how going all in will heighten not just your experience but also enrich the experiences of others.
What is one thing you can't survive camp without?
A portable speaker. Sounds crazy (loud?), I know, but some of my favorite memories of camp have been impromptu dance parties. And, if I had to choose a more "practical" item, it would be a journal or notebook. Being able to take the time at the end of the day to quickly jot down what we did that day helps me recall later the things that worked and didn't work. A journal helps me remember the fun and helps me make the next session of camp even better.
What is your favorite camp tradition and why?
The Firsts Board! It helps empower people to try new things and gives them a platform to celebrate it with their friends.
What camp skills do you use in your every day life outside of camp/in the "real world"?
Camp has taught me to "say yes" as often as I can (within reason), and to think creatively and outside the box. Having this mindset has opened doors to new possibilities for me!
What do you when your not at camp?
I live in the Seattle area and am the price and signage coordinator for Dick's Sporting Goods in Washington State. I directly handle all merchandise price points, as well as all of the marketing graphics. In my spare time I love to be creative in the kitchen, trying out my own versions of cooking and baking recipes. I also make it a point to pet every dog I see. It's both a blessing and a curse.