Libby loves facepaint and tutus. At a bakery, she will always choose a blueberry muffin, but her favorite camp snacks are Cheese-Its and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.
Libby also believes that everyone deserves to experience the magic of camp, and she has been volunteering at camps for people with special healthcare needs since 2003, including programs for people with muscular dystrophy, autism, cancer and HIV. Originally from Seattle, Libby spent seven years doing public health research at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and first got involved with Camp Promise in 2009 as a volunteer fundraiser. Since then, her nights, weekends, and summers were devoted to volunteering at Camp Promise as a counselor, unit leader, and now director.
In 2014, Libby moved to Boston to work full time on camp. She currently works year-round at the Jett Foundation where she manages the Camp Promise program, coordinates local adaptive activities, and curates a flying pig museum. Libby studied neuroscience, biology, and psychology at Brandeis University, and holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Washington. On the weekends you can find her going on costumed bike rides, regenerating succulents, and skiing.
A Seattle-native, Terin currently resides in NYC. Terin has 17 years (and counting) of experience working with campers with muscular dystrophy, including experience providing personal care as a counselor; entertaining and organizing as a unit leader; and budgeting, recruiting, training, and managing as a camp director.
Camp Promise is Terin's self-proclaimed "jobby" because it "pays like a hobby but takes as much time as a job." By day, she is an advertising copywriter and has produced work for Kellogg's, TED, Visa, Toys R Us, and was the @KFC_Colonel on Twitter. In her spare time, she enjoys finding inexpensive ways to see Broadway shows, traveling to new places, and teaching self-defense to kids and teens. Terin has been with Camp Promise since 2009, when it was headquartered at her coffee table and she did camper-counselor pairings using magnets on her fridge.
5-Questions with Libby & Terin
If we did a talent show right now, what would your act be?
My go-to party trick is being able to slide an Oreo cookie from my forehead into my mouth without using my hands (or dropping it on the floor). So far, my personal best is under 5 seconds! I love practicing, so if you want to learn, come find me at camp!
What's your favorite type of s'more?
When making a s'more, I love using a peanut butter cup instead of plain chocolate. The trick is to first place your peanut butter cup on a graham cracker near the fire and then roast your marshmallow. When you're done roasting (golden brown, all the way!), the peanut butter cup will have started to melt and will combine with the roasted marshmallow into gooey deliciousness. Making s'mores is serious business and these techniques are campfire tested, camper approved.
How did you first get involved with camps for people with special healthcare needs?
When I was a senior in high school, I responded to a classified in the newspaper (do they even have those anymore?) looking for volunteers to work at a camp for youth with muscular dystrophy. I was a counselor that summer and have been going to similar camps ever since. From camps for people with neuromuscular diseases, family camps for youth with autism, and weekend retreats for adolescents with cancer, I’ve been a counselor, lifeguard, rock climbing instructor, unit leader, and now director.
What makes a good camp counselor?
To me, a rockin’ counselor is someone who is totally and completely camper-oriented. This doesn’t mean you have to be loud and wacky, but rather stepping out of your comfort zone, challenging yourself to learn new skills, taking initiative, and asking for help when you don’t know something. We see an amazing paradox each summer where the counselors who prioritize their campers’ experience end up learning and growing the most themselves!
what keeps you coming back to camp?
What keeps me coming back to camp is getting to see everyone learn that they can do way more than they thought they could – no one leaves Camp Promise as the same person they were when they arrived on the first day. Whether you are a camper, a counselor, or staff member (including Terin and myself!) we all come together with the common goal of making camp the best week of our campers’ year. In the process, we challenge ourselves, learn new skills and gain perspectives to take home and integrate into our lives. I love watching this unfold over the week, and I love sending people home with a greater sense of possibility for themselves and the world.
IF WE DID A TALENT SHOW RIGHT NOW, WHAT WOULD YOUR ACT BE?
Hmmmm....I think my best talent is helping other people come up with talents. But if that doesn't count as an answer, I'll go with guessing the punchline to jokes. So people could give me the setup to a corny joke and I'll guess or make up the punchline.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE TYPE OF S'MORE?
S'moreos. Take out the graham cracker and sub in an Oreo. Also, I'm of the school that marshmallows should have some char to them. I know that well-done marshmallows are a very polarizing topic, but it's how I feel.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH CAMPS FOR PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL HEALTHCARE NEEDS?
When I was 16, I saw a recruiting booth for a camp for people with muscular dystrophy at a state competition I was at. I was too scared to attend camp as a child, so I figured this would be a good way to get the camp experience while making it possible for others to have a camp experience, too. I've volunteered as a counselor (then unit leader, then director) every summer for the last 16 years and I can't imagine my summer without camp.
What camp memory sticks out for you?
One camper who's been coming to Camp Promise for years—and grew up going to camp—had never been canoeing. Last year, he decided to give it a try and it was one of the most memorable things I've seen in nearly two decades of going to camp. I walked down to the waterfront to see him gliding across the water. The smile on his face was so big. But what really stuck out to me was the commitment of the four counselors who made sure he felt safe. And in this case, it meant a counselor sitting behind him to support him, a counselor sitting in front of him to paddle, and two counselors neck-deep in water holding the sides of the canoe so he didn't have to worry about tipping over.
WHAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK TO CAMP?
I love seeing people do things for the first time. That's what camp is all about to me. Giving people a place—whether they're campers or volunteers—where they feel safe and supported enough to go out of their comfort zone and try something new. Whether that's singing karaoke, spending the night away from home, or trying a new food.