Made my day!

I received the following email from a former camper, Brian Brenner, on Saturday, which was my “36th” birthday (ha)….
“The year was 1986, and I was six — I mean 11 — years old. You were the division head at the SFY for Tweens 1. Those big Ray-Ban were the style at the time, and you were always wearing yours at the pool as one of the lifeguards at the HKC. I used to come up with a creative excuse every day as to why I couldn’t go in the pool, whether is was an upset stomach, ear infection, or I’d just say I left my bathing suit home. My counselors were always upset, calling my parents to complain. Truth was, I was terrified of the water and couldn’t swim. Even scarrier to me was the vision of the lifeguard with those sunglasses, sun visor, and the whistle around her neck.
After two straight weeks of dodging you at the pool so you wouldn’t make me get in, you caught me on a rare day when I was all suited up, just dipping my feet over the edge. When you asked why I wasn’t swimming with the other kids, I tried to think of a lie, but you got in with me and showed me the water was barely over my head. You actually did this with me for three straight days while most of the other kids who were excellent swimmers made fun of me. Believe it or not, I credit you with helping me get over my fear of water, and to this day, whenever I’m at the beach, in a pool in some fabulous resort, or when I go SCUBA diving in Hawaii, I think of you.
Happy 36th Birthday, Sheryl. Thanks for being a caring adult in charge. Xo”
Every once in a while, I question what I do for a living.  How did I wind up in the not-for-profit camping field?  Every now and then, when I am having a bad day or feeling overwhelmed (once every 4 years or so!),  I often think “maybe I should have been a teacher.”  I’d get lots of vacations, summers off, great benefits, etc… But then I get an email like this, or I have a special encounter with a parent or camper, and then I am reminded why I have been doing this my entire adult life. (I have been doing this since I was old enough to be a CIT!)  WE CHANGE LIVES EVERY DAY.  And sometimes we don’t even know it.  I say this often.  I discuss it at supervisor orientation, staff orientation, and parent orientation.  We change lives every day.
Thankfully, on September 26, 2006, the world as we know it changed.  This was the day that Facebook became available to the masses.  An incredible medium that allows us to connect with people from the past.  Like many of you, I have reconnected with old friends, classmates, former campers, you name it!  The beauty of reconnecting is that it reminds you of where you came from.  It is an opportunity to share memories and feelings that might have gone unsaid.  Sometimes it can remind you why what you do is important.  Sometimes it reinforces what you believe.  Thank you, Brian Brenner, for reminding me why I do this and why we all do it!  And thank you, Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, for allowing us all to reconnect in this very special way.



  1. Brian Brenner · · Reply

    How sweet! That camper really has a way with words…although they were all correct, sincere and very deserving to the subject. Kudos to you, Sheryl, and keep making a tremendous impact on your campers’ lives.


  2. carolyn · · Reply

    LIKES this- a lot!


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