by Sam Hirt

Want to listen to this article? Consume it as a podcast episode!



Working at Camp can be so rewarding and fulfilling. It’s a job where you see dozens and dozens of campers and college aged staff transform into flourishing people who are more equipped for the world around them.

Sometimes, though, working at Camp can also be weird. It’s random and has unexpected challenges and tasks.

Most of my coworkers could vouch for this, and could provide their own top five list of random or odd challenges they’ve navigated. And I think you’d find that they are invigorated by this kind of work, by being on their toes, with a ready-for-anything attitude.

One of those coworkers is Meg Piechocki, our Overnight Camp Director.

Meg started working at Camp over a decade ago as a camp counselor. She stuck around and has worked as Aquatics Director, a member of the Groups & Conferences team, Assistant Overnight Camp Director, and for the last two years, the Overnight Camp Director.

I wanted to see the Overnight Camp program from a different perspective, and what better way to achieve that than from the person who leads it. So I spent a whole day with her – or as much as I could spend with her as two busy people on a busy day in the middle of Summer.

Here was our day.

Meg’s days start early. And on this Friday, it started with a number of meetings, so I finally caught up with her mid-morning in the Historic River Village Lodge.

9:40 AM

We cut through a line of campers refilling their water bottles, and ascended the stairs to the Summer Camp lair. Jordan Seeger, Meg, and Dayna Wiltgen all have offices up there.

I started with an easy question. I asked her, what’s the best part of your job?

“Seeing the joy of kids in the natural environment and learning new things, right outside my window. And seeing young adults as staff engaging with them and providing that experience. Camp comes to life when there are this many kids and staff here.”

What time does a typical day start for you?

“That depends on the day, but I aim for around 7 or 7:15 to be able to get a little bit of breather time before we rock and roll with hoppers and breakfast. So my first stop is the dining halls to see how meals are going, see how kids are doing, see if there are any updates from the night before.”

“From there, we go to chapel, and after chapel, the kids go to Newdls, so that gives me time to connect with village directors again while the staff are out and about.”

“Yesterday, I jumped in and did a couple of soccer skills with the soccer Newdl.”

She added, “Friday is meeting day. Welcome to meeting day.”

It’s also Closing Campfire day, the culmination of the entire week.

“It’s an all-hands-on-deck day.”

Speaking of all hands on deck, I asked about preparation. Our full time team spends much of the year planning for Summer Camp, and the Summer Camp team spends their whole year doing so. I asked, facetiously, if Meg began planning for this Summer at the beginning of June.

She laughed. “August 13, 2022 is when I started prepping for 2023, which is essentially the day after camp was over.”

How early did you start looking for staff for 2023?

“Honestly, we start talking about it in mid Summer. Now is when we start planting the seed, and we open applications in September.”

Village Directors from both Lake Village and River Village began to trickle in at a variety of times for a morning meeting with Meg and Dayna. Their mornings were busy too. I didn’t want to derail their meeting, so I asked one more brief question before I left them to it.

What does a Village Director do?

Meg deferred to the Village Directors in the room.

Sydney Maney, one of our River Village Directors, answered. “We help support the counselors, whether it’s with camper things, or counselor to counselor, or partnerships, that support can look a lot of different ways. It can be conversations. It can be encouraging words or actions.”

Meg added in, “You also implement programming and make sure that programming is meeting our quality and cultural standards that we want to achieve for our kids and for our staff. You promote counselor growth through challenging conversations. And that’s all just been this morning,” she joked.

I left Meg and Dayna and the Village Directors at their meeting, and caught up with some campers outside of River Lodge to see if they knew anything about what the Overnight Camp Director does all day.

“I don’t know, nothing.”

Another chimed in, “Yeah, nothing.”

And a third added, “Emails. That’s what my dad does all day.”

Campers are fun.

12:10 PM

Once Meg and I met up again, In true camp fashion, we got sidetracked by a UPS delivery of 20 boxes. The driver was happy to have us there to help unload. After our brief stints as volunteer box movers, we headed out on a walk around Scheumann Drive (or main loop) in River Village.

Meg had just gotten out of a meeting with Jordan, our Day Camp Director, and as we walked toward the pool I asked her about how Overnight and Day Camp work together.

“We work together really closely all year to look at each other’s goals and outcomes, bouncing ideas off each other. We communicate all year long, and have touch points several times each (Summer Camp) week to see how things are going and what ways we can be supporting each other’s programs, and supporting our staff since the Day Camp staff do live in the cabins as well.”

The bell rang out across main field. Hoppers entered the new Barbara F. Kampen Dining Hall to set their cabins’ tables. Newdls, or clinics, were done for the morning, and campers were meeting back up with their cabins in front of the dining hall to wait for lunch. Some were on the new sport court playing basketball, others played carpet ball on the porch, but all looked hungry. This is the kind of scene that’s been playing out, one way or another, for 99 years. A true camp moment of anticipation.


As we approached the new dining hall, counselors noticed and came briskly with questions for Meg. I let them have their time, content with another positive interruption to our interview.

After Meg answered some questions from those counselors, we entered the dining hall and checked in with the kitchen staff. Meg complimented them for their impromptu change during a recent evening when weather forced a change from what would have been a cookout night.

We wove through the miles and miles of tables and chairs (not really, but it really is a big building), and found the Campers In Leadership Training counselors in the Fellowship Room. I asked them what they think Meg does all day.

“I think Meg keeps this place running. She makes sure that everyone that needs something, has what they need.” Zayner Silva, a returning staff from Brazil gave this very poignant response.

Jon Hiscox, his co counselor, added, “She checks the weather.”

Both are true.

We kept moving through the new Trading Post, and out onto the new grass in front of the Kampen Dining Hall where Meg checked in with a few more summer staff. We wrapped up our afternoon walk, and planned to meet at a full time staff meeting a little later that day.

3:20 PM

We got together just before the staff meeting was going to start, so I took advantage of the time and asked another question.

What are some good challenges with this job?

“Personally, I love puzzles and logistics. So a good challenge is when there’s a scheduling struggle or a problem, I love to look and brainstorm all the different outcomes.”

“When you have over 500 kids at camp that are going all different directions, sometimes we come into some scheduling conflicts that we have to find solutions for, and Dayna and I get to bounce ideas off each other to be able to elevate our program.”

Over the next few minutes, a number of staff members on the full time team came in for a weekly meeting that Meg and Dayna lead. But not before a small patch of weather encroached. Meg put on her weather person cap, opened her laptop, and advised the aquatics staff to keep going as planned, but to be sure to have their lightning detectors on and ready.

After that Friday afternoon meeting, Camp was calm for a brief time – a reprieve before theme dinner and closing campfire.

6:45 PM

Meg and I went out early to Closing Campfire to set up and to chat a little more before the wonderful chaos of Friday night.

She practiced the speech she would give during the Torchbearer Ceremony in the car.

“This is a great segue,” I told her. “What is it about Closing Campfire that is so great? What are we trying to achieve with Closing Campfire each Friday at Camp?”

“It is the culmination point of the entire week,” she said. “And so the kids get to show what they learned at Camp. They get to get on stage and we get to praise them and cheer them on. And the energy of seeing all of Camp together in one place again at the end of the week is a really cool community and family feel.”

Since Closing Campfire is a culmination of the whole experience, I wanted to know, what are the key components of a camp experience?

As we approached the Closing Campfire stage, she said, “A well rounded experience is what we’re going for, so that can range from high adventure activities to moments of connection and community, but at the base of it all comes faith development through building friendships and communities in each and every cabin.”

“The activities add some fun, but it’s the counselors that drive that entire experience for our kids.”

Closing Campfire commenced and we ended our interview time together. I got on stage and played a little guitar and took an all-camp photo. Meg announced the units for unit cheers, and later led the Torchbearer Ceremony.

She charges the Torchbearers, the oldest kids at camp, to be lights and to lead the way for others. She is a good example of that herself.

Eventually, the campers and staff left for devotions in their cabins, the fire went out on stage, and the stars shined bright over Camp Tecumseh.

Learn More about Tecumseh Giving