Continuing the Legacy: The Spring 2024 Outdoor Education Team

Meet the Spring 2024 Outdoor Education Staff

In Camp Tecumseh’s 100th year, and almost 50 years of outdoor field trips at Camp, get to know the current team that is carrying on the legacy of Outdoor Education.

Learn more about our Outdoor Education program.

Scroll to meet the team.

Lauren “Lobo” Buchanan

Origin story:
I was born just a few miles away near the banks of the Wabash in West Lafayette and while I have wandered far and wide in years past I am overjoyed to be back at home at camp.

Favorite camp activity:
My favorite camp activity is going on hikes through our Oak Forest trails.

What song makes you want to get up and dance?
Anything by my favorite band, The Oh Hellos!

Keith “Kilimanjaro” Kalish

Origin story:
An explorer from the African continent, visiting the USA, brought some mud, pebbles, and rocks. They were left in the fertile floodplains of southern Illinois. Years passed and a small but mighty mountain emerged, overlooking the Mighty Mississippi River. After several tectonic plate movements, Kilimanjaro landed in Indiana at camp.

Favorite camp activity:
Creek exploring, looking for unique rocks or crayfish.

What song makes you want to get up and dance?
“Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman

Kaleb “Kudu” Buchanan

Origin story:
As a young Kudu wandering the savanna I felt something was missing from my life. In search of a higher purpose I traveled the world and ended up at Tecumseh teaching students more about the Earth and themselves.

Favorite camp activity:
My favorite camp activity is campfire because of how silly and goofy we get to be.

What song makes you want to get up and dance?
The Pokemon Theme Song

Sydney “Serengeti” Maney

Origin story:
I grew up in Crawfordsville, Indiana with my first Camp Tecumseh experience being an OE field trip with my 5th grade class. I love getting to share my passion for learning at my favorite place in the world.

Favorite camp activity:
My favorite camp activity is visiting the animals at the mini farm! Especially the sheep.

What song makes you want to get up and dance?
“Dancing Queen” by ABBA

Rachel “Rock” Naylor

Origin story:
A long time ago when camp still had mountains, an earthquake quaked and a small shiny rock broke off and there I was!

Favorite camp activity:
Watching the sunset!

What song makes you want to get up and dance?
“Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus

Kaylee “Kelp” Rulong

Origin story:
Kelp sprouted in Indianapolis but has since grown accustomed to flourishing in the banks of the Tippecanoe.

Favorite camp activity:
Watching the sun set over the lake.

What song makes you want to get up and dance?
“Campfire Song Song” by Spongebob Squarepants

Taylor “Thunder” Moore

Origin story:
I first formed in a small cumulonimbus cloud over the hills of Middle Tennessee, but now you can hear me rolling through the troposphere over Camp Tecumseh.

Favorite camp activity:
I love lake time, but it always gets canceled when I go because of lightning in the area.

What song makes you want to get up and dance?
“The Thunder Rolls” by Garth Brooks

Jon “Jupiter” Hiscox

Origin story:
I was originally a part of the Jupiter to Earth camp exchange program. After spending time at Camp Tecumseh, I decided to stay on Earth and spread some Jupiter love.

Favorite camp activity:
The Black Hole, Moonball, and Jupiter-gazing.

What song makes you want to get up and dance?
“Drops of Jupiter” by Train

Carson “Cardinal” Brooks

Origin story:
I first flew to camp in 2021 after hearing how eggs-sighting it is. Since building a nest here, I’ve been able to quack the case on how to be a comedi-hen, hoot for others, give life my owl, and be im-peck-able!

Favorite camp activity:
Horseback riding! It always leaves me feeling uplifted and soaring to new heights.

What song makes you want to get up and dance?
“Rockin’ Robin” by Bobby Day

Sheila “Spring” Wilimitis

Origin story:
I appear every year at Camp Tecumseh to chase away the chill of winter and bring warmth and rebirth to plants, animals, and humans. I love to help new light and life spring up after a cold, dark season.

Favorite camp activity:
Hiking the Pine Forest, Ghost Creek, and Gish Trails. Sitting on the deck of Historic River Lodge overlooking the Tippecanoe River. Facilitating learning and discovery with people of all ages.

What song makes you want to get up and dance?
“Blame it on the Boogie” by Michael Jackson

Putting the Pieces Together: An interview between Joel Sieplinga and Dr. Amanda Case

The following article is an abbreviated version of the conversation which can be heard in its entirety here:


.

In the Summer of 2019, Camp partnered with Purdue University doctoral students for additional mental health and wellbeing guidance and care for our summer staff. We have had four successful summers of collaboration. As we focus even more on mental wellbeing through our new Strategic Plan and Vision, Joel Sieplinga and Dr. Amanda Case got together at Brokerage in West Lafayette to catch up. *This article was edited from the original transcript for clarity.

Joel: So I think just starting out, maybe tell us a little bit about your history, background, areas of expertise, all of that.

Dr. Case: I’m currently an associate professor at Purdue in the counseling psychology program. So I’m a faculty member, but I’m also a licensed psychologist. And when I used to do clinical work, I specialized in youth and adolescent mental health treatment and also assessment. So the little kids and sort of angsty teenagers were my favorite kids to work with.

As a faculty member, I spend most of my time training future psychologists, but then also doing research. And I’m particularly interested in youth wellbeing, broadly speaking, and thinking about what I call informal educational spaces. So that’s things like afterschool programs and summer camps, and how those spaces can support youth wellbeing.

Joel: So there’s a wide range of areas to specialize in, what got you interested in that one especially?

Dr. Case: So I think part of it was a little bit of frustration, honestly, that there’s so much attention on formal educational systems and that’s great and well-deserved, but it’s also a little bit of a consequence of the fact that in this country in particular, almost all conversations about youth wellbeing, they talk about families, but everything else is about schools.

And so there’s a real sort of overburdening of school systems to support youth wellbeing in a way that’s not manageable, right? We can’t have any single entity be responsible for the academic, social, emotional health, physical development of kids. It’s just not feasible. And I think what results in that is a formal education system that doesn’t have the flexibility to be able to be responsive to youth needs.

And so that frustration led me to really think about what are the other points of contact, right? There’s a ton of people doing work about schools. There’s a lot of people doing amazing, beautiful work about families. There’s beautiful work done about informal educational spaces, but not quite as much of that sort of domain of the youth development ecosystem.

Joel: Right. It reminds me of when Starbucks was started, their idea was we’re going to become the third place, right? There’s home and work and Starbucks, where people connect and socialize and things like that. And you know, (these out of school spaces) are kind of the third place for kids, right?

It reminds me that we discovered in 2020 how much we relied on the school system to be everything for everyone, right? It’s child care, it’s education, it’s nutrition, it’s health and wellbeing of people.
I think in schools there are certain kids who are very comfortable, and it’s a natural place for them. And then there’s another segment of kids whose defenses are already up coming into school.

And school does not feel like a safe, happy, or welcoming space for them, even in the best of circumstances.

Dr. Case: Right. There are, for a lot of kids, times when formal education settings are just not a place where they feel affirmed and welcomed and seen. And what’s beautiful about these informal learning spaces is that, because they sometimes grow from community needs, they can be more culturally affirming to students. And because they’re not so rigid or they don’t have to be so rigid, there are ways that youth can sort of recognize their potential that maybe isn’t what is reinforced in formal schools.

Joel: So you have a bit of camp history.

Dr. Case: My mom was a music education teacher, before she was a kindergarten teacher, so a music background. And my family was quite musical. So I went to a bunch of music camps when I was growing up, and those were spaces where it did what I think, frankly, the outdoors does for a lot of people, which is it takes you out of your comfort zone and out of your routine and puts you in a place where you get to experiment in different ways and you get to realize things about yourself that you hadn’t previously realized.

And so my camp experiences were really about being quite anxious, about being in these new experiences and spaces and figuring out that I could be there, I could be happy there, I could be successful there, all those things.

Joel:Which camps, do you remember?

Dr. Case: So I grew up in Michigan, so I went to Blue Lake.

Joel: I was wondering about that because I was born, and for the first couple years lived, at Camp Pendalouan, which is on Big Blue Lake, like 10 minutes down the road from Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. So we’re probably not not too far from each other at certain points.

Dr. Case: Yeah, I had, like, this beautiful experience at Blue Lake. I went to Interlochen for a year as well. But Blue Lake had this international band that you could try out for, and I played the saxophone.

And so the summer between my ninth grade year and my 10th grade year, I went to Europe playing the saxophone with this band. I mean, it was cool, you know? I didn’t grow up in a family that did a lot of international travel. So it was actually my first time going to Europe and it was this huge opportunity and it was all through summer camp.

Joel: Good. So then fast forwarding a little bit. I think it was, I want to say 2018, one of our staff basically kind of went through a big list of different professors at Purdue.

Because we’d started to say, I think we need some help. We can’t just do this and I’ll talk about what this is, but we can’t just do this on our own. We need some help here. And you are one of the first people we called.

Dr. Case: Well, I do a lot of partnership work because the whole idea of academics – sitting in an ivory tower – and just thinking about things and not actually talking to the humans who are doing the work, this makes no sense to me. So I love doing partnerships and I have a long history of doing partnerships.

And so when it was like, here’s a group that was so clear in those initial conversations that you all were like, “We’ve tried to figure this out on our own. We know that we need to figure out a way to provide more support for our counselors.” I don’t know, just the attitude that you were all going into it with was like, these are people who I want to work with, right?

Joel: I think one of the reasons we were interested in talking with people about it is, I wouldn’t look at a kid with a broken leg and say, “You know what, let me Google that. We could probably figure that out on our own.”

I think as nonprofits and as camp people we’re really more apt to say, let me see if I can figure that out, and not bring in the experts.

We had tried some things with varying success, but we were trying to do it as laypeople, as people who have no background. We’re like, why are we doing that when we have experts here who have devoted their life to this study? And they could be really helpful to us.

Dr. Case: That was a brave move for you all to say, okay, here’s a need. We’ve tried it. We need help. And it’s a move that I don’t think a lot of organizations make.

What was it that allowed you to do that?

Joel: Yeah, I think it was a combination of things. I think it was 2018, this is pre-pandemic. We had increasingly seen more and more cases or instances where counselors had come to us and just said, I’m hurting right now or I’m struggling right now.

We had tried a number of different things with staff who were majoring in psychology, majoring in social work, and all of that. So maybe you go back to: they just need a pizza party. It’s not just they need a pizza party. They need something that we can’t provide. And I think it was just us coming together as staff and kind of looking around the room and saying, this is not going away any time soon.

And fast forward a couple of years, it’s certainly not going anywhere. The world is changing. If we don’t keep up, we’re not going to be able to support our counselors how they need to be supported and then in turn, support our campers how they need to be supported.

And I think I had said like, look, we’ve got Purdue University pretty close to us right here. Maybe there’s somebody there who could provide some insight.

Dr. Case: So, we had a conversation in 2018 and said, we don’t know what this is going to look like. Let’s give it a try for 2019. How do we make this both helpful and beneficial to camp, but also how can we make this something that’s going to be beneficial to those students?

Joel: So maybe talk a little bit about what that original framework looked like and how we got there.

Dr. Case: There’s lots of work about counselor burnout. But, what does it look like to try and prevent burnout? What does it look like to support counselors? This is not something that’s been studied. And so we were just co-creating from the ground up. And I remember we spent a lot of time talking about what the services could look like.

I only work with doctoral students, so they’re training to be psychologists and they need practice. They actually are required to accrue a certain number of hours, and this seemed like this perfect opportunity for them to get experience doing what I would call therapy adjacent work. Because we don’t do therapy.

It’s not intended to be that, but it allows them to then have these sort of in-the-moment conversations to support people. And that just made so much sense. Because it’s beneficial for you all because you’re getting trained mental health practitioners, right?

And my students are getting this quite unique opportunity to actually do this therapy adjacent kind of work, which if it was up to me, is what more therapeutic work would look like, right? We’re bringing the services where the people are.

Sam (who was quietly recording this nearby): You’re working with college aged students all the time. How have you seen mental health and wellbeing change in the last number of years?

Dr. Case: One great thing is, quite frankly amongst this generation there’s a lot more attention to mental health, which is fantastic, right? And I say that with a caveat, which is that attention to mental health concerns not coupled with strategies for what to do about it or spaces for self reflection can actually kind of make things worse.

There’s actually been some really lovely research coming out about this exact issue that if we’re just exposing people to mental health challenges and we’re not actually giving them any tangible things to do to support themselves, that can make symptoms worse; feelings of isolation and hopelessness worse. So it is a good thing that there is more attention to mental health and people are more willing to talk about what they’re going through.

Joel: We don’t have enough practitioners who are helping. We don’t have enough tools in our tool belt.

Dr. Case: Right. We’re seeing lower frustration tolerance. So that is what you do when things don’t necessarily go your way when you face challenges related to perseverance, resistance. So we’re seeing lower levels of that where it almost feels as though people are giving up when they face challenges. And then related to that, definitely increased isolation and lower hopefulness.

So I totally agree with what you’re saying. It’s amazing that we’re paying more attention to this and how do we make sure that youth have the skills and the support to be able to simultaneously know that they are facing challenges, and if they are, figure out how to cope with it.

Want to support our ongoing program development? Learn more.

Meet the Spring 2023 Outdoor Education Staff

Meet the Spring 2023 Outdoor Education Staff

Our Outdoor Education staff team talked through goals for how to grow ourselves in mind, body, spirit (personal flourishing) and also how one of our major missions for OE is to create spaces and experiences where we can support the flourishing and growth of our school communities outside of the school building. We can’t wait to meet all the students experiencing unique and immersive outdoor field trips this Spring.

Learn more about our Outdoor Education program.

Scroll to meet the team.

Lauren “Lobo” McCleary

Where are you from?
My family hails originally from the Wolves Den of Camp Tecumseh was displaced to far off Memphis, Tennessee for several years. I am happy to return to have returned to my familial home on the Tippecanoe River.

What are you most excited about for this Spring season with Outdoor Education?
I am always excited to see our forests blossom and bloom in the Spring as our Spring flowers and school groups return.

What is one way you are hoping to grow while at Camp?
I am looking forward to building impactful relationships with our students, teachers, and the staff who are joining us this season.

Keith “Kilimanjaro” Kalish

Where are you from?
I grew up in Belleville, Illinois, close to the mighty Mississippi River and St. Louis.

What are you most excited about for this Spring season with Outdoor Education?
Seeing students, chaperones, parents, and teachers coming together here at Tecumseh, and experiencing a little glimpse of camp. Watching the seasonal staff guide, lead, and provide the best camp experience for all our students and guests.

What is one way you are hoping to grow while at Camp?
I hope to inspire and mentor the seasonal staff as they grow personally, professionally, and as good human beings in this natural environment and community at camp.

Kaleb “Kudu” Buchanan

Where are you from?
I am from Springfield, Illinois.

What are you most excited about for this Spring season with Outdoor Education?
I am most excited to be working with groups in nature at a time when new growth is happening and I can share the beauty of nature with them.

What is one way you are hoping to grow while at Camp?
I am hoping to grow antlers while here at camp. Every self-respecting Kudu should have some.

Sydney “Serengeti” Chaney

Where are you from?
Crawfordsville, Indiana

What are you most excited about for this Spring season with Outdoor Education?
To create more memorable experiences with our incredible school groups and the Outdoor Education staff!

What is one way you are hoping to grow while at Camp?
I hope to continue to grow in the same foundations we teach students in our Foundations for Success program: trust, self-confidence, communication, leadership, and problem solving!

Isaac “Iguana” DeMoss

Where are you from?
I am from the noble forests of northern Indiana.

What are you most excited about for this Spring season with Outdoor Education?
I am the most excited to be in the great outdoors exploring nature and helping others to learn about our wonderful world.

What is one way you are hoping to grow while at Camp?
I am hoping to grow in my communication skills so that I can better learn about all the cool people and critters that come to camp.

Taylor “Thunder” Moore

Where are you from?
I originally formed over the Barren Fork River in Middle Tennessee, but now you can catch me rolling through the troposphere over Camp Tecumseh.

What are you most excited about for this Spring season with Outdoor Education?
I am filled with electricity to bring April showers to help May flowers and the youth grow and flourish.

What is one way you are hoping to grow while at Camp?
I want to be a light in the storm and to become more grounded.

Rachel “Rock” Naylor

Where are you from?
I grew up in Fishers, Indiana but now spend my days rockin’ and rollin’ at camp!

What are you most excited about for this Spring season with Outdoor Education?
I love seeing camp come back to life, the flowers blooming, trees becoming green again, the oak forest smelling like wild onion, and camp being full of kids!

What is one way you are hoping to grow while at Camp?
I would personally love to grow into a big strong tall mountain. I would also like to grow more in my plant identification!

Graham “Glacier” Johnson

Where are you from?
Olympus Mons, Jupiter, fifth planet from the Sun.

What are you most excited about for this Spring season with Outdoor Education?
I am excited to be a leader for our younger generation, and allow them to interact with nature and learning in a way they are not normally able to in their daily life.

What is one way you are hoping to grow while at Camp?
I am hoping to grow in beard size, in my close connections with others, my connection with nature, and to grow in my knowledge and experience in camping.

Lauren “Leech” Hardebeck

Where are you from?
Under a rock in the shallow, dark waters of the Tippecanoe River.

What are you most excited about for this Spring season with Outdoor Education?
I am most excited for the people! The school communities that come to Camp are full of the most wonderful students, teachers, and chaperones who are here to learn and grow together. This, along with the Outdoor Education staff, is going to make for a wonderful season!

What is one way you are hoping to grow while at Camp?
I am hoping to grow in my outdoor knowledge, and use this to further my own understanding of the world and my teaching.

Sheila “Spring” Wilimitis

Where are you from?
Burlington, Indiana.

What are you most excited about for this Spring season with Outdoor Education?
I am most excited about seeing the energy and excitement of students and teachers and chaperones as they participate in fun and creative learning activities. I also love to watch students grow in character and confidence as they learn teamwork and take on new challenges.

What is one way you are hoping to grow while at Camp?
I am hoping to grow in my group facilitation skills, teaching techniques, and always improving my ability to help people feel loved and valued.

Camille “Creek” Jones

Where are you from?
I sprung from the waters of the Cal-say River near Orland Park, Illinois but now spend my time chilling by the Tippecanoe.

What are you most excited about for this Spring season with Outdoor Education?
I am excited to introduce more communities to what Camp Tecumseh has to offer and also for mushroom season!

What is one way you are hoping to grow while at Camp?
The mission of the YMCA is to grow in mind, body, and spirit which is what I wish to constantly develop within myself.

Josh “Jack Rabbit” Schrock

Where are you from?
Lebanon, Indiana.

What are you most excited about for this Spring season with Outdoor Education?
I’m most excited to be having fun outside, eating fresh greens, and welcoming in the warm weather!

What is one way you are hoping to grow while at Camp?
A goal of mine is to grow in my overall team working abilities, more specifically my communication and leadership.

Carolyn “Cobra” Oneal

Where are you from?
I hatched as a small little snake in West Lafayette, Indiana, before slithering down the Tippecanoe River to reside here at Camp Tecumseh!

What are you most excited about for this Spring season with Outdoor Education?
I am excited to bring my love for nature and adventure to the students that come visit! When we step outside the classroom, we give students an opportunity to learn something new about themselves, their peers, and even their teachers. I am very passionate about hands-on experiences with the outdoors in order to learn about the world around us, and camp is a great place to do that.

What is one way you are hoping to grow while at Camp?
I hope to grow in my teaching techniques and group facilitation, so I can take these skills with me in future careers. Although cobras tend to be solitary creatures, I am always looking to learn more about the world and the people that inhabit it, so I want to grow in my communication and listening skills to foster those relationships.

Can Camp Help Solve the Mental Health Crisis?

From the Desk of Joel Sieplinga

Can Camp Help Solve the Mental Health Crisis?

by Joel Sieplinga

The end of the year is a busy time in the Sieplinga house. Two young kids, both with December birthdays, mixed in with all of the Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations makes for a lot of gatherings with friends and family. The other day, after several days of back-to-back parties, my (almost) 8-year-old asked from the backseat of the car, “who’s coming over today?” When we answered that no one was coming over, it was – gasp – just us, my son asked if we could invite some friends over.

We are made for community.

Even those who consider themselves introverted are hard-wired to connect with others. It’s not just my family, either. All people, but particularly teens, need connection with others. And there is a connection and friendship deficit in our culture right now. Consider this from a recent article in the Washington Post:

“Studies have shown that children who develop supportive, trusting friendships with others their age are more likely to become healthy, happy and professionally successful adults. This insight may be particularly timely, because so many teens are struggling. Psychiatric emergency room visits have been rising among adolescents, and top health authorities are warning that the United States is in the midst of a teen mental health crisis that the pandemic has only intensified.”

And this from Mental Health First Aid:

“No matter how old you are or what you’re going through, healthy and close friendships encourage positive mental health and well-being.”

Thankfully, there is not a friendship deficit at camp. We have designed our programs for this very cause. That is why we have so many intentional spaces at camp. The fire pits in front of each cabin are situated so that a group of dads and daughters can talk, share stories, and laugh during a weekend campout. The opening campfire at River Village is round, so you can look across and see the other students in your class singing and laughing to Boom-chika-boom.

As I have been giving tours of the soon-to-be-complete Barbara F. Kampen Dining Hall, I emphasize the number of round tables that can fit in the dining space. Tables where kids, counselors, families, and groups will be able to gather around a meal and talk. For some of our campers, the only times when they sit down and talk over dinner, uninterrupted from a screen, is around Thanksgiving or Christmas, and in the dining halls of Camp Tecumseh.

And so, as you load up into the car, on your way to yet another gathering, whether you are excited about seeing more people, or secretly wishing you could just stay at home alone in your pajamas, remember the fourth line from the Sagamore Creed: My friends are important to me and I am important to them, therefore I will care for my friendships and help them to grow.

With your support, we can change the world. We can be a place that builds community builders and leaders. Help us out at www.camptecumseh.org/give.

Camp Tecumseh Map

A Map of Camp Tecumseh

A general map of Camp Tecumseh

Meet the Fall 2022 Outdoor Education Team

Meet the Fall 2022 Outdoor Education Team

Bee Builders. That’s the theme going into the Fall 2022 Outdoor Education season for this newly assembled group of OE staff. Like bees, this group is going to focus on building the structures that help the communities we serve flourish while they are here. Let’s get to know them.

Learn more about our Outdoor Education program.

Lauren “Lobo” McCleary

What were you up to before working at Camp?
I was a middle school teacher in Memphis, Tennessee.

What drew you to join the Outdoor Education team?
My favorite part of Outdoor Education is seeing the communities we serve grow and learn together while they are here. It’s a joy to see our parents, teachers, and students build relationships and have adventures together outside of a traditional school classroom.

Favorite Camp activity
Lobo enjoys playing with the mini-farm animals (not eating them of course!) and snacking on sour candy from the Trading Post.

Special Talent
Lobo’s special talent is being able to curl up and fall asleep under any circumstances. But don’t test it!

OE Name Origin Story
Lobo’s family hails originally from the Wolves Den of Camp Tecumseh, but was displaced to far off lands the last several years. She is happy to return to her familial home on the Tippecanoe.

Keith “Kiliminjaro” Kalish

What were you up to before working at Camp?
Before working at camp, I graduated college with a double major in Religious Studies and Psychology, and a minor in Social Work. I attended seminary and received an MA in Pastoral Care and Counseling. During college and graduate school, I worked for several church camps, working as a camp counselor.

What drew you to join the Outdoor Education team?
What drew me to Camp’s Outdoor Education is the opportunity to work with students, being outside, and teaching students to work as a successful group or team. Also, learning about nature and teaching hands-on learning from a historical perspective. The more I worked outdoors with students, I gained skills, confidence, and knowledge. This led to learning new skills of animal handling, teaching techniques, time management, children behavior, and working with a partner.

Favorite Camp activity
Walking/ hiking through the Oak Forest towards Ghost Creek, and seeing the smiles of students exploring the Nature Center.

Special Talent
As a mountain, the tallest in the African Continent, observing staff, students, chaperones, and guests at camp, and hearing the sounds of people climbing uphill. Being a free standing mountain, not part of an extended mountain range, teaching people the importance of this mountain or having students learn interesting things about nature that is unique.

OE Name Origin Story
I started as a young mount of dirt in the river valley in South Central Africa. I grew taller from the effects of a volcano forming a mighty single mountain range, with three summits. As a mountain, I enjoyed seeing the wildflowers blooming in the spring, hearing the water melting on top and flowing down the mountain to the rivers and lakes during summer, and hearing the birds migrating throughout the fall season. Winter is pleasant when snow falls on the top of the mountain.

Kaleb “Kudu” Buchanan

 

Sydney “Serengeti” Chaney

What were you up to before working at Camp?
Teaching 6th grade ELA in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

What drew you to join the Outdoor Education team?
I love education and the outdoors, so why not combine it?

Favorite Camp activity
The Black Hole and Campfires!

Special Talent
Pro speed walker

OE Name Origin Story
Serengeti rose from the plains of the African wildlife. She was interested in Indiana sunsets and migrated to Camp Tecumseh.

Camille “Creek” Jones

What were you up to before working at Camp?
I am taking a gap year and was doing seasonal work in the Rockies.

What drew you to join the Outdoor Education team?
As someone with a passion for Environmental Sciences, and as a camp counselor, I was drawn to Outdoor Education. As Hannah Montana once said, “You get the best of both worlds.” I am super excited to give students a fun, hands-on learning experience in nature’s classroom.

Favorite Camp activity
Finding deer in the woods and yelling, “Deer!”

Special Talent
Making snail candles.

OE Name Origin Story
Creek first sprung out of Lake Michigan and trickled into Illinois before traveling downstream to the Tippecanoe. After spending a summer at Tecumseh, she learned to go with the flow and is ready for the fall season.

Carolyn “Cobra” Oneal

What were you up to before working at Camp?
I finished studying English Education at Indiana University. While at school, I also participated in IU’s Dance Marathon for four years.

What drew you to join the Outdoor Education team?
Bringing together my love for camp, the outdoors, and making education fun for everyone. I’m so excited to explore nature and bring joy and love for the outdoors to students.

Favorite Camp activity
Visiting the Nature Center to see my friends Milkshake and Indy. Wandering through the woods and looking at all the flowers and plants.

Special Talent
Treading water for an extremely long period of time.

OE Name Origin Story
Cobra hatched not far from Camp Tecumseh in West Lafayette and traveled along the river to spend the season here! She spent many summers by the Tippecanoe River exploring camp, and is so excited for the fall season. Cobra slithers and slides and dances her way through all of camp’s adventures.

Graham “Glacier” Johnson

What were you up to before working at Camp?
I was at college and then some odd jobs here and there.

What drew you to join the Outdoor Education team?
It sounded like a great program surrounded by a lot of amazing people.

Favorite Camp activity
I love floating in the clouds above camp and playing 9-square with the fairies.

Special Talent
I can fly, but only if everyone in a mile radius is asleep.

OE Name Origin Story
I was so chill that I started to freeze and turn into a glacier.

Isaac “Iguana” DeMoss

What were you up to before working at Camp?
I was working at Camp Weaver in North Carolina.

What drew you to join the Outdoor Education team?
The opportunity to work outdoors with other people and help kids experience the outdoors.

Favorite Camp activity
The Black Hole.

Special Talent
I am ambidextrous.

OE Name Origin Story
I came from a large herd of Iguanas in Indiana – right here in the woods close to Camp Tecumseh. I’ve been around Camp my whole life and I like to show others how awesome it can be.

Josh “Jack Rabbit” Schrock

What were you up to before working at Camp?
Jack Rabbit has previously worked Outdoor Education at Tecumseh before this Fall season.

What drew you to join the Outdoor Education team?
The opportunity to work outdoors and teach kids about the world around them.

Favorite Camp activity
Little did you know, but rabbits actually have a natural talent at rock climbing. Jack Rabbit loves to climb when he gets the chance.

Special Talent
Ever so often, Jack Rabbit will find himself being pulled out of hats. He’s not sure why, or how.

OE Name Origin Story
Jack Rabbit comes from central Indiana, and made the move to Camp Tecumseh partially because of the abundance of garlic mustard – a favorite snack.

Lauren “Leech” Hardebeck

What were you up to before working at Camp?
I just graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Elementary Education. Prior to graduating, I completed my student teaching in New Mexico in Kindergarten and 1st grade.

What drew you to join the Outdoor Education team?
For so long, I have been focused on what education looks like within the classroom. Outdoor Education allows school communities to not only be outside, but to have interactive experiences that allow for further understanding of themselves, the world around them, and the people that came before them.

Favorite Camp activity
Leech’s favorite activity is walking around camp, making sure to take in the wildlife and nature.

Special Talent
Leech does a great goat impression.

OE Name Origin Story
Hidden in the shallow, dark waters of the Tippecanoe River, Leech was born with a thirst for knowledge about the world and people around her! She saw the light in Camp Tecumseh’s Outdoor Education where she is excited to help school communities learn more about the natural world!

Nik “Newt” Watson

What were you up to before working at Camp?
I helped run a before and after school program.

What drew you to join the Outdoor Education team?
I love teaching and I love camp, so a combination of the two sounds like a dream.

Favorite Camp activity
My favorite camp activity is the team course.

Special Talent
I can sing the ABCs in two seconds.

OE Name Origin Story
Newt was raised in the swamps of Europe and was crystalized and reborn a newt.

Rachel “Rock” Naylor

What were you up to before working at Camp?
Rock has been working at camp in many capacities, including previous Outdoor Education seasons, prior to this fall.

What drew you to join the Outdoor Education team?
I grew up coming to camp, fell in love with camp, ended up going to IU and got a degree in recreation, and haven’t looked back. I believe every kid needs camp!

Favorite Camp activity
Watching camp sunsets, and stargazing.

Special Talent
Getting stung by bees, and balancing water bottles on my head.

OE Name Origin Story
Rock hails from the mountains of Camp Tecumseh where she likes to spend time in the pine forest. You can usually find Rock rockin’ and rollin’ around camp looking for the coolest rock.

Sheila “Spring” Wilimitis

What were you up to before working at Camp?
20 years of church ministry (Director of Youth Ministry, Adult Discipleship & Outreach). Three years as an Elderly Caregiver.

What drew you to join the Outdoor Education team?
I have a degree in Secondary Education (Social Studies) from Ball State. Hands-on education in the great outdoors can be transformational. It can give young people a deeper appreciation for the world (and ecosystems) around them and their unique and special and necessary place in it.

Favorite Camp activity
Walking in the pine and oak forests. Enjoying the view of the Tippecanoe River from the River Village Dining Hall porch.

Special Talent
Capturing the beauty and brilliance of nature’s designs through photography.

OE Name Origin Story
Spring first sprang into Camp Tecumseh in the Spring of 1995. Many seasons passed until it was time for her return. She enjoys watching new life spring up in the form of colorful flowers, green plants, tall trees, playful animals, and exciting discoveries made by young people as they engage with nature, their peers, and caring adults.

Zayner “Zebra” Silva de Olivira

What were you up to before working at Camp?
College, with a major in psychology.

What drew you to join the Outdoor Education team?
The chance to keep practicing my english and doing a new challenge – something that I’ve never done before.

Favorite Camp activity
My favorite camp activity would be blobbing summer campers, trying to make them reach the sun.

Special Talent
I can wiggle my ring finger, and can communicate with birds.

OE Name Origin Story
Zebra ate too much rice as a child which changed his body composition. One day, he woke up being able to speak english and decided to put it to the test by coming to the US from Brazil.

From Tecumseh to TV

From Tecumseh to TV

A former Day Camp counselor wins MasterChef

by Sam Hirt

Something is very evident about Kelsey Murphy: she likes the pressure.

“I work best under pressure. I’m kind of one of those people where if you ask me to do it, I’ll execute and do it.”

For example, being a contestant on MasterChef, the widely popular TV series where amateur chefs compete in weekly elimination challenges (and get endearingly screamed at by Gordon Ramsey). Oh, and doing this with a knife wound to her finger. Oh, and with a baby on the way.

“I was definitely in my element.”

But she wasn’t just a contestant. Kelsey Murphy was the winner of MasterChef Season 11.

In her mind, making the leap to compete on this show, across the country from her family and her job, was done because of a similar decision back in high school when she decided to work at Camp Tecumseh. More on that later.

Working at camp was a natural fit for Kelsey. She was a leader in her youth group. She grew up going to summer camp in Wisconsin. When she started working at Tecumseh, she felt like it made sense.

“I felt like I was able to blossom into a more independent person.”

Kelsey seems to gravitate towards some intense challenges. She grew up as a gymnast. When she went to college at Indiana University, she walked on to the rowing team where she eventually earned a scholarship. And cooking is not that different. It’s intense and fast, especially when you’re competing on television.

Working at camp can feel similar, minus the TV.

“If I’m going to do something, I love to immerse myself in it, and really dive into the culture and atmosphere.”

“I was able to blossom into a more independent person.” 

Working at camp is incredibly immersive. Rather than working shifts and then going home like a standard job, a day camp or overnight camp counselor lives at Camp. It’s that immersion that creates lifelong friendships and such meaningful memories. Plus, while you’re immersed in the camp world, you are building the most essential skills for any future career.

“So many people are focused on internships or a resume builder. But there’s no better resume builder than having good social skills, good experiences, good things that make you a mature human being – there would be no better life skill job than working at camp.”

Fresh off the heels of winning MasterChef, Kelsey looks back on her time on staff at Tecumseh and sees a common thread.

“There’s one connection that links those two things perfectly. I have always been a do-what-you’re-supposed-to-do person.”

 

As a high level gymnast from childhood through high school, her time was spent focused on that singular thing. But when the opportunity came to work at Camp Tecumseh, she knew she wanted that experience.

“I grew up going to camp. I wanted to be part of that again. I felt very controlled by the expectations around me. I feel like a lot of high schoolers feel that.”

Working at camp in her late high school years gave her the opportunity to learn a little more about herself, and about her own goals.

“Tecumseh gave me that release of, ‘Hey, here’s me again.’ I found myself again. I found my confidence. I found my individuality, my own maturity and responsibility, away from the adults in my life who were telling me what I should be doing.”

Then after working at camp, Kelsey accomplished the traditional route: college, degree, husband, great job, kids. All wonderful things. But when the opportunity came to be part of MasterChef, an opportunity that could definitely throw a wrench into their family’s normal life plans, she had the similar feeling from high school when she knew she wanted the Day Camp staff experience.

“Those two experiences are so closely linked. They are pillars in my life who brought me back to me.”

And speaking of things being linked, I asked her about her memory of camp food.

“Honestly, it was actually pretty good. I have fond memories of camp food. There was so much joy that went along with it. It was so much fun.”

“Food isn’t about the food. It’s about sitting around the table with the people you love and care about.”

My final question is a big question, and one that I ask everyone I talk to: why does camp matter?

She paused, thought about it, and said, “Well, when I think about camp I just smile and laugh. Camp to me is joy. Everything is so serious and scheduled and regimented. At camp, you’re away from technology and in the outdoors. People are craving that.”

If you’re in the Indy area, visit Kelsey’s restaurant, Inspo, at the Sun King Fishers Test Kitchen.

Why They Come Back

Why They Come Back

An interview with Shelby Deakyne

At Camp Tecumseh, we believe working at camp is as valuable, if not more valuable, than any other summer job or internship. At Camp, you learn the most essential skills that will help you thrive in any career.

At the same time, most college aged adults feel the pressure to complete an internship as a means to secure the best job after graduation.

Those that work at Tecumseh understand the benefit of this job, both on others and on themselves. But we want to drive these points home so employers and future applicants know: working at Camp gives future employees a leg up with important on-the-job skills.

I asked Shelby Deakyne, who is coming back to work a 5th summer, why she keeps choosing to work at Camp Tecumseh, even as she pursues internships and full time work.

 

When did you first begin working at Tecumseh?

I first started working at Tecumseh in the summer of 2017. I’d just finished my freshman year of college and was so excited about working at camp. I was a camper for 6 years and honestly walking into staff training I remember feeling so lucky that I’d be the one in the blue polo that summer.

Why did you want to work at camp?

Well, first of all, it sounded like the most fun way to spend a summer.  All my friends applied for jobs in offices or waiting tables, but that wasn’t my vibe. I wanted a job where I could truly enjoy my time off from school, while still gaining experience I could use when applying for jobs post graduation. 

I think during my first interview back in 2016, Joel asked me this same question and my answer from then still holds true. The counselors I had at Camp Tecumseh completely changed my life. I know it sounds dramatic, but seriously, they did!! Their care, support, and dedication to being the best counselors they could, shaped me into the person I am today, and I wanted to be that for my campers.

What were some of the skills you immediately gained while working at Tecumseh?

Problem solving and conflict management were two of the first skills I gained at Tecumseh. 

Working with kids, there is no doubt you’ll run into some conflict and by the end of staff training, I was ready to solve whatever problem might come my way. 

Flexibility is another huge one. From unpredictable weather to swift changes in activities, I learned how to roll with the punches and think on my feet. You truly do need to be able to pivot to a new plan in a matter of minutes, and that’s something I learned early on for sure. 

I think patience is a big one too. You’re not only working with children, but also with a lot of different counselors with differing personalities and ideas about everything. Without patience, I don’t think I would’ve lasted one summer. It’s a huge skill that helped me stay level headed and allowed me to continue finding the joy in my job, even when things were a little frustrating.

What were some skills that came a little later while working at Tecumseh?

Leadership was one of those that came with time. As I got more comfortable with the daily schedules of camp, it became easier to guide the other counselors and take charge in large group situations. I also learned how to be a “silent” leader, which I think is one of the biggest and most important skills I’ll take away from my time at camp. I learned that to lead, you don’t always have to be the loudest one in the room. Sometimes, a group needs the leader to sit back, lead by example, and solve problems through collaboration.

You have a college degree. You’re looking at full time jobs. Why continue to work at Camp?

There’re so many reasons. At the end of every summer I’m always like “no for real! this is the last summer!!” and then the applications go live in the fall, and I just feel I can’t let go of it quite yet. The opportunity to work at a camp doesn’t have a super large time frame, unless you’re pursuing a full time position, which is another way I tend to justify my decision. 

I actually had to make a huge decision between coming back to camp this summer and applying for an internship I have to complete to secure a job in my field. I thought about it for so many months, but in the end, I decided I still have more to give to camp. Tecumseh has given me role models, best friends, second chances, inspirational campers, opportunities for growth, and the list goes on. I just hope I can give camp half as much as they gave me.

You just touched on this some, but what is it about Camp that brings you back, as opposed to just working at a restaurant in between internships?

I think one of the coolest things about working at camp versus a restaurant or a coffee shop, is that at camp, the mission is built on core values that most, if not all, staff members share. We are all unique individuals with different beliefs, perspectives, and life stories — but these core values tie us together. 

The people, in general, are another reason I come back. Campers, counselors, full time staff – they are all so wonderful. It’s also cool that at camp (if you’re there long enough), you’ll see campers who have been going to camp for 10 years go through each unit, and eventually become counselors. That kind of dedication and passion to a single organization doesn’t usually show up in other summer jobs.

This will be my 5th summer on staff, and this year one of my past campers (now coworker?!?) is on support staff, another is a unit coordinator, and a few will be coming back as day camp and overnight camp staff. Getting to see my campers grow into staff is one of the coolest things and makes me so proud. 

Learn more about working at camp.

An Overlooked Aspect of Camp

An Overlooked Aspect of Camp

By Sam Hirt

I was not a camper at Tecumseh. I went to a small church camp in southern Indiana for about four summers during my preteen years, but it wasn’t much like this place.

At the church camp I attended, we went as our youth group, stayed in cabins with our youth group, and did activities – for the most part – with our youth group. We met other kids, of course, but really just in large group settings. I had an intimate, growth-inducing camp experience, but really with a few kids who were already my friends back home.

When I first worked for Camp Tecumseh in the summer of 2014 as the videographer, I really just had that previous experience as a barometer of what to expect. 

It didn’t take more than check-in of Week 1 that summer to notice a gaping difference between the camp I attended as a kid, and Camp Tecumseh.

The check-in process is one of the most logistical parts of the camp experience. There are forms, and lines, and maps. There are very brief, informational interactions with full-time staff. Then campers are zig zagging their way through River and Lake Villages to their cabins.

Then, some of the most important moments of the whole week happen in rapid succession: Campers meet their counselors, they make themselves at home in their cabins, and they meet their cabin mates.

 

At the surface, this is still logistical. Kids need a place to sleep when they’re at camp, and we provide that for them in cabins. But of course, these moments at the beginning of the week are so important and go way beyond the logistics of check-in.

Our Director of Development, Stacey Seeger, still remembers the check-in when she met her good friend, Carolyn Ostafinski.

“We were fast friends, making so many memories that week which grew into a friendship that has lasted well over a decade.”

Stacey, who had been attending Camp for years, always came with a friend. But for her Torchbearer year, she wanted to try one week without a cabin mate request. Sixteen years later, it’s paid off with lifelong friendships.

When we started really planning for Summer 2021, we knew there would be many changes as we prepared for a camp season in the midst of a pandemic. The constant dilemma was always: will these changes affect the value of the program?

Every change that was made, we did so with the intent of holding true to all those key moments of camp. Check-in was a great example of that.

We moved from a weaving, in-person line in the Creative Arts Center to a weaving, drive-through process that streamlined the check-in process in a unique way. But the beauty of camp is that through those changes, the magic and importance of the experience remained intact. Kids still had those three major moments when walking into their cabins.

Check-in itself is a great microcosm of the larger camp experience. It takes lots of moving parts to run check-in and camp. Yet Camp is about so much more than the logistical pieces that make a program run. It’s about being inspired by counselors and meeting new friends.

Are you registered for overnight camp in 2022? There is plenty of availability for Equestrian Camp, and limited availability in the traditional overnight camp program. See dates and availability now.

Sam Hirt is Tecumseh’s Director of Marketing and enjoys seeing the check-in process through the lens of a camera with the media team.

An In-Person, Real-Life Community

An In-Person, Real-Life Community

by Stacey Seeger, Director of Development

If you have made the iconic drive down the hill flanked by greenery into River Village, you have likely experienced the impact of Camp Tecumseh. Maybe you personally experienced the love and community that shines from a cabin group as they cheer you on as you climb the rock wall for the first time. Maybe you witnessed a change in your child after they spent a week in an environment intentionally built for community, authenticity, and growth. Maybe you gave your heart and soul to 10 campers each week for a summer as a counselor where you learned more about yourself and your abilities than you did during all of college. If you had one of these or a thousand other experiences, you know that Camp Tecumseh makes an impact.

We often talk about how camp is a lot more than fun. Yes, a camp experience is very fun, but to truly describe a Camp Tecumseh experience, you need to talk about the long-lasting feelings and experiences. Camp is about meeting new people, trying new skills, and feeling comfortable to let down your guard and open your heart. 

My own memories of camp are full of the stories of how I met lifelong friends, like cabin mates playing chubby bunny with Twinkies while we waited out the rainstorm. We know better than that now. Sixteen years later, one of those cabin mates is a very close friend of mine. We saw each other just yesterday and though we have evolved from stuffing our faces with Twinkies to discussing life with young children, our friendship still has the fundamentals of honesty and trust that we learned at Camp.

In so many ways, 2020 feels like a year without. The list of withouts is different for everyone, but seems to have some length to it for most of us. And it truly broke all of our hearts to add to that list when we made the decision to cancel summer camp for 2020. As a former camper myself, I think about the pain and loss our campers must have felt with a summer missed at camp. Kids were experiencing canceled school, sports, performing arts, and vacations. No summer camp was the icing on the very inedible cake. 

 

As people who likely shared in the camp experience, you – like me – know kids need camp now more than ever. They need community, outdoor adventure, a detox from technology, and above all else, to know they are lovable and capable.

“Kids were experiencing canceled school, sports, performing arts, and vacations. No summer camp was the icing on the very inedible cake.”

Kids need an in-person, real-life, not-through-a-screen community. A community of support and encouragement where authenticity comes easily because no one is quick to judge. So many campers and former campers talk about feeling safe and secure enough to put aside the idea they need to be anything other than their true self. Camp is a place where genuine connection is inspired by leaders who intentionally plan activities that are fun but leave room for conversation. Friendship bracelet time isn’t just about the bracelet but more so about the connection that was made between cabin mates over their shared interests and life experiences. This kind of true community cannot be had through screens. Social media and online school are not the breeding grounds for positive, uplifting friendships. 

Kids need outdoor adventure and exploration. When you are out in nature, it can often feel like an escape from the realities of the world. Without quoting an exact study or scientist, I’m pretty confident there is plenty of research on the benefits of fresh air and exercise and, my, do we have an abundance of that at Camp. The ability to try something very different than your normal activities at home, like caring for an alpaca, or going on a mud hike, or climbing the giant’s ladder, brings on endorphins that send a message to the brain that I am happy and I am capable.

Kids need camp now more than ever. They need to learn through trial and error that their faults can also be what makes them strong. At Camp Tecumseh, kids are shown through the love and light of role models that they have a God that loves them no matter what. 

And of course, kids are in need of fun. A dedicated time to be silly, to laugh, to play, and to put aside what feels like adult responsibilities.

 

 

Stacey’s first camp experience was Family Camp when she was 7. She then participated in our Outdoor Education program in 3rd grade, and attended summer camp for 6 years. She worked as a counselor for 4 years, and joined the full time staff in 2012.

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Looking Forward to the Return of School Groups

Looking Forward to the Return of School Groups

by Julianne Yost, Outdoor Education Director

MARCH 2020

We had just finished staff training for an exceptionally good group of seasonal Outdoor Education (OE) staff. I could feel their excitement as the first school groups started to arrive at the beginning of the OE season. The school groups came and the week was going great! Thursday dinner, I was standing in the River Village fellowship room, joking with some of the teachers about a gaga tournament when the principal received a phone call from the school. She came back and said that the school was closing due to concerns regarding COVID-19 and they would need to take the busses home first thing tomorrow.

This began the snowball effect of closings and cancelations across all walks of life. And at Camp Tecumseh, before the devastating decision to cancel summer camp, came the heartbreaking choice to not host school groups for the spring.

I have been working in the Outdoor Education field for seven years and it is my favorite part of camp. I love that kids who may never have any other camp experience, have an opportunity to be here for two or three days. We get to see students who struggle in the traditional classroom, thrive in this outdoor environment. As the Outdoor Education Director at Camp Tecumseh in 2020, I was also able to see first-hand how much this trip means to the teachers and students that count down all year. I could see the excitement in the teachers who have been coming for 20+ years, the students who have been hearing from siblings and friends how much this experience meant to them and how much fun they would have, and the guardians who look forward to spending two technology, sport, music lesson, and homework free days with their child.

AN OPPORTUNITY TO CONNECT WITH AND GAIN RESPECT FOR THEMSELVES

During a school program, students get to try new things. They get to figure it out, fail, realize it’s okay to fail, and try again on their own. They get to be away from the adult they live with maybe for the first time ever. The sense of independence that a student is able to experience during this overnight trip can help to build self-confidence, resiliency, and trust in the community outside of their immediate home.

AN OPPORTUNITY TO CONNECT WITH AND GAIN RESPECT FOR THEIR COMMUNITY

At Camp Tecumseh, we ask the teachers and adult chaperones to help us teach the trails while the students are here. I will admit, I was a skeptic of this method when I first started at Tecumseh. I had never seen this at any other camp I have worked with and wondered if we would sacrifice the quality of the program by asking guardians to be teachers. I quickly saw the value in kids interacting with adults outside their immediate circle. Having adults in their life that they trust is essential for children. When a student gets to see not only their teachers but also their best friend’s mom, dad, aunt, uncle, or grandparent, outside of the traditional school environment, it breaks down a boundary that may otherwise exist. These adults are encouraged to be silly at campfire and have fun while they are here as well. Outdoor Education isn’t just for the students to grow and have fun – the adults play an important part in our program and it helps them to feel included and build lasting memories with the students, while strengthening the school community.

AN OPPORTUNITY TO CONNECT WITH AND GAIN RESPECT FOR THE NATURAL WORLD

This one’s easy. Whether it is in the Oak Forest with our Team building program, catching fish from the Tippecanoe River during Pioneering, or exploring the wonders of the Pine forest with Earthship Journey, students spend their days immersed in the outdoors. Questions are encouraged, “nature moments” are encouraged – because I truly believe – the more we understand the world around us, the more committed we are to taking care of it.

This past year has been difficult in so many ways for students and teachers. We are so excited to finally begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel with our school programs this spring and into the fall. I’d like to leave you with an email I received from a teacher at one of our school’s when she found out camp was offering Day Programs for the Spring.

“Thank you so much! We are so excited.
We had decided not to tell the kids about the cancellation of the normal trip until after Christmas. Hopefully you all know how much experiencing camp means to these kids. They haven’t even been, some don’t even know how to say Tecumseh but they’ve heard from their friends and siblings from years past what it’s all about. They are so excited, they put a countdown in the room and change it every day. We knew telling them it was cancelled would be devastating and didn’t want to ruin their Christmas break. Lol. This school year looks so different and they are already down because they have lost so much of normal school, if we had to take away camp altogether, we would have a serious problem on our hands. When they talk about how they can’t sit with their friends at lunch, or play with them at recess or work in groups their silver lining has always been, well at least we still get to go to camp. Thank you for working so hard to keep us all safe but also letting us come even if this year it looks different.
Now we will be able to put a good spin on not having an overnight trip.
Sorry for my rambling, we are just so thankful for all you do!”

– Teacher from Prairie Crossing

Julianne Yost is the Outdoor Education director, and one of our Lake Village directors in the summer. She has worked at Tecumseh since January 2018.

The Vibrant, Exuberant Rumpus of Day Camp

The Vibrant, Exuberant Rumpus of Day Camp

by Jordan Seeger, Day Camp Director

QUIET | STILL | CALM

These are not the words that I would use to describe any moment of my summers as a Day Camp Director. Far from it. The vibrant, exuberant rumpus of each day is exactly what I look forward to as we welcome campers to our grounds for 7 weeks each summer. Yet in 2020, as I looked out at the open fields, the abandoned pavilions, and the empty pools, I was quite frankly overwhelmed by the stillness. In any other setting, I would have described the scene as peaceful…but I was not at peace. I was sad. Depressed. Overcome with grief for all the children and staff for whom a summer at Day Camp wasn’t happening.

I won’t spend a lot of time bemoaning all of the changes that 2020 brought because, let’s face it, we all know them. We’ve lived with them every day. We’ve shared in more losses than we have triumphs, and have spent nearly a year not wondering “if” more bad news was coming, but “when.” For me, the changes of 2020 will be remembered best by that moment standing alone in the Day Camp field, hearing the ghosts and echoes of the songs, cheers, and laughter of our campers and counselors that should have been there.

One of the things I love most about Day Camp is the community and togetherness. The trail groups are often spread out and all involved in a variety of things, but we are all there for the same purpose: to meet new people, try new things, and grow. Having everyone here at camp reminds us of that purpose. The sounds coming from across the field help set the tone and lend to the energy of what’s happening right in front of us. The mass of people, in some ways, makes the experience. It reminds us that Day Camp isn’t just about being outside, or making new friends in your trail group. It’s about being part of a community who cares for each other, prays for each other, and builds each other up.

I’ve spent every day since standing in that field alone thinking about the summer of 2021. And at the core of it has been this idea: How do we create a safe environment for our campers and staff without losing that sense of community? We’ll use tools like physical distancing and masks to help keep our campers and staff safe, and I know that even while we are using those tools we’ll be able to still be tied to that same purpose of camp in years past. We’ll still be able to meet new people, to try new things, and to have the opportunity to grow. But how can we create that same sense of community while trying to avoid having everyone all together?

jordan-shirt-2020

Well, the good news is that we aren’t going to be planning for a virtual camp. We’re planning for a real life, in-person, sweat-when-it’s-hot, shiver-when-it’s-cold kinda camp. That means that same energy I talked about influencing each trail group from across the field won’t be going away. We may leave a little bit more room between each other, but we’ll still be able to pass each other on our way to and from our next adventures, and remind each other that we’re sharing in the same experience. We’ll adapt what communication between trail groups looks like to maintain safe distances between people and minimize crossover between circles. We’ll still have times where we are all together – we’ll just do it differently. We’ll utilize the gift of this giant outdoor space that we have to still host chapels all together as a camp to start building our community each day with the foundations of honesty, respect, responsibility, caring, and faith. We’ll still swim. We’ll still run. We’ll still discover. It’ll just look different than it did.

dc-kidslaughing-2019

Different can be scary, but only if we let it be. This summer there will be a lot of new things that we need to try each day, and that’s okay because at Day Camp, we like to try new things. Part of what we feel we do best is making a safe, positive environment where it’s okay for kids to step outside their comfort zone and try new things. Trying new things leads to self-discovery. Self-discovery leads to growth. We are excited to keep that safe, positive environment at Day Camp, and to give kids the opportunity to grow in character, confidence, and faith. And we’re excited to have you be a part of it.

Jordan Seeger started at Camp Tecumseh in 2006 as a counselor and joined the full-time team in 2011. Among a variety of other duties and positions, he has been Day Camp Director since 2013.