It all started back in February of 2003, when I was just 16 years old. I thought I was grown up enough to make my own decisions on how my life was going to be. I made poor decisions and pushed myself further than even I could handle. Up until this point I was a straight A student, respectful to elders and kept myself right on track. Then these “so called friends” of mine pressured me into doing things that I had never done, and I went right along with it. So, with those poor decisions came a consequence for them, and that “consequence” was Camp E-Nini-Hassee. When I came into camp I was so scared, there were new people wanting me to talk about all my feelings and the trauma I had experienced. I thought “yeah right” I am just going to be quiet and fly under the radar until I can get out of here. That did not work.
In the 18 months that I spent at camp, I learned so much about myself, and learned the right ways to deal with stress and feelings. Camp saved my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I have made such wonderful connections with both peers and mentors, and I am able to be the real me. I left Camp in August of 2004, a month before my 18th birthday. Camp is such a big part of me that, even with moving around all over the country with my husband who was in the Army, I made a point to come back to camp every chance I got.
Jump ahead now to December 2014, 10 years after I successfully graduated camp, we moved back home after my husband retired out of the Army. I saw a job listing for an administrative assistant position at camp and I was thrilled! I went in for the interview and was hired in January 2015. I have been working at camp for four years now and have recently moved into the Master Counselor role. I feel that having the experience of being a camper here gives me a connection to help our current girls even more. They are going through hard times with a history of bad decisions. I have been there and can relate to them on a deeper level. I try to show them that they can make it through if they just put their minds to it.
I personally feel connected to camp as it has been in my life for 16 years now. I want to be able to show the girls that anything is possible if you put the effort into it. Mistakes happen, and we sometimes regret decisions we have made in the past. With a lot of work and some new coping skills, every one of them can make it through the hard times and come out shining on the other side. We teach the girls the difference between feeling guilty and holding onto shame. They learn how to tell the difference and work through these feelings. We teach girls the way they come across to others with body language and the way they say their words are a big factor in how they are perceived by others. My mission is to show the girls that it is very possible for them to turn their life around and come out better on the other end. As a chief here at camp I still learn new things about myself every day. Now I am pushing myself to new heights in a good way. I believe that we, the staff and clients here at camp, are the first name in second chances. They gave me my second chance and the chance to give others theirs.