What first brought you to Eckerd Connects E-Nini-Hassee?
Answer: When I applied I did not know what camp was or the incredible work that was happening on the 840 acres in Floral City. I honestly needed a job. I was called out for an interview and the first time I drove on camp property and walked through the front door I knew this is where I needed to be. I had my interview with Chief Jo and the Recruiter. I thought it went very well and Chief Jo said she would let me know. “Let me know?” I KNEW this is where I was supposed to be. I went to finish some paperwork and was called back into the interview. Chief Jo offered me the position and without hesitation I accepted. That was more than 20 years ago and still to this day one of the best decisions I have ever made.
How has the camp changed over the years? How has it stayed the same?
Answer: One of the many things that I love about camp is that although faces of staff and campers may change camp does not change. Our philosophy and mission are the same today as it was when I first started. The world around us changes constantly but it is refreshing to know that “camp is camp”.
10,000 girls and countless chiefs have passed through E-Nini-Hassee, what impact do you hope they remember most about their time there?
Answer: Camp is a gift. I tell the girls that they may not realize at the moment but one day they are going to be having a conversation or in a stressful situation and they are going to remember something they learned at camp. I take phone calls every week from ex-campers who call just to check in. They tell me all the time the impact that camp has made on their life. Staff also grow while at camp. I have seen some amazing transformations while sitting at the front desk of staff and campers. I work with amazing women that empower these girls each and every day.
You wear a lot of “hats” at camp, what is it you love most about the job?
Answer: I take most of the admissions calls at camp. I love that I get to see the whole process of transformation. From the first phone call from Mom or Dad, to the intake process then watching the campers make progress and then eventually discharge. I will never forget a conversation I had with a Dad. He was at my counter after dropping his daughter off after a home visit. He said that it was the first time he felt like he was “getting his daughter back”. This brought me to tears because I know the turmoil their family was in before his daughter came to camp.
I am also very thankful for our dedicated chiefs. I feel that I was put here to take care of the chiefs so that they can take care of the girls. Our chiefs work one of the hardest jobs that they will ever have and if I can help them make doctor’s appointments or take them to Disney, it is the least I can do for all their hard work.
For those parents who struggle raising adolescent girls, what is your advice to them?
Answer: I believe the number one question I get from parents on the first initial call is “Will my daughter hate me for doing this?” Although that is a hard one to answer, history has proven that she will not. In fact, she will be thankful that she was given the “gift of camp” We know that on the first day that most of the girls do not want to be here but once they get into group and meet their peers they adjust very quickly.
You have worked with a lot of E-Nini-Hassee parents as well, what do you hope the parents take away from the experience with camp?
Answer: We do an exit survey with all the parents before their daughter graduates. I am always amazed at the parent’s responses and how they say their daughter has changed since being at camp.
My hope is that parents will always remember the good in their daughter and that things will not always be easy after camp but our phone number will never change. We are here for them if they ever need us in the future.
E-Nini-Hassee practices gratitude, what are you currently grateful for?
Answer: I have so much to be grateful for. I have had many blessings in my life. Camp is one of them. I have seen some amazing things happen at this camp for youth, parents and staff. I believe that 7027 E Stage Coach Trial is sacred ground. My hope is that if you come to visit camp that you “feel” what camp is all about. Camp E-Nini-Hassee will ALWAYS hold a very special place in my heart.