Back by popular demand – is our much requested, Camper of the Week series. Our goal with this series is to build a network and community of former campers who are doing amazing things now, and who have been inspired by their camp experience. So without further ado, we introduce you to Juliette Blake, the Founder of Miss O and Friends.
It is no coincidence that she is being featured in conjunction with International Day of the Girl. Miss O and friends was started by Juliette as a hobby to help her sister and her friends through the hard years of middle school. Miss O and Friends is a socialization platform that is 100% safe, no bullying, judgement free community for tween girls. Their goal is to empower girls and help build self-esteem by giving them a safe, positive and fun place where they can express themselves and help each other. They are by girls, for girls!
Where did you go to camp?
Adirondack Camp on Lake George! I went for 4 summers, 4 weeks (2nd session).
Tell us about your business!
I have my own company called Miss O and Friends that I started as a hobby when I was 16 to help my sister and her friends through middle school. It’s a socialization platform that is a 100% safe, no bullying, judgment free community for tween girls. We have a website (www.misso.com) which is all content created by our user community, an app called the Girl2Girl Wall which is 100% safe, moderated and no-bullying, and a YouTube Originals series called Hyperlinked. Our goal is to empower girls and help build self-esteem by giving them a safe, positive and fun place where they can express themselves and help each other. We’re by girls, for girls!
How has camp influenced what you do/your career path?
One of the main skills I learned at camp was leadership, which has really helped me in being an entrepreneur and running my own company. Also, crazy enough, a few months ago I had a meeting with a potential media partner and at the very end of our meeting, he mentioned that when he was flying into New York it was so clear that he could see his camp. I asked him which camp he went to, assuming I wouldn’t know it, and he responded Adirondack Camp! He was a camper there 15 years before me, but it was such a crazy coincidence and definitely gave both of us that extra vote of confidence to work together. We’ve been working with them ever since and they’ve been amazing partner… most of which I chalk up to the fact he was a camper at Adirondack too ;)
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love that every day is different and that I get to work with young girls and positively impact them all day. Growing up is really, really, really hard… and it only seems to be getting harder with all the negative media out there. If I can help at least one girl a day, I know I’m doing my job right.
What are your top three essentials that you packed in your trunk?
CDs & Diskman (yes I’m dating myself). Way too many sweatshirts & sweatpants. Crazy creek. I made the rookie mistake of not having one my first year of camp and ruined way too many pants & shorts from sitting on sap logs during camp fires! Oh lots of pens & stationery to write letters to all my friends (and parents…).
What are three words to describe your camp experience?
Transformative. Unforgettable. The best summers of my life.
Who was someone at camp that you looked up to?
My counselor one year, Gillian. She was always so cool, confident and caring and remember wanting to be like her.
Why do you think it is important to go to camp?
Camp is a really special experience. It’s a time where, as a kid, you have the chance to have a little more independence, try new things and meet new people, all in a safe environment. You can really be whoever you want to be at camp, and I think the carefree aspect was such a relief to me as a kid.
What is your favorite/most epic camp memory?
My first summer at ADK, our second night of camp we had a color wars event (I was on the white team). It was soccer and I didn’t play soccer, and wasn’t particularly athletic. At the end of the match, Blue & White were tied so we had to go into sudden death penalty shots. A few rounds went by and it was still tied, so they made everyone go, which meant it was my turn. I was SO nervous that I was going to kick it so far from the net and just be embarrassed, especially since I hardly knew anyone at camp yet. But I kicked it, and I MADE it and won the soccer plaque for the White team. It was honestly so insane and after that, everyone at camp knew who I was but also thought I was really athletic, which was pretty funny too.
How has camp affected your adult life? Is there something you learned there that you still do today?
My best friend in the whole world is Megan McDonough who I met at camp when I was 11. Meeting her at camp and having her as my best friend for almost 20 years has made my life so much better.
Words of wisdom for current and future campers?
Be open to making new friends. Don’t be cliquey & judgmental, especially when a new camper comes in the next year.
What is your favorite camp tradition?
At the end of every camp dance, which was usually every Saturday night, they played the song “Stairway to Heaven.” When that song came on, you knew the dance was almost over, and we always anxiously waited for our crush to ask us to dance.
What was your favorite camp food?
What is your favorite camp cheer?
I said a Boom Chikka Boom! I actually sing it to my daughter now and she thinks it’s hilarious.
What did you prefer – pool or lake?
Lake! We didn’t have a pool at our camp, but I actually love that we didn’t.
Favorite canteen candy?
What was your favorite camp activity?
Windsurfing. And tennis because my counselor crush taught tennis… but I actually got pretty good and still play a lot today!!
If you had to have something from camp tattooed on you, what would it be?
What is your favorite camp word/expression?
Favorite camp memento?
Wishboards! At the end of every summer, our counselors made us wishboards. They would paint them with things we loved at camp, camp memories, inside jokes, etc and then we’d have a wishboard ceremony where we’d light a candle, put it in the wishboard, make a wish and set it out on the lake. The counselors would then have to go find them all in the dark and bring them back to us for the next morning. I used to have all of them hung on my bedroom wall and still have them saved. They were so special.
What were the biggest trends/must have items when you went to camp or representative of the time you went to camp?
Disposable cameras (I think I would bring like 10!) I remember my last year of camp, I had an mp3 player. It wasn’t an ipod and only held 40 songs, and took batteries so I was replacing them allll the time.
Any firsts at camp?
Pay it forward and share the love! Name three other businesses, charities, or people you love and are inspired by.