The dog days of summer take on a whole new meaning today! Meet Shelby Semel, otherwise known as “the dog whisperer” to many of her clients and their adorable puppies. Shelby attended her 8-week sleepaway camp for 13 years – eight as a camper and five as a counselor – and attributes much of her caring nature to those life-changing summers. She grew up in Long Island and now lives in NYC, where she is living out her dream of playing with dogs all day! Can we come?! Shelby is one of the premier dog trainers in NYC and owns her eponymous dog training company helping pups, dogs, and their owners every day in group classes and private training sessions with her Positive Reinforcement Dog Training technique. So let’s give three barks cheers for Shelby and read on how her amazing camp experience shaped her into the person she is today!
How has camp influenced what you do/your career path?
Being a counselor and group leader at camp has most certainly helped me succeed in my line of work. Working with kids is all about group dynamics, coming up with problem solving ideas, and being able to tailor the way you approach a situation based on personality and sensitivities. Being a dog trainer isn’t much different; a lot of what I do is about helping people in a tough or new situation (and giving them expertise on their pet).
What are your top three essentials that you pack in your trunk?
My Northface fleece – gets cold at night! Jacks – I was amazing at that game. Pictures to decorate and personalize my area.
What are three words to describe your camp experience?
Epic. Adventurous. Life-changing.
Why do you think it is important to go to camp?
I think it’s a great way for kids to learn to be away from their parents (it helped with the college experience). It’s also important to learn how to live in close quarters with others and be able to compromise in certain situations.
What is your favorite camp memory?
As a camper: Getting the part of Simba in The Lion King during my Cadet summer. Thank you, Bette Wiesenthal for believing in me. As a counselor: Finding out I was color war general for Blue Far Far Away. That entire week was one of the best of my life!
Is there something you learned there that you still do today?
College (University of Michigan) was basically just Camp with classes and homework. So I am thankful to summers away from home in that they helped me adjust to 4 years away from home. Also, I am still very close with a group of my camp friends so they are a major part of my every-day adult life. Camp created life-long friendships and I am extremely grateful for that.
Words of wisdom for current and future campers?
Treasure it while it lasts….you only get to enjoy it for so long!
What is your favorite camp tradition?
Girls Sing! I still hear a “camp song” playing and hear the camp words. Oh, and Color war. Big fan of competitive sports!
What was your favorite camp food?
Oddly enough, I liked it all!
What is your favorite camp cheer?
Quiet please…dedicated to: Always fun to make somebody blush.
What is your favorite movie about camp/that you saw at camp?
Artificial Intelligence. It was the worst movie ever, but us CITS made fun of it for weeks which was humorous.
What do you prefer – pool or lake?
Neither…how about the waterski boat?
Sports or arts?
What is your favorite canteen candy?
Favorite item requested on visiting day?
Sour Belts! And more candy!
What was your favorite camp activity?
Canteen time. Was fun to hang out with friends and be a bit mischievous.
If you had to have something from camp tattooed on you, what would it be?
Our camp zip code. But I will settle for my newly ordered camp friendship bracelet with the coordinates of camp engraved on it.
What is your favorite camp word/expression?
Favorite camp memento?
I have a vintage camp jersey that a counselor named Dave gave to me after he won it in a raffle. Its pretty awesome!
Did you ever get homesick at camp? How did you deal with that?
I didn’t get homesick. But, I usually asked my parents to leave early on visiting day, and then cried for days when camp was over.
Who was your first summer love?
I’ll leave this one blank ;)
Learn more about Shelby and her incredible dog training technique (and for any NYC-ers with a furry one give her a call!) at shelbydogtraining.com and follow Shelby on Facebook for tips and adorable photos of doggies!!