Meet our newest Campbassador and Summer 365 family member, Rachel! Campbassadors are our version of brand ambassadors – they are our #1 fans, cheer squad, and fellow camp-obsessed former campers who want to spread the summer love! And, most importantly, they are dedicated to joining in our mission of giving the gift of summer camp to children.
Rachel is the definition of living 10 for 2. She has been and will always be a camper at heart and has tons of insight and knowledge to share from her 14 summers (and counting) as a camper, counselor, group and trip leader. Read more about her amazing camp experience.
Where did you go to camp, how many years did you attend, how long was your camp session length?
I went to Camp Chipinaw for a total of 11 summers. I was a camper from 4 years, and then I worked at Chipinaw @ Silver Lake for 7 years as a Counselor Assistant, Counselor, and a Group Leader. The past three summers, I’ve work with Westcoast Connection as a Trip Leader. That’s 14 summers of camp and I have loved every second of it!
Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?
I grew up in Hopewell Junction, NY, which is in upstate New York. It’s got a small town vibe and I was the only one of my friends who was lucky enough to go to sleepaway camp. Now I live in Hoboken, New Jersey, which is such a great little city. I love living there!
How has camp influenced what you do/your career path?
I am an elementary school Spanish teacher in an amazing school district in North Jersey! I teach students in grades 3, 4, and 5. I realized I wanted to be a teacher after working as a counselor. I had the best time watching my inter girls learn and grow over the course of a summer and knew it was something I had to do on a full-time basis.
What are your top three essentials that you packed in your trunk?
1. Soffees in every color. An absolute must.
2. Work-boots. Preferably worn in. And tied just the right way.
3. Cup-a-noodles and hot plates. Definitely not Camp Director approved, but we were sneaky!
What are three words to describe your camp experience?
Unforgettable. Life-changing. Special.
Who was someone at camp that you looked up to?
Robin Rosen, my director at Silver Lake. Robin watched me grow into a teenager at Chipinaw and into an adult at Silver Lake. She taught me so much about kindness, respect, hard work, and above all how to love and cherish the experience of camp. Robin is my second mom and one of the most special people I know!
Why do you think it is important to go to camp?
Camp was the greatest gift my parents ever gave to me. It allowed me the freedom to grow into myself every summer. It taught me leadership, independence, confidence, passion, and people skills that could only be attained at a place like sleepaway camp.
What is your favorite/most epic camp memory?
Hands down, 100%, without a doubt, the moment I realized I got Color War General my super senior summer. Grey Titans ’02 – Wooooo! They broke color war with an ice cream truck that summer, and never even had a chance to eat my ice cream sandwich that said ‘Color War’, because I was flipping out with excitement. Seriously though, if I could have done a flip to show how happy I was, I would have. Gymnastics wasn’t my greatest elective…
Actually that entire Color War was probably the most epic time I had at camp. The best part of it was that I was Co-General with my best friend Sami. She was my first friend at camp. We rode the bus next to one another our first summer, and slept in the bed next to each other every summer after! We are still best friends to this day. She’s one of the most amazing human beings I know and I am so lucky camp brought us together!
How has camp affected your adult life?
The 100% true story is camp affects my adult life in so many ways everyday! I have shaped my life around educating children to be the best version of themselves, which is definitely something I was inspired to do at camp.
However, the best affect camp has had on my adult life is my camp friends! My three best friends and I all met at camp and we remain as close today as we did 15 years ago. Life is always great when you’re surrounded by your camp bffs!
Words of wisdom for current and future campers?
My advice is very simple and straightforward. Go for it; and love every second of it.
What is your favorite camp tradition?
As a camper my favorite camp tradition was probably Girls Sing, Olympics, and Color War. I’m really competitive so anything in that realm I was super into. The truth is, I love winning, and I certainly loved winning any of the above activities!
As a counselor and Group Leader, I LOVED Ron Dagon. It’s possible a little too much. I’ll even admit my Co-GLs and I may have had some fan girl moments when he came to camp. Fun fact: I have an autographed sign from him. Probably one of my most cherished camp souvenirs. Another Fun Fact: I want to eat a bagel; I want to drink some chocolate milk.
What was your favorite camp food?
As a camper, it was absolutely Pizza Bagels. Just thinking of them makes me want one!
As a counselor, it was Saturday morning brunch. Who doesn’t love a late wake up mixed with bagels, cream cheese, and babka?!
What is your favorite camp cheer?
Spirit in the woods beats a hollow drum, from the might forest the “red/grey” team comes. Singing altogether in unison, “Hail red/grey team, haiilll.”
What did you prefer – pool or lake?
I was totally a lake girl. So long as I didn’t touch the bottom! I was a big water-skier and swimmer. To this day, Silver Lake is one of my favorite places to swim.
Favorite canteen candy?
On an average night, I was a Hershey Bar/M&M type of girl, BUT on those rare occasions we could get a Chipwich for canteen, I was first in line for one!
What was your favorite camp activity?
Horseback riding and waterskiing.
If you had to have something from camp tattooed on you, what would it be?
My camp zip code, 12783.
What is your favorite camp word/expression?
If you don’t go, you don’t know.
Favorite camp memento?
My favorite childhood camp mementos are probably all of my Color War favors and my rope from the Rope Burn I did my general summer. My mom actually framed my rope for me and it’s hanging in my room at home.
One summer as a group leader, I made a metal ring during Jewelry (let’s be honest, the jewelry specialist did most of the work!). I engraved the inside with the camp zip code, ‘12783’ and ‘A4’, which was the nickname of my group of camp friends. I love it and I still wear it!
What were the biggest trends/must have items when you went to camp?
Baby-G watches, Hot tools hair irons, Juicy sweats, Michael Starr shirts, Platform Sandals.
Any firsts at camp?
I learned I was a pudding contest champion!