So, you’ve been a camper or staff member before, whether it’s been 72 years or 2, and you want a way to maintain those connections to the place you fell in love with as a child or young adult. The place that became your home away from home. The one that introduced you to new things like horseback riding and waterskiing, that taught you how to take calculated risks, that showed you what it meant to be your authentic self with no pressures or expectations of perfection. Where memories were made with people that would forever be some of the most constant and closest friends of your life. How do you do that? How do you stay engaged when the “real world” is pulling you in every direction with demands for your time and camp feels like it’s moved on without you? Changes have been made, the staff and administration you once knew so well have moved on, and the campers keep getting younger and younger. Where is your place in that equation?
As someone who took a bit of a hiatus in 2014, I grappled with these types of thoughts myself. Fortunately for me, an opportunity presented itself later that year and I found myself back in the fold of camp almost too soon to even consider myself a staff alum. Nevertheless, when I got to camp in 2015, it was to an entirely different admin team, only a couple staff members that I knew from my previous time at camp, and campers that had changed so much in such a short time that I often didn’t even recognize them at first! Had I not returned to camp, the affect that this place has had on my life and career path is undeniable, and my desire to remain connected to it would be strong.
When thinking about our goals for 2016, one that is of utmost importance to us, is strengthening our alumni connections. We want to take you back in time, with a walk down memory lane…where the amazing stories from the past (and maybe not so amazing, but unbelievably unforgettable!) act as a binding force between all members of the Nicolet family, young in age and young at heart. So, what are some ways that we hope to be able to facilitate this? Of course I wouldn’t leave you hanging to figure it out on your own! Here they are:
- Stop by camp and say hello if you’re in the area! You’re always welcome.
- Check out and follow us on our social media sites. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and we have a blog on our website. I know this last one seems pretty obvious since you’re reading it.
- Attend Nicolet events in your area. The Midwest Open House is January 30th and we’d love to see you there. You could even host a mini open house or reunion in your area throughout the year to help foster connections with other Nicolet families nearby, as well as prospective campers.
- Send us updates on your life. We want to know when our alumni have something to brag about or something to share. We love to brag about you too!
- Offer to write a guest blog. I really enjoy writing these and staying in contact through blogging, but would love to have contributions from others with another point of view or area of expertise. Even simply sharing your favorite camp memories is more than welcome. Especially May-August when I’ve really got my hands full! 🙂
- Submit a specific memory of an area of camp (cabin life, activities, food, socials, etc.) for a new blog series called “Nicolet – Then and Now” in which I’ll be seeking contributions from alumni and current campers to highlight how things have both changed and remained the same. More information about this will be coming as we get closer to the summer.
- Do you know someone who would make a great addition to our team? How about a little girl that isn’t quite camp age yet, but that you think would just love a summer at camp? Send them our way! Our alumni are the people that know camp best, inside and out. You know exactly what we need in a staff member to make camp work and exactly how camp can affect the life of a child.
- Are you an “expert” at something camp-related and have some free time during early June? Volunteer to present a session during staff training. Specialized training in activity areas or an educational/professional background in youth development are just a couple ideas. If you think you have something to contribute, shoot me an e-mail and we can discuss.
- Along that same line, volunteer to be part of a panel discussion during staff training week. Whether you were a camper, a camper parent, or worked on staff, we would love to be able to provide different perspectives for our staff members as they’re learning all about Nicolet and what makes it one of the most special places on Earth.
- And, one final suggestion, and one that I would really LOVE to see get off the ground this year…become part of our “Adopt a CN Staff Member” program. Get assigned a current 2016 staff member and send them a letter before they arrive at camp about your experiences, tips for survival, things to make sure to take note of and remember, etc. Then send a care package during second session to help say thank you for carrying the Camp Nicolet torch into the future and keeping this place that is so near and dear to all of our hearts alive for years to come.
How’s that for a list? Haha! As you can see, there are so many ways that you can stay involved and connected with camp. The important thing to remember is this: WE WANT YOU TO BE INVOLVED! Our alumni are the greatest indication of our success as an organization and our history is the very foundation of the Camp Nicolet experience. You are the way that we stay rooted in that foundation.
Thank you for being you!