The 2014 camp summer season has begun and it's time to meet the staff! It's a great mix of returning staff and new leaders and they are very excited that kids are finally at camp! We asked the staff a few questions recently and here are their responses.
Nicholas Wainwright "G-Raff" 20, from Alleghany, NY
What brings you back to Wa Wa? This is my third summer at Wa Wa and I've worked at previous camps before this and this is the only camp that's really just super personalized. You get to know each kid very, very well. You never have problems with kids being overwhelming to the counselors, you are able to know what the kids like, what they don't like, what they want to do each week and what they're learning each week and it's just a total unique experience because of that.
What are you excited for this summer?
I am most excited for seeing how this summer can be different than any other summer and that can be program related or attitude or something else. So far we have a great staff relationship and that's really strong and that will show and relate back to the kids.
What is it about the camping experience that you want your campers to go home with? I want them to go home with what they need, that they can't get anywhere else. For some kids that's love and affection from their counselors. For others, its kids that need a little structure as well as freedom at the same time. For some it's the program- they don't get to play the sports that we do, to go out into the beautiful pond that we have until they come here. Whatever the kids need and whatever they want to get out of it, I'm sure we can put together.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? From a camp standpoint, I was a CIT when I was 14 at a camp down in Maryland. I was CIT of the year, one out of about 30 CITs. I was proud of that because of all the jobs I had to do that counselors didn't want to do. To be chosen was great and I always wanted to work at a camp. Counselors are what I looked up to, so that moment I realized I could stand up to the responsibility that goes along with the job.
What do we not know about Nick?
I'm actually 6'4", not 6'3".
Isabel Cecilio Gonzalez 19 years old, from the Canary Islands in Spain.
What brings you to Wa Wa? They came to my University to give a talk back in Spain and I like the idea of being a counselor because I've been in camps and also going to the United States as I can learn some things and to see this camp.
What are you excited for this summer? I am excited to learn new things, to get to know a lot of people and overall get to make the children have fun.
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? I think camp is an opportunity to make friends and to spend time alone, to grow in skills. Counselors are important to developing their skills. When you go to camp, you can do so many new things. You can discover some things you like that you didn't know.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? I repeat this very much, but I like dancing. I've been dancing since I was 4 and I think I'm a good dancer.
What do we not know about you? Although you may know it, I'm very, very shy. I don't make decisions too quickly, I like to think very deeply before making up my mind.
Chelsea Valentino, 21 from Oxford, Mass.
What brings you to Wa Wa? I volunteered with the YMCA at my school up north in Berkshire County and the childcare director told me to look up summer camps and Wa Wa was the first one I found.
What are you excited for this summer? Everything! I've never worked for a summer camp. I have gone to camp as a child, but I'm excited to possibly make a difference and help kids learn new things.
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? I want them to leave knowing they've got a place where they can be themselves, that they don't have to worry about anyone judging them, that they can learn new things without fear of failing.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? I made Deans List for the first time this past semester which I'm very proud of. After transferring in, I'm glad that I got right up there.
What do we not know about you? I am missing one tooth on my bottom row of teeth because my mouth was too small!
Zachary Dragsbaek 16, from Shelburne, Mass.
What brings you back to Wa Wa? Mostly, I just like coming every year, and this will be the first year I'm working here. I've been coming for awhile, 7 years? and thought I should give something back to the camp.
What are you excited for this summer? Well this is my first job, so it's that, that experience.
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? The experience of living with people is a good one. It helps you know yourself a little better, kind of what you need in that situation, when you need to take a break, when you need to rest, the types of people you like. It helps you deal with people, because it's something you'll have to do.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? It's hard to explain, because it's a video game. I feel like it's hard to explain to people that I get that much accomplishment out of it. It was one area in the game, that getting through that, afterwards I was kind of shaking, saying Yes!. It's called Super Meatboy and it's an extremely hard platformer. I still have the last level to beat and there was an area that was ridiculously hard to get through.
What do we not know about you? I've seen every episode of Star Trek in all of the series in chronological order.
Jacob Hodos, 18 from Poughkeepsie, NY
What brings you to Wa Wa? My blood! Since my Mom used to run the place, I feel an obligation to be here as often as I can, so here I am, another summer!
What are you excited for this summer? I like the staff this summer, how they're working together, should be interesting. We've got more people who used to be here, as campers, and so I think that's going to help a lot.
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? Size matters, but it's not whether it's big or small. It's just whether it has a size. In some cases like here, it's nice to be small. In other cases, in bigger camps, it's nice to be big. If we were to switch sizes, both camps would fail. We're both doing what we do well, so we shouldn't change that. When you're older and working, you like the fact that there's not too many kids as you know all of them and they all know you.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? I got my Eagle Scout this year!
What do we not know about you? My blood type, but I don't know that either!
Bethany Robinson, 21 from Torrington, CT
What brings you to Wa Wa? I've worked at camps for the past two summers and I figured- I go to the Y a lot and I saw that they were looking for staff and it's not too far from home. I know a few people that come here, and I thought it would be a great way to interact with the community more, get to be more involved. I thought it was a good experience to have.
What are you excited for this summer? I am excited to get to interact with the campers and see how this camp is run. I think there's a lot of interesting activities, things that campers can experience. There's a lot of variety of things that campers can learn that normally they don't get a chance to learn.
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? I think the ability to get away from technology and the real world and just experience outdoors and getting back to the roots of what people are meant to do and be able to come closer to the people that they are around. That's where the real bonding comes from, those night time talks that you have. You can do that at other places, but it's something about being out in the woods that it happens more often. It's easier to happen.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? I think getting my EMT License this fall because i was coaching volleyball, working at my school and I had to do that two nights a week. That was one of my biggest accomplishments!
What do we not know about you? I can blow up balloons with my nose- two at a time!
Terri Cassellius -56 years old from Baltimore, Maryland and I'm the chef!
What brings you to Wa Wa? It's been my dream for awhile to come to the Berkshires and upstate New York. I've been following them since my early childhood- that the railroad came through here and they brought the women on horseback and petticoats and everything.
What are you excited for this summer? To see the countryside! and to see the city kids expression of such a rural atmosphere with such limited electronics, to see how they deal with withdrawals of no cell phones, no computers, no TV.
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? Unity and non fear of the wilderness.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? My children, my two daughters, Monica and Milani, 30 and 32.
What do we not know about you? You don't know I'm a Mi'kmaq, a native American from New Brunswick, Canada, filtering down into the United States in 1856.
Carly 21, from Schenectady, NY
What brings you back to Wa Wa? This is my 4th summer and I think the place, the people are bringing me back! They pull me in.
What are you excited for this summer? I am so excited to see old faces and meet new people and have a ball. I'm excited as my role as program director and I get the chance to work with LITs this summer and the staff to plan program activities.
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? I would hope they get the chance to take independence and the ability to be themselves because I know it's a cliche to say it's a judgement free zone, but really it's a good place to be yourself. I hope they gain confidence while having fun, meeting new people and doing new things.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? I think I'm most proud of where I am in life. I go to school and I work full time and I'm doing well. Is that an accomplishment? I think that I'm doing well and I'm happy.
What do we not know about you? I like to stay mysterious but I'm pretty sure people know everything about me. I have two brothers and two sisters. I am fourth! One younger brother, one older brother and two older sisters.
Rosemary, 19 from Melrose, NY
What brings you to Wa Wa? My little sister goes here and that's how we found Wa Wa Segowea. I thought it would be a good way to spend the summer.
What are you excited for this summer? I'm excited for all the swimming! I haven't gone swimming in a long time. I'm looking forward to it. I love the water.
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? I want campers to have a real fun and amazing summer that they just remember forever, make friends and try something new.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? I was part of a production of a movie at my school and pretty much there hasn't been one before. It was a full length feature film and it came out really well.
What do we not know about you? I love to travel and luckily I've been able to go to six different countries- England, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands!
Craig Drummond, 24 from Glasgow, Scotland
What brings you to Wa Wa? It's a great way to spend my summer and basically messing around in the lake. Doing a 10 week placement, I got a good chance to come and see America, be by myself and have a chance to have a good summer with a rewarding job along the way that pays the bills!
What are you excited for this summer? A lot of stuff really. Just today, I've been told I could get a bit of money to start a fishing class started with another guy Alec here. He's got the fishing skills, I've got the enthusiasm. We're going to try and put that together. I plan to travel a bit afterwards. I've got about four weeks afterwards before my University starts again, so I'm going to travel afterwards. I'm excited about meeting all kinds of kids and different people from different parts of the world. I'm really excited to not have any technology or anything. I sit normally with my laptop open, my iPod and my iPhone normally, so I've intentionally have none of those with me. I'm excited for a total paradigm shift, a new experience.
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? I just hope they come and have fun, a genuine fun experience. I just want them to come and be themselves and have a total great time and sort of live without limitations for a holiday. Whatever issues they have, whatever problems they have, I want them to come and have so much fun and then leave thinking "That was amazing!" I think happy memories are rather important to have later on in life, sort of remembering a time when you were genuinely happy, so I want that to happen.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? I don't know. I'm quite the self-critical person. I can't think of anything really that make me proud to be honest. I hope that's not too pessimistic
Scottish people are quite critical on themselves, quite hard, I don't know. There's no one defining characteristic that I feel super proud about.
What do we not know about you? There's quite a bit of things you don't know about me, but I've had a very fun life, a lot of good stuff. I've traveled all over the world and done a lot of good stuff and I can't think of anything I can share.
Alec Barrett, 18 from South Windsor, Connecticut-
What brings you to Wa Wa? I know Auntie Elena. Elena Twombly works for the Y, and she served in the Army with my Mom and Dad.
What are you excited for this summer? Water. I'm from the suburbs so there's not a whole lot of swimmable water. And there's some very good fish out there! I went out there earlier today.
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? I want them to try something new because… I want to try sailing because I've never done sailing. You never know if you like something if you don't try. I want to tell all my cabin campers to try one thing.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? I won State championship in freestyle wrestling, in my sophomore year of high school. I always put that on my resume!
What do we not know about you? I'm joining the US Army after camp.
Izzy- 18 from Castleton, NY
What brings you to Wa Wa? I like working at this camp!
What are you excited for this summer? Meeting the new campers and hanging out with the new staff and having fun!
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? Getting to do new things and meet new people and have a memorable summer.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? I finished high school!
What do we not know about you? I play the flute and the piccolo and I've worked on a horse farm for three years.
Rochelle Cady, 24 from West Warwick, RI
What brings you to Wa Wa? I'm here as the waterfront director and I've always loved aquatics. I love the water! I've worked in aquatics and at camps the past four years or so, and this year it's a little bit of a bump position and it helps push me to the next level in my career and I love camp!
What are you excited for this summer? I'm excited about being away from the world, being away from the world for the whole summer. I did it in 2010 and I could talk to people once every week and it gave everyone a chance to enjoy the summer more. You weren't on your phone or on your computer all day long. You're outside breathing real air!
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? The same thing that we get out of it, escaping for a little while. I think as a society, people need to be brought back to simpler times, simpler mindsets. It gets kids out in the wilderness and nature and gives them time to just be kids and have fun. It's like a vacation for them.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? I think getting back to New England as silly as that sounds. I moved to North Carolina for school, but they say when you leave New England, it's really hard to get back and I saved everything I could for a whole summer and I was able to move back and I did it on my own. Nobody really helped me with it. Getting back to New England, where I want to be is not something many people can do. You have to work hard for it.
What do we not know about you? I'm pretty open, but I'm afraid of ladybugs. I'm terrified of them! I think they hibernated in my house, infested my house when I was younger. They look nasty and they fly at you, it's horrible! I don't like them at all.
Miles Anthony Blocker, 19 from Poughkeepsie, NY, where I was born.
What brings you to Wa Wa? It sounded great being a camp counselor. I wanted to get away from my city, and I wanted to be outside in nature. I also wanted to not use my phone anymore. I wanted to get off my device, come out here and see what Camp Wa Wa has to offer and so far I love it!
What are you excited for this summer? I'm pretty much excited about impacting kids lives, trying to teach morals and values that my dad taught me. Putting a smile on everybody's faces, trying to make a lot of new friends. That's what camp is all about.
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? When they talk about their camp counselor, I want them to say, the camp counselor I had was great, was awesome. He taught me the ropes on how to be a good camper, taught me survival skills, gave me love, cared about me, was there for me if I needed anything.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? Boosting my self confidence, because when I was young, I didn't have any self confidence. I had a lot of insecurities. I overcame that and now I feel better than ever.
What do we not know about you? My heart is too big to imagine!
Justin Richardson, just turned 21 from Poughkeepsie, NY
What brings you to Wa Wa? Coming back to Wa Wa- There's something special about Wa Wa because- you have the wildlife and the people that come back, it's very special as I haven't been back here in at least 6 years. I didn't even know the camp was open. When I heard that the camp was open again, I said definitely I have to be a counselor because the people here that makes Wa Wa, they aren't like any one else.
What are you excited for this summer? I'm excited about the kids. When I was here as a camper, counselors were my role models. The leadership when I was here, were family and they made the experience here as joyous as possible. So I want to give back, have a helping hand and make sure kids are on the right track.
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? I want them to go home knowing that they have a second family and they should always come back to Wa Wa.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? Believe it or not, when I was in camp, as a kid at that time, that I could do anything I wanted if I put my mind to it. Here at camp, they encouraged me to do the right thing and make sure I was headed on the right path. To enjoy your time, because life is not promised for tomorrow.
What do we not know about you? A fun fact!- I played college football, still continuing playing college football.
Clifford Clarke- 22, from Poughkeepsie, NY
What brings you to Wa Wa? It's actually a funny story. I was planning on staying in Lynchburg, where I go to college. I wanted to get a job over the summer, so I could have one when I went back to school. I applied to work in the cafeteria at school, and I didn't think I was going to get it, but I did. And the job starts in the fall, so I didn't have to stay there for the summer. So I was going to go home to my parents and either the day of, or the day after I went home, I got an email asking if I wanted to interview for the SOC position, and thought I would. I really wanted to come back last year, I missed the place, but it just didn't work out. So here I am!
What are you excited for this summer? Getting an opportunity to be part of the leadership team. Last time I was here, I was a counselor and there was a lot of stuff I didn't get the chance to do, because I was just a counselor. Now I'll have more of an impact on kids, an opportunity to have more of an impact on kids, an opportunity to make a difference and I'm really looking forward to working with the older kids. It's going to be a challenge and I look forward to being able to tackle that challenge! I like all my co-workers and we get along so well.
What is it about the camping experience that you want campers to go home with? One of the things we do different than every other camp is because we're so small, we can create very strong bonds between each other and the campers, and help them create strong bonds with each other. What I want is for them to create these strong relationships and continue to keep them outside of camp. For me, as an example, I came here and found two people are here from Poughkeepsie that I didn't know, and I love the feeling that after camp, I'll go home and they'll be there. I think that's really cool. I want kids to meet kids that are in their area, make new friends that they never thought was possible.
What personal accomplishment makes you most proud? I have opportunities to be in leadership positions and the one I remember the most is one I didn't even know was going to happen. I started a study group in my accounting class because I realized I was doing better, but I didn't want to take any chances. I started the study group and ended up running it, almost teaching the group. I got the opportunity to lead the group, and everybody in the group passed! I even got the opportunity to help out one individual in the group so much, that she then helped me help the rest of the group. She originally didn't like accounting, but we sat down and went through it and I helped her study. The next time she came to me, she said she finally understood it and then she went on to help leading the group too. It was cool to know I made a difference.
What do we not know about you? There's a lot you don't know about me! I think it's pretty obvious that I'm a kid at heart and I think a lot of people look at me and think that I don't act my age and I'm okay with then thinking that. There was a time in my life that really bothered me. I didn't like to be judged. So I went through an identity crisis almost. But I came to a point and thought, why does it matter? I like who I am, and it shouldn't matter what everyone else thinks. I can be an adult, I can be a man, take on responsibility and I do that, but I'm not going to worry about being judged. That's something I realize that a lot of people don't have the ability to not have a care in the world, even for a couple hours in the day, and I can do that and it feels good.
Some other staff members were unavailable at the time of the interviews. We'll be sure to get their answers shortly and post them as soon as we can!