Camp for the Camping Professional with a Special Guest Speaker!
This past week we attended the the Tri State Camp Conference in Atlantic City, NJ, which is the largest gathering of camp professionals in the world! It is the most important “off-season” event for camp professionals, camp staff, youth development professionals, and “out of school” experiential educators. We attened educational sessions, found new products and services and best of all, got to spend time with like minded people who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of children.
Each year the conference is bookended by the Opening and Closing Keynote Sessions. This year’s closing Keynote was delivered by Former Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton. Clinton spoke to thousands of camp directors and year round camp staff, attending the conference. She was relaxed, warm, funny and relatable.
She spoke of her time as a doting new mother, recalling memories of how she would sing “Moon River” to her daughter, Chelsea, until “she developed an ear.” “No sing,” is what her infant daughter would say to her mom to get her to stop, according to Clinton.
She spoke of being a worrying mother, recalling the first time she dropped Chelsea off at camp. “It was the worst week,” she cringed, before adding a bit of humor. “I’ve had a few bad weeks.” Laughter filled the convention center. “It was up there, it was hard,”
She spoke of her own childhood when she reminisced about how her mother instilled in her tenacity during a bullying incident. After an altercation with a girl and her siblings across the street, Clinton came running back into her house for shelter, only to meet her mother at the door who told her flatly, “There’s no room for cowards in this house.”
Clinton raved about how camps provide “the essential building blocks for young people” and exposing children to different races, religions and cultural perspectives. Then she pointedly drew a larger analogy around the summer getaways to the current political paralysis.
“We could have the red cabin, and the blue cabin have to come together and actually listen to each other. Wouldn’t that be a novel idea,” she said. “We really need camps for adults.” “I don’t think there’s any substitute to building relationships. I just don’t,”
She credited her mother with an enduring piece of advice that keeps her poised. “She said, ‘You know, you have a choice to make every day. You can be the lead actor in your own life. Or you can be a bit player reacting to other people,’” Clinton recalled.
In addition to her prepared remarks, Clinton sat down for a chat with our own Executive Director, Jay Jacobs, Director of Timber Lake Camp and also Chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Party on Long Island. At the end of the Q & A, Jacobs handed her a gray sweatshirt emblazoned with “Camp David” He said, “You will like the activities and be well supervised.” To which Clinton replied, “Where do I get an application?”