YMCA Camp Kitaki

A Place You Want to Return to

A Place You Want to Return to

December should be a quiet time at camp. We only have three horses in our care right now, just a handful of groups are out, and summer is still far enough out that tasks like buying supplies and planning training schedules aren’t a top priority yet. But instead of taking this time to catch my breath after a busy fall, my calendar is jam-packed for one very good reason: staff interviews.

People are often surprised when I tell them that we start hiring in October for the following summer. I think it is sometimes hard for them to believe that our college-aged staff are thinking that far out. A few new applicants are steadily rolling in each week, but that is pretty typical for this time of year. Our returning staff applicants are another story.

As of mid- December we have 39 staff who have applied to return. For some perspective, we hire about 70 staff each summer. We expect to see about 5-10 more return applications by the time it is all said and done. The number of returning staff this year is definitely higher than average, but it isn’t that far out of the norm for us. Kitaki is a place people want to return to, and that isn’t just true for our campers.

When I interview the returning staff, I often ask them why camp is important. Sometimes they chose to share why camp is important to them personally, sometimes they speak in more broad terms, and sometimes they share a bit of both. But their answers always warm my heart and make me feel so proud to work with so many young professionals who “get it”.

I take a lot of notes when I talk to the return staff. Do I reference these notes when it comes time to make hiring decisions? Sure. But mostly I just love being able to look back on all the insightful things they share. The staff tell me “camp is a stable and safe place for people to grow”, “camp is a place where everyone is welcome”, “camp is a place to connect”. They recognize that camp is “a place where kids are able to grow without their parents”, “a place where kids can be silly and enjoy life away from technology and pressures”, “a place where they feel it is safe to ask for help”, and “a place to learn friendship and leadership skills while the stakes are still low and the support is high”. They tell me “I am constantly learning from the people around me”, “working here has been the single biggest thing that has made me a better adult”, and “I have yet to find a more inclusive place, a place where everyone recognizes that all people deserve respect, especially kids.”

These interviews take up a huge portion of my day this time of year. But they also serve as a reminder why Kitaki is the place I want to return to, year after year.

Natalie "Nat" Roberts-Day

Associate Executive Director

To Here I Will Always Return

Staff Night Out:  Alumni Event

New Year's Live:  Send your kids to camp for the Holiday break!