Summer 2021 is nearly here! No, that’s not an exaggeration—it’s a reality for us. We are only about 10 weeks away from staff training. (AH!) 10 weeks when you are pregnant feels like an eternity, but when you are planning a summer camp season, it feels like time to start swimming laps, charging walkie-talkies, and buying Chacos. (It’s a thing.)
So as we eagerly anticipate staff training we want to introduce you to one of our MVPs, Woods:
Let’s start off easy, tell us a little about yourself:
Hello! My name is Woods and I will be the Summer 2021 Program Director. I am from the MS Gulf Coast and you can typically find me out on the water or in one of my favorite places, the woods—hence my camp name and one of the reasons I love camp. I enjoy the outdoors so much, that I am majoring in Recreation Management at the University of South Alabama where I also work for the Outdoor Adventures department. My job there is to take students and staff on paddle trips throughout coastal Alabama. I recently picked up a new outdoor hobby, fly fishing. I have also started trying my hand at film photography (you will probably see me with a disposable camera at camp) and learning to play the harmonica.
What does the Program Director do? Why did this role interest you?
At Waukaway, the Program Director is responsible for scheduling the staff, coordinating with our guest groups, lead activities, and make sure camp runs smoothly. I am most excited about the opportunity to be the person that people turn to for answers. I really enjoy showing people how to do tasks that are new to them and problem-solving with others. Don’t get me wrong, it’s intimidating, but learning is all a part of life and there is no time like the present.
What led to you serving in this role?
I started at Waukaway Springs in the summer of 2019 as a summer staffer and watched the leadership, and how they led us. That summer taught me a lot, and I enjoy growing and stepping into more responsibility in my work. I love trying new things, and after understanding the responsibilities of Program Director, I anticipated that I would apply for it at some point. Never would I have guessed that it would be only two years after I started working here would I be in this position. Part of me feels like I am still new to camp, and that I do not know enough, but I would not be here if it was not for God. I am trusting in Him during this process and know that he will be with me, the staff, and our guests through it all.
What excites you about this summer?
The presence of God at camp is so apparent. I can slow down at camp and see his craftsmanship take shape each day in the sun peeking over the tops of the Mississippi pines, the towering clouds floating across the sky, the clear view of the stars at night, and the people. The everyday flow of camp is my favorite. Waking up in such a beautiful environment, then getting to interact with the guests through serving food, playing kickball (gaga ball is a close second), hiking trails, and of course, the lake! The friendships that I have, and will continue to build through camp, are unlike any other. Living with other staff for three months, you really do feel like a family and that is something I don’t take for granted.
What is your favorite activity to do here?
On an off day, you can typically find me floating on a paddleboard in the middle of the lake sunbathing. But overall, pretty much every lake activity is my favorite. If not enjoying the lake, I will be dominating at the paintball target range, or trying to beat my 28-second run through The Valley. Overall, waterfront time is my absolute favorite. Both getting to enjoy the cool, crisp, Waukaway water, and lifeguarding from the sun chair.
If you know me, you know I also love engines. Anything that runs off gas and oil is music to my ears. So, if you ever find yourself asking, “Where is Woods?”—just listen for a chainsaw off in the distance. I’ll probably be cutting up firewood.
How can everyone pray for you?
It would be amazing if everyone could pray with me for a successful and safe summer, and that the staff and I would keep our minds on God and doing His work while at camp. I would also ask for prayers for constant encouragement and the strength to tackle this summer and all its new challenges.
I am looking forward to the summer and all the work God is going to do. I attended an M4 camp at Waukaway when I was eight years old and am so thankful that God led me back to camp 13 years later!
Join us in thanking God for Woods, and praying over his leadership this summer. This summer will be unlike any other, and we simply cannot wait to see what God has in store for us!