November 20, 2022
Hey! I’m Brandon Lovejoy. Originally from Denver, Colorado, I now live on the East Coast where I am finishing up my MFA at Yale School of Drama. This upcoming summer will be my fourth year at Lake of the Woods and Greenwoods.
My background has always been in theater. I love performing and working backstage. In fact, as I write this blog post I am sitting backstage at a show. When the world shut down for COVID-19, it felt like my livelihood slipped away from me in an instant. What was I supposed to do when every job I had lined up was canceled? As the school year was wrapping up and the world was adjusting to a new way of living (masks, social distancing, etc.), I did a last minute search for jobs related to theater. Lake of the Woods and Greenwoods was hiring an acting instructor to teach improv classes.
One of my biggest fears going into this first summer as a counselor was if I would get along with everyone at camp. I had no idea if the staff was going to be full of athletes and the campers all future Tom Bradys. Even though I love tennis, and football was on in my house every Sunday, I did not share the same interests as all the other boys in my grade. I was a theatre kid through and through, involved in every production at my high school, and now have turned this passion into a bonafide career. But that didn’t stop me from the same concerns I had from high school. On my first day, I was still worried that if there was a lack of common interests, it would impact my role in this new camp community. Would I enjoy my time as a counselor? Would I make any new friends? It was odd to feel all of these old questions creep back in, but as someone who had never really done overnight camp as a kid, I had no idea what to expect.
With all of these bubbling questions, I was a bit overwhelmed. However, two days in to staff training, I had an incredible realization during one of the sessions on personal goals. To thrive at camp, all you have to do is show up authentically. You do not have to be good at, or even enjoy, sports to succeed and thrive at camp. You do not have to be good at or enjoy arts and crafts, water sports, or horseback riding to succeed at camp. The best people at camp have continuously been the ones who define success as showing up authentically and fully in every interaction they have, with fellow staff and campers.
The amount of activities that camp has to offer, both for campers and staff are tremendous. In my first year I taught improv classes. Many campers of all ages and genders have no interest in the sports programming offered by camp. They love spending time at the arts & crafts sheds, the cooking studio, and our music studio. Having this swath of options means that there is an incredible diversity to the programming at camp. This also means that staff are able to come to camp from a variety of interests and backgrounds. For example, I have met drummers from Colombia, painters from Wisconsin, and chefs from England just to name a few who all come to camp with similar goals for their experience.
Sports inclined people have an entire portion of camp that embraces all that athletics have to offer. I have met Division I collegiate athletes and champion water-skiers. This ability for camp to bring people together from all backgrounds and interests is one of the reasons that keeps drawing me back year after year.
For me, as the improv counselor, the fear that I wouldn’t get along with other staff washed away rapidly. I was invited to volleyball games, pick-up tennis matches, and I took infinite boat rides. My position helping with the artistic programs of camp did not inhibit me from thriving socially or professionally. In fact, it started conversations, opened new doors of understanding, and helped me become a more well rounded person by expanding the network of people that I interacted with on a daily basis.
Over and over again during my first summer, camper and staff alumni told me camp is all about the people. It seemed like just another cliché, but by the end of the first couple weeks there I knew that it was true. There is nowhere else and no other environment that allows you to meet and work with folks who have such varied interests and backgrounds, while making a profound impact in a child’s life, development, and joy. Summer camp is a place that regardless of athletic ability or interest welcomes you to show up as your best self and thrive.