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Camp Carysbrook is literally in my blood. Carysbrook was started by my two great great aunts. My grandmother went to the camp before it moved to where it is today. My mother and sisters were also campers. I grew up on Carysbrook stories. I was fortunate that Toni reopened Carysbrook so that I could go.
My first summer I was a little homesick but Alison really made me feel at home. I met a lifelong friend that year, Carter. I loved being able to experience all the activities that I soon fell in love with especially riding and riflery.
I loved being a counselor and helping create some of the magic. I remember reading stories to Bob White and Toni yelling at me from the office because I am so loud and my voice carried.
I went to Guilford College in Greensboro, NC for psychology. I am now a clinician working with individuals who have mental illness, substance abuse, and intellectual disabilities. I am married and a mother to two boys. I named my second son Stuart Preston after my great great aunt. I still love camp and now tell my boys camp stories. They love the camp songs especially Tom the Toad..
How did you find out about camp?
Toni Baughman was married to Earl, Earl worked with my dad, my dad wanted to send me to camp for the summer so what else was he to do?
Describe your first summer? Camper years 1983-86
I started in Dove and I think I was there 2 years, then Bluebird then Swallow. Once I was a returning camper, I kept hearing about this girl, Jen “Sally” Mehler. She was my doppelganger- always came for the first session, I came for the second, she was the Brown Team captain, I took over after she went home, she slept on that bunk, I slept on that bunk! I kind of felt inferior every time I got to camp- Oh, Jen slept there. Oh, Sally was the team captain, oh oh oh! Once she and I met in person, our CIT summer, we became fast friends and she’s still one of my closest peeps in DC! I wouldn’t be who I am without Camp. I love Carysbrook with all of my heart and am so grateful for her presence in my life.
Counselor days: 1989-90
As a counselor, my cabin was Bluebird twice. I was the gymnastics counselor because there was no one else to do it and I could do a somersault!
I got my undergrad at University of Wisconsin. After spending 20 years in Milwaukee, I returned to the East Coast via a short trip to Connecticut for grad school at Yale. Now I work as a Nurse Practitioner at the Heart Institute at Children’s National Medical Center. I still see Sally Mehler Rardin as much as possible and know her daughters will be Carysbrook girls, in fact her oldest’s first gift from “Auntie Rachel” was a BROWN blanket. Camp taught me that a silly song goes a long way, grilled cheese and tomato soup make the sun shine on the rainiest of days and that no matter where we came from or what our family was like, if we were sitting in a hammock, waiting for lunch; walking quietly through the dark to campfire; sweeping out the cabin for morning inspection or just hanging out at fire patrol, we all shared camp. Thanks CC!
How did you find out about camp?
Toni was my step-mom’s cousin and we went to Carysbrook for a family reunion during the late fall of my senior year of high school. I fell in love with camp… the fields, forests, and cabins that weekend and was thrilled when Toni offered me a job at Rec. Sports for the following summer. Two weeks in, I actually traded activities with another counselor and worked at Outdoor Living Skills (where I worked for the next 4 summers).
Describe your first summer:
My first summer at camp was purely amazing. We built 1-match fires and made lots of s’mores; stayed up late, camping under the stars to watch meteor showers; canoed down the Little River; sang songs after every meal; and experienced the magic of Saturday night Campfire. Though the purpose of Carysbrook is to provide a wonderful camp experience for the campers, the staff is provided the same experience, just through a slightly different lens. I can be a very shy person, but I was encouraged to share my interests and talents. Carysbrook really helped me to establish who I am as a person without all those media-driven ideas that we are bombarded with on a daily basis at home. I was introduced to people and cultures from around the world and made amazing friends (friendships that will last a lifetime)! And not least importantly, I was encouraged to be silly… to have fun… and to play in one of the most beautiful places imaginable.
I was a counselor at Carysbrook from 1997-2000, teaching Outdoor Living Skills. In 2002, the summer after Toni passed away, I returned, along with lots of former staff members, to do anything I could to help keep the light of Carysbrook burning. I came back again in 2003, and then from 2004-2007, my family lived at Carysbrook as the off-season caretakers of the property. I was also able to work during those summers as the CAP instructor. I consider myself to be unbelievably fortunate to have experienced Carysbrook year-round, and that my son, Ethin, could spend three of his formative years growing up at Camp Carysbrook.
My first 2 years of college, I studied Outdoor Education at Montreat College, in the mountains of western North Carolina. I transferred my junior year to Columbia College in South Carolina, where I earned my BA in studio art. While living at Carysbrook, I earned my MFA in studio art at Radford University. And, I actually just recently completed my K-12 teaching licensure in art education at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.
How did you find out about camp?
We lived in DC and my parents met Toni and BB at a camp fair. They instantly knew Carysbrook was something special.
Describe Your First Summer
Made lots of friends and learned how to be one. Learned to build a one match fire and how to roast the perfect marshmallow. At eight years old I’m sure I was pretty rambunctious.
Colleen and Dimple were my first counselors in Mockingbird. Lake Catherine was and is still my favorite place in camp. Ashley Parker was my first team captain… 1986!! Go Green! Tori was on the brown team!
When we were CITs we got to try out working at different activities. And of course I ended up at the dock! And that was my home every summer for the next 10+ summers. I was head of the dock and head counselor for a few summers, and when the time came when I couldn’t spend the whole summer at camp, somehow I made it back to Riner for a birthday visit!
Without camp I wouldn’t be who I am today. I still have my quote book that I started as a camper…. I remember being so excited to write down a new poem that Toni read at campfire or the new sayings of the summer! My favorite camp song is “I Know a Place.”
One of the most important lessons I think about all the time is to make sure that people always feel included. Everyone is the same.
After graduating from the University of Florida with a BS in advertising with a minor in Spanish, I worked in advertising for a little bit but I knew that I wanted to work with kids, so I started teaching elementary school 10 years ago. Every day I am reminded of something I learned at Carysbrook. And when my students are humming a camp song that I’ve taught them, I sit back and think of that little place we call camp.
As a counselor I learned that every person on the team is essential to the success of the team. I am currently the team leader for 5th grade at my school and being a counselor at camp taught me to work will many different personalities and to find the good in each person. Camp taught me to be reliable and responsible.