kelly_godzacMy journey at Camp Echo Lake began almost 10 years ago.  I was a sophomore in college looking for a summer job.  As a childhood education major, I was hoping to find a job that would allow me to work with children in some capacity.  I remember sitting at my desk in my dorm room and googling “fun summer jobs with children.”  Little did I know that the first result on the search page would forever change my life.  I clicked on the link for Camp Echo Lake and was immediately taken aback.  The more I read about its values and culture, the more I yearned to be a part of this community.  About a week later I found myself on the phone with Laurie Rinke for my interview.  Hearing Laurie speak about her own experience with camp enlightened me on what this place truly meant to everyone who had been a part of it.  When I was offered the job as cabin specialist I did not have a moment of hesitation.  I immediately accepted the offer with the hope that I would make a positive impact on a child’s life. What I didn’t know then was how much this place was going to have an impact on me.

I will never forget my first summer at Camp Echo Lake.  I drove through the gates after months of anticipation.  When I entered the admin, Tony Stein was standing in the office.  He immediately welcomed me by name.   In my very first minute at camp, I already felt connected and important.  In retrospect I now know that these profound, genuine connections are what camp is all about. When you realize your own worth or importance, the sky is the limit.  From that moment I felt like I began to soar.  The biggest thing I took from camp that first summer, aside from the relationships I made, was confidence.  I was given the opportunity to challenge myself in so many contexts and as a result I saw my true capabilities.  My intentions of coming to camp were to help make a difference in a child’s life and in that one summer camp made a huge difference in my life.  At that point, camp had a piece of my heart and I knew I had to experience it again.

I have since returned to Echo Lake for eight more consecutive summers.  I worked as a Group Leader for two summers and have spent my last six summers as a Girls’ Camp Head Counselor.  Every summer has been different: there are new challenges thrown at me, new relationships built, and new things to discover about myself.  Every summer has truly shaped who I am today in both my personal and professional life.  Throughout these nine years I also graduated from SUNY Fredonia with a Bachelor’s in Childhood Education and a Master’s in Literacy Education.  After graduating I moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina where I have spent the last three and a half years working as a third and fifth grade teacher.  I have brought so much of what I learned from camp into the classroom – it is simply ingrained in the person I am.  You can find my students passing fuzzies and singing “Baby Shark” (among other camp songs).  Most of all, I have tried to give all of my students that same gift I have received from Camp Echo Lake summer after summer: the gift of knowing that you are important and have so much to offer the world.

When I received the phone call to work full time for camp as the Director of Customer Service and Camp Administration I felt as if I was in a dream.  How lucky could I be to get to dedicate my year to the place that I love? On top of that I get to work with, and learn from, people who have been a constant source of support and friendship.  I consider myself truly blessed to be granted this opportunity and to learn from the best.  In this position I intend to work with the other full time staff in order to maintain constant communication with our camp families, seasonal staff, and prospective camp families.  It is important to me that everybody understands how much we value their role in this community. In the summer I will resume my position as Junior Girls’ Camp Head Counselor.  I am happy to continue to be able to interact and impact both campers and staff on a daily basis.  Camp has been such a gift in my life and I cannot wait to see other people receive that same gift for years to come.