My name is Emily Dumont and I work at Camp AJ, a residential camp in Jackson County, Kentucky. I have worked at Camp AJ for just over 4 years. I have learned a lot during my time at camp, but this November was the first time that I had an opportunity to travel to a camp conference to learn more from people in the camping profession. Thanks to CampBrain’s generous sponsorship I was able to attend the second annual Women in Camp Summit in St. Charles, Illinois. I can honestly say that the event has made one of the largest impacts on me both personally and professionally since I began working in camp.
Before embarking on my journey to the WIC Summit I spent some time looking at the schedule, the presenters, and the keynote speakers online. I was excited to attend the summit and I knew that I would learn a lot, but I was also anxious about traveling to a new city by myself and meeting so many new people. I could get an idea of what I would learn from my online research, but the supportive community that I was about to be a part of was a surprise. From the moment I stepped up to the registration table to the time I stepped out of the car at the airport on the way back home I felt welcomed and valued. I was shown repeatedly that what I had to say mattered, that my ideas should be shared and listened to, and that my feelings are valid.
Sometimes while working at camp everything on the outside seems to fade away and I find myself in a sort of ‘camp bubble’. It can feel like nobody on the outside understands what working in camp is like, and nobody can help work through the crazy, unexpected things we run into daily. At the WIC Summit I found myself in a space full of women who understood so well the world that I live in.
There were women like me, who are at the beginning of their journey in camping and women who are trailblazers in the camping industry. Some of us were there to learn as much as we could from others, and some were there to share their knowledge and experiences before finishing their amazing, groundbreaking careers in camp. No matter who you were or what your experience was, the WIC Summit was a place where your voice mattered.
There were opportunities for people to discuss anything and everything that was on their mind. Our leaders created a space that was safe and comfortable for learning in a way that seemed nearly effortless. I left the summit feeling more prepared to create programming for camp, engage with staff in meaningful and productive ways, and empower our campers, particularly our female campers, to be their very best self.
I cannot say enough positive things about attending the WIC Summit. I look back at the attitude I had towards myself when applying to attend the summit. “Well, I’m not going to win, but I guess I’ll apply anyway.” The women I met taught me that I am worth so much more than I believed.
If I were to apply now, my thoughts would be so different. I would apply because I believe that I have something important to add to the conversation. I would apply because I know that I am capable and worthy. I learned so many incredible things and met so many incredible women at the Women in Camp Summit and I left feeling positive, powerful, recharged, and ready to take on the world. That feeling has stuck with me in both my personal and professional life since returning home.
I hope to attend the WIC Summit again in the future, but whether that happens or not, I have joined a community that is doing great work and will continue to work to make the camp industry better for all people involved.
Emily Dumont – Camp AJ