In the evenings at line up, to recognize someone’s outstanding effort, a call and response cheer goes up. Someone begins by proclaiming “that’s the way...” and everyone loudly responds, “THE SOUTHWOODS WAY!” I’ll admit that during the nine months each year that I’m away from Southwoods, it’s disappointing to hear the phrase “that’s the way” without the spirited reply!
My Southwoods story begins before Southwoods began. What?! Scott and I had crossed paths while working for another organization many years ago. When he and Andrea were preparing to open Southwoods, Scott invited me to train and certify the lifeguard team (and also the TREK staff in first aid/CPR). Little did I know the effect of answering, “yes” to lifeguard training week in 1998. I’ve been part of every training week since, and this year makes eighteen! Additionally, after my first eleven years of training lifeguards, I also began residing at Southwoods through the summers as the Waterfront Director.
During my Southwoods tenure, many adventures have unfolded, and many people have grown! My daughter has attended Southwoods as a camper, and now she has been on staff for several years. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing campers become Leaders in Training (LITs), LITs become staff members, and staff members become parents, now sending their children to Southwoods as campers. It seems to me the experience of giving and receiving at camp is something incredibly special. It has had a profound effect on my family. Camp life interweaves into the basic fabric of each thought and personal encounter.
What do I do while at Southwoods? My day begins with an early morning gathering of head staff - a group of talented individuals committed to Southwoods, and dedicated to making each day special. After breakfast I descend the hill to the beautiful and pristine Southwoods waterfront at Paradox Lake. For me it’s the perfect place to spend each summer day. While there I engage with campers and staff. We play, provide professional instruction, practice safety procedures, and encourage each other. I cannot fully explain the joy of working with the waterfront team – these people are creative, helpful, and adore helping campers at the lake.
I am in good company stating “I LOVE being at Southwoods”! My perspective on L-O-V-E at Southwoods:
L - Learning. Line-Up. Living to the fullest. As an educator, I’m passionate about learning and leading others to a place of experiential evolution – and it’s plentiful at Southwoods. I relish watching comprehension grow as “The Southwoods Way” unfolds for each member of our community. “The Way” is an active form of engaging with each other by reinforcing positive human values. Living in a way that challenges limits, expands skills, and includes thoughtfulness towards others results in marvelous experiences.
O - Opportunity. Optimism. Southwoods is abundant in opportunities, for me, and for everyone. I enjoy daily challenges, and chances to support campers and staff as we move from “wake up” to “lights out”. The waterfront is a special place, and assisting campers to increase skills in swimming, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, skiing and boarding leaves a smile on my face each day. The waterfront staff is incredible, and the team works tirelessly to assist campers in accomplishing their goals. I’m proud to be a part of this crew.
V - Voice. Vivaciousness. Vitality. Every camper has a voice in the community. Each staff member makes a difference. I have lost count of the number of times a camper has encouraged another friend to accomplish something wonderful. Staff members returning each year grow to new levels of leadership and exuberance. Things move organically to the next level, and good vibrations flourish throughout the summer. At summer’s close, we ride the wave of Southwoods memories until next season.
E - Energy. Extraordinary. Enthusiasm. Campers and staff bring an enthusiasm for life. “E” might be my favorite, and not just because it starts my name! It’s because synergy at Southwoods leads us to greater heights, deeper friendships, and larger fun.
Southwoods is a place where daily excellence is encouraged, supported and lived. I return to Southwoods year after year because the mission statement is alive and well. It states, “Southwoods is committed to empowering people. Our goal is to build confidence and self-esteem by reinforcing positive human values. We achieve this goal through cutting-edge programming implemented by a carefully selected and fully trained staff whose investment in children, like our own, is unparalleled."
In my opinion, empowering people results in time well spent. At Southwoods, programming is truly cutting edge – never stale – and always fun. Being “invested in children” ….. a perfect way to learn and grow. Southwoods has changed countless lives. Campers and staff leave each season stronger and more confident. “Unparalleled” is the word that jumps out to me, each time I read the mission statement, because it’s true. Scott and Andrea invest in children’s lives with full heart, wisdom and a lot of experience.
At Southwoods, the investment is in children – and it is unparalleled. Summer number eighteen – here I come!
-Written by Emilia Bohac, Southwoods Waterfront Director