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The Value of EPIC

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The Value of EPIC

In the Fall of 2015, I had just been hired to work full time as the Director of the residential camp that I grew up at as a camper and counselor. I remember my first few days on the job well. I was working alone, in my tiny NYC apartment, putting together ideas and goals for myself while making calls as close to my window as possible in hopes of getting clear cell phone service. In many ways, I had landed my absolute dream job as a Camp Director - being given the opportunity to give back to the place that had given me so much. But at the same time, after leaving teaching full-time where I was constantly collaborating with other teachers and colleagues, my job which allowed me to work remotely at a small camp without other team members left a noticeable void for me in my day to day.

I then received an email from ACA, NY & NJ about an EPIC event called Bagels & Brainstorm. I opened it up not knowing what EPIC meant! Once I read about it and learned that EPIC’s are self defined as Emerging Professionals In Camping I thought this might be a good fit for me. I wasn’t sure what this event would entail but I thought to myself - why not - I might as well go! If it’s a horrible event, at least I can get a bagel out of it. That morning was much more than I could have imagined it would be. Those few hours around the table with other camp professionals sharing, collaborating, learning and teaching was just what I was missing and yearning for in my professional career.

I can honestly say that showing up to the roundtable that morning was hands down one of the best decisions I have made in my career so far. Since then, I’ve met hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of other camp professionals who are eager to connect and collaborate. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from and be mentored by former EPICs who now are established in their camping career and excited about giving back to this special group. As the current chair of EPIC, I have also found myself mentoring. Finding other young professionals who are hoping to get involved and inviting them to come, reaching out and introducing them and welcoming them into this incredibly talented and kind group of people.

ACA, NY and NJ’s EPIC plans three major events each year. Bagels & Brainstorm (which will always have a special place in my heart!) in the Fall, Drinks & Discussions in the Winter and a pre-conference at the Tri-State conference each Spring. If you are new to camping, new to your current position, or just looking to continue your professional development and network, then there is a place for you within EPIC. I encourage all new professionals, especially those who may be working alone from their tiny NYC apartments, to join us and see what we are all about. Be a part of a thoughtful, resourceful network of professionals who are connecting, growing and emerging together.

Amanda Ward is the Director of Camp Chinqueka and Chair of the EPIC Committee. 

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