20 Questions with Assistant Director, Ricky
Q1: How many summers have you spent at The Nature Place?
Last summer was my first at The Nature Place! I am excited for summer #2 this year, and many more to come!
Q2: What interested you about working at The Nature Place?
I would say the thing that interested me the most in working at The Nature Place is how unique camp truly is. Whether it’s the inclusiveness of all people who come to camp, incorporating nature into everything we do, or that we take the social pressures of competition out of our programming and focus on building each other up through cooperation and teamwork, there is no camp like The Nature Place. I am incredibly fortunate that I get to call TNP home.
Q3: What is your favorite Nature Place activity?
I am partial to climbing as I got my start working at camp as a climbing/zipline instructor.
Q4: What was your favorite memory of this past summer?
The memory that is sticking out in my mind is from the last day of camp, after a summer of learning and growth, we as a Nature Place community all came together on the games field to close out the summer together. Scott led us through a beautiful community moment that encapsulated the spirit of TNP. As we walked around the circle together, joining hand in hand, I was awestruck at how strong this community is, how powerful The Nature Place experience is for campers and staff, and how lucky I am that I get to be a part of this community.
Q5: What originally brought you to The Nature Place?
I was working full time at a JCC in Connecticut in the after school program, but I knew that my passion was camp. It was what I saw myself doing for my career, and at the time I took that job, they weren’t hiring full time camp professionals. Jason and I worked together at the JCC, and when he announced he was leaving, I knew I wasn’t going to be far behind him. He gave me my start working at camp, and quickly became a mentor for me as I explored the possibility of a career in camp. Shortly after his leaving, he told me about The Nature Place, and between the opportunity to continue learning and working with Jason, and the mission of TNP, it was a no-brainer for me to join the team.
Q6: If you could be an activity leader, what activity would you want to lead?
I would love the chance to be an Outdoor Skills and Camping activity leader. I spent many years in the Boy Scouts and would love to be able to teach those skills I gained during my time there to the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.
Q7: What was your favorite recipe from cooking this summer?
I loved the Cowboy Caviar recipe from this summer. I remember Eva handing me a container of all the extra she had and finished it during dinner that night.
Q8: What was your first memory of The Nature Place?
I got to see The Nature Place for the first time the day after a snowstorm. While the trees were barren, and some imagination was required to picture what the pond looked like on a summer day, I could feel the magic of TNP with every step I took. I could feel the warmth of summer, even on a cold, snowy day.
Q9: What advice would you share with a new Staff member starting at The Nature Place this summer?
Get ready for an incredible summer. Come ready to play, learn, try new things, and have fun. The impact that you get to have on the campers is a tremendous responsibility, and we know you can handle it. Finally, be the most authentic version of yourself you can be. This community will accept you and embrace you, and we hope you’ll do the same for us.
Q10: What advice would you share with a new camper starting at The Nature Place this summer?
Take the opportunities to push yourself out of your comfort zone. It is ok to be nervous to climb to the top of the tree, or to be hesitant to try a new food at cooking. Camp is a place to try those new things, to push yourself out of your comfort zone to reach new heights and know that your peers and staff are there to support you along the way.
Q11: Who are you looking forward to seeing next summer?
I am looking forward to seeing every camper and staff that is a part of The Nature Place family for Summer 2023. Whether returning to camp for another year, or here for the first time, I can’t wait to see you!
Q12: What is your favorite camp song?
Q13: What is your favorite spot at The Nature Place?
I love the Nature’s Playground area located behind the Children’s Garden. I love that there is so much to explore in that area, and it’s a great gathering space during our Staff Orientation Week.
Q14: Where do you think the trolls go during the winter?
We only see them at camp during the summer, which makes me think they prefer a warmer climate, so they’re probably spending their time on the beaches of the Bahamas or somewhere else for a tropical vacation.
Q15: What is your favorite camp tradition?
I love morning share. We get to start every day together, as one Nature Place community to get excited for the day, before we all head out to go on our own group adventures the rest of the day. It’s a beautiful way for us to start our day together.
Q16: What is the first thing you do after you wake up, to get ready for your day at The Nature Place?
I start every morning with a zero sugar Gatorade. I find it to be more effective than coffee to get my day started on the right foot.
Q17: What is the first thing you do when you get home after a day at camp?
The first thing I do when I get home from camp is have a quick dinner (usually Chinese food or something I pick up at Wegmans), and then I head to sleep to do it all again the next day!
Q18: What is your favorite memory of Scott?
Besides the countless summer evenings we spent debriefing the day over dinner, I would say my favorite memory with Scott is when we met. I met Scott for the first time at the Tri-State camp conference and got to have dinner with Scott and Jason. What Scott didn’t know at the time was that I was thinking about working at The Nature Place, and rather than sharing that, I took the time to listen to Scott’s stories of summers past, and the incredible things The Nature Place has done, and whether he knew it or not, that time with him and hearing those stories helped me make the decision to join The Nature Place family, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Thank you Scott!
Q19: What was your favorite activity?
My favorite activity is always the next one I get to go to.
Q20: What was your favorite part of your Overnight?
While I didn’t get to have my own overnight experience, I got to sit in on many of the onsite overnights and almost overnights throughout the summer. I think my favorite moment from an overnight was when I got to join Group N on their onsite overnight. I got to spend a few hours with them doing team building activities, sitting by the campfire, and most importantly, getting to know the campers in the group. I am thankful to Group N for allowing me to join in on their overnight experience and welcoming me into their group early in the summer.