Staff Spotlight: Jennifer Sebolt

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Office Coordinator Jennifer Sebolt is the first smiling face you see when you enter the Mills Center at Miniwanca. She’s adept at juggling multiple tasks, from reception and administrative duties to assisting with the monumental work of seasonal staff hiring. She’ll even distribute fishing permits to local anglers during the off-season. Though she didn’t attend Miniwanca as a camper, she grew up attending summer camps in Michigan, and she jumped at the chance to work with the AYF when her role became available in February 2019. Get to know Jennifer Sebolt.

A lot of people don’t realize how much work goes into Miniwanca behind the scenes. What element of your job might surprise people?
The seasonal staffing process is almost a yearlong endeavor from beginning to end. There are databases to update, regulations to review, and planning with our hiring directors so I can best support the process. Throughout a regular year, we will have hundreds of seasonal staff and volunteers join us on our mission.

With hiring processes, there is always quite a bit of paperwork, and I’m always so thankful to our seasonal staff for completing the paperwork we send them. We have been able to develop ways to complete our “hiring paperwork” process electronically, and to save on paper waste where we can.

In 2021, there were different requirements and our seasonal staffing processes changed. I supported the staff hiring process for Miniwanca and Merrowvista. Coordinating the seasonal staffing processes for both sites took planning, attention to detail, and follow through.

How did you first become involved with the AYF?
I found the Office Coordinator position through an online listing and knew I had to apply. I was not familiar with Miniwanca, but during my youth, I enjoyed spending time at different camps in Michigan.  Having the opportunity to use my office administration and IT experience in a camp setting and at a camp with such an amazing history was exciting!

What are some of your favorite memories of your camp experiences as a child?
My favorite memories are from school retreats. We would spend a week away from home with our schoolmates. The time away from the city, making time for spiritual reflection, and having time to bond with my classmates, was a highlight of each year. These retreats allowed us to experience life together and have interactions we would not have had sitting in a classroom or in the social structure of high school.

During those retreats, lasting friendships were made that would not have happened if we were only passing each other in the halls at school. We had a good balance of group program sessions, free time to explore the woods, and reflection times. It was not only a time of spiritual growth, but also social growth.

How did this summer season compare to your first season in 2019?
I started in February 2019 and went through my first summer camp season and CSP sessions that year. As we wrapped up, I was prepared and ready for the 2020 season – and then the pandemic hit. This year felt like a whole new beginning after not having campers or programs in 2020, plus a shorter season and changes in staffing. I was nervous because it all seemed new, but as soon as the summer staff and campers started to arrive, it felt like no time had passed. It was exciting to see everyone again!

What are some of your highlights from this past summer?
The biggest highlight was having campers here again. When they arrived, you could feel the positive energy and excitement. Seeing their eyes light up as they checked in made my day. It was also wonderful to spend time with the Miniwanca staff I had only worked with virtually in 2020.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside work?
Spending time with my family is my favorite thing. We enjoy a wide variety of activities with like antiquing, hiking, and painting, as well as visiting museums, libraries, and unique historical places. Life is an adventure, and I love adventuring with my family!

What is a little-known fact about yourself?
I am an artist. In recent years, I have come back to painting. I also enjoy photography, mixed media, and woodworking.

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of youth and meeting so many amazing people. From camper families and seasonal staff to alumni and visitors, it is quite an experience to be a part of this!