Aubrie Boyd grew up loving summer camp life, from her first sleepaway camp experience at Camp Wyandot in Ohio to her role as a seasonal staffer at other campers. She attended Ohio State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in human development and family sciences. She took a break from camp for a year to work as a Child Development Specialist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which gave her an increased appreciation for the psychosocial needs of children and the power of a summer camp experience.
Boyd found Merrowvista while searching for a year-round camp role through the American Camp Association. She made it through her first New Hampshire winter and is excited to welcome kids to site for her first Merrowvista summer. Here, she shares her favorite camp activities and her advice for first-time campers.
Did you attend any camps or have outdoor experiences as a child?
“My mom worked in the camping industry for the last 25 years, so I had summer camp experiences since before I could walk. My first sleepaway experiences was at Camp Wyandot when I was 5 years old, and I spent the next 10 summers there creating my fondest memories.”
What is one of your most powerful camp memories?
“I remember sleeping under the stars for the first time. Every sound made m flinch, but one night was all it took for me to find peace in the woods. I hope every child gets to experience being unplugged in nature, and the authentic relationships and memories that come from it.”
What first drew you to Merrowvista?
“I was drawn to Merrowvista through the mission. I know I would not be the person I am today without adults who invested their time in me and celebrated my differences. I love being part of a community that puts its passion for youth development into action.”
Program Coordinators are often directly involved in the day-to-day activities of our campers. What do you most enjoy about this part of the role?
“Often, the most impactful moments at camp seem to be the smallest ones. It’s the random acts of kindness, the encouraging moments, and the in-between conversations that leave lasting impressions. While many pieces of my job include planning the big events, it also gives me an opportunity to see the smaller moments, those little sparks that light a larger fire in our campers. I am thankful for a role where I get to not only support our seasonal staff but also share special moments with campers.”
What are the key things you hope seasonal staff learn during their time at camp?
“There is no question that working at camp is a difficult job. However, it is also one of the most rewarding jobs. I love watching staff gain confidence in their ability to lead and support campers. I hope anyone joining us this summer allows themselves to be present during their time here and not take for granted the gift it is to give youth a magical summer camp experience. While everything we do is for the youth we serve, I hope our staff members recognize what an impactful experience a summer in the woods can be for them as well.”
This is your first summer at Merrowvista. What are you most looking forward to?
“I am so excited to learn all the Merrowvista/AYF traditions. I love seeing the unique pieces that make camp so special and keep people coming back year after year.”
This will also be the first summer at Merrowvista for many of our campers. How can they prepare for their first summer camp experience? What advice do you have for dealing homesickness?
“Being nervous to come to camp is a universal experience for campers. Even kids who have spent many summers here get butterflies when they arrive! Don’t worry – within the first few hours you will be so happy you came.
“My advice for first-time campers is to bring a few things to make your bunk feel like home. It’s fun to bring pictures of your family, friends, and pets to share with your new cabinmates. Bring a few stuffed animals or a blanket from your bed at home. We recognize much of camp is unfamiliar, and it’s nice to have a space you are familiar with and feel comfortable in.
“You’ll be shocked at how quickly camp goes by, so enjoy every moment. You’ll be begging to stay a little longer by the end. Merrowvista feels like one big family, and we can’t wait for you to be part of it.”
You also just experienced your first New Hampshire winter. How was that?
“I never thought there could be so much snow at once! I am used to a few inches at a time, so I was shocked at first. That being said, I love winter and am happy to be in a place where I get to experience it to the fullest. I am looking forward to skiing more next year!”
What is your favorite camp activity?
“My favorite camp activity is pottery. I love how it provides a space to create something out of nothing. I spent a week at clay camp as a kid and have loved it ever since. I took pottery classes throughout high school and college and then had the opportunity to lead the pottery program at a camp in North Carolina. I am excited to get behind the wheel again and to see what everyone will make this summer!”
What are your favorite activities to do when you aren’t working?
“I love to play tennis, hike, explore new towns and cities, and find a good sushi place! I also love to spend quality time with friends and family. Moving away from them has made me appreciate those moments even more.”