Recently someone commented that they couldn’t believe I have worked at the same place for 25 years. How is that possible and how did it happen? Here’s the story!
It was 1989 and I was sitting in the University Center at UT killing time between classes when I opened the UT Daily Beacon newspaper and saw the classified ad, “Guys, Guys, Guys – Our girl to guy ratio is 10 to 1, apply today at Tate’s Day Camp.”
Well . . . I enjoyed the outdoors, I liked to play, and my mom was a school teacher . . . so maybe this might be the job for me. There was no email or Internet so I called the number listed, spoke with a gentleman named Robert and he mailed me a staff application. I completed the application and three interviews later, I was hired to be a camp counselor to work with five-year-olds.
I soon learned that Tate’s Day Camp wasn’t just your average everyday job. Each day was a new experience; I loved coming to work; there was something magical about the camp; and I found myself learning as much from my five-year-olds as I was teaching them.
In 1993 the director left to pursue his own business and Mrs. Tate offered me the camp director position. The program was much smaller then and the director job was seasonal. When Mrs. Tate offered me the position, I enthusiastically accepted with one condition . . . that by the time I graduated from college, I would like to have grown the program to sustain me year-round. She said, “That’s a good goal – go for it!”
I adjusted my college timeline so that I could be free for the spring and summer semesters and I took full course loads in the fall. Within a couple of years, I grew the program, graduated from UT, and now 25 years later, I still look forward to coming to work each day and living the magic. Plus, I still continue to learn as much from my campers as I teach them.
The camp no longer runs ads that say, “Guys, Guys, Guys;” however, I met my lovely wife, Julie, at camp and our beautiful three-year-old twin daughters will be first-time Tate’s campers this summer.
I firmly believe that summer camp is a place where children can try new things, develop meaningful friendships and gain confidence. I can’t wait for my daughters to have those opportunities.