By Kaitlyn Kennedy, Housekeeping Supervisor

The YMCA of the Pines to me is a 2nd home. A place I always wanted to be and always wanted to work. The YMCA has an environment of acceptance, inclusion and the freedom to be who you are or who you want to be.  You’re creative like I was? Express yourself at arts and ceramics! You’re athletic and love to compete? Gaga is for you! You enjoy the calm beauty of the Pine Barrens? Fishing and nature is where you can see the environment up close and slow down. I always came back to the Y because it just has so much to offer. Each day and each year has something new to learn and experience.

Starting my camp experience at such a young age gave me so many ‘one of a kind’ memories and life lessons that I still use and look back on today. From the age of 5 to 14, I spent every summer having adventures, making new friends, learning new skills, and experiencing so many things that you can only see and learn at camp. Any time I speak about my summers at Lake Stockwell Day Camp, they are memories of games like GAGA and roof-ball, learning things about nature and the animals around us, lifelong friendships that I still continue to this day and so much more.

As a camper who learned so much from peers and mentors, allowed me to enter the LIT/CIT programs with excitement to help out more with camp day to days and really prove that I can work hard as a teen. Eventually becoming a seasonal staff member for many summer seasons has helped me build a real resume and gave me a wide variety of skills like childcare, program organizing, and people skills which I took with me into my adult work life and apply to my personal life as well.

Now, I have been able to use these building block lessons in my life. I’ve continued adventuring, building friendships, working hard, and achieving my goals, which includes becoming a full-time year-round staff member for the YMCA of the Pines and growing into a leadership position as Housekeeping Supervisor. The environment and opportunities that the YMCA has to offer is something I always knew I’d come back to and LOVE! I’m a camp kid forever, and looking forward to more learning experiences and fun memories.