DEGREE: B.A. in theater and dance
JOB TITLE: Director of Camp Chinqueka, a private residential summer camp for girls (Bantam, Connecticut)
FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: My favorite memory was the night of my senior thesis. I wrote, casted, and directed a play and was humbled by how many different members of the Trinity community showed up to support the performance. Many members of the audience had never seen a show at Trinity. It was important to me to have all walks of “Trinity life” see my play, and I loved having members of the football team come into our theater space to support the arts!
How did you find your job?
I fell in love with Chinqueka when I started as a camper at 9 years old. In 2005, I joined the staff and worked my way up from CIT to counselor to program director. In 2015, I became the director and made it my main goal to ensure that every camper has the same exceptional camping experience that I had as a child.
What are the most important factors for parents to consider when looking for a summer camp for their child(ren)?
First, it is essential to find a camp that is accredited by the American Camping Association. ACA accreditation means that your child’s camp cares enough to undergo a thorough (up to 300 standards) review of its operation. The ACA works closely with its accredited camps to promote growth, fun, and most importantly, safety. Second, just as we look for warm communities in our hometowns and schools, it is equally as important to visit a handful of camps, meet the directors, and get a feel for what kind of community and mission they represent. At Chinqueka, our philosophy is simple — comfortable girls are happy campers. We pride ourselves on a program where the girls are able to be themselves and don’t have to worry about the pressure of a coed environment.
Why is camp important?
Camp allows children to try different activities, to make new friends, and to have experiences without their parents monitoring them. Camps create a safe environment that encourages children to be silly, to get over fears, and to be around others who are not from the same background. And, of course, camp is important because all of us — children especially — need a break from technology and screens. Our campers have no access to Wi-Fi, but I am certain they find a much better connection here.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
During the summer months, I love spending time with our campers. I watch them learn to ride a bike or learn to swim, see them flying down the zip line for the first time, or witness them landing that back handspring in the gymnastics tent. I hear their screams when they beat their friend’s record on our go-kart track and listen to them read articles they wrote for our camp newsletter. I help them send home projects they made in jewelry making and arts and crafts. Most importantly, I see them form friendships that I know will last a lifetime. I equally enjoy working with our fantastic staff. I hire almost 60 staff members each summer, and teaching them the importance of being a good role model to our girls is difficult but worthwhile. I feel proud knowing our girls are being taught and led by so many wonderful young leaders.
What is the biggest challenge you face?
The biggest challenge we face during the summer months are phone calls from anxious parents. Because our camp program is so busy and fun, we rarely have homesick campers. However, our parents are at home wondering if their daughter is OK because parents are so used to the constant communication with their children. Funnily enough, I would say we spend more time reassuring parents that their daughter is happy than we do helping upset campers.
Was there a Trinity professor who was particularly influential?
Lesley Farlow, associate professor of theater and dance, encouraged me to be more creative — in the dance studio and in my writing and thoughts in the classroom. She always made me feel as though my ideas and contributions were important, and I am grateful to have had her as a mentor.
What was the most memorable course you took at Trinity?
Hands down the most memorable course I took at Trinity was “Theatrical Lighting: Design and Production.” Working with light was something I had never done before, and I enjoyed it so much. I always spent time on stage or in front of the camera, and this was one of my first experiences focusing on one of the most important factors behind the scenes.
If you would like more information on Camp Chinqueka, please visit www.chinqueka.com or e-mail Ward directly at email@example.com.