Though Chloe spent a good amount of her childhood traveling, she considers Southern Illinois home. Growing up on her family’s farm about 20 miles west of the Kentucky border provided an ideal backdrop for Chloe to explore nature. “When I say I’m from Illinois, people assume I’m from the metro suburbs. But really the geography where I’m from is really hill-y and Ozark-like.”
As a child, Chloe would spend her days riding horses through the trees and helping her grandfather in his woodshop, an experience she describes as, “a lot like camp, actually. It was very rustic,” though she’s quick to explain that, “at that point, I’d never gone to summer camp. I didn’t even know summer camps were a thing. All I knew was that I grew up in the woods.”
After graduating from high school, Chloe attended Western Kentucky University where she majored in Recreation Administration, and was heavily involved in intramural sports — becoming president of the Fencing and Jiu Jitsu clubs and serving as the Outdoor Recreation Adventure Center’s (ORAC) trip leader, and unofficial “boat master”. It was her participation in WKU’s Outdoor Leadership Program though that really showed her what careers in the outdoors could look like. Chloe recounts one of the guided camping trips she led as part of ORAC saying, “The first time I ever came to Minnesota, I was leading a dog sledding trip up in the boundary waters.”
It wasn’t until after Chloe graduated from college that she embarked on her first summer camp experience.
After hearing about an opening for a (horseback) Riding Coordinator at Camp Sealth – a Camp Fire summer camp located on Vashon Island, Washington – Chloe applied and was immediately put on the leadership team.
That summer had a big impact on Chloe. She recalls, “camp is truly a transformative experience, for campers, but also for staff.”
For the next several years, Chloe worked as a Riding Coordinator, Adventure Coordinator, and Assistant Camp Director at Camp Sealth during the summers and spent the off-season working in outdoor education programs at Pali Institute in California and YMCA Camp Collins in Portland, Oregan.
In Oregon, all 5th graders are required to take part in an outdoor education experience. During the Spring of 2018, Chloe set to work helping rebuild Camp Collins’ outdoor education program, which had been on hiatus for almost a decade. “That was a huge learning experience for me. I worked with two people who had done outdoor education before at other camps but the rest of the staff were very transient and new to Outdoor Ed. I learned that – at camp – it doesn’t matter if you come in being a pro at something or not – you just learn so fast.”
“Whenever I think about my experiences, they kind of mesh together,” says Chloe, “because almost every camp or outdoor experience I’ve had has involved re-building a program in some capacity. But I learned that if I set my mind to something, I will pretty much figure it out.”
Chloe plans on bringing that same attitude of learning and growth to her role as our Outdoor Programs Manager. In her new position, Chloe will be charged with running Tanadoona summer camp as well as growing our year-round, nature-based programs – a perfect fit for her. “My passion has always been outdoor education and providing programming to youth that’s very science-based or nature-based. When we really bring it down to my roots, it was me playing outside and having that really strong connection with nature.”
When asked what she’d like to change or add to the current summer camp experience, Chloe says, “There are a couple policies I’m going to put into place right off the bat. One of them is called the ACT Program, which was a successful policy used at Camp Sealth. The camp community has so many resources – to be able to take components that work well and use them elsewhere…now that’s efficiency.” The ACT Program is a step-by-step guide for staff about how to communicate more effectively and openly. The policy will encourage members of the Tanadoona community to:
be Aware of your feelings
Communicate to someone who can help, and
Together, find a solution.
“And a silent ‘F’ for follow-up”, Chloe adds. “My goal is to start at the top and make sure we’re supporting leadership staff to then support counselors who then have that culture in place to provide the same love and support to campers.”
Mostly though, Chloe says, “I’m very excited about the opportunity to shape and grow this program. To leave a positive and lasting impact – a legacy – is my main goal.”