Julie’s interest in the outdoors started at a young age.
As a native Wisconsinite, Julie spent her summers in the northern part of the state, where her family owned property. “We had a camper set up there until I was 21. As us kids got older, my parents would push us out of the camper and into tents so I spent my summer bathing in lakes and cooking over a fire.”
That love of the outdoors followed Julie when she moved to Washington, D.C. for college. While pursuing her English Degree at Howard University, she began working in out-of-school time programs, eventually ending up at the Lowell School as the After School Program Director. Having come from a long line of teachers, youth work felt like a natural career path.
Building familiarity with the outdoors
At the Lowell School, Julie coordinated all of the out-of-school time programs, worked as staff for summer programming, and chaperoned class camping trips. “Starting in second grade, kids had overnight camping trips; the older they were, the more nights they spent away. During the summer programs we’d go spelunking, climbing, and kayaking – all the things I came up doing as a kid”.
Though Julie feels comfortable in the outdoors, she acknowledges that, “nature can be kind of scary if you’re not used to it. People want to feel safe and have a right to be where they are. The idea of ‘nature at home’ is less scary for many people and is a great entry point to a larger exploration of the outdoors.”
Meeting Youth Where They Are
Camp Fire has been “exploring nature where you are” for years through our Out-of-School Time programs in housing complexes and at partner sites. Under Julie’s leadership as the new Senior Director of Programs & Community Impact though, Camp Fire will be able to expand its programs to more youth and communities across the Twin Cities and at Tanadoona.
As part of our continuous commitment to provide a welcome and inclusive environment for the youth, staff and communities we partner with, Camp Fire Minnesota first began working with Julie in 2018, when she co-led a series of intercultural competency trainings through her consulting business, Inquire, Decipher, Progress. This past April, Julie moved into her staff role at Camp Fire.
Using her background in both out-of-school time programming and professional development training, Julie will be working closely with program staff and local communities to grow our current offerings at Tanadoona and co-create new programs. Says Julie of her new role, “Camp Fire’s programs are already growing and I’m really excited about expanding our school and housing-based OST programs — adding new sites, partnerships, and field trips groups, all through the lense of community voice.”