Sophie and I have been involved with camps around the world since 2002 and we are using this experience to run a unique program.
After working at one of the biggest agencies for over 10 years, speaking at conferences about youth development, having written a book about summer camp and trained thousands of young people heading to camp, we have opened a company to focus all of this experience on a handful of exceptional young adults.
You'll get to know us as we share our stories and experience, helping you prepare to shine at your camp.
Camps we have visited, camps that we have known the owners of for many years, exceptional camps.
Small groups, resources from the best out there, all catered to what you will be doing this summer.
We're looking to send a small group of exceptional people to camp, not thousands, we're here for you.
We've been involved in and with summer camps for nearly 20 years, from being camp counselors to working at one of the leading staffing agencies.
We met at camp, we've travelled the world together and now are the lucky parents of 2 little delights who will one day soon be campers themselves.
We believe that people can achieve great things at camp with the right set up. We send a small number of people to camp every year, ensuring we have the time and capacity to get you ready for camp.
I was 21 when I first went to camp, an all boys camp in Minnesota to run the horse riding program. Over the following summers I kept going back, spending more time at the barn, then overseeing all the activities and finally running intro camp, the youngest kids to spend a few days at camp.
After camp each summer it's time to road trip. Of course you can head straight home, but you're out there, you've got a fun group of people to travel with, so I think you can't not :-)
Three of my highlights so far have been - one year 5 of us hiring a car in the midwest and driving to California. We stopped in Cheyenne, then Colorado and camped in a mountain creek, we had 48 hours in Vegas and then drove over the Hoover Dam via The Grand Canyon and finally got over to San Diego.
The next road trip involved buying a 12 seater minibus, converting it and driving west again via Idaho, Monument Valley, Moab (where we broke down and stayed a night with some hippies), then Phoenix, Tucson and back to San Diego to watch people surf, and wish I could.
Finally one summer I flew to Boston, hired a Mustang and road tripped up the coast of Maine, stopping at quaint little seaside villages, adorable little towns, ate lobster and went whale watching.
I've spent a lot of time training people to get ready for camp. A couple of years I spent my time touring the UK working with groups of up to 200 people, telling, teaching, sharing stories and tips about how to thrive at camp, to be exceptional. I'm looking forward to take all of this experience and work with much smaller groups, really understanding people and supporting them to succeed at camp.
With a proactive attitude you can do great things at camp. It is all about putting your best foot forward, challenging yourself and supporting the young people in your care to see what they are capable of.
I first went to camp in 2002. I went to Minnesota (I hadn't heard about it either) to join the sailing team. I arrived and went to the dock the next day. There was a 28 foot boat on one of the boat lifts. Where I grew up sailing we did not have boat lifts and the biggest boat I'd sailed was 10 foot. I crapped myself. I was asked to put the sails on a few boats tied to the dock and I put them on backwards.
Not a strong start to say the least. Luckily for me, Lafe, the guy who ran the sailing program was (is) an exceptional person. He took me under his wing and really taught me all I know about sailing over the next 2 summers.
Over the next 10 summers I spent 7 of them at camp. I eventually ran the sailing program and then joined the admin team, supporting people like you to do their best at camp.
Eventually I got a full time job at Camp Leaders, I worked in every department, from sales to marketing, customer service to business development. I ran the UK business and then headed up global projects, getting more people to have exceptional experiences at camps all over the world. In that time I wrote, illustrated, published and sold 'The International Camp Counselor Book', spoke at the American Camp Association Nationals Conference and slowly figured out how to lead people. I had the pleasure of working with some truly great people, in leading them I learned far more than I could teach.
For the past 5 years I have been a trustee of LJMU's student union. I am now vice chair, my role is to support the President of the union in her delivery and leadership of the union. Each year as a new group of students start their first full time role, I work with them to achieve their potential. The role allows me to stay in touch with ambitious young people. People with a spark.
In all of the cases above, I get to work with great young people. Starting FireSide Camps is another way to do this. Through my experience my role is to help you see your potential, to provide the occasional sounding board, to explain how I got things wrong and to introduce you to different perspectives, so that you can then be you, and do great things. Simple.
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