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Where Are They Now: Michael, Site Coordinator 2017

After I finished CITC, I planned on using my leadership skills to become a pastor. This was what my education was for, and it had been my plan for five years or so. And,

honestly, it was what I had used camp to prepare me for. However, when I became a student pastor in seminary, I quickly realized that this would not be a sustainable option for me long-term. So, while in seminary, I changed my degree to Mental Health Counseling, and I am now a Counselor for people recovering from addiction and experiencing general mental health problems.

My job now consists of running 3-hour groups Monday through Friday as part of a 90-day recovery program called Optimal Living Services. I facilitate conversation on topics ranging from self-care, managing emotions/triggers, and specific topics related to grief and forgiveness. I also provide individual counseling for people trying to live well despite the pain they are experiencing.

In this profession, I feel like I use the skills from camp as much as I use my education. At camp, we learned to function well in conditions that weren’t always ideal, and we learned to manage conflict/crisis, we learned to be resilient and to learn new tasks quickly, how to train and lead others, and how to love well even if that love was not reciprocated. All of these skills and more are helpful in various areas, and I am grateful for camp’s role in giving a practical opportunity to practice, fail, learn, and succeed in a

grace-filled environment. I was given opportunity and responsibility in a way that gave me a way to develop my own style while also receiving feedback and learning from the examples of others. Camp has given

me so many of the intangibles that allow me to utilize my professional training effectively. For me, I am especially grateful that camp gave me transferrable skills that kept their utility as I changed my career. If I put these skills on a resume, they would relate to group leadership, working on multi-disciplinary teams, conflict management, boundaries, and rapport-building.

In individual counseling, the lessons I use the most relate to learning from the world around us and accepting failure and pain as a useful part of life. Camp taught me that failure is simply an opportunity to learn. Dealing with pain (whether it is physical pain from being outside and exhausted or emotional from loving children who sometimes have very troubling histories and behaviors) allows me to appreciate growth and success more greatly.

God has been showing me that I am enough and that everything will be okay. In what has been a stressful year for everyone, I think I try too hard to be perfect or to manage everything around me without failure. God is showing me that I am not nearly as important as I sometimes think and that I can trust others to do their jobs in making the world more as God intended. I think I am growing more and more comfortable accepting my role in God’s kingdom and expressing gratitude for the role of others. Which, perhaps not-so-surprisingly, is another lesson I began learning at Camp.

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