ALL ROADS LEAD TO CAMP
Chapter III: That's One Small Step...
Well, it’s almost 2022 and you haven’t heard from me in quite some time with an update about the chase of my camp ownership and direction goal. That’s not to say that I haven’t been pursuing it with vigor, as I’ve actually been very attentive to gaining more knowledge and searching for entry points, on top of having the busiest hockey season since starting my ice hockey development business, SHFT Hockey, back in 2015.
Today, I’m extremely excited to share that all of the behind the scenes work over the past several months, and the journey that began in August of 2020, has paid off in a massive way, with an appointment to the full-time Director of Camps, Programs & Marketing role at Pearce Williams Summer Camp & Retreat Facility near London, Ontario.
While this means a drastic change in the role hockey development will play in my life going forward, there is no denying the excitement I have about taking this gigantic next step toward my goals in the overnight summer camp industry.
Of the wonderful and numerous opportunities I’ve created over the past year, learning from professionals inside the industry and talking investment with several individuals, there are a few that stand out as watershed moments.
In April of 2021, I flew to British Columbia to spend three days at a non-profit camp, where I interviewed for the Assistant Camp Director role, and participated in a three-day high and low ropes training course. The ropes training was an incredible experience, collaborating with eight fantastic camp people, most of which took place in the rain with temperatures hovering around ten degrees Celsius, making it all that much more challenging and memorable. And while the camp location, amenities and compensation were outstanding for the industry, the culture and goals attached to the position were not well aligned with what I was seeking in a full-time camp position, so I declined the offer.
Aerial view of Pearce Williams Summer Camp & Retreat Centre.
Fast forward to this past September, when an opportunity to lease land in Western Ontario came to the forefront. The 20-acre property was located on the Saugeen River system and would have provided all of the amenities I desired to create and run a small overnight wilderness summer camp. That would have essentially served as a starting point for me to build and grow the camp, while at the same time continuing the search for a permanent home. The property already had a small organic farming operation underway, with the flexibility to adjust crops and yields to support the health focused component of my camp plans. The site also had a large meadow, a portion of which could easily be converted into a sports field, plus a five-acre hardwood sugar bush, ideal for overnight camping trips. The main camp infrastructure would have integrated with the edge of the meadow where it met eight acres of coniferous bush, through which campers would have ventured over a partial boardwalk to access the swimming hole. While I was more than capable of envisioning camp taking place at this wonderous place, the lease terms ultimately would not have provided the security needed to make an investment of this significance.
And now, just a few months later, I find myself at the foot of steps leading to an incredible opportunity to learn and grow in a full-time leadership role in the industry. That growth will take place under the guidance of a forward-thinking, dedicated, life-long camp professional, who serves as the Executive Director for Pearce Williams, Joe Richards. From the moment I began interacting with Joe, I could sense his complete immersion in, and enthusiasm for, the camp industry. After a visit to the camp a little over a week ago, where I spent the afternoon touring the facility and taking in presentations as part of an event called ThinkCamp, the brainchild of Joe, I knew this was the right spot for me to make the full-time move to camp.
This sunset, the first I've witnessed at Pearce Williams, filled me with massive amounts of gratitude.
So, as it must be in a life where a finite amount of time exists in every day, I close the chapter on one of the greatest accomplishments of my life, building a full-time hockey development business from scratch, in order to chase something much bigger and meaningful to me when it comes to my purpose on this planet. And while I won’t quit coaching hockey entirely, continuing on in my role as Goaltending Coach for the University of Waterloo Warrior’s women’s varsity team through the completion of the 2021-22 season, it will no longer be my full-time pursuit.
Camp, here I come!
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