Feb 24

Because of Camp...

Last year, the American Camp Association (ACA) launched a campaign entitled “Because of Camp…” With YouTube videos and bill boards, it got people thinking about the benefits of camp: friendship, responsibility, skill development, self confidence, etc. People from all walks of life can experience camp and I think no two people get the same thing out of the camp experience.

I think the main reasons many people come to SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Camps, are our incredible animals and the unique experiences with those animals that we provide. But if you ask campers after camp what they took away from camp, you’d probably get much more than feeding a dolphin or giraffe, touching a penguin or preparing diets for killer whales or cheetahs.

It’s been almost 15 years since I first came to camp. I’ve spent 2 weeks at camp, 4 summers as a counselor and almost 6 years as a camp supervisor. Because of Camp… I have a job. Not just any job, but a career that I look forward to coming to work every day and knowing that I make a difference in the lives of the campers and staff I serve. Camp gave me confidence to speak up and it teaches me something new almost every day. I could go on and on about what camp has done for me, but I asked some old friends who went to camp for their thoughts too. Here’s some of what they had to say:

“I made friends at camp that I am still friends with today. It also helped solidify my career goals for me. It gave me an insider’s peek at what the job was really like and what was required. It can open doors to an amazing career and you can make some life-long friends in the process”

-Annie, Animal Trainer, SWSA

- “SeaWorld Camp was my first experience away from home, so it taught me how to branch out and meet new people. It gave me the foot in the door that I needed, and I got some great friends out of it too!”

-Jenny, Animal Care Specialist, SWSA

- “Camp truly shaped who I am today. Through camp I have learned through many trials, errors and successes that you can’t ever stop trying and even when you think you have something down, there are still going to be those curve balls that throw you off, humble you a little, and it’s how you handle those changes that define if you are successful…. Camp taught me a lot about myself. It gave me more confidence and helped me learn how to approach people and situations and have a more successful and positive outcome.”

-Lise, Camp Supervisor, SWSA

- “Not only was the camp program educational and fun, but overall the greatest benefit that I felt I received was the first stepping stone in my career. The direction that I got from the camp programs was key to how I developed professionally. Without camp, I can honestly say I would not be where I am today. I look back at camp as one of the most influential times in my life, and the relationships that I built there have only grown stronger. Camp gave me the initial confidence, direction and motivation to get where I am today. “

-Brian, Animal Trainer, SWO

- “I met people who were just like me and shared the same passion for animals that I had. I connected with many of the campers and counselors and still keep in touch with them today! (10 years later!) The connections I made created lifelong friendships and I still run into connections from camp throughout my SeaWorld career.”

-Danielle, Resident Camps, SWSD

- “I attended and worked at the camp with the intention the same as many of the other kids, to one day work at SeaWorld. I soon realized that I was more interested in other things and have since pursued those things. Although without my experiences at SeaWorld, I would not have known that. In addition, my time at SeaWorld taught me the importance of outreach and education of the public. In a world challenged by global climate change and other environmental stressors, it is extremely important as a research scientist to be able, and be willing, to inform the general public. And SeaWorld helped me to appreciate that teaching and gave me great experience at it as well.

- Bryan, Biological Research Scientist, Florida Keys

- “Camp inspired me, better yet ignited my passion for, instilling in others an appreciation for animals that hopefully will in turn inspire them to help protect our world’s wildlife and wild places. Camp gave me a vehicle to express my passion, and now in my current role, I have had the opportunity to use some of the games and techniques I learned at camp to educate and inspire people all over the world.Through camp I found like minded people with passions for education, animals, and kids. The connections that come from working with those like minded people will last a lifetime.

- Chance, Director of Education, Houston Zoo

The “camp experience” makes a difference. At SeaWorld, we use marine life and a connection with animals to form friendships, build trust and independence and help young people develop a respect for themselves, others and the world we share. Parents, I urge you to look into sending your children to camp. SeaWorld Camp is a great place, but there are many other camps that can meet the needs and interests of your child. The American Camp Association provides great information about camps all over the country at http://www.campparents.org/. Be sure to check them out and I hope to see you at camp this summer!

Gig ‘em

Jack