The best two summers of my life!

Kelly with some of her campersA lot of our Easter Seals affiliates have long traditions of offering summer camps. From overnight camp experiences to day camps, our programs give families needed respite and support so that they can continue to provide for loved ones.

In addition to touching the lives of people with disabilities and their families, the camp experience also teaches valuable life lessons to the hundreds of students and young adults working at Easter Seals camps. Today I am happy to introduce you to one of these young adults. Meet Kelly, one of our camp leaders from my alma mater, Marquette University, as she reflects on her second year as a leader here at one of our Easter Seals Southeast Wisconsin summer camps. Thanks Kelly for sharing your experiences.

The best two summers of my life

by Kelly Maffei

About a year and a half ago I began the long search for a summer job that so many of my peers at Marquette were also embarking on. I found Easter Seals Southeast Wisconsin’s site and quickly applied for a position as Camp Leader. Soon after, they set up an interview with me. The interview was unique in its structure, but I left feeling confident.

I heard back a couple weeks later with the good news: I was hired! I didn’t know it then, but it was going to get better than I’d ever imagined. A couple weeks after I was hired I got a second call from Human Resources.

“Hi Kelly, so I know we said we wanted you to work for us as a Camp Leader…”

I was nervous at this point, wondering where they were going with this.

“But we were wondering if you would like to be a Camp Site Leader for our camp at Grant.”

When I reflect about it now, my answer was quite naive.

“Um… sure, what’s the difference?”

The difference ended up being an amazing opportunity to help more people every day than I thought I was capable of doing. Instead of being the leader of a group of four to seven campers with varying disabilities, I became the leader of 65 campers ages 6 to 65, 12 Camp Leaders, five Assistant Leaders (youth from the Milwaukee area), 10 new volunteers each week, one Certified Nurse’s Assistant, and of course one Pool Maintenance Leader/Personnel. Whoa! What had I gotten into?!

I felt like I’d had plenty of leadership experience under my belt, but I was 20 years old, had no completed degree, and was slightly intimidated by this huge responsibility thrust into my lap. Through the long hours of planning and prepping for the six weeks that would change my life, my friends and family kept reassuring me that I would not have been hired for a job I couldn’t do, and in the end, they were right.

The staff at Easter Seals have a remarkable way of seeing the best in everybody and knowing how to bring it out in you. Not only do they support and enrich the lives of the people they are serving, but they do the same for everyone they hire as well. It has been an amazing experience getting to work for Easter Seals, and one day I will transition from Camp Site Leader to Speech Language Pathologist.

I really can’t think of a better job than one where everyone is always happy to see you: from campers to staff, my days are overflowing with smiles, jokes, and laughter. Thank you, Easter Seals, for believing in me the way I believe in each of my campers, staff, and volunteers. These have been the best two summers of my life.


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