Camp Cedarbrook’s alumnae are doing great things all over the world! In this new series, we’ll be profiling some of our alumnae, both new and old.
Name: Caitlin (“Caity”) Downey
What years were you at camp?
Staff (Assistant Trip Leader): 2010
What was your bird name?
My bird name was “Denali” – a very loose interpretation on “Cardinalis,” the Latin name for Cardinal.
Did you do CILT?
I did not do CILT, but spent those summers backpacking with NOLS in Alaska and Montana. This helped me prepare to be camp’s assistant trip leader.
What was your favorite activity?
Wilderness trips! [During] my second week at camp, they needed one more attendee to reach critical mass for a backpacking trip. I agreed on a whim and was hooked. The challenge and excitement of setting a goal (reach the top of an Adirondack Peak, or simply get to the next camping location) and then reaching it through teamwork with your peers became something I looked forward to every summer.
Tell us a funny story about something that happened at camp!
On a canoeing trip, we found an abandoned plastic outdoor chair. We try to abide by leave-no-trace principles on these trips to keep the wilderness pristine – and so we packed it out! It was so funny to have someone paddling a canoe from a lawn chair!
We ended up decorating it back at camp and giving it to our trip leader as an engagement present. When I came back to camp three years later, it was still sitting on the Campcraft porch. Someone will have to let me know if it is still there today!
[Editor’s Note: Want to read more about “the chair?” You can read about it (written by Heidi Johnson) here!]
How did camp have an effect on your faith?
Camp was where I really began to deepen my faith. It gave me meaningful relationships with other women both peers (campers) who were asking the same questions as me and mentors (counselors) who were able to be role models of living out your faith.
Did any counselor or staff member have a big impact on you? Could you tell us about that?
All of the staff members have had an impact on my life! However, Bobbi [the wilderness trip leader for several years] stands out as having explicitly taught me to be true to yourself however quirky or unconventional that may be.
What was the most important thing you learned at camp?
That the most important things in life are to trust God, love one another, and build up everyone around you.
What are you up to now? Does what you learned at camp have an impact on your life now?
I work in strategy and operations [at a large technology company]. While assessing operations and increasing efficiency is a slightly different career trajectory than leading trips in the backcountry, I use so many of the skills I learned at camp – both as a counselor and as a camper. For example, the ability to work cross-functionally with a number of teams is crucial to project success – changes are only as effective as receiving buy-in from those who need to update their processes!
Effective communication is about understanding others’ needs and motivations and how we can work together to accomplish a goal. These are the same skills you need when in the backcountry. Climbing mountains while carrying a heavy pack or setting up camp in the rain are not easy tasks. You need to help build up team morale, understand why everyone each wants to conquer the peak (or task) ahead, and help one another achieve these goals.