Name: Ben Stoddart
Hometown: Mahtomedi, MN
How do you stay busy from September-May?
I am currently at the University of Minnesota Duluth studying life sciences and Secondary Education to become a high school Biology teacher. When I’m not buried in textbooks I spend whatever time I can outdoors, whether it be taking a walk along Lake Superior or climbing the local cliffs.
How long have you been involved with Warren?
I was originally a camper at YMCA Camp Widjiwagan. I went to camp for seven summers. Once I finished my final summer, I applied for camp jobs and landed at Warren. My first summer was 2013 and currently pursuing my third year on staff.
What activities are you involved in?
I’ve been involved in a wide range of activities in camp: Ropes, Boating, Drama, Trail, and Pottery are my areas of interest. This past year I worked all summer. During girls’ camp, I lead the Drama activity and Drama Emphasis program in developing acting skill, while also being a part of multiple Boating activities of teaching kids to windsurf board along with other watercrafts. I also taught kids how to throw clay pieces on the wheel during Pottery activity.
During Boys’ camp, I led a Long Border (a ten-day canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area) during one session. The other sessions, I stuck to the water in boating activity, and in Cub Lodge, our little theater, for Drama.
What age group do you work with?
I tend to work with the Senior campers (ages 13+), more specifically, on trail. I take pride in my trail knowledge and love passing that onto my campers. While I’m not in the Boundary Waters, I will usually be in the Senior cabins practicing my small group facilitation by playing board games or team building activities.
What is one piece of advice you would give a first year camper?
Smile. Having a positive attitude will not only make your time better, but that positive energy passes onto other campers. The happier you are, the more friends you will create at camp. Everyone there wants to have fun, so make it!
Why do you enjoy working at Warren?
I could go on and on about why I love working here. In brief, I can sum it up with a couple main reasons: I love the community. The relationship of staff and campers and the impact that we have on one another is amazing. Not only can I feel like a positive role model to the youth that go through camp, but the campers also teach us staff members just as many values as we teach them. I also firmly believe in teaching kids to love and embrace the outdoors. Camp gives the facilities to reach kids at all comfort levels with the outdoors and teach them more, whether it is an introduction through camp activities, or a test of their knowledge through a Long Border canoe trip.
Favorite camp song?
Pinecone. You have every lyric to the song right there.
Favorite All Camp Game?
I am a huge fan of Bear, Deer, Bear Hunter, Deer Hunter (four team capture the flag). Although complicated, it relies on teamwork and cooperation to do well.
Favorite Camp Counselor moment?
There is a moment I will always remember on my first trip I led with Warren. It was the third night, and we just got done with Devos while sitting around a campfire. We put the fire out and looked up at the starry night sky. We were in a fairly forested area and a camper said, “I wish I could get a better look.” At that I tossed them lifejackets and told them, “Lets get a better look then!” We grabbed a canoe, and drifted a bit from our campsite to see an unfiltered sky. We stayed out for what felt like hours watching comets and satellites while identifying constellations (and making up some of our own).
Anything else we should know about?
To any hopeful future staff reading this, prepare for the best, hardest job you will ever have. You have to be your best self 24 hours a day and be full of energy no matter what time of day. There is no such thing as a loner camp counselor. Use your other staff and trust them. Most of all, have fun. If you are having fun, every camper around you is more likely to be having fun.