Monday, November 12, 2012

True Story: John Deere Changed My Life

When I was 10, I was a Girl Scout.  In fact, I was a Girl Scout for a really long time, but at 10, I was a scout who was desperate to go to summer camp.  I didn't realize it at the time, but my family didn't have the extra money to send me to a week of overnight camp.  The year before, my mom had recruited the local junior college basketball team, the Lady Bulldogs, to buy and sell hundreds of boxes of Thin Mints in order to send me, but I think that the next year, there was some kind of Cookie Moratorium laid down by the coach.  I was devastated at the possibility of not returning to camp.

Somehow, my dad -- the King of the Trade -- worked out a deal with the camp's site manager that he would mow the camp property all summer in trade for my time at camp. My dad had a big ol' John Deere tractor that he and my brothers ran tirelessly all summer to supplement our income, and now that I think about it, that tractor changed my life.

  • I went to camp for 4 more years until Camp Cibola closed.
  • My wonderful memories and realization of camp's influence never left me.
  • In 1995, on a trip through the student union at ASU (a school I chose because I'd been to student council camp there), I applied for a job at Camp El Tesoro in Granbury, TX.
  • At El Tesoro, I met the best friends I've ever known.
  • I kept going back to El Tesoro for 8 summers as a counselor, program director, assistant CIT director, and, yes, even the camp nurse.
  • At ET, I decided to change my major from Elementary Education to Secondary Ed.
  • At ET, I met Heather Wilson who introduced me to Linda Denson.
  • Linda Denson hired me at Nichols Junior High (even when she didn't TECHNICALLY have a job open yet).
  • Thirteen years and over 1,200 students later, I am still at Nichols Junior High.
  • Also, while at El Tesoro, I met Laurie Johnston, one of my many mentors in how to work with children.
  • Nine years ago, LJ talked me into volunteering at Camp Carter YMCA to help start a camp for blind and visually impaired children.
  • I became the day camp bus driver, the camp nurse, and the assistant camp director.
  • In 2012, I became the director of overnight camping for Camp Carter.
  • In 26 years as either a camper or staff member, I've worked with thousands of children and hundreds of staff members.
  • Over 200 of my most valued, creative, generous friends and acquaintances came either directly from my time at camp or from a connection at camp.
  • Statistically speaking, if you're reading this, you're one of those 200. 
Almost every decision I've made, every goal I've accomplished, and every dream that I've dreamed has been a result of my time at camp.  Nearly every person I interact with on a frequent basis is somehow a result of my time at camp.  Every place and moment and friendship is connected, and camp is the undercurrent of them all.

All because of a John Deere tractor.

This year, Camp Carter YMCA has set a goal to raise $63,000 to provide scholarships for both day and overnight camp for area youth.  As of this morning, we had $14,000 left to go.  We are hoping to raise that amount in the next 6 days.  I cannot promise you that I'll run a marathon to earn your donation.  Or walk 60 miles.  Or jump rope a thousand times.  But what I can promise you is that your donation, if you choose to make one, will change a child's life. 

Remember... not everyone's parent has a John Deere trade up his sleeve. 

If you would like to donate, you can do so in one of two ways: 
A) Go to Camp Carter's website, and follow the "donate" button located at the top.  Choose "Camp Carter's Annual Campaign". 
2) Email me at or DM me with your mailing address and your pledge amount.  You don't have to pay right away.  You can pay out your pledge in installments if that makes it easier.

And, for the record, apparently there's a Kindle Fire being raffled off for those campaigning for Camp Carter.  Y'all know how I feel about e-readers, so if I win, I'll raffle it off to one of my donors!