Have you met our amazing Camp Promise Assistant Director, Meghan Houston? Meghan was first introduced to the organization by a family friend. Throughout her ten years with Jett Foundation and Camp Promise, Meghan has worn many hats: counselor, unit leader, apprentice, and now Assistant Director for the past two years.
Alongside her Jett Foundation team, Meghan has worked hard in a challenging year to build engaging virtual programs for the Camp Promise community. We asked Meghan to reflect on some of those challenges as well as the unexpected joys that have come with being fully virtual this year.
What is the highlight of your job at Jett Foundation? What is your greatest accomplishment at Jett Foundation?
It would be hard to choose just one highlight or accomplishment, as each passing year brings about a whole brand new set of circumstances and challenges. But when thinking of a highlight of my job at Jett Foundation as a whole, it has to truly be the nature of my position. It is point blank my responsibility to bring joy to others, by any means necessary. When we are together at camp, that might look like hot air balloon rides, foam parties, dance parties, movie nights, zip-lining, etc. With also the challenge of trying new things, and creating new opportunities for our campers, that the possibilities of what we can do at camp are endless. And I GET to be apart of that and those moments. But with camp going virtual in 2020, we were truly limited for the first time, limited in what we were going to be able to accomplish in providing an accessible summer camp experience, virtually. Which brings me to what I feel the greatest accomplishment has been thus far; creating an online program from scratch to emulate a well-known established program felt “virtually” impossible. But working alongside our small but mighty team, building the camp-in-a-box and deciding its contents, to creating the program schedule that would align with the box, then configuring the structure of how we would implement, to finally carry out the whole summer on the whim of good faith and a whole lot of community support; we made it happen! It may have not been the exact experience that we know to love, but it really was a close second. Which is all we could have hoped for with unprecedented times. As we know, the coming year(s) will bring on their own unique sets of circumstances, but if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we will be prepared for whatever comes our way.
How has the work or programs you focus on in your department changed while working from home?
Nearly everything has changed in our Camp Promise program, but mostly only in the delivery and implementation. Switching to a virtual platform has given us a very unique set of challenges with how to best serve our community in a way that allows for camp to still feel like camp. One of the very cool parts about a typical camp experience is that no matter what activity is up next, it is always made better by the company we have while we are all together. Which, fortunately, isn’t lost on our new Zoom platform. While we may just be playing some fun and silly games or doing some arts and crafts, we still get to be in each other’s company. And for that, I thank our community for believing in our program enough to show up and participate, because without that company… it wouldn’t feel like camp.
In three words, describe how your summer has been working from home:
Chaotic fun rollercoaster.
What are some of the newfound hobbies or activities you partake in since you’ve begun working remotely? I’m not sure there are enough hours in the day to pick up any new hobbies, but certainly, something that I found a lot of joy in while working from home was still dressing up for theme days. At camp, usually, theme day costumes can be a really big deal. I love getting creative and creating new costumes, or just really committing to a costume (like painting your entire body orange)… there is just something about being able to fully dress-up and have fun with a theme day. Well, even though Camp Promise was held on a Zoom call, I knew I would still want to be absolutely committed to my camp looks. So each theme day, I’d wake up, throw on my ridiculous costume for the day, I’d head outside and raise the flag while my neighbors stared, I would then take the LONG commute to my home office, and would hang out on Camp Promise Connect until the day was over. It weirdly brought about some normalcy, doing what I would’ve done if things were in fact back to normal. But it definitely got my neighborhood curious about the girl dressed as a pig in her front yard.
What are some valuable tips to stay concentrated when you’re working from home?
This has to be the question of the year! I would love some suggestions myself. But like I said, working remote isn’t exactly new for me. Something I do quite often that helps is change up my scenery; whether that’s switching up which room you’re in, or which chair you sit in. Maybe a local coffee shop has a cute outdoor seating area? In any case, when you change your surroundings, it helps break up the days a little more. It also helps with the stir-crazy feeling… just a little bit.
To connect with Meghan about all things Camp Promise, send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.