From the Field – Anthony Pyatt, November 2020
November 7, 2020
Summer 2020 would have been my 15th working for Maine camps, and rounded out my 5th year working full-time. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education, I flipped the switch to working in Early Childhood Education; and now fortunate to merge the two worlds within the experiential environment that is summer camp.
As a young child, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Declaring this as a college freshman, I thought summer camp would be the perfect solution to teach year-round! While I felt confident this ‘summer job’ would be a positive move for me professionally, I could not have fathomed the impact it had personally. Immediately upon arrival to camp and for the first time in 18 years, I felt uncategorically accepted. Fast forward 10 summers and I was asked to join camp’s year-round team. In the spring of 2015, I eagerly packed up and moved to the Northeast.
However, working on a very small team, I was missing a network of colleagues, until I connected with EPIC (Emerging Professionals In Camping). Because of the time and kindness of a couple strangers (volunteers) I met at a conference, I learned that there is so much more to ACA than just accreditation. It’s about networking, learning, growing and being a part of a community larger than I could have imagined.
Immediately upon connecting with EPIC, the familiar feeling of welcome and support surrounded me. Professionals from all different camps and backgrounds were coming together as a network for one another. I was fortunate to be asked to sit on the EPIC NY/NJ committee, where I remained for three years. After the first two years, I furthered my career and expanded on my passion by accepting a position at another camp in Maine, which moved me to the Pine Tree State year-round. Upon arrival, a small band of emerging professionals came together to form EPIC New England. As the committee launched, I was selected as Chairperson, where I still remain for this rapidly growing and wonderful network.
Additionally, I have volunteered as a Visitor for the past 5 years. This has helped expand my knowledge and exposure to so many diverse and incredible programs. Not to mention, it’s given me a huge leg up both times I led my camps through the re-accreditation process. If you’re not a Visitor, I couldn’t recommend it more! This year, I was also asked to be a part of the ACA, New England Executive Transition Task Force; whose mission was to recruit, recommend and transition the new Executive Director. In an association whose member pool is ripe with well-seasoned directors, it speaks volumes to have dedicated a voice on this team to the greater emerging professional community. I remain so grateful for that opportunity!
At my core, I aim to promote a community in which all members feel welcomed and valued, as I felt over 15 years ago. Today, this mission has become more critical in the development of children and young adults. It’s for these very basic, but most powerful reasons that I will continue to dedicate my time and energy to the camping industry. For I know no other medium that can equally develop practical skills while fostering meaningful relationships and radical empathy.
I volunteer with ACA, New England, because I want to pay it forward.