Counselor Carly Weller first discovered Double H Ranch through an event at her high school, and later volunteered during renovations of the Dining Hall with Holiday: Impossible. She was inspired to apply as a counselor and has since spent three summers at Double H Ranch. When we interviewed Carly, she shared how her experiences at camp has helped to shape the direction of her career. She has received a dual undergraduate degree from The College of St. Rose in Early Childhood Education and Special Education; and is currently in the M.S. Child Life and Family Centered Care Program at Wheelock College. Hear more about Carly’s summer at Double H Ranch and how camp has been inspirational to her:
How did you find out about Camp?
I am from South Glens Falls, and at my high school, South High, there is an annual Dance Marathon that raises money for local people and charities. I learned about Double H because it was a recipient one year. In 2014, I volunteered during the dining hall renovations with Holiday: Impossible. Soon after, I applied to be a counselor and 2015 was my first summer at camp. I spent my fist summer as a cabin counselor and now I have been a Unit Leader for two summers.
What’s your inspiration for working at camp?
Working with kids has always been a passion of mine. Working at Double H changed the direction of my career. Camp made me realize that working with kids, and more specifically children with medical needs, was my passion. This Fall, I will be going to grad school for Child Life Education. I then decided to start volunteering with the Hospital Outreach Program (HOP) and realized I was comfortable in the hospital setting. I enjoy HOP because I can bring a smile to a child’s face when they’re in the hospital. There really is nothing better you can do just because that’s the worst-case scenario for a child — being confined to a hospital and missing out on those experiences that they are entitled to as a child. Being able to bring joy and sense of normalcy to a child while they’re in the hospital is priceless.
What do you wish other people knew about Double H?
I feel that people’s first reaction when they hear you work at a camp for kids with life-threatening and chronic illnesses is sad, but I wish they knew how happy Double H Ranch is. It is really the happiest place on earth. It is not about the medical diagnoses, but rather it’s about letting a child be a child. I wish more people realized how profound that is. We are not the amazing ones in this scenario. You know, people will have reactions like “I can’t believe this is your job!” – but these kids are so unbelievably resilient and positive. All the programming is free for these kids, and it is incredible to see how successful Double H Ranch is as a non-profit. It is a true privilege to even associate with the Double H Ranch, so to have it as a job is unbelievable.
What might someone be surprised to know about camp?
Just how much these kids CAN do. We do make accommodations and adapt activities, but a lot of the time it is not difficult. These campers have so much drive and passion, and are motivated to try – which makes it easy to make things possible.
What leadership skills have you learned at camp?
Camp has taught me so much, but above everything it has taught me flexibility and kindness. Double H demands the best of you and part of that is being able to roll with any situation with a smile on your face and compassion in your heart.
Do you have a favorite memory from this summer?
One of my favorite memories from this summer at camp would have to be laying in the grass with one of my campers for an hour and half. You can find the greatest happiness in the smallest moments at camp.
What cabin were you in this summer, and what makes it so special?
I spent the first half of my summer in the Wolf cabin and the second half in the Bobcat cabin. I find that every cabin has its own unique qualities, but this age group, 9 to 12, is my favorite. These campers are becoming people with their own opinions and ideas, but they still want all the love you can give them and to be silly.
Describe your summer camp experience in three words:
Uplifting. Genuine. Kind.
What advice do you have for someone considering becoming a counselor at Double H Ranch?
Be prepared to be selfless. That’s what it comes down to. You can love kids, but you must be ready to be selfless. It will be the best decision you’ll make.
»Interested in joining our summer staff team? Apply today!
Interview by Lauren Dameron, Development Intern