Island Day Camp = Freedom to be a Kid

Calleva staff are passionate about the outdoors & committed to fostering a love of the outdoors for our campers. This summer, we’ll be giving you snapshots of our 2019 camp leadership team so that you can get a feel for the stellar team we’ve got leading your kids for the season.  

  • Pod leader: AKA “Staff Chief” – a veteran Calleva staff that helps manage a group of counselors, helping with day-to-day camp leadership, including questions or concerns
  • Instructor: Experienced facilitator for one specific activity who teaches that activity all week (i.e. rafting, mountain biking, kayaking, climbing, etc.)
  • Director: Leads one section of camp (Cubs, EXP, EXPX, Adventure Camp, etc.), responsible for managing instructors, activities, logistics, and other matters.

Today’s Featured Staff:  Elie Katz, Director, Island Day Camp

Where are you from?  I was born in Florida but I’ve grown up lived most of my life in Rockville, MD. (With short stints in Israel, Ireland, and Currently in Charleston, SC)

What is your life outside of camp?  I am currently a rising Senior at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, pursuing a double major in English and Anthropology.

Why is Calleva important to you?  I try to run my programs so that the campers can have maximum autonomy and freedom. It’s something they do not get to experience much of in their classrooms at school for most of the year and I think that it is very valuable for young kids to get to practice that in the great outdoors. It’s an awesome thing to get to watch kids express themselves and enjoy the world around them in a fun, silly, and productive way.

How long have you been at Calleva? This summer will be my 5th summer as staff.

What keeps you coming back? There are two things that keep me coming back year after year: the people that I work with and the unique opportunities that Calleva provides for me and for the the children who come through our programs. The people I’ve met at Calleva have become strong long lasting friendships that I’ll carry forever. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by the fun loving and uplifting personalities that much of our staff embody. Calleva has provided me with some of the most important people in my life and for that I am very thankful. With that, It’s a great thing to be able to work outside and get to show young people all the amazing parts of that. I love getting to see someone experience eating something right off the plant or out of the ground at the farm, or watching kids just simply let loose during their time at camp.

A favorite memory of a truly wonderful day at camp:  At the end of last summer, I had a really great day out on the island. Mack (the other IDC instructor that week) and I loaded all the kids in a war canoe and headed out to one of our last full days on the island. It was a little chilly and rain was predicted, so we split up and jumped right into activities so to get them done before the rain hit. It ended up getting stormy pretty fast and the kids were bummed that we couldn’t finish our normal river related activities, however it ended up being the most fun i’d had on the island in a long time. When the rain started coming down it came down hard. Everyone was crowded under the pavilion and Mack was teaching some of the campers about fire building. One kid came up to me and told me to go jump in the big puddle that was forming, and I happily obliged. A bunch of the campers thought this was very funny and then came out to join me. All at once it seemed we had a mud puddle dance party forming, mud slip n’ slide, mud house building competition, and fire building extravaganza. Every kid was doing something different and everyone was having a blast. Rain days always seem to turn out to be the best of days at camp, and that day definitely was.

What is one helpful tip for parents, campers, or new staff.  For kids, be exactly who you want to be, and for parents, encourage them to do so!

Fun fact: Sitting in the back of the war canoe and steering gives you a great vantage point to witness and over hear some funny goings on between campers. Mason was in the front of the boat leading and entertaining through yelling and asking birds very important questions and other general silliness. Amongst the many giggles, one camper, who had been very vocal in his participation with masons silliness, looks around and says to no one in particular “I love this place.”