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From Camp Walt Whitman to Denver Broncos: How Being a Camp Counselor Helped My Career

After eight years at Camp Walt Whitman and one year of being a Counselor in Training (CIT), Liz Jeralds knew that she wanted to return as a counselor. 

Given the camp’s policy to have CITs wait at least a year to gain more skills and maturity before working as a counselor, that meant skipping the summer after her freshman year. But she made up for lost time, spending her next three summers in college working at camp.

“Being able to finish the school year and spend summers outdoors in New Hampshire with really amazing people — it was a no-brainer,” said Jeralds, senior manager of community development for the Denver Broncos. She calls the role a perfect fit, being a “bridge where sports and the team can impact and work with kids in communities.”

Camp was her first real experience working with kids, and it was eye-opening — she hadn’t realized how much the counselors did, and the work involved in “managing a bunk of different personalities. On the flip side it was really rewarding to get to know the campers, and all the things it takes to make camp an amazing summer.”

As a counselor she got best of both worlds — the ability to make meaningful relationships with campers and shared memories with her co-counselors. And it taught her how to be a team player.

“You’re working with so many different types of people, whether it’s campers or counselors or specialists or administrative and leadership staff. You have to be able to build bridges and build relationships and work with lots of different types of people,” said Jeralds, an invaluable skill for any job.

Jeralds especially enjoyed mentoring campers and helping them become confident enough to take a risk and do something they weren’t super comfortable with, then watching them learn and grow “and evolve as a young human.”

Coming back to work as a counselor for multiple years was a chance to see that evolution over time.

“I definitely went into it thinking it was just gonna be a fun place to spend your summer and make some money and have cool experiences, but I quickly realized that the ability to make genuine connections with kids and help them grow and help them navigate the world and learn as they go while they were in a safe space was really fulfilling and something that I wanted to make sure was still part of my life for years to come.”

 Her current role, where she works with schools and organizations to create growth experiences and fun activities for kids, taps into that same joy. “And that definitely stemmed from being a counselor at camp.”