Getting to Know Taylor Bennett – Junior Boys Group Leader
Getting to Know Taylor Bennett – Junior Boys Group Leader
Taylor, the Junior Boys Group Leader, works with the campers and staff in his division to create the most fun and exciting summer possible. If anyone knows what it takes to do so, it is Taylor, whose Iroquois
Springs history dates back to the camp’s first year in existence when he was a camper himself.
How many summers have you spent at Iroquois Springs, and what brought you here in the first place?
I started as a camper back in Iroquois Springs’ first summer. My summer as a Counselor In Training (CIT) provided me the opportunity to transition from a camper to a Counselor, before eventually becoming a Group Leader.
My older sister inspired me to start going to camp in the first place. When my parents and I came up to visit her on Visiting Day, I told them that I didn’t want to leave at the end of the day. I haven’t missed a summer at camp since that fateful day.
What was your childhood camp experience like?
My childhood camp experience was both unforgettable and invaluable! The friends that I made back then have become lifelong friends. We are still in constant contact today due in no small part to the priceless, everlasting memories that we created together. I am fortunate to have spent nearly all of my summers since I was a kid at camp. As long as we were together, my friends and I always had a great time regardless of what we were doing (sports, crafts, bunk time, evening activity, etc.). Through the years, my Counselors and Group Leaders made a tremendous impact on my life, and they’ve inspired me to do the same for the campers that I work with each summer.
What do you believe makes Iroquois Springs special for campers and staff?
Iroquois Springs provides a unique experience for campers by helping them to develop their creativity and athletic abilities, but more importantly, the socialization skills that they develop will last a lifetime. Cam
pers are afforded the opportunity to experience a variety of activities that simply aren’t available together in any other setting. Where else could you go waterskiing, horseback riding and zip lining in the same place where you play competitive sports and experience all of the other activities that camp has to offer? All the while, you spend every waking moment strengthening the bonds with friends who are unlike any other friend that you will make in your lifetime. Not only do they get the chance to build lasting relationships, they also get to find their passions and participate in meaningful traditions that are unique to their Iroquois Springs family.
Staff members are also an integral part of Iroquois Springs, and they enjoy growth as well. They inevitably step out of their comfort zones as they embrace the opportunity to be mentors, teachers and role models. They act like big brothers/sisters to their campers, and strive to create a positive experience for all of them. They have the chance to learn about themselves and discover their passion for making a difference
in someone else’s life, while also having a great summer experience.
Please discuss briefly anything that you feel helps create a smooth mid-summer transition as partial summer campers leave and arrive.
We work hard to ensure that those campers who are leaving mid-summer have had the opportunity to partake in their favorite activities before they leave. For example, if a camper loved waterskiing but only did it a few times, we make sure that he or she gets the chance to go again so they leave with a memorable experience. Campers also have the chance to celebrate their time at camp with a banquet dinner the night before they leave. They spend time with the friends they’ve made and reminisce while enjoying a special meal.
For new campers coming in, we ensure that all existing campers and staff members in their cabins are aware that new campers that will be joining them. We make it a point to have those campers and staff awaiting their arrival, so as soon as they get here, they are greeted by new and/or familiar friends. This helps the camper transition go smoothly because they can meet their friends and counselors and get right into the swing of things.
How do you spend the 10 months waiting for camp to start?
While I eagerly wait for the next summer to arrive, I am in graduate school getting my Masters Degree in Social Work, and I plan on continuing on to get a PhD in Psychology.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy reading for pleasure (usually multiple books at a time), spending time with my friends and family, watching my favorite television shows and movies and spending the day on the beach or outside (when it’s warm).
What are your favorite Iroquois Springs activities, events, traditions?
One of my favorite Iroquois Springs activities is the first night campfire. It gives the campers the opportunity to get to know each other in a casual and fun environment, while singing and dancing to their favorite camp songs, while getting to enjoy (in my opinion) the best food in camp…S’MORES!
My other favorite activity is the boys’ rope burn that takes place during Color War. The oldest campers come together as a team, working together to achieve one goal. The camaraderie, hard work and dedication that these boys experience is unlike anything else. It’s filled with intense emotions, and win or lose, it’s a life lesson and an unforgettable experience.
Please share a fond memory or two about your time at Iroquois Springs:
It’s hard to choose just one memory as a camper after having so many unbelievable ones, but one of my first (and most fond) memories happened as a very young camper. My friends and I were up before reveille (as most freshmen/sophomore campers are). Our counselor got out of bed and decided to take us on an early morning hike around the lake. He showed us old camp landmarks in the woods, taught us how to skip rocks
on the lake and solidified himself as one of our favorite counselors by giving us a truly unique experience.
My favorite memory as a staff member occurs each summer. I love the first day of the camp season when the busses role in and campers are reunited with all of their old friends. There also seems to be an almost-instant connection to new campers. The uninhibited excitement on everyone’s faces is great to see. There is something very meaningful about getting to watch the campers grow throughout the years.