Dear Camp Counselors


A letter  to the camp counselors of the past, the present, and the future.

While this letter may be specific to the camp I’ve had the pleasure of working four summers at,  I am sure much of what I write applies to most other camp counselor jobs out there. And heck, maybe this may even inspire you to work a summer at the same camp I’ve spent many summers at. I get a little emotional at the end of each summer and this is a bi-product of those emotions. So here goes nothing.


Dear Camp Counselor,

You are embarking on the journey of a lifetime. Many counselors have come before you. You have some big shoes to fill, but fear not, you are on your well on your way to a summer to remember. Everything you need to not only be successful, but happy in this job you already have within you. While it is always best to live and learn, I have some advice to share.

  1. This is not always an easy job, but boy is it worth it. This job has to be simultaneously one of the most challenging and easier jobs all at once. It is truly a test of our skills. It tests our ability to communicate, be responsible, mediate problems, and have fun.
  2. You will get stressed out, but don’t let the stress allow you to lose sight of the greatness at Blue Mountain Ranch (or any other youth camp). From morning hellos with Suzie (camp owner/director) and Patti (camp cook), to getting my just brushed hair messed up by Tim (director), this place is amazing. It is incredible how much you can learn from a 9 year old or even fiery, sassy 4 year old. You just have to allow yourself to come out of your shell open up to new ideas.
  3. You will make friendships that will last the test of time. I know you have heard this before but it’s an undeniable fact of this establishment. In a short window of time you will connect deeper with these people than you ever have before outside of this camp.
  4. There will be conflicts, but that’s human nature, just choose to rise above. Remember that you are part of a chain here. All links to this chain need to be strong. If one of these chain links weakens or falls apart you are no longer a part of an effective chain. When you have yourself a broke chain you have yourself a problem. You don’t want that kind of division as a staff.
  5. You will ugly cry at some point. You won’t know when, where, or sometimes even why but it will happen. It may happen expectantly, it may happen more than once. And if and when it does, you will have a whole staff waiting with open arms to support you.
  6. You will develop a lustful relationship with coffee, tea, and all things caffeine. Just go with it. You will have plenty of time to come off your caffeine problem when you return to the real world.
  7. You will find yourself busting ridiculous moves at a camp dance and think you look like an idiot and to look back and discover you’ve attracted a gaggle of idiots busting those very same ridiculous moves at you. It’s your time to shine, have fun with it, even if you think you can’t dance.
  8. Be patient. Seriously. Patience is considered a virtue for a reason. I say this because it is easy to lose sight of patience in the heat of the moment. But if you just pause, think, and reflect it will pay off.
  9. You will be foolish and think that you do not need to apply or reapply that sunscreen. You’re wrong. The truth is you needed to and will now regret it thinking otherwise. For the next few days, as you peer into the mirror you will see your reddened reflection looking back. And days later you will find yourself peeling chunks of skin from your shoulders.
  10. Be fearless. Take a risk. Take a chance. Try a new food. Instruct a new activity. Take a day off with the counselor you hardly know. Initiate a conversation with a camper you not yet have spoken to. You will be surprised by what you may learn both about yourself and others.
  11. Trust in your coworkers and the CITS (counselors in training). They are there for a reason. Sometimes it’s best to hand the torch over. It can open your horizons to fresh ideas. Delegating the leadership amongst your coworkers is the surest way to a strong team and an all-around positive experience.
  12. Remember to be a kid. Whether you are 7 or 27 it’s important to step back, be immature, and let out your uninhibited inner child.
  13. Blue Mountain Ranch will become a home to you. You will find yourself counting down the days until you can return to this place. You will find yourself doing everything in your power to make returning to Blue Mountain Ranch (or any children’s camp) a reality year after year.
  14. You may feel exhausted at times but Blue Mountain Ranch will weave its way into your stressed and exhausted heart and from then on it will always hold a special place.
  15. You will adapt an interesting fashion sense consisting of ridiculous fashion choices and questionable dirty clothes while here. This fashion sense is one in which is only appropriate under the confines of camp life.
  16. You will find yourself seated around the food box on a regular basis shoving your face with junk, even though you just waddled away from dinner stuffed to the brim.
  17. Above all else, above the Walmart trips, the showers where the water stops while you’ve got a head full of shampoo, the rained out meadow trips, and the times you’ve been fully clothes and thrown into the pool you will fall in love with this job. It will become your passion and all you talk about. Nothing compares to the fulfillment you will receive by holding a summer job as a camp counselor at Blue Mountain Ranch.

Don’t for a second take a moment of this life for granted. Each summer here is a gift and each summer it will become more and more difficult to make your way here. I promise that. Live it up, love every minute, and laugh as much as possible.

Much love,

A counselor of the past, present, and the future.

Motivated by love

It seems so simple right? You hit the gym day after day and maybe you’ve seen some great results. You love that you’re finally getting healthy, something you have wanted for so long. This is when you need to step back and ask yourself, do you love yourself?

For countless men and women, this is actually a huge challenge. Many of us find ourselves lacing up our shoes and heading to trails or the gym for all the wrong reasons. People think “I am so fat,” “I need to look good for spring break,” and so on.

We all begin working out with a variety of reasons behind it. It could be a personal choice, a hobby, a living, and a variety of other reasons. While I cannot argue regular exercise is damaging, but I do argue that there is a lot of self-hate behind why people choose to join a gym or buy that exercise tape.

There are many extremes to this age old question so let me just share a personal anecdote to explain. I’ve been working out since I was eleven (so just over eleven years). Though the act of working out was a very healthy life decision, the mind set behind it was quite the contrary.

I think as women, we find ourselves hating what we see in the mirror. With the hate, many of us become motivated to lose weight. Often times weight loss can be a very healthy fitness journey and other times it may not. Many, many people, myself included, can get lost in this.

I started working out not to get “healthy.” I was not motivated to nourish myself. I was not motivated to love the person I was seeing in the mirror.

I was motivated to change the number in the scale. I’d see myself and think “I’m so fat and I still have SO FAR to go.”

So far to go, so far to go, so so so far to go.

I believed that once I lost the weight, once I reached that “goal number,” once I wore that size I would be pretty. I equated that weight loss with my beauty and my beauty with my worth.

After each workout, I’d look in the mirror and suck in my stomach. I’d poke what I saw as imperfections. I’d take measurements of my body. I’d weigh myself. Above all, I’d hate on myself.

Never during this journey did I feed my mind with positivity. I was exercising so much commitment. I’d make it to the gym 5-6 times a week for 2-3 hours a day. I was obtaining my goals, faster than I imagined. I was growing stronger.

None of that mattered because it was never enough because I was never enough.

My sophomore year of college I returned to the gym after my 5 years of running cross country and track came to a close.  One day while I was on the elliptical, I came to this realization that though I had unstoppable commitment in my past, it was for all the wrong reasons.

From that day forward I knew it was time to make a change. It was time to change my thinking.

It begins with goal setting. We set goals to give us something to work for. This is something that persists throughout all aspects of our lives. While setting a goal weight can be a very good thing, you cannot allow that number to become you. You are so much more than that number. The person you are should not be defined by the weight you are now or the weight you want to be.

Along with goal setting, you cannot let media misrepresentations be your motivation. This is something I struggle with. When all you see is beautifully thin women, you begin to get it in your head that to be a beautiful woman, you must also be thin.

Thin does not equate strong. It does not make you healthy. Thin is beautiful and women who are naturally thin should not be ashamed of what they were born with, but you should not be the sole motivator behind a weight loss journey. I’ve been there.

When I was motivated by being thin, I hated myself. When I shifted my focus to getting healthier, I began to learn to love myself.

Instead of thinking “how far I have to go” you should reward your efforts towards a healthier life. Think about “how far you have come.” Each day you make it to the gym, or you put in exercise, you did it. It should be a feeling of accomplishment.

While pinterest may be full of motivating graphics, some of these “motivating graphics” shame the fat, shame the thick, and shame the thin. These may motivate you to get off your booty, but don’t let them run your life.

All in all, if you’re out there working out and a journey to get fit (or whatever your reasons may be) you should be proud.

You’re actively making steps towards a healthier you. When you feed your body, you’re also feeding your mind. When you feed yourself with positivity on a consistent basis, you will slowly begin to believe it. Your mind, body, and soul equal you.

My Semicolon Story;

LONG, LOOOOOONG time, no see. I feel like sometimes through the facade of social media we sometimes lose sight of ourselves. Day after day our feeds are flooded with many of our friends, family members, and acquaintances high light reels.

We see these people smiling in photos and always having a great time. We sometimes lose ourselves in that we begin to compare these high light reels, these selected and filtered moments of other’s lives, and compare them to our whole life, bloopers, sad scenes, and all. This can really create a feeling of isolation and worthlessness, especially to those who already battle with those very thoughts in their everyday life.

I have debated sharing my story for a while, but if it helps just one person then I am grateful. I apologize in advance, this is a very lengthy post.

This is my semicolon.

My battle began with issues of self-image. I can remember always having a concern over the number on the scale, even before middle school. Upon entering middle school, I can still visualize the moment I decided to go on my first of many “extreme” diets. I was eleven.

A male friend of mine poked my stomach on the first day of sixth grade and said, “hey, you lost your blubber over the summer.” It was at that point that I lost a piece of myself. I began obsessing over everything going in my body.

I ate lettuce wraps with carrots. I measured every single calorie that went into my body. The most alarming thing is that I would cancel plans with friends so I could work out and monitor what I ate. At twelve years old I could hardly stand the sight of myself in a mirror.

Growing up, my mother always told me I was beautiful. She even would address my weight concerns with my pediatrician who would assure me that I was healthy and as long as I ate fruits, vegetables, watched my sweets, and exercised I would continue to be healthy.

I developed these rituals to squeeze in exercise during every spare moment I had. It got to the point that it concerned my parents so I would secretly exercise behind closed doors. Whenever I used the restroom or before bed I would manically do push-ups, sit-ups, and dips. I even hid a set of dumbbells under my bed.

About six months later my obsession with exercise and health fizzled out for a bit. With that came a new habit. I would chew food up and secretly spit it out into a napkin. I’d do this to an entire plate of food and would even grab a second plate and do it all over again. I wanted to convince my parents that I didn’t have a problem. I did anything to try and convince them. While convincing them, I think I was secretly trying to convince myself.

The exercise pretty much ceased until one day late in the school year.  That one day was in gym class during 7th grade a kid poked me in the stomach and asked if I was pregnant. Suddenly, I was back in 6th grade again. I did all I could to laugh it off. On the inside, I was dying.

I began taking several hour long walks and runs and begged my mom until she finally agreed to get me a gym membership. Once I began working out, I became pretty antisocial. I would workout 6-7 days a week for 2-3 hours at a time. Again, I measured every bit of food. I even had a scale I would use to measure my food to the gram.

I would pace in the kitchen as I prepared my food in order to burn “extra” calories. I could not even go out to eat with my parents and enjoy it. I was once a kid who drank soda and ate a big ol’ burger out. I now became the kid who only drank water and asked for salads with no dressing. I would go to the lighter faire options, eat around the cheese and toppings, and pretend like everything was okay.  My weight dropped almost 30 pounds in just 2.5 months.

When I entered 8th grade, these obsessive habits with food transformed into ones in which I only ate the outside of foods and would trash what was left inside. I found myself backing off on the exercise as time progressed. I started growing closer to this individual I’d met the previous school year.

At that point, I began spending less time in the gym, less time doing meal prep, and more time hanging out with this person. In some sense I felt like I was finally getting better. I was no longer counting the calories (though I had a pretty good idea how many calories were in most foods).  As you may have guessed it, this person I invested myself in was a guy.

We had a lot of fun hanging out together, but their definitely was a steep downhill from those fun times.

This is where the words don’t just roll off the tongue. I have accepted my body image issues as well at my eating disorder. I have accepted that it happened and that I truly did not love myself.  It’s the issues that I developed later in middle school and into early high school that I have a hard time owning up to.

That boy I mentioned earlier, well, I started to equate my self-worth to everything in our relationship. When we had a good day, I felt on top of the world. When we fought, I was completely and fully convinced that I was the root of all our issues. Yeah, at times I definitely did not make matters better and maybe at times I was actually the bad guy. Maybe I provoked him, maybe I didn’t. What we had became unhealthy and I could not see that.

This was more than just feeling bad after a fight. This was feeling worthless. This was feeling like that boy was doing me a favor by dating me.  This was having your mood, your state of mind, and your self-worth, dependent solely on another person.

This feeling of worthlessness, it wrecked me.

I spent many of nights crying myself to sleep. I would think to myself “why do you keep messing up, why can’t you just do things right for once?” I often hid in my closet and cried into a pillow.

On the exterior my once colorful wardrobe transformed into drab black, heavy eyeliner, and essentially what was called “emo” at the time.

It wasn’t just me trying to be trendy, it was actually a reflection of what I was becoming.

Oh, this is the part I really dread thinking about.

These nights of crying left me feeling empty. There was this pain that I just could not get rid of no matter how hard I tried. It was at this point that I first cut myself.

It didn’t hurt.

You hear people say the emotional pain hurt so much that self-harm actually made them feel better. Well, it did, but very temporarily.

Through all of this, I still did not see that I wasn’t worthless. I did not see that this wasn’t normal. I did not see that I needed help. I believed this was normal, I was just going through a phase, teenagers are emotional, and fights happen.

By day I was an “A” student involved in extracurricular activities and by night I was hiding in my closet.

I am not sure when it finally clicked that things shouldn’t be this way. I couldn’t see that some people, some habits, some thoughts, were all toxic.

When I entered high school, I still hadn’t learned to love myself, as a matter of fact I am still learning just that to this very day.

When I was 14 I met the boy who would become my fiancé a little over seven years later. We ran cross country together and had freshman English together. We met after our first race when he offered me his water bottle when I was clearly distraught from a bad race. Even then, he was already taking care of me.

After practice his mom would take me home. We were just casual friends.

One day, for whatever reason I decided I would sit by him in English. We joked around. It was awkward at first so I looked him up on the popular social media platform at the time (MySpace) and essentially stalked him. I memorized his interests like I was studying for a test. I even listened to the weird indie music on his page.

I began dropping these bits of information as if I identified with them in our conversations. Eventually we had been talking for almost two months when I told him some deep dark secrets that I’d told no one.

This 14 year boy must have felt like I was insane. I unloaded my emotions on him in English. I can still visualize that moment. But you know what, he didn’t judge me. He didn’t tell me I was wrong. He didn’t tell me I was dumb. He listened.

He was the first person to listen to me without judgement. He was also the first person to help me see I was a victim.

You see, that boy from middle school was still in my life at that point. He pinched me when I said something he didn’t like. He’d squeeze my hand so hard the ring on my finger would bruise the finger just beside it. There were small bruises up and down my arms from him yet I still felt I was the cause of all those issues. I made him hurt me. I believed casual talking was flirting and so I began to recluse.

Had I not met the man (young man at the time) who would later become my boyfriend (and much later my fiancé), I don’t know where I would be today.

I am not sure I would have been strong enough to get away. I may have fallen deeper into myself.

I remember my first fight with my fiancé, he was angry and I crumbled. To the floor I went, sobbing. I immediately blamed myself and felt scared. It was this moment I knew I was falling in love with this guy. Instead of getting angrier, placing blame on me, and hurting me, he picked me up. He hugged me. He assured me all would be okay.

To this day I still battle feelings of worthlessness but not because of the guy I am with. I no longer hide in closets. I no longer have to pretend I am happy when I am not.

With that, I am happy to say I haven’t cut myself for almost seven years. Though that doesn’t mean I am not sometimes tempted too.

I made huge strides in learning to love who I am when I feel into a job at a summer camp. What I presumed would just end up being a job, ended up a learning experience. I found a place I long for. I found a place that I can always go to and they will welcome me with open arms. I found a giant family of people to hear me without judgement.

Each day I battle myself when I look in the mirror. I see myself and I see flaws. I don’t love myself like I should and thus I work every day to love myself. I may love my fiancé to the moon and back but if I do not love myself, something will always be missing in the love I give him.

He’s been my right hand man through it all. Though at times he does not understand where I am coming from, he surely tries his best to.

As I near the end of my education, I’ve faced anxiety, low points, and an overall lack of enthusiasm. But I am much stronger now. It has been a 10 year battle with me and myself, but I am finally ready to stop facing this battle alone. Though I am a warrior, it’s time to call in for back up.

I am finally ready to get the help I need. This is my semicolon.

For more information on Project Semicolon, visit this page:

Unexpected Bump in the Road

This post is going to be brief. Partially because I’m not ready to write about it in detail yet and partially because I’m in between classes.

In the fitness world, there are the people who never miss a workout. While I try to be that person, there are sometimes circumstances that cause me to miss.

Last Thursday, I was on my way back from the grocery store and about to workout when I got a call from my mother.

From the tone of her voice  I knew something  was wrong. She tells me my grandfather doesn’t have much longer. Next thing you know, an hour later I’ve hopped on the next train to STL.

It was about a 4 hour ride. The longest 4 hours ever.

While I was on the train, my grandfather passed. After that it was nonstop go go go.

You wouldn’t  think as a granddaughter  I would play such an active role but I was so busy with school work, learning what I was missing in class, and helping with funeral odds and ends that I basically took 6 days off. Now 2 of those  days were scheduled days off, but it killed me mentally on top of all else.

I worked out yesterday, the one week since my grandfather passed, and while working out helped my anxiety…it surely tested my emotions.

So now as I heal, I will try and push focus to my training and keep on keeping on.

okayyy (2)

Indecisive Much?


I am one of the most indecisive people you will ever meet…well maybe not ever, but yeah, darn near close (see what I did there, ha!) I decide on something, am set on it, no budging, and then I change my mind. Again and again I go through this cycle. It’s a wonder I ever get anything accomplished.

I have now changed my training plan for this half marathon three times, but hey, in my defense, I am making it more intense. So, at least I am not a flake. I am on week 5 of my 15 week plan. Everything is going great. I feel great. My mind just feels so refreshed and my body is feeling stronger by the day.

Though I think my training plan adapted from Pop Sugar Fitness‘s 16 week Beginner Half Marathon Program, was a good plan, it was not a good plan for me. I need a plan with a greater focus on running, than just on getting my body able to physically complete 13.2 miles. If you want to see more about that plan and how I adapted it to me originally check out my post Training Plan – 13.1. Again, it is a great plan for getting in shape to run a half or even just to get in shape.

I next modified that plan itself (can you see the pattern here). After sitting on that idea for about a week, I decided it would not help me get the Personal Record that I have set my sights on. And thus, drum roll please…..I created ANOTHER ONE!

This one is adapted from the Intermediate Half Marathon Training Plan by none other than the infamous Hal Higdon. I seriously love his plans, but I knew they were very running driven (who would have thought?) and I did not want to overload my two new-to-running training partners. My new plan can be seen below. I am super excited about it.

I am actually excited about speed work

…which is unlike me, but I just can’t wait to run fast again. I am sticking to this one! It will be challenging, but not too challenging. I love that it involves 5 days of running as that’s what I have always been accustomed to.

okayyy (2)

We entered our 5th week of the 15 week process this week (wow I said week quite a bit in that sentence…). I have been doing much of my training on my own and have not yet really had the chance to gauge the level at which my two friends were. On Monday, I did my run outdoors and then later that night they asked me to workout with them. I ran them through some stretches and warm-ups and then walked on the indoor track with a friend as they ran.

I realized at this point, that the training plan was just not cutting it for them. That night I wrote up a new plan for them and for me. The plan I wrote for them was adapted from the Hal Higdon Novice 1 Half Marathon plan.

I felt that they needed to grow more comfortable with the act of running and thus this plan is better suited for them. I added structured walk breaks in for the first 4 weeks of that plan because in the long run, it will help them to have a better run. Instead of having their form suffer, they have mini-recoveries, while also covering a specified distance. I am going to check back in with them in a few weeks and see if this is what’s right for them. Their training plan can be seen below. It may change based on their needs, but we will see!NEW

I feel like my posts have been lack luster lately so I am sorry! If you have anything you’d like to see me post about please do comment below! For now its back to the drawing board to spice of these posts :)!


**Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, registered dietitian, physical trainer/therapist or fitness expert. The purpose of my blog is to share my stories and experiences with running, fitness, and life. When it comes to your health and fitness, do your research and consult a health career professional.**


The Mondays..

This article popped up on my newsfeed on Facebook, as I follow Runner’s World fairly closely. I have been having a rough day with headaches and I guess you could say a heavy case of the “Mondays.” I know I am going to go home from work and go run, but I am just so tired. My original plan was to hit the treadmill immediately after word…but I have been feeling like the treadmill has become more of a “dread-mill.” I just hate it.

It’s an awful attitude, I know, and I am really trying to work past it (see my post about learning to love it..). Anyways, my plan then changed to go home, get over this headache, and run within an hour no matter how I feel.

That’s the plan I am sticking with, and though its cold outside…anyway beats the “dread-mill.” Unless of course the alternative is not running or running somewhere unsafe!

Anyways, back to the article, it really motivated me. The three quotes the individual mentioned hit me hard, in fact, they motivated me. This post is brief, but I had to share these to someone else feeling a case of the “Mondays.”

What are your favorite motivational quotes?

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”

“Live with a relentless pursuit of better.”

“If you are persistent you will get it, if you are consistent you will keep it.”

To read more, check out this article on Runner’s World and let me know what  you think. What motivates you on days that you just feel blah??

How Running Changed Me: Bill Zdon – Runner’s


Half Marathon Revised

Training Plan 13.1 – Revisited

Going into half marathon training, I did not have any idea of what to expect out of my fitness and ability levels. I have always been a 5-6 day a week runner and sometimes even 7 days during my first year of college. After 1.5 years of a roller coaster of fitness and a few scattered 5ks, my fitness was minimal. I did some researching on training plans and had my two friends in mind when creating it (who are not runners, but were athletes throughout high school). I went to basics. I just wanted to have the fitness level to finish the 13.1 miles.

My time did not completely matter, though I did want to finish under the 2:15:00 mark (20 minutes slower than my first half…3 years ago). Now that I am almost finished with week 4 and have been adding in supplemental runs because they just feel good, I have my mind set on a goal. I came in to training more in shape than anticipated and really haven’t been feeling too sore these last two weeks. Suddenly, a PR became a more and more realistic goal.

The training plan I put together (adapted from Pop Sugar Fitness 16 week plan) me and my friends on is a 15 week one. With almost 4 weeks down, that still leaves me 11 weeks to get miles under my belt, 11 weeks to incorporate speed work, and 11 weeks to get my booty in shape to run my best half marathon yet. In 11 weeks, I can tackle a whole lot.

I still have to do some thinking about my half marathon plan as more speed work should probably be incorporated, but I have to do more research on what that speed work should be. I ran a 1:54:01 three years ago and thus any time under that mark would technically be a personal best, but I would like to hit 1:49:59 or under. To break 1:50:00 would be a huge milestone. I would be elated.

I have the goal to run a marathon before I am 25. I think that’s pretty realistic. I would ideally like to cross that finish in 4:00:00 or under (I would really like to BQ (Boston Qualify) in one of the marathons I run…yes I intend to run at least 2 or 3, now those intentions may change after I actually run that beast). Consequently, I need to do major work on my half marathon racing. Now is as good of time as any to start! So without further adieu, here is my newly revised training plan. I crossed out the weeks that have already passed. Half Marathon Revised

Once I finish my research on speed work, I will probably incorporate short speed workouts, possibly even hill workouts before strength training on Tuesday’s. I will have to modify a few things here and there but we will have to wait and see what unfolds of it! If you would like to see my training plan before I changed it up, check out my post, Training Plan – 13.1. I am loving running and even have some new shoes that feel wonderful! shoes

**Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, registered dietitian, physical trainer/therapist or fitness expert. The purpose of my blog is to share my stories and experiences with running, fitness, and life. When it comes to your health and fitness, do your research and consult a health career professional.**