Structure and consistency. Most of you know how important these qualities are in best equipping our young people for success. Over the half century of operation, Camp Buckskin is indeed fortunate to have structure and consistency in our personnel. It is our staff, the people, who have made this history meaningful. The staff have embraced our philosophies and worked diligently both individually and as team to help our campers change their lives.
Over the years, Camp Buckskin has established itself due to the efforts of these people. As such, we take a great deal of pride in the quality of our staff. The time tested and proven program, even with its structured variety of activities and content could not possibly produce the growth it has without the efforts of these people.
Nancy and RS “Duffy” Bauer started Camp Buckskin in 1959 after many years of work in the mental health field. Duffy was CTRS who also worked in hospital administration. Nancy was an RN who worked in hospital and public health settings before a long career as a school nurse. Based on their experiences and counsel from professional colleagues, they took their vision for a program and made it a reality. Over time they refined the program as advances were made in the medical, psychological, and educational fields.
Nancy and Duffy raised two sons, Tom and Steve, at camp, both of whom are still involved in the program. While Duffy passed away in 2004, Nancy is still at camp most every day. The structure and consistency provided by their leadership and guidance has been invaluable.
Mary and Tom Bauer have the privilege and responsibilities of operating camp. Tom has been working for camp year round since 1987 and has been the director since 1992. While he has a MS and is an ACA Certified Camp Director, perhaps more importantly he has over 44 years at camp. Having grown up at camp, Tom has experience from camper through most staff positions. Mary works year round for camp as well. She has over 30 years of experience at camp, in a variety of roles. They strive to keep improving the program and ensure that camp is a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone. This includes their three sons who participate in the program each summer.
Our program director is David Williamson, who also works for camp year round. He has been a part of the Camp Buckskin program since 2009, starting as a counselor progressing to an activity head and program supervisor. David has a BSc in Occupational Therapy with an emphasis in helping children with learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral needs. He has previously worked as the lone Occupational Therapist for the UK’s pilot program for Forensic Personality Disorders in Adults. He enjoys the outdoors and participating in sports.
Each summer, we have a total of sixty or more people, and we are fortunate to have a number of staff return each year. They provide the structure and consistency which strengthens our program. Our staff are carefully selected and must not only meet the standards of our accrediting organization, the American Camp Association, but our own requirements as well.
Counselor / Activity Instructors
The vast majority of our staff are counselor / activity instructors. To maintain our minimum 1:3 staff to camper ratio, we need a number of these people. Most are undergraduate or graduate students, with an academic background in fields like psychology, social work, special education, health care, and therapeutic recreation. Many have related work or volunteer experiences with young people whom have social or academic needs.
Our counselors and activity instructors possess a genuine interest in our campers and program goals. These young adults also have the energy and ability to best help our campers learn and succeed. Their primary focus is on the campers personal growth, but they are also interested in their own personal and professional development as well.
Our staff also includes several teachers, most of whom work specifically in our reading activity that concentrates on improving our campers reading, writing, and organizational skills. Some of our teachers are seasoned veterans who have taught for a number of years while others are more recent graduates. They are currently licensed professionals with the skills campers need. Our teachers also provide assistance during evening and weekend activities, at meals, and throughout camp each day.
Our daily program is managed by our Program Supervisors. All these people have worked at Camp Buckskin for several summers, so they have a solid understanding of our goals and how to best achieve them. In addition, they bring a wealth of knowledge and skills acquired through their education and other professional experiences outside of our program.
Part of the supervisors’ responsibilities is to help train our staff during the 12-day precamp training. They help to impart the necessary knowledge and skill sets, and help the individuals become a cohesive team. They also provide the leadership and act as a mentor to staff throughout the entire summer. As former counselors, they like to work directly with our campers as well. Our campers, staff, and overall program benefit from the knowledge and skills of these people.
It takes a considerable number of quality individuals to make our program work. Many of these people work mainly ‘behind the scenes’ but are an integral part of our program. The program staff depend on our maintenance personnel, carpenters, bus driver, office assistants, nursing staff, cooks and kitchen staff to fulfill their responsibilities. Indeed, without the efforts of all our support staff we wouldn’t be able to operate at all, let alone provide the quality growth experience that we have delivered for so long.