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Deering transforms summer camp experiences to valuable life skills

For many students, summer break means a break from the rigors of academia. But the past two summers have been anything but ordinary for Elizabeth Deering, a freshman majoring in Sport Management. Her summers have been marked by adventure, nature, and a transition from being a camper to a counselor at Camp Hidden Meadows in Bartow, W.Va.

Elizabeth Deering headshot outside.

Elizabeth Deering

Major: Sport Management (M.S.)

Class: Freshman
Hometown: Alexandria, Va.

What was your unique experience over the last few summers?

I have spent the last two summers working at Camp Hidden Meadows in Bartow, W.Va. – it’s like an outdoor adventure camp where there’s pretty much any activity you can think of. We do a lot of climbing, cooking, fishing, farming and all sorts of other things.

My role was as a cabin counselor and I lived in a cabin for seven weeks with the campers ages 6-12. The main thing that I worked with them on was outdoor living skills. I helped teach them how to build fires, shelters, and we went on nature walks and made s’mores. I got to talk to them a lot about nature in West Virginia, including the Greenbrier River because the east fork cuts right through our camp. It was a lot of moving around and I got to spend the summer in the mountains.

What is your best area of expertise in outdoor skills?

With the right materials, I can get a good fire burning pretty fast.

How did you get involved as a counselor?

I was a camper there for eight summers.

What was the transition like going from camper to counselor?

As a camper, I had no access to the outside world because you don’t have your phone and there’s no cell service, and I was only there for a few weeks. Then, as a counselor, I was now behind the scenes and planning everything to make sure the campers were having a great time. It’s a hard transition to go from just enjoying what was planned to being the one who is trying to make everything happen so the campers enjoy it.

What were some of your positive memories from the summer?

Being able to plan everything and seeing how happy the campers are is a lot of fun. I like it when the campers enjoy the mountains and I can see that they are making great memories and experiencing new things.

How does this kind of experience reinforce your interest in sport management?

The main thing is that this camp, like sport management, requires a lot of work with people. You have to learn how to communicate with different groups and you have to know what you’re doing and teaching in order to be confident and have a strong voice. It taught me how to be around people and adapt to different situations quickly.

Why did you decide to come to West Virginia University?

It’s close enough to home, but also far away enough that I have my own little world and own experiences being away from home.

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