When Keri Green was in her 3rd grade Sunday School class, a visit from an older camper propelled Keri on her life-long journey as a camper, volunteer and staff leader at Sawtooth Camp, located in the Sawtooth Mountains north of Fairfield, Idaho.
When asked what Keri has received from Sawtooth, she said that camp is a place where “people can come and be freer with who they are. This was important to me as a kid, growing up in predominantly LDS (Church of Later-Day Saints) communities.” Sawtooth let her “be my version of Christian and be around other kids the same way.”
Keri listed several individuals who have inspired her and her camping journey, especially former Sawtooth Camp director, Dave Hargreaves, who was the one who said he didn’t think her camping journey was over with Senior High Camp and inspired her to work at Sawtooth. Other influencing individuals are the Strine family, Amy Truksa, Bill Gates, Ryan Gates and Mike Youngblood.
Keri says of sharing time at camp and with campers, “sometimes we’re inspiring others that we don’t realize”. “I wonder if some of the people I listed realize the impact they had on me.”
As a Junior High Camp dean for several years, Keri has helped facilitate conversations as kids had “ah-ha moments.” This year’s theme, “What’s in a Name,” was impactful, as they talked about “society’s labels or names for them, as kids may not realize how much they adjust who they are,” for others.
Keri is intentional about choosing a diverse staff that do a lot of different things and have different personalities so that she can help kids see themselves in a leader, learning that they have something to contribute, whether they’re the silly camper or the quiet one. As one camper who thought they were “too cool” for camp later said, “Camp is the best!”
For those thinking about volunteering but wondering if they’re the right fit or have the right skills or if it’s worth it, Keri says, “You’ve got to just do it. You have to try…You never know which kid’s life you’re going to impact.”
(Photo: Skillern Hot Springs, Junior High Camp 2023, by John Ward)