At Work

AT WORK

Workers Around The Region

June 01, 2005|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Michael Schneider

Executive director, Camp Airy in Thurmont and Camp Louise in Cascade.

Age: 51

Years in business: Eighteen as a full-time employee of the girls' and boys' camps, the past eight as executive director.

Salary: The national average for a residential camp director is $47,300, according to the American Camp Association.

Working his way up the ladder: This is Schneider's 36th summer with the camps. He began attending Camp Airy as a child and went on to work in many positions, including camp counselor, department head, unit leader, director of the boys' camp and associate executive director.

Biggest misconception about the job: It's a summer job and it's all fun and games. He works all year: "Folks don't realize what it takes. It's essentially running a small city."

How he started: While serving as a camp counselor, he realized the impact he could have on children. After getting an undergraduate degree in radio and television, he changed his career path to social work and earned a master's degree in the field. "I thought this makes such a difference. I enjoy it and look forward to it every day. Why would I want to get away from this?"

Camp numbers: Schneider estimates that "tens and tens of thousands" of children have attended the two Jewish camps, which have been in existence for more than 80 years. More than 800 children, ages 7 to 17, are at the camps during the two- , four- and eight-week summer sessions.

Typical day: During the camping season, he lives with his family at Camp Airy, the boys' summer camp. He travels back and forth between Camp Airy and Camp Louise, the girls' camp nine miles away. His day begins at 6:30 a.m. and usually doesn't end until midnight. He oversees the daily operation and management of the camps. Off-season, much of his time is spent recruiting and hiring the more than 400 seasonal people it takes to run the two camps.

The good: "The incredible sense of satisfaction you get. To see the successes of the summer - to see kids that were reluctant or anxious about camp come to you and say, `I don't want to go home.' Or staff that has said to you, `You changed the direction of my career. I want to work with kids now.'"

The bad: Paperwork and not having as much interaction with kids during the summer. "I guess that's why they say it's lonely at the top sometimes."

Philosophy on the job: "To enjoy every day. To relish in the fact that I'm with people that love what they are doing hopefully as much as I do. And I believe they do."

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