Program Instructors 1

The environmental education and retreats field is definitely a unique career path. I’m in my 10th year of being a part of it, and along the way I’ve met my husband, run over 300 different programs, and worked in four different states. I’ve also avoided one of the worst parts of adulthood – paying rent. I’ve always lived and worked at the same place, which is a unique part of the job.

While the outdoor field has many incredible perks, it is also a place full of staff members in transition. Most people do not stay in one place for a long time. There is always another camp somewhere offering a new opportunity and more free rent. Did I mention that these camps are furnished as well? Yet another perk of the job. You can literally pack up your car and go anywhere.

Although living the camp life has its perks, there are also some downsides. The biggest one is all of the goodbyes. All those staff members transitioning to new places means that I’ve met many incredible people along the way, and thanks to Facebook, I’m still in touch with friends I met going way back to 2006. My husband was even the best man at our former co-workers’ wedding last year. I also have a couch to crash on in almost every state if I ever decided to take a road trip. However, this doesn’t make goodbyes any easier.

This year at Frost Valley, we hired some incredible staff, and I was lucky to mentor many of them. Last week we said goodbye to our friend Jen, who has been an instructor here since last year. She’s headed to work at a zoo, and I couldn’t be prouder. This week we will lose one more staff member for a new opportunity, and once again, it’s bittersweet. I want them to learn, grow, and move up in the outdoor field. I want them to be happy. However, they make a huge impact on our community here, as well as all of our guests.

Last month we said goodbye to a staff member that had a huge impact on our program. Her name is Olive, and right now she is in Australia exploring before taking a new opportunity to work closer to her family at home. Olive has an incredible enthusiasm for both creative programming and Girl Scouts. As soon as we met, I knew that we would hit it off, and we absolutely did. Olive taught me to be a better supervisor by challenging some of my leadership, and she also taught me a few things about Girl Scouts. We’ll be running a weekend focused on Journeys next year, and I admit that I had no idea what those were until she explained that part of the program to me.

Creative Box Play With Olive

Above is a video of one of Olive’s programs, called Creative Box Play.  This was during our family Holiday Week in December, and we have continued to run that program since. Who knew that building with boxes could be so much fun? Olive also left a legacy with “Life and Death in the Forest,” or “L&D in the F” as we affectionately referred to it. She is just one example of how our staff leave a legacy on our program. Every weekend I meet guests that ask me about former co-workers of mine, and I love filling them in on what they are doing now. I love that Frost Valley is a stepping stone for many new opportunities. And luckily, we get to keep the programs that they leave behind. I look forward to having Creative Box Play on the schedule for many weekends to come, just as I smile each time I put programs on the schedule that our staff brought to us. I thank each one for their dedication to making weekends so special.

Ashley Ritzheimer

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Ashley Ritzheimer

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