Q&A with Camp Hale Director Jerrell Cox
We sat down with Jerrell Cox, Director of Camp Hale, to learn more about the work he is doing to equip the next generation of leaders. Jerrell first came to USES and Camp Hale as a camper in 1994 and has not missed a summer since. Jerrell held multiple positions in our youth programs before becoming the Director of Camp Hale in 2009.
Tell us about your first summer at Camp Hale.
I remember stepping off the bus and being amazed by how tall the trees were and how fresh the air was. Growing up in the city,
I had never seen anything that could compare to Squam Lake. I will never forget my first summer, but what really sticks with me is that second summer. When I got off that bus I felt confident and knowledgeable and I had goals. I wanted to hike the six peaks, win the award for cabin clean up, and earn the respect of my counselors. I wanted to be a good friend and I wanted to push myself to do better than the year before.
How will Camp Hale evolve under Vision 125?
Vision 125, at its core, is about setting every child and family up for success by increasing their resources, building their resilience, and helping them develop relationships that will open new doors. Through the implementation of our strategic plan, we will be doubling down on these outcomes by expanding to investing in our facilities and growing to year-round programming. We will also be serve 300 youth per summer by 2021.
Why do you think that getting kids outdoors is so critical for youth development?
Kids’ lives today are so fast paced, they don’t have time to sit and reflect. There’s something about being out in nature – sitting on the dock and looking at the stars or watching the sunlight on the lake – that puts you at peace. Those moments give you the opportunity to take a deep breath and think about who you are and who you want to be.
What do you want every camper to take home from Camp Hale?
We have a beautifully diverse group of people at Camp Hale. I want every single person to leave Camp Hale with respectful, loving relationships with people who look different from them and come from different experiences. I want them to embrace both their similarities and their differences. Camp Hale has continued to expose me to people who live very different lives than I do, and every day those relationships help me build the person I am.
How is Camp Hale preparing youth to become leaders?
Every child needs a role model who has high expectations but can relate to him or her on various levels. We know that every child has the potential to achieve whatever they set their mind to and we help them get there. Our goals are that each camper will leave Camp Hale better equipped to solve problems, encourage their peers to use their voice, and take steps to prevent a problem before it occurs. When you teach a child that he or she is capable of setting goals, pushing themselves, and succeeding, they will want to challenge themselves and will help their peers do the same.
When you teach a child that he or she is capable of setting goals...they will want to challenge themselves and will help their peers do the same."