Behind the Scenes of Camp Gonnawannagoagin’

What you don’t know about our Super Woman

Everyone involved has a different perspective about Camp Gonnawanngoagin’. As donors, sponsors, volunteers, counselors, board members, or campers, we all have our own understandings of how the camp operates. Until recently, my personal connection was that I had been a senior counselor for over 10 years, and I did my best to pour my heart and soul into our occasional fundraisers. However, it wasn’t until I accepted a year-round position that I finally had the opportunity to experience the magnitude of Camp Gonnawanngoagin’. I was completely naïve about the intensity of preparation and the degree of travail necessary to pull this off year after year. Above all, I was fundamentally oblivious to the remarkable capacities and efforts of our Executive Director, Pam Clendenen.
Each year, Camp Gonnawanngoagin’ looks relatively similar: Everyone shows up, receives their color-coded schedules, acquires their t-shirts, and heads to their assigned groups where they begin to get to know one another. Soon after, they head to their bus or van and are swept off to whatever activities are scheduled for that day. All in all, it seems relatively simple, right? Wrong. Here is a little glimpse behind the scenes and the one woman behind the proverbial curtain.
Since FACT does not have a permanent campus, every year this woman reinvents the wheel. She brainstorms, she researches, she exhausts all of her contacts, and she engages in one meeting after another until she finds the perfect place to have camp. Once this is done, applications go out. And although spots fill up faster than Paul McCartney tickets are sold, she manages to find a place for the majority of applicants. Once we have campers, we need something for the campers to do. To make this possible, Pam proceeds to contacting every local amusement park, aquarium, zoo, sports facility, farm, bowling alley, skating rink, etc. in order to provide age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate excursions for our campers. Next are the details; behind every schedule, law, safety check point, camper, volunteer, staff member, bus, van, insurance policy requirement, and t-shirt, there is Pam. She averts potential crises and minor mishaps seemingly with ease, while remaining overwhelmingly positive and energetic. The entire process is seemingly endless and too massive to handle, but she does it and she does it well every single year.
Pam Clendenen isn’t the type that would ever give you a laundry list of what she does well while awaiting a pat on the back. I chose to share this with the public with no ulterior motives, but simply because it’s worth sharing- simply because I am impressed. Sometimes it takes even the most perceptive people to truly understand and appreciate what is happening right in front of their faces. It is a reminder to never take certain people in your life for granted, especially the humble ones.
-Lauren Cook