The following blog submission is written by Foley alumnus, Gaby Driessen. Gaby is the daughter of, Martha Lopez, who was among the first “class” of female Foley campers back in 1974! As a second-generation Foley-ite, Gaby spent 9 summers with us as a camper, and 2 as a counselor. She truly embraced the time she spent at camp. Read on as Gaby reflects on how she has managed to carry that “Foley feeling” into adulthood:
“I am literally obsessed with Camp Foley. If I could be a camper and/or staff for the rest of my life, I would do it, and I would obviously reside in either Pocahontas (so much closet space) or Mingo (because why not?). Last spring when I was faced with that notorious decision of what to do after graduating from college, I knew that I had to choose something that either a) revolved around Foley, or b) I could love as much as Foley. In a super risky move on my part, I opted to not go with option A and attempted to go for the latter. I am almost six months into my first out-of-college-job, and I am realizing that somehow I managed to combine the two.
“My first “real world” job at Friends of the Orphans (www.friendsoftheorphans.org/sponsorship) might as well be a full-time Foley job-based in Chicago. While there is no Marina, no soda bread, and definitely no large field games (currently picturing myself and Maddi McCrea leading a game of Capture the Flag in Millennium Park…awkward, but awesome), one common factor between Foley and Friends is their respective missions. ‘The mission of Camp Foley is to partner with parents to develop confident, responsible, and respective youth who gain skills and have fun through a quality camp experience in a youth-centered community’ (totally still know it by heart, boom). The mission of Friends is similar: ‘Friends of the Orphans is dedicated to improving the lives of orphaned, abandoned and disadvantaged children through the support of the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH, Spanish for ‘Our Little Brothers and Sisters’) network of orphanages in Latin America and the Caribbean.’ Specifically, Friends help transform the lives of NPH children by teaching them the values of unconditional love, shared responsibility, and education. Character traits anyone? I believe that Responsibility and Sharing were purple and red beads, so I think my job’s mission deserves at least 2 beads in the bucket.
“The biggest skill similarity between the two is cultivating relationships. As a counselor, it is extremely important to connect with both campers and fellow staff members. Here at Friends, we fundraise, and the best practice for fundraising is cultivating relationships with current donors, new donors, and potential donors. I have noticed that as I learn how to communicate and connect with our donor base at work, I am becoming much better at doing the same within the Foley network. If I can connect myself to someone that I am just meeting through a fellow Foley-ite, boom, they are my new best friend. And I am totally guilty of #FoleyFriendGroupTexting [text messaging camp friends] at least once a day. Sorry, I am so not sorry for filling up your inbox, guys.
“But the most important similarity is how great I feel about my job. While I was a counselor at Foley, I would wake up every single day with a smile on my face (I mean, how can you not when Katie Rehani is the one waking you up in the mornings?). Even on the gloomy days where I was not able to send the kids out to sail, I looked forward to playing one of the plethoras of indoor sailing games – who doesn’t like a fun and competitive round of Sailing Jeopardy?! By day 3 of working at Friends, I found that I was waking up with those same feelings of excitement and happiness. Excitement, because at my job every day is different, every day I acquire a new skill, and every day I am excited to go off to work. Happiness, because knowing that my job is helping children have childhood is probably one of the greatest feelings I have ever felt.
My Foley #fomo [fear of missing out] may never go away, but the fact that I have found myself in a position that allows me to continue helping children have a childhood, but at the same time grow into wonderful and educated individuals, is just plain awesome.”
– By Gaby Driessen