5 Questions for 5 Instructors

In this week’s blog post, we’ll do a little Q&A with a random selection of Berkshire Outdoor Center instructors. They each got to answer five questions and in typical form, had a wide range of responses to our inquiries, from thoughtful to silly and sarcastic to meaningful – a lot like the mix of folks who make the magic happen every spring here in the Berkshires. Happy reading!

This is Sarah Malcolm, she’s from England:

Goes by "Malcs" since she's officially our third Sarah on staff this season.
Goes by “Malcs” since she’s officially our third Sarah on staff this season.

1. How did you come to be a BOC instructor for Spring 2013?

My lovely big brother pulled me across the pond and after months of anticipation between my application and visa process, I’ve finally joined the BOC family!

2. What has been the most challenging thing about working at BOC?

I think initially it was just trying to adapt to a completely new set up in a very different time zone. After I got used to that I faced the real challenge of learning all of the “ecologies” (beaver ecology, pond ecology, forest and bog ecology,) which I thought I had left behind me forever when I finished school! It was a nice challenge, though.

3. Is working with your brother a pro or a con?

Seeing my brother for the first time in almost two years has been awesome and being able to shadow him at what he does best has made me very proud. I can now see why he didn’t want to come home! I have also noticed that I have picked up too many of his traits already!

4. What have our BOC guests taught you during your time here?

I have learnt the value of teamwork. And I mean that in the least cliche way possible! When being forced to do team building at school, I never fully saw the point in it. However, watching the children and other guest here completely evolve after working to achieve tasks together, I have learnt how valuable and special that experience can be.

5. How will your experience working BOC impact your life in the future?

I think I will take a positive working attitude with me into future employment and even into life outside of work. It’s clear to see how much everyone enjoys being and working here and that spirit makes it an addicting environment to work in. So far, I have been having an amazing time with such awesome new experience up my sleeve and have learnt that no matter how many s’mores you have, you’ll never feel s’matisfied.

This is Kyle Sauerbrunn, he’s from Massachusetts:

See how happy Kyle is, even though it's raining? This is normal. He's so happy!
See how happy Kyle is, even though it’s raining? This is normal. He’s so happy!

1. How did you come to be a BOC instructor?

In 2010, I realized there was no time to waste in finding my dream job. Between 1999 and 2008, I had spent every summer at Camp Becket, so when the time came, I realized BOC was the perfect fit – it was my favorite place, and it was never closed.

2. What has been the most valuable thing you’ve gotten out of your time working at BOC?

The natural environment provides everyone the opportunity to teach. I have learned fascinating things and shared invaluable experiences with participants and coworkers alike in the woods, on the ponds and all across our property.

3. If you could change BOC in one way, what would it be?

BOC instructors are smart, talented and funny, but I think it’s time we put Benjamin Beaver through staff training so he can teach us the ultimate Beaver Ecology lesson.

4. Why do you believe you job here is important?

A sense of place in the natural world is a part of a good foundation for life. I believe it is important to develop this placehood and share the many ways it connects us with others and the world when we part from BOC.

5. How would your mother or grandfather describe your job to someone else? What do they think you’re up to out here?

After returning from my 2nd BOC season, I built a geodesic dome in my mom’s backyard. She would describe this job as a bonanza of creativity. As for Grandpa, I once told him about shelter building with a group of kids so he thinks we sleep outside and he says a prayer for all BOC participants every time it rains.

This is Lilah Shepard, she’s from Massachusetts but goes to school in Louisiana where it’s warm year-round and that makes her very, very smart:

Last week was training and this week she's in it up to her eyeballs!
Last week was training and this week she’s in it up to her eyeballs!


1. How did you come to be a BOC Instructor this season?

I’ve been going to camp at Chimney Corners since I was 11 and I’ve been a counselor for a few summers, too. This summer I won’t be back at camp and this was a great way for me to get my “camp fix” and experience the spring season at BOC for myself!

2. What’s been the most surprising thing about working at BOC?

That it’s even more beautiful here this time of year than it is in the summer – hard to believe, I know, but it’s true!

3. What were you doing before you got here and what will you do next?

I was at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, finishing my sophomore year. After BOC, I’m going to St. Paul, MN, to live for the summer. A new adventure!

4. Have you learned anything from any of our BOC guests while you’ve been here?

Our guests are constantly reinforcing the incredible power of a positive attitude. With every new challenge, I am always amazed to see how far positivity can go to create real change.

5. What has been the most meaningful experience of the season for you?

Easy. Becoming acquainted with the BRILLIANT SARAH MALCOLM!

This is Will Malcolm, the aforementioned big brother of Sarah and also the teacher of rope coiling from a post a few weeks back:

Will is modeling our Spring 2013 staff t-shirts. Ooh, v-neck, so fancy!
Will is modeling our Spring 2013 staff t-shirts. Ooh, v-neck, so fancy!

1. As our 18-month J-1 Trainee, give us one sentence, phrase or word about each season you’ve worked here:

Spring 2012: “warm“; Summer 2012: “Becket“; Fall 2012: “red“; Winter 2013: “skiing“; Spring 2013: “MOSQUITOES

2. How will you use your BOC traineeship experience after you leave us?

I’m eager to help kids around the world have fun and absorb the value and wonder of nature; especially kids in Africa and Asia.

3. What has been a challenge to you during your time here and how have you dealt with it?

Being an ol’ English boy in a big country has been surprising. I’ve dealt with it by putting on weight.

4. What has been most surprising about your time here?

The number of positive work evaluations I’ve gotten from guests based solely on my accent has been amazing. That, and how many fish I’ve caught.

5. When you are 100 years old, what will you still love to reminisce about during your time at BOC?

I don’t plan to make it to 100. I’ll be lucky to get to 28…

This is Emily Brewster Mullen, she’s from Massachusetts (which means your author didn’t take a very random sample of instructors at all,) but spends as much time as her bank account will allow outside the borders of the grand old USofA:

Mullen's power animal is the mighty beaver. Like the elusive beaver, Mullen dislikes being photographed. (Thanks for making an exception for the blog, Mull.)
Mullen’s power animal is the beaver. Like the elusive beaver, Mullen dislikes being photographed. (Thanks for making an exception for the blog, Mull.)

1. Share a brief history of your involvement with the Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA:

I’m a long time Chimney girl, a former TSP leader and had an exciting interlude as the Becket Day Camp staff coordinator in 2012. I’ve been a Berkshire Outdoor Center loyalist since 2002.

2. What brings you back to this place and this job?

The springtime – it’s so green and lush here! It is the best time for all of our ecology lessons and is the season when you’re most likely to see a beaver. The days keep getting longer and longer. Why would you want to be anywhere else?

3. What were you doing before you came here and what are your plans for after the season ends?

Before I arrived, I was exploring the southern hemisphere and working in Australia with the YMCA there. When BOC wraps up for the season, I’ll return to Aus to work with tripping based adventure programs. I’m working on an endless summer – or maybe it’s more like a winterless year?

4. What is the most valuable thing you think we do for our BOC guests?

We give them the opportunity to try something new. When they’re here, they can have positive interactions with peers in different and exciting ways. We work with them to create opportunities for success and that changes people.

5. If you were in charge, how would you grow, add to or change BOC?

I would encourage more groups to utilize our overnight shelters, I’d solicit more corporate groups to do retreats here and would hire more tall people.

Well, that’s all for this week. I hope you got the sense that our staff is comprised of people from different backgrounds and places who come together to work hard, make an impact, impart passion for healthy relationships and healthy environments and have a really fantastic time doing it. I sometimes think the staff are changed as much by working here as the guests are by visiting. It’s a pretty great thing. We’re proud. 


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