Common Ground relies on over 65 staff to create safe, fun, rich adventures and learning opportunities during our summer camps.This summer, 23 of these summer camp leaders are current students or alumni of Common Ground High School.

“We have found that if a student from Common Ground High School works at our camp or after school programs, they bring with them a very deep understanding of not only our site, but also our curriculum,” explained Rebecca Holcombe, Director of Community Programs. “From Junior Counselors, to teenage Camp Counselors, to college-age Summer Interns, to Camp Teachers, it’s amazing to watch these young adults climb a ladder of leadership.”

Many Common Ground students turned camp staff get their start working through Green Jobs Corp, Common Ground’s youth employment program. “Students will work in our Kids Unplugged after-school programs and really love their experience, so they will either request to work in the camp as a Green Jobs Cops member or come back to work in camp as an alumni,” said Tom Gaudioso, Green Jobs Corp Program Manager.

You can read what three Common Ground Alumni had to say about their camp experiences below.

Mike Crenshaw, Class of 2014
Common Ground Camp Counselor

1. How are you connected to Common Ground? What are you studying in college?

I graduated from Common Ground this spring. (Check out a video Mike and other seniors produced on using sports to address violence in New Haven.) For three years while at Common Ground, I worked in Kids Unplugged and Summer Camp. I’m attending Gateway Community College in New Haven in the fall. Then, I am on to a four year college to study Early Childhood Development.

2. What has been your experience at Common Ground’s camp?

I was really influenced by my time at Common Ground to study Early Childhood Development in college. After working in Kids Unplugged my Freshman year I realized how much I liked working with kids. It really brought out my inner child.

3. What will you take away with you after working at Common Ground?

Both going to school at Common Ground and working here has taught me that you really need have good time management skills. That’s crucial to being successful. Working with kids has taught me the importance being flexible and staying positive. When you’re working with kids, you can’t be in a bad mood because they will pick up on that. You always have to be cheerful. I think I will take those skills away with me.

4. What has been your favorite memory or experience at Common Ground?

I love going on hikes with the campers. Yhey get so excited and then feel so accomplished when we’re finished — it’s awesome to see. I also feel like I’ve served as a role model for campers. That is a huge honor, and something I want to keep up throughout my life.

Lanissa Gardner, Class of 2013
Common Ground Camp Intern

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1. How are you connected to Common Ground? What have you been doing since graduation?

I went to Common Ground and graduated in 2013. (Watch a video Lanissa and her classmates produced, applying what they learned in AP Calculus to Common Ground’s compost pile.) Now, I attend University of Connecticut and I’m studying Teaching and Environmental Education.

2. What has been your experience at Common Ground’s camp?

I have gotten to work with the Eco Explorers while at camp and Common Ground’s after school program through Green Jobs Corps. Both have been really great experiences and made me realize I want to work with kids.

3. What will you take away with you after working at Common Ground?

I will take away all of the people I have met, from the campers to the camp staff and my teachers. Every relationship I have built here has been really enriching.

4. What has been your favorite memory or experience at Common Ground?

Watching the kids learn discover new things- those are my favorite memories and they happen every day.

Monifa Jones, Class of 2010
Camp Teacher

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1. How are you connected to Common Ground? What has been youth path since graduation?

I went to school at Common Ground and graduated in 2010. I now attend Southern Connecticut State University where I am studying to be a correctional officer with the Juvenile Justice System. I really want to work with the kids that need the most support.

2. What has been your experience at Common Ground’s camp?

My experience has been wonderful at Common Ground. When I was a student I loved it here, and now as an employee, I have a deeper appreciation for the organization. Working and being a student at Common Ground really inspired me to pursue my career path and I’m now working on getting my Master’s Degree.

3. What will you take away with you after working at Common Ground?

I think an appreciation for working with kids, and getting to see the world through their eyes has been inspiring. Everything is filled with wonder. And it has definitely taught me how to have patience!

4. What has been your favorite memory or experience at Common Ground?

My favorite times are when campers are faced with something they don’t want to do and they conquer that fear, that’s a pretty cool thing to be a part of. I also love everyone I get to meet and interact with and you really get to know your colleagues.