Alumni Spotlight: Pickles!

I’ve been a part of the Camp Benson community for 13 years! I was a camper for 7 years, an SDP for 1 year, a counselor for 2 years and the Health and Wellness Director for 3 years!

When I first started going to camp, I was a scared little kid who had never been away from home for that long of a time. I was a homesick camper, but to this day, I remember my very first counselor who helped me get through it and I am forever thankful for her. Without my first counselor getting me through this hard time, I probably wouldn’t have went back to camp. I started enjoying my time that I had there, doing all of the activities, making new friends, and making some of the best memories that I have as a child. I knew that I wanted to be like my counselor one day.

I signed up for the SDP program once I was old enough to do so. I was only an SDP for one year. I learned what it was like to actually be in charge of campers and what being a counselor was all about. I absolutely loved every second of it. During the summer as an SDP, I also was a KIT for a couple weeks that summer. That was a very different aspect of camp that I had the opportunity of learning.

After being an SDP, I applied to be a counselor in 2011 and 2012. Being a counselor was one of the most rewarding jobs at camp. I wanted to be someone who campers looked up too and I wanted to be one of the best role models that I could be. I wanted to change campers lives. I wanted campers to have the best time possible in my cabin and hopefully I didn’t disappoint. I wanted campers to realize that “unplugging” from technology and being outside in nature and the surrounding environment could have such an impact on their lives. After being a counselor for two years, I took two years off to work at the YMCA in Sterling, IL, at their Day Camp. That was such a different experience than Camp Benson that I’m glad I had the opportunity of doing, but I always knew that my time at Camp Benson wasn’t over.

In 2015, I applied for the Health and Wellness position at Camp Benson and I got it for 2015, 2016, and 2017! I applied for this position because I was in nursing school at SIUE and this would be a different aspect of nursing instead of being in a hospital. I LOVED this position! It was a different part of camp that I will forever cherish.

I graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in May 2017 with my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. My family and I are now in the process of moving to Florida! It’s been a long time coming and we are all so excited! We’ve always wanted to move down to Florida and now that I’m done with college and everything, we finally made the move! I’m waiting to get my Florida license so I can work in my dream job as a Nurse down here!

YMCA Camp Benson will always hold a very special place in my heart. It’s a place that you just can’t describe. I loved every second of every summer that I was there and the memories that I have I will never forget. I am blessed and thankful to forever be a part of the Camp Benson community.

“From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand. From the inside looking out, it’s hard to explain.”


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YMCA Camp Benson

16355 Scenic Palisades Rd.

Mount Carroll, Illinois

Have Questions?

Please contact Gwyn “Mama G” Bemis”

Camp Director


Madison “Pawz” Vandersee

Assistant Camp Director


YMCA Camp Benson