When Camille Ridge was nine years old, her mother received a list of Maine summer camps and notice that Portland Public Schools would distribute $1,000 grants to financially qualifying students and families for summer enrichment. Agassiz Village was at the top of the list and in their price range, so she enrolled
Camille in a two-week session for the summer of 2007. Now, 15 years later, Camille has stepped into the full-time role of Agassiz Village’s Program Director.
Although she was homesick her fist few days at camp, Camille quickly grew to love Agassiz, which she attributes to her counselors.
“They were my role models, I wanted to be just like them.”
Every summer after that first one, Camille went to camp for two sessions, moving into the LIT program in 2013 (then called INSTEP), and joining staff for the first time as a junior counselor in 2014. Since then, Camille has held almost every possible role – moving up the ranks from counselor to Assistant Village Leader, to Village Leader, to Interim Camp Director in 2021, and now our fearless, full-time Program Director.
“Agassiz has always been the one constant in my life.”
Growing with five siblings and a single mother presented its own set of challenges. Recalling childhood memories of frequently moving and attending three different schools, Camille described Agassiz as a “constant” in her life, a second home she could rely on to be there year after year. Becoming a staff member also helped her learn how to be independent and set her sights high.
“Having responsibility and taking care of other campers, it made me want to do more, and keep pushing myself…you’re independent, [but] you’re with this group of supportive people who also want you to achieve all your dreams.”
And Camille did just that. The first of her siblings to finish college, Camille is on track to graduate with a master’s degree in elementary education in 2023, holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary education and psychology, and has realized her dream of being a mentor to kids, first as a teacher, and now as AV’s Program Director.
Camp is important. Camp is powerful. Camille’s story show's us why:
“Agassiz is a community that fosters kids to achieve their dreams.”