Shibley Feels Like Family

My name is Michael Livoti. I’ve worked at Shibley Day Camp for the past two summers as an Adventure Park Specialist, and I love it. I love the people. I love the environment. I love the place. It’s a community that I’m proud to be a part of.

As an Adventure Park Specialist, my team and I oversee the junior and senior Adventure Parks.

I first heard about Shibley during the pandemic. I had lost my job, and was struggling to find a new one. I was talking to a friend of mine, and she, a previous camper and later counselor at Shibley, thought it would be a good place for me to apply.

It seemed reasonable enough. I mean, it would only be a summer job. I thought, I’ll go, make a little cash, get some sun, and then when the summer ends, I’m off to other things.

When my friend said to me, that not only was she still close with a few of the people at Shibley, but even described a couple of them as “family,” I was a little taken aback. I had gone to camp as a kid, and I never made any long-lasting relationships with anyone. In fact, I barely even fit in when I went.

I’ve always been someone who’s suffered from anxiety. So when I was a kid, one of the hardest parts was trying to overcome my own trepidations of the “unknown”. Finding the courage to push myself, and try the things I didn’t think I could do. I would be plagued with these thoughts at camp, and in many ways, it’s what isolated me from everyone else.

When I first got to Shibley, what struck me immediately was the ambience that resonated throughout the whole camp. Within seconds, you’re overcome by the green of the trees, the smell of fresh air, and the quiet of nature. You’ve left the world of the suburbs behind, and entered Shibley. 

Sometimes we would have campers come to Adventure Park, and I would see that same fear that would get the better of me, also overcome them. That desperation to conquer their fear, and the anguish when they couldn’t push themselves through. This always hit me the hardest, because I knew that feeling. But what made Shibley so special, and different from when I went to camp, is the support from not only the staff, but the campers. Everyone at Shibley is there to encourage each other, no matter what the activity or skill they are struggling through. I saw that encouragement first hand, and how sometimes that alone was all the camper needed to take that chance.

There was something truly amazing about a kid finding the courage to climb the Rockwall, zip on the zipline, or sometimes just do something as simple as watching them get suited up and take a few steps out. Being a part of that moment for them, seeing the joy on their faces, the cheers from their friends, there’s nothing quite like it.