There are really only two true paths in life, go all in, or get left out. If you simply hang out in the middle, you don’t give much, or get much in return. But find your purpose, take pride in who you are and what gift you can bring to this dance of your existence – show courage, provide hope, lend inspiration – and now you are taking on life and taking others with you on the journey. Then you have a tale to tell.
Everyone has a story.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (67): For The Kids
They are our greatest resource, our finest gift, our future. Our children. And for most of her adult life, Arlene Streisand has devoted her time to making sure they are fulfilled.
Ten years as a teacher. A devoted mother of two boys. A resource for caregivers and for the past twenty years making sure that parents and their children can slumber in peace and happiness.
Arlene is a specialist – for summer camps. But this is not a commercial for a business, it’s about a woman with a higher purpose, and an army of “mommies” helping families to figure it out. After all the right camp can change your life, especially a sleep away camp.
“Camp makes an impact”, says Arlene. “My best friend is from camp. I’ve known my friend Susan since I was nine years old and I met her at camp. It’s a life experience you can’t get anywhere else. It’s 100 percent about friendship, independence and responsibility. It’s like a 24/7 play date.”
For Arlene is has been a life-long passion for children. “I’ve always worked with kids”, says Arlene. “I was a teacher for 10 years, had children, (two sons), and then I opened up a nanny placement service while living in Manhattan. I helped parents find caregivers for their kids. When my kids became camp age an interviewer came to our home and he asked me what I did. I told him I recruit nannies from the Midwest and place them with families in the Northeast. He asked me if I could recruit some men to work as staff at his sports camp in Massachusetts. That was my entrance into the camping world. I sold my nanny business and worked on the staff end of the camp business for eight years, building my knowledge and relationships with camp directors. Moms started asking me questions, and I said I think I have a new thing here and I started consulting with families.”
Not just consulting with families, Arlene started building her mommy army. She developed an organization of representatives, mothers in the various camp communities who could recruit the families interested in the Camp Specialists service. She currently has more than a dozen mothers who work with her and serve as reps in their communities. These are young mothers who are actively involved in their community through schools, places of worship, different social organizations… they bring in “leads”, the families who want to send their kids to overnight camps. And for the families it is invaluable, after all the service to them is FREE.
Arlene says, “we like helping children find that perfect experience because the right camp can help them succeed in future life experiences. Camp makes an impact. I have relationships with camp directors and I know the camps. I know what your neighbor or relative doesn’t know, just because someone recommends a camp to you doesn’t mean it’s the right camp for your child. There are so many different options: number of weeks, elective vs traditional camps, price and location. We help to narrow down the choices and take the stress out of looking and the planning process.” (http://campspecialists.com/), (https://www.facebook.com/CampSpecialists?fref=ts)
The mothers who assist Arlene have to be top-notch, with the same focus and dedication to the children and their families. “It’s very hard to find good people as reps”, says Arlene. “They have to be smart and savvy and very well-connected socially to their community. I’m looking for a very special person, she has to have it all.”
One of those “special” women, (and how I learned about this unique service and Arlene’s mission/business), is Dori Popkin Chait. Dori who was also a camper, says she loved camp, it was, as Dori describes, “my happy place. I gained the most independence, confidence and the best friends at camp.” Dori is ready to help others share that experience and she fits the profile Arlene is looking for… top-notch. Dori has degrees in finance and social work. Now a stay-at-home mother of two young children, (and let’s face it that is the world’s toughest job), Dori says being a camp rep and part of the mommy army who helps recruit is a natural fit, because she is a “helper by nature”. Not only working to recruit families to help them with camp, Dori is also one of the chairs for next week’s Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital Gala in Baltimore and the newly appointed secretary of the PTA for her boys school. Give back, get involved, be connected. It’s what Dori does and it’s what Arlene looks for in the mommies she hires to help.
Arlene wants the best of the best because for her this work is seven days a week. “I’m always on it”, she says. “What drives me is I want to do right by my families. We have a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience and we have a lot of privileged information that the average person does not know. When you are dealing with something for your children and your family you should really explore it to the fullest. It’s hard to do on your own because there are so many choices and types of camps and different directors and so many possibilities of what could be right for your children. We know it all.”
And that knowledge and caring is what Arlene wants to make sure other people know about. She services families, for free all over the US and even internationally – placing kids from countries like Mexico, Spain, France, Latin America, just to name a few, some of them who come here to just to learn to speak English.
And it’s that language of love Arlene is looking to share and promote. It is in her blood to love, serve and care and she believes camp can be part of that experience for a child. “I have a lot of good memories about my camp”, says Arlene. “My first boyfriend, my first kiss was at camp. I did the swim mile test and got my first certificate for it, the athletics and being away from home. Gaining my independence and responsibility and friendships, the great friendships.”
It is this same experience Arlene and the mommies who help her want others to share. They are the specialists and there is a reason you call it a service, it is about serving, helping, and caring all focused on a great outcome. When you can do that for a child, and put a parent’s mind at ease, everyone wins.
And every small victory in life matters, especially for our children.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.
Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Speech Writer, Emmy Winner, Financial Services
Author: The #1 Amazon Best-Seller: It Takes Two. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story
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