Carly Robinson and Brian Ball

Recorded August 6, 2013 Archived August 6, 2013 35:14 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: atl001959


Brian Ball (15) interviews his camp counselor and supervisor Carly Robinson (39). Carly talks to Brian about her love for the outdoors and her passion for teaching summer camp. Carly also opens up about being bullied during in her childhood.

Subject Log / Time Code

Carly began camping after a college trip to the outdoors. Fell in love with camping.
Carly talks abut her love for teaching and running a summer camp.
Carly talks about helping one of her campers overcome her fears of the outdoors.
Brian talks about his Outward Bound camping experience in the Mountains of North Carolina.
Carly talks about being bullied during her school years and how this impacted her work with campers today.
Carly dreams to visit all seven continents.


  • Carly Robinson
  • Brian Ball

Recording Location

Atlanta History Center

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type




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00:07 Okay, my name is Brian ball on 15. Today is August 6th 2013 when Atlanta and I'm interviewing my director with Carly and I Carly Robinson. I am 39. It's August 6th in Atlanta History Museum and I am the camp director of Brian's camp and boss and so much more.

00:33 Okay, so I've known you for about 2 years on a work relationship. So how long have you been working in the outdoors? I fell in love with the outdoors. The first time I ever slept outside. I was 19 and a whole new world was opened up to me at 19 and it was it was it was love and I started working in the outdoors. Actually that summer I was a freshman in college at Auburn University and saw table on the quad and it said backpacking Auburn Trail and paddle school and I went up and I was decked out in my sorority girl stuff and so not an outdoorsy girl, but loved it knew I was missing something in life and went on my first backpacking and rock climbing trip.

01:28 And loved it and and started pursuing the outdoor field and got a job that summer working at Philmont Boy Scout ranch in New Mexico. And that was continued working in the outdoors from that point forward every summer. Okay. So have the outdoors that career has it like took you anywhere outside of the United States. I went to I worked as a backpacking instructor in Wyoming and

02:01 In the early nineties and one of the trips that we took took us to Vancouver British Columbia in Canada. I've done traveling personally, but not that was the only work trip and we got to go see kayaking around the islands at their beautiful hug a cool. So what was what would be like your your favorite memory of being either a teacher or student Outdoors?

02:31 There's so many memories being able to see kids and I've always been a teacher and I love working with kids and the lightbulb moments when they get it or when they realize what they've accomplished something that they didn't think they could every one of those is is why I do it the memories I think of one cuz there's there's good ones and there's bad ones. When you when you camp Outdoors, it's not always Sunshine's and rainbows it sometimes thunderstorms. And yes, you've been there yet. But like is is there one that you talk about? Sometimes that you tell other people like you tell us some time like is there everyone that you you share often? Like one that may be your first one is it was that amazing? My first one was horrible. My first camping trip was was I mean I fell in love with it, but I didn't sleep. I was petrified of what was outside of my

03:31 I thought that every leaf Russell was a bear that was going to tear down the tent we weren't even in Bear Country, but that was what I was imagining and book but the feeling of being outside and and getting to experience the outdoors was so worth it that I got over the sleeping issue and sleeping in a tent and eventually got over the fear of it. But you know working at camp. Where can you camp Kiwanis with the Boys & Girls Clubs, that's amazing. And when I get to see like taking these kids on night hikes, it's probably some of my favorite things to do. I don't get to go during the summer camp cuz you guys leave them during summer camp, but you you know what? It's like when when the kids scared to go and when they come back or even Wednesday night when they camp out they don't want to do it they're crying and they're scared just like I was my first night but so proud of themselves once they accomplish it and

04:30 That's always a favorite moment. There is one story and it's turns out to be a good one. But there was it mean it's City kids. It's kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of metro Atlanta. So they're City kids are coming out to the woods experience in camp summer camp for the first time and we had a group from the Jones Boys & Girls Club that came out and we took them on the the boys night hike Trail down near Flat Rock and foxbridge and little girl was tugging on my arm. She was probably 10 years old and she said Miss Carly do know the know them and I know who she said to the people in the woods and I looked at her and I looked in the woods and I said to you see somebody in the woods and she said no, but I know they're there and I said darling there's there's nobody in the woods where you know, we got a hundred and sixty Acres out here and I know it's in these woods and there's not any people out here and she

05:30 Trusted me and believed in me and overcame those fears and ended up doing a solo night hike down to the Fort James and was very proud of herself the next day and we do our debriefs in the evening and she was so proud that she did that and couldn't wait to go home and tell her mom that she walked in the Woods by herself by that make you feel it made me feel really good night because I was able to

05:57 Get her to do something that she would probably have never done. Otherwise, yeah, so can't Kiwanis. So you just came in right after Mr. Lee just took their time and ran with it. So did you have any like fears when you first started working so many fears? Mr. Lee and Mister Mike before me had such a huge impact on Camp. I mean, they created it created the program and everybody love them. And that's what I want. And I want, you know, when I retire in 30 years, I want the people to have the memories that I have. So it was big shoes to fill, but I had come to UGA the University of Georgia for my Master's Degree and was working with Sandy Creek Nature Center in Sandy Creek Park and really loved being in the outdoors and you know ran programs for the park and volunteer coordinator for the Nature Center and found this job.

06:57 How about the American Camp Association online and it was 10 minutes from where I live. So my commute went from 30 minutes cuz I lived in Danielsville when I got the job and my commute from 30 minutes all the way to Athens to 10 minutes to the camp and I got there knew that that was this my dream job when I was little I was like what you want to be when you grow up and after after teacher and an actress I wanted to I wanted to run my own summer camp and and now I get to and it's it's amazing cuz I get to meet people like you that you found some pictures of you not too long ago as a camper and you were so little back then and to be able to see you grow up in the program, and I've I've been there for four years now and watching you.

07:47 As a camper move into the leadership position as of Philly Tater and training us in a lot and hopefully a lot more to come. I want to see you being instructor and accounts there one day and that's you know, you guys are such a special place in my heart because watching you guys grow I have a stepson but no children of my own and I'm a proud mama of you guys cuz watching you grow up in the program is is really heartwarming. I'm doing something right. I must be like, I've been up for a while having as a camper. How old were you when you started coming 9?

08:29 Yes, and I was a bird and it was just amazing. And my first time was probably my favorite summer because that's when a lot of kids for my club came and it was like it was pretty cool. You remember your counselor? No, I only remember my my last if I do I'm on my last if I T and the one before that it was Cameron and

08:52 Vontarrius. Yeah, they both were Camp staff with you this summer. Yeah, it's cool. So my favorite son was my first one. What what is your favorite flowers for first one your favorite summer because it was I never knew like I just signed up for it because of something different is for something for me to do there in the summer. And when I came it was like everybody was so nice and it was just like it was much different than being at the Boys & Girls Club for a full week and the food with that was fantastic and then we got to do things like running the woods. We got to make s'mores who made her own fire. Like I've never I never did that kind of stuff and let the previous summer so far with it was amazing as being in a lot but my first summer might have to be my favorite. So what what is your favorite song was that it's always the most recent sound like after 4 years there my first two summers work.

09:52 Scary, you know his new job and new in a big shoes to fill but every year has gotten so much better. And this year was a fabulous summer really great staff good morale really good camaraderie. And even though it rained and rained and rained and rained we weren't able to get in the river to go kayaking or fishing or swimming or creek locks people still have really High Spirits and we had fun anyway on slip and slides and imaginary Creek Walton noodle hockey noodle hockey. That was a good one. So summer gets better and next summer is probably going to be fantastic. What what are you trying to build act? Like, what are you trying to get camp? Like, what are you trying to?

10:41 We don't want it to go. Yeah, I would love to see it being used a lot more there. So many city kids that don't get the opportunity to go out and do the camp experience. I'm we do have weakened groups the hook only 52 weekends in a year and I'd love to see a group of Boys & Girls Club kids up there every weekend if possible. I want it to be used during the week day and working with the local schools that's happening. We're able to get them out there and the garden and the garden was the new thing this year. I'm so we're working with the local schools to get them out during the day and next time we're going to have chickens. Yeah. I'm excited about that the chicken coop that we built this summer will get the chickens next timer. But you know, I see a fishing pond One Day More Villages more kids more more opportunities for the kids to people that have

11:40 Parents like you had fun when you when you think of your favorite Camp experience. Is there one thing that stands out or is it a collection of the memories?

11:50 Probably my clanmates.

11:54 Yeah, it was probably my clanmates are like two of them for from my club and everybody it was like we were just like our family was like this this bond that click that it immediately and it was just like two people act different than they do at your Club. I mean, I don't know it was just where do you think the Bond comes from?

12:16 I don't know it was we just did everything together. We slept together. We took our showers at the same time and it was just like we were

12:25 As we were doing stuff we were like right there for each other. So when anything ever happened it was more like

12:32 Ike at the Boys & Girls Club somebody did something they try to like put you to the side like yeah, he did it. I'm cute. I'm keeping him but at Camp it was more like

12:42 We all took the responsibility for something if it was like

12:47 I don't know you were team. Yeah, it was even though you're only there for 5 days you felt like you would form to bond and then

12:57 The the next year sometimes our clubs came back on the same week. We went in the same Clan, but I saw them and we remembered each other there are faces and it was pretty cool to see them and then some of them even when we work together like it's very cool amazing.

13:17 So

13:18 How how was it? How was it like working with the Boys & Girls Club? I've never had a job like this. I've often been a backpacking instructor. I've worked with the Boy Scouts and I've worked with some very Upper Crust privileged kids that didn't really appreciate the opportunities that they were given that the camps that I work at before. They paid a lot of money to come to the camps and a lot of them were sent off by Mom and Dad I think for whatever reason but this

13:57 Camp is just so different because the kids really appreciate the opportunity and it's so outside of most of them comfort zone that

14:06 When I first started I was like I'm not going to be able to teach them anything. And then after my first group came out I was like, you know, if they've never built the fire, they never put a worm on a hook. They've never swim in a river. That was one kid that when we we we go tubing in the river, they thought we got on when we got on our inner tubes and floated Downriver they want it. They thought we were going to get off at the same place. We put in like the lazy river at Six Flags White Water, but the river doesn't go in a circle 8 goes all the way to Savannah. So it just the opportunity to expose the Metro Atlanta kids to the Wilderness is is awesome being able to get their hands in the dirt catching bugs hunting for worms is seeing fireflies at night. See you in the stars for the first time really seeing the Stars. We don't catch that in the city now and I've had two different opportunities in 4 years to be looking and pointing at the

15:06 It's God had shooting stars right there. You remember that? I remember that one like the color changing one. That was it. That was crazy. Was he a comment went through that must fear? Not a comment, but it hit the atmosphere and blue outfit Maitland. But yeah, that's what they say. So so did you know what you were going to major in when you went? I knew I was going to be a teacher since second grade and the Power of Words is so amazing. I had my second grade teacher at one point how to stall in class and she was like, what are we going to do next? When I raise my hand and said, why don't we name the seven continents? And she was all that's a great idea Carly you'll make a great teacher and from that moment on his second grade and I'm sure it was a passing thought she hardly didn't mean much by it, but it changed my direction and I realize now that was one sentence one day in one.

16:06 That change my life path and we have that opportunity every day at Camp Kiwanis to say one thing give somebody that one glimmer of hope and if one of your co-workers Joey, you know, his recently discovered his love for the outdoors and his talent it explaining the Wilderness to other people and as I think his life path is turned as well and just reward Bound for you. How did it compare to summer camp?

16:44 I don't think is it was more I had no idea what was going to happen. It was I tried to make assumptions and like guess on what we will be doing for a week in the airline amazed off of Allen conversation. And once I saw we like really had to carry the only food we eat is what we had.

17:06 Like we had to filter the creek water if we wanted some clean water and there was no indoor plumbing. You thought it was rough at Camp until you experience that word Bound school and then it was our mapping comes like critical because if we got lost they didn't tell us we would just be lost for hours and we got lost twice and the second time was the worst because we were gone for hours just walking in the woods and it was like and then we started fussing and complaining at each other and we were going to do the the norming storming performing stages and it was it was it was eye-opening to see that even a group of co-workers that know each other. Well enough can still have issues when they're putting a certain situation like it was but at the end of it it was it was amazing. I guess it was because the things that we did in the order that we did it it was Mark that I did that

18:06 We went rock climbing the first day and then like on the last day we didn't do it like anything like exciting to bring it all back it would have been.

18:17 We would have remembered. It just would have been as exciting like after after rock climbing everything meant.

18:26 That view and in the trusting each other with the balang. It was crazy. It was it was something it was something I would recommend just about anybody. Did you realize you were going through the storming stage? As you were going through it only only Jamel and I did we night time after dinner. We were going to go put everything on the bear hang and me and Jamel step aside and we watched everybody fussing each other. They walked by it was it was funny, but it was funny and we just watched and we were like, yep, we're going to the storming stage and that the next day was our challenge where we had to get to that the spot at a certain time. If we argued if you didn't stay together, we would have to go to the next camping site. And the more we are here as long as we had to do it. We did not argue. We stayed together. We met groups all the time and it was just like that was our final day and I think that's probably

19:26 My best days together and I learned a lot about somebody I learned a lot about everybody about how they how they deal with.

19:37 Not taking showers being like having to listen to somebody else having to like not be a leader but a follower in the at the point and we are all like leaders at a certain point during the summer at Camp because that's what you have to do. But when you put a whole bunch of us in one group,

19:56 It's like knocking heads left and right but what makes warms my heart listening to you talk about the leadership qualities because being in The Linc program that leaders and Nature's Kingdom program at camp.

20:12 You know, there's times when we do our leadership trainings one weekend a month, there's times when I'm teaching you guys about the stages of group development. And you know, y'all are looking at me glazed over in your eyes are half asleep and get a sometimes. I'm wondering was are they are they getting it or am I just you know talking to bored teenagers and then when you guys do when your input in your element to be those leaders that we train you to be you step up to the plate and listening to you even talking about your experience. You're you're using the lingo and you understand you do understand and you're listening and that makes me feel so good about the The Linc program and being able to see you go from an f i t to work in the kitchen to whatever the future holds and, you know being an instructor and Anna counselor and at

21:07 Watching watching you grow in just awesome. And that's I love I love seeing that and that's you know, there's there's other jobs out there, but I am so not interested in and looking or going anywhere because I want to see what happens. You know, it's like reading a really good book. I can't wait to can't wait to see how it is. I know if so, how did you feel about The Linc program when you first like when you were first told about about how it ran and how you would have to take it from there. It was scary and it was everything scary. I guess when you start at the house said that a few times now, but it was one weekend a month during the school year picking up 14 teenagers that I didn't know driving him up to camp and spending the weekend with him teaching them how to be a good leader and

21:56 And I was nervous and then you know as we spoke earlier mr.lee did such a good job with you guys and and creating the program. I was a it was a real gift to to be able to take it over. But as soon as I started doing it, I realized you know, it's it is about teaching you guys had to be good leaders good communicators good listeners trustworthy having Integrity, but it's also about having fun every week. We learned all the activities teaching you guys how to teach, you know archery in orienteering in night hikes and I mean Yahoo! Hits a tough job. Somebody's got to do it. Let's go fishing. It's it's a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to as I get to know my job better turning it over to you guys more because as you grow through the program you should be able to teach the group stages, you know, it less less.

22:56 On me teaching and more on you guys as you get older and smarter and stronger in your skills that y'all can take over and teach that the new recruits and I'm excited that my skills have developed to that point that I know I can entrust that education to you guys to pass it on to the next group of incoming link members actually knows that during orientation week when we had it was like you weren't really teaching as much and it was more pierron pier and it was like it was it was very interesting to see Alan get up there and do some the PCM and watch Alan and I mean Linda and

23:34 Linda and Antoine Antoine, I'm sorry. Yeah, and it was it was like how much they know about and how well they got a ride and you know, I had I think I'm a good leader a good a good manager will make themselves Obsolete and I think a good leader eventually is not needed in their group if they've developed their group well enough and I'm getting to that point. I'm getting to be becoming a good leader that I can turn it over to my group and they're going to they're going to take that map group and they're going to run to their campsite and they'll be good and it'll be Bell enjoy it as well. So

24:16 Scary I've heard that word a lot during an interview. Do you find the new hire weekend that we have in September when we get the new fits. Do you find any of that Define a scary not anymore now that I've done it four times I embrace that I love seeing the enthusiasm that comes in the door. It's sad now because you know, we only have three or four or five spots available each year and have a ton of kids that want it and not being able to let all of them into the program is is heartbreaking and that's you know, where we're trying to figure out how to incorporate Outward Bound more because they're the partnership that we have with them. Now we're going to be able to send two or three groups a year on Outward Bound trip. So if teens and the Boys & Girls Club that want to be in The Linc program don't make it we can at least let them get that Outward Bound experience.

25:16 That makes that makes me feel better. But no I love I love the recruitment day what to do now that you're on the other side of the interviewing table. I feel it's scary for a 14 year old to come into a room of peers and have to perform an activity and do an interview in a resume but it 14 to have your first job interview is is pretty special as well. Especially when you look across the table in there 15 and 16 year olds. They're interviewing you. What's your favorite part about the recruitment day is the creativity part is when I get to see how each person does the activity where they use the one paper and have to make a game and I will always find it interesting to see how how people use that one sheet of paper like Hopscotch toss a ball around.

26:04 Paper airplane. Like I love seeing that part of the whole thing. And then also love the question part because when I get to get really really serious the interview question. I got to get really serious and I get that one question I get to ask that soar. Like look them in the eye the whole time. Are you trying to be intimidating? I'm not trying to be intimidating. It's just fun for me.

26:28 Hair but

26:31 So

26:35 Well growing up did did any of your siblings have like the same interest as you also know who I was I was the black sheep of my family. I was the odd man out. I grew up on the youngest of three girls. So I was I was the baby and I wasn't the spoiled baby. I was beat up on but with love I love my sister's butt out and they were very into hair and makeup and clothes and I was not in the hair and makeup and clothes. I really did not fit in well with the school that I went to through 7th grade. I was very much outcasted from my peers. I didn't didn't get invited to parties and I didn't have a lot of friends and I really I got I guess I got bullied quite a bit and to the point that even in my middle school my 5th 6th 7th.

27:35 Grade year I had boys that barked at me because I was lower than everybody else in school and it was

27:46 It was a big challenge for me and I definitely did not fit in with with the cool kids are with any of them. In fact where I grew up and my sister didn't do so well in school and got transferred out against her will but had to go to a different school and I said if she doesn't have to go to the school, I don't want to have to go to the school. So I went in 7th grade and I went from a private school to public school. And when I went to public school, I realized that it wasn't me. It was them there's only 40 of them in the class and I just didn't fit in with that those 40 kids when I went to public school. I fit in with everybody. I fit in with the the drama Geeks. I fit in with the cheerleaders. I fit in with the everybody, you know, I got went on band trips and coral trips and was in The Debate Club and key Key Club.

28:46 How to blast and had tons of friends and there was nothing wrong with me it was the environment that I was in so I got the opportunity to almost have a rebirth I solve the underside of being bullied and I want to make sure that kids know that there's a there's a place out there that you can be free and you were talking about at Camp even that Boys & Girls Club you're one way but when you come to Camp you're different way and to me that's the whole Outdoors when I found out about the outdoors when I was in college it was that was that was the missing piece in my life. That was something that was

29:32 Never I wasn't exposed to it very much ma'am. Played outside. We grew up a come out in the country, but I didn't know about backpacking. I didn't know about Whitewater paddling. I didn't know about rock climbing. That was all very new to me. And when I when that door was open I ran outside the fast as I could and I never really looked back and to get to see kids come in and know that they've had struggles at home and you know at home or at school or with her family, but they can come outside and and be free and run around and truly be themselves. I connect to that and I relate to that and

30:15 Even though I don't get to I'm inside way too much whenever when I can get outside. I know what that feeling. Is it still very fresh in my mind. And that's why I do it. So your sisters and you are very different you love the outdoors every more of a girly side, right? So now do you like do you like share your outdoor experience with them when you can try but they won't go anywhere. They can't plug in their hair dryer. I did get one of my sisters go on a hike once and she was like, this is just walking in the woods and I'm like, yeah, that's that's all I can write it. I think she was expecting a lot more torturous activity and she really enjoyed it, but they're just not their city girls. They like the city in

31:05 I'm just style. I like the outdoors. I don't mind the sweat in the bugs and the rain and I like the adventure. I've always I've always enjoyed the adventure so

31:17 What are some important life lessons you have learned so far?

31:25 Be courageous be courageous. Don't be afraid to try things and don't be afraid for somebody to say. No, I often I'll ask anything, you know, cuz the worst possible thing. Somebody can say is no and what's so bad about that. Then I'll figure out another way. I think definitely not being afraid to try things after I graduated from Auburn. I took a road trip ended up last in six years. I was with a friend of mine that I went to school and I was supporting myself. I wasn't, you know, I was keeping jobs and everything but I lived in Colorado I lived in Wyoming I lived in Vermont, but I was working in the outdoors at all of the places Colorado in the winter time. I was indoors though. I was a bus driver in at front desk clerk. I was backpacking instructor in Wyoming. I was a park ranger in Vermont.

32:25 My mom always said I was going out to find myself. What I was really doing was building a really good resume for a camp director. Cuz now I drive a bus. I wait tables I run that work at a hotel. I'm a backpacking and structure in a park ranger all in one and and a teacher and I love it. It's it's every job I've ever had rolled into one job and it was because I was courageous and that's why I always encourage that be courageous good good. So there's anything you could do right now skydiving anything what what is one thing you would like to do? That's funny. You say that I'm not going on 40 store and that's what I'm wanting to be doing. What I do want to skydive. Just once I don't need to make a hobby out of it, but I want it on my bucket list. I want to hit all seven continents before I die.

33:25 I would love to see a little bit of the whole world. You can steal that what about you can do anything.

33:37 Two tough question, and I don't know. I just I want to ride a roller coaster without having without like

33:46 In a different body because I get motion sickness, so I can't ride roller coasters. I can't ride him by choice and it's like it does it suck sometimes and I just want to ride like the biggest roller coaster. There is the scariest one and then come off and do it and I did it like this. That's my thing. You've been really courageous lately with the high Ropes Course in with a rock climbing when your fear of heights and you've you've done both of those so maybe the next step is the roller coaster.

34:21 I had my team on my back when we did the rock climbing.

34:25 They were all supportive of those amazing.

34:30 But so the last thing if is there anything you want to tell your great great great great great grandchildren if they had this

34:40 Wow, how many greats was that? I'll be long dead by then.

34:47 I probably the same thing. I'm telling you now as you know, get out there and try new things don't be afraid of no be courageous.

34:56 Good. Okay. Well, thank you so much. Thank you Brian. It's been it's been fun it is and I can't wait to see you grow and improve and see how your story.