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Nar Nar’s Camp Memories

Little did I know that one small moment when I was fourteen years old would shape the rest of my life as I knew it. During the summer of 1990 I experienced my first job, as a “Counselor in Leadership Training” at a local summer camp. Sure, kids were fun, the money ($11 per day) would fit my teenage “needs” of Friday night outings to the movies and the latest CDs, and of course extra socialization with girls never hurt a guy either. My first assignment - Tom Sawyer Island, the gold panning station to be exact. Imagine a large trough, murky water, sand, and enough “gold” pieces just to peak the interest of a seven year old. This one would be easy, I smiled, resigning myself to the nearest bench, supervising, and doing quite a good job of it, so I thought. My summer started out in this fashion each day, with me becoming more familiar with how to do just enough work to make my bosses happy, staying pretty much out of everyone’s way, simply going through the motions.

About two weeks into the summer it was the day to restock the gold at Tom Sawyer’s Island. After visiting the “treasure chest”, I carefully dug deep into the sand and hid the gold just far enough for a challenge, easy enough to ensure success. Up to my elbows in sand and water I remember a visit from a group of six year old boys.

“What are you doing?” they eagerly shouted.

“Well, I’m burying sunken treasure deep into the sand for us to mine.”

“Cooooool!” their response was genuine, and instantly sleeves were rolled up and some major digging began. Taking a few steps back into my “supervisor” role, I couldn’t help but realize how the mood suddenly changed. No longer was I engaged in the activity, and no longer did any of the kids have energy or desire to continue. At that moment I figured out a lesson that no amount of education could ever teach - I had the power to make this experience one that kids would remember for a lifetime. I quickly grabbed some more gold, and with a slight of hand placed it in each boy’s metal pan. Their screams and laughter told the rest of the story, and I had made gold panning something remarkable.

While it may seem like a simple moment, I began to “see” my days at camp different. I realized that if I could connect individually with kids, I could truly make any experience spectacular. I was no longer on the peripheral looking in; I was capitalizing on each minute to make a difference in the lives and excitement of children.

That summer proved to be a turning point in my development as a person. I realized there was so much more involved with interacting with kids than I could even imagine. I saw my role models in the directors of the camp, and I tapped into their expertise as often as they would let me. I began to see that every moment, no matter how large or small, with a child was important, and I lived all of those experiences with my campers. That summer I helped a seven year old conquer his fears of the waterslide, taught four kids how to tie their shoes, braved an overnight campout with ten six year olds, became an expert gold miner, tracked down countless missing backpacks and lunches, and truly made a difference in the lives of kids. No longer did the trials and dramatics of high school matter to me because I was doing something bigger. I was truly changing lives for the better.

I couldn’t imagine my life without working with kids. I knew this was going to be my path into the future, and this moment provided me with absolute clarity that I wanted to be able to take these small moments and turn them in to something magical.

Twenty-two years, thousands of kids, hundreds of arts and crafts projects, go-kart rides, team building games, and sixty-four overnight campouts later, summer camp has completely shaped the person I am today. My summer wouldn’t be complete without these experiences, and I haven’t had a summer since the age of 13 without them.

I find myself extremely fortunate to do something everyday that I truly love, with people that I consider to be a part of my family. My camp experience at fourteen led me down the path to become a counselor, camp director, and elementary school teacher. To this day I strive to make deep connections with kids, turning any old math lesson, archery session, closing round-up, or walk up Keystone’s monstrous hill to horses a moment that kids can celebrate, feel connected, and learn. I try to never miss a single opportunity with kids, and I completely believe in “getting my hands dirty” with their experiences and lives. Little did I realize all it took was some gold panning and muddy water to teach me this important lesson.

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2020 Open House Dates

Mark Your Calendar

All open houses are from 11:30am to 3:00pm at Camp Keystone
2854 Triunfo Canyon Rd, Agoura Hills, CA 91301

Sunday, March 22
Sunday, March 29
Sunday, April 19
Sunday, April 26

No need to RSVP, just come join the fun and learn all about Camp Keystone!

Camp Hours:

Summer, 2020: June 15 - August 14

9:30-3:30, M-F. Drop off no earlier than 9:15. Pick-up from 3:30-4:15.

Extended day care available starting at 7:30am and ending at 6:00 pm.


  • "Our daughter LOVES Keystone - the best day camp experience ever!"

    Diane, Camp Keystone Mom
  • "I wanted to say how much Austin LOVES camp!!! He couldn't get out of the car fast enough on Monday. He is only 6 but told me last night" he is going to go to Camp Keystone forever, but not ride the horses cuz they are too bumpy and dirty" As a mommy, thank you to everyone for their incredible energy, happiness and warmth for my son (and all campers)!!!"

    Allison, Camp Keystone Mom
  • "We love, love, love Camp Keystone! You are always thinking of great ways to add more fantastic things to do for our camper kids. Thank you."

    Shari, Camp Keystone Mom
  • "Thanks to the amazing staff Tanner had a fantastic summer! Thank you so much."

    Jonathan, Camp Keystone Dad
  • "Ellie & Layla LOVE Camp Keystone!! Thanks for sending them home with stories of awesome adventures and everlasting memories."

    Mindy, Camp Keystone Mom
  • "The best summer experience a child can have!!! Thanks Camp Keystone and its amazing staff!!! "

    Kelly, Camp Keystone Mom