Campers raising their hands during the weekly Campfire.

Mission Moment: What KSS Means to Me – Aniston Zabawa 


In April, Ian McCluskie, Program Manager, looked at his calendar for the week and saw his days packed with back-to-back interviews. It was time to meet, interview, and get to know our Summer Camp team and he was leading the charge.

There are many details to coordinate to ensure that potential Camp Counselors are qualified to be part of our Summer Camp team from minimum hours working with kids to Wilderness First Aid certifications. Each detail is important and tracking each is quite the effort.

So, one morning in April, as Ian was scheduling and preparing for interviews, one applicant stopped him in his coordinating tracks. A former camper applied to be a Summer Camp Counselor and has this response to the application question, ‘What KSS Means to Me…’

“As a child, my home life was never peaceful; I felt like an outcast, at both school and home. “Keystone Science School showed me what it felt like to belong somewhere, to be weird and be loved for it, that there are people out there who will treat me with kindness. The candle chats taught me that someone cared about how I felt; the hikes taught me that someone wanted to challenge my fears; the campfires taught me that someone would miss me, and I would miss them just as much. The friends I made and the counselors I met were the irreplaceable gifts of KSS.

Through this experience, I understand the importance camp holds, and the amount of influence a counselor can have on a camper’s life. For many kids, Discovery Camp is more than just a fun week in the mountains— it is coming home. It is a place where they finally feel free to express themselves without fear. It is a safe haven from their reality. It is a place where true magic happens.

That’s what it was for me. To even be writing this application is such a blessing. Thank you all at KSS for everything you have done. You have inspired countless counselors, CAPs, and kids. I wish you many more summers of bliss.”

We are grateful to this Summer Camp Counselor applicant for giving us permission to share their story which reminds us all just how special Keystone Science School is in the lives of so many young people. While Aniston wasn’t able to join KSS for the Summer of Community due to personal reasons, we’re excited to hear stories about our continued impact.