Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Baade

With 15 summers spent at Camp Wood over the years, Sarah Baade became a familiar face to many camper and staff alumni. Read about what Sarah is up to now and about some of her favorite memories from her time spent at camp.

Sarah and her brother were sad to leave after a great week spent at camp. nice tie-dye shirt, sarah!

Sarah and her brother were sad to leave after a great week spent at camp. nice tie-dye shirt, sarah!

How old were you when you first came to camp?

I was eight years old when I first attended camp. I recall being nervous because I was an extremely shy kid. However, camp has a way of bringing you out of your shell and I ended up having the time of my life. I cried when my parents came to pick me up and, as the story goes, I told my parents I would stay there all summer long when they were no longer the boss of me. (NOTE: Sarah kept her promise to her parents and would go on to spend nine summers as a camper, two summers as a volunteer and four summers as a staff member.)

Tell us about some of your favorite camp memories and people over the years.  

With 15 summers under my belt it is really difficult to choose just one memory or just one person to reflect on. In my very early years, we would do a midnight chapel service on the last night of your week at camp. There are tons of memories from those nights. Later on, Matt Bayer was my hero when I nearly fell off a horse on a trail ride. Once old enough to participate, I recall Julie (Frank) White guiding us through the Raggers program. As a volunteer, there were games of Dead Fish led by Ryan Wright. During family camp canoe trips, Anne (Haake) Winter and I demonstrated exactly how strong tiny women are by hauling canoes up a very muddy hill without any slips or falls. When working at the Alpine Tower, I would laugh so hard with Travis Cooper that Edouard Djiba and Amber Carlson could hear me from the water front.

Sarah and fellow staff members, Jessica and jill, flex their muscles for the camera in jones lodge.

Sarah and fellow staff members, Jessica and jill, flex their muscles for the camera in jones lodge.

Do you still keep in touch with friends that you met at camp?

The friendships I made at camp are some of the most precious I have ever made. Over the years, they have provided support during life transitions (both happy and challenging). They have given me reasons to travel and seek adventure. They have taught me lessons about the world I likely wouldn’t have otherwise learned. I absolutely still keep in touch with friends I met at camp – both as a camper and as a staff member.

When you were a camper, what impact did camp have on you?

As a young person, camp staff encouraged me to push beyond my comfort zone in safe ways. They also had a way of celebrating traits that made me uniquely me. This probably helped me develop more self-confidence than just about anything else in life. I began seeing myself as capable and outgoing. I became better at making friends and was more willing to try new activities outside of camp.

What about now, as an adult? 

My life continues to be impacted by my time at camp and probably always will be. I am not only willing to try new activities, I happily seek them out. My leadership and interpersonal skills also would not be what they are today if I hadn’t attended camp. I feel like camp also helped to prepare me for parenthood. I have a better understanding of child development; I have coping skills in challenging moments and I have silly songs to entertain with.

Sarah with her husband, josh, and their new daughter, Eleanor.

Sarah with her husband, josh, and their new daughter, Eleanor.

What have you been up to since camp? 

Over the years I have moved around to different corners of the country and have traveled to a handful of other countries around the world. I am currently living in San Antonio with my husband, Josh, and we welcomed our daughter, Eleanor, into the world in November 2016. Over the past five years I have worked as an audiologist at the VA hospital here in town. As a family, we stay busy with church activities and exploring local restaurants. I also spend free time baking and working out (to make up for all the baked goods).

Sarah Baade spent 15 summers at Camp Wood YMCA--as a camper, volunteer and later, as a staff member.

Sarah Baade spent 15 summers at Camp Wood YMCA--as a camper, volunteer and later, as a staff member.

Is Camp Wood still a part of your life?

Friendships are the biggest way Camp Wood continues to be a regular part of my life. However, memories also tend to sneak in at the most random moments of my day to day. I love sharing camp with my family and explaining its impact on my life. I have brought my husband out to camp and anticipate bringing our daughter in the future. Living 700+ miles away may limit the likelihood of our daughter attending as a camper but I will absolutely encourage her to try a Y camp closer to home if we can’t accommodate getting her up to Camp Wood.

What advice would you give today's campers and staff?

Embrace every moment. Be present in the joys and accept the challenging moments for the valuable lessons you are learning. Also, WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN!

Anything else you'd like to share about your Camp Wood experience?

I think one of the greatest things Camp Wood has done over the years is accept and embrace everyone for who they are. Camp is one of the first places I learned about diversity of race, religion, socioeconomic status. It is such a gift that this early exposure provided a positive outlook and demonstrated equality for all.

Thank you so much, Sarah, for sharing your experience with us! In future editions of the Alumni Newsletter, we’ll be featuring additional camper and staff alumni members. If you’d like to be featured or have ideas about other news you’d like to see in the newsletter, let us know with the Alumni Contact Form.