Alumni Spotlight: Lauren Schmidt
Lauren Schmidt (aka “Schmidtty”) always knew that she loved travelling, Israel and Camp Chi, so we aren’t surprised that she has built her career to encompass all of those things! As the co-chair of the Camp Chi Alumni Committee, and dedicated Chi’er for life, we are excited to share her story with the alumni community. Find out more about Lauren’s journey, and why she attributes her summers at Camp Chi to the success of her career path.
Q: How long did you attend Camp Chi for (camper, SIT, staff)?
A: 14 years (1999-2005: camper, 2006: SIT, 2007-2012: Staff)
Q: Can you tell us about your career path, and how your life at camp has helped pave the way?
A: I never would have even thought about going to Israel in high school if it wasn’t for hearing about Alexander Muss High School In Israel (AMHSI) during my sophomore summer at Chi. Participating in that program changed the trajectory of my life; after spending two months in Israel in high school, I was pretty sure that I wanted to focus my career on something that combined by love for writing, marketing/communications, & Israel.
I currently am the Assistant Director of Shorashim and through this position, I oversee our marketing, recruitment and many exciting projects. Without my experience overseeing marketing & communications at Camp Chi as a village leader, I wouldn’t have had the foundation for the role that I started in as marketing & communications manager. Plus, without Chi, I wouldn’t have been connected to many of my fabulous colleagues including my boss who took a chance on hiring me four years ago (thanks, Waitz!), my camper turned coworker (hey Truds!), & so many members of our registration team throughout the years!
Q: Have you had any mentors along the way, or individuals that inspired you personally and/or professionally?
A: Honestly, I am inspired by SO many of my camp friends, campers, counselors and coworkers each day. I’ve met so many people who are so highly motivated in different arenas from camp. In terms of mentorship and role models, Brad Finkel has always been a role model in the Jewish community. Lisa Sheridan Tarshis took me under her wing as a junior counselor and really pushed me to break out of my shell as a staff member. Of course, Mike Waitz has mentored me for probably around 12 years and continues to teach, push, and impress me daily (and also throw things at me/call me weird names, but that’s *less important*).
Q: We understand that your professional team is made up of a lot of Camp Chi folks. What is your favorite part about working with fellow Chi alums on a daily basis?
A: It feels like home; they get it. From the big things to the small surface level things, it is just an extension of the family, which I love. I also remember in my first months of work, we moved a conference call so we could live stream the volleyball game, which was really great. Currently, I also get to hang out with Jordy Blenner every day (which means I have literally laughed more in the last few weeks at work than ever before).
Q: You have been the Co-Chair of the Camp Chi Alumni Committee for the past year and a half, and we love your leadership! What motivates you to be so involved and continue to give back?
A: Camp changed my life, and in a world full of so much craziness and uncertainty, camp has always been a constant. So many things change and although aspects of camps change, the roots of it remain the same. I want camp to continue to provide the environment, community, friendships and personal growth opportunities for campers. I do not want alumni to forget about the Camp Chi magic, so being as involved as I am is pretty much a no brainer.
Q: When you go back to visit camp, what is your favorite thing to do, or favorite spot to visit?
A: I love Shabbat, fire circles and stargazing. All of these places/moments are filled with camp chills and are so special. Also, going to Pizza Pub (kidding, but also not kidding…).
Q: What is your favorite part about attending Alumni Weekends at Chi?
A: I love getting back into the Camp Chi bubble. It’s a break from reality, the pressures of the day-to-day at home; it immediately takes me back. I also love spending time with camp friends and getting to know other people from camp who I may have not spent as much time with in the past. It’s seriously so fun and one of the highlights of my year! (aka HI HELLO you should all join me this year from August 3-5 in Lake Delton. Sign up here! )
Q: Do you have a favorite memory from Chi that you can share?
A: I have so many that it’s so hard to choose. As a camper, being in the boat to light the “Chi” was a huge highlight and something that I had been dreaming about forever…it truly did not disappoint. As staff, I have literally so many, but overall, it was incredible to be able to be my brother’s SIT counselor (and get to be with such an amazing group of campers overall). I’ll always be grateful for this experience.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with the Chi Alumni community?
A: Even if you haven’t been involved in a long time, it’s never too late to come back to camp, join us for events, or get in touch! I’m always just a call or email away. I can’t wait to see a ton of people at Chi this summer and for many more exciting things to come!