Frank Gerdeman is passionate about and committed to education and social justice. He’s currently living these values – leading the fulfillment of a grant pertaining to adult/workforce integration – at a community college in Lake Tahoe.
Frank has had a very successful and rewarding career path. His work experiences include: leading wilderness treks, being Director of a YMCA and a summer boys’ camp, teaching adult learners – who lacked education and/or basic skills – to be successful in the work place, and overseeing secondary and adult education for the state of Vermont.
There are two additional work involvements Frank credits for his thriving in all other career roles – his positions as Camp Counselor in the fall of 1985, and as Assistant Director of Outdoor Adventure Programs in 1986-87…at Camp Joy. He shares specifics of Joy’s impact on him personally and professionally:
“A major highlight was the privilege of working with Lee Snooks, then the Executive Director of Camp Joy. His demeanor and belief that everything’s connected and should not be done in isolation, was important to Lee. He was a powerful role model. Lee’s attitude and approach to running Joy helped me develop a holistic approach to organizational management.”
“A specific I remember was when I was leading 14 kids in an Underground Railroad reenactment. While driving, Lee spotted us, got out of his car and chased us in attempt to impede our ‘escape’ making the scenario more real. He never passed up an opportunity to make sure he was touching the program and not just running the program. He believed in never asking anyone to do something he would not do himself. I really got to apply Lee’s hands-on approach at a summer boy’s camp. His example absolutely made me a better Camp Director.”
“My time as a Camp Counselor also made me a better Camp Director, as I could understand and have empathy for the counselors I hired to carry out that important role.”
“Camp Joy introduced me to the importance of engagement with nature and fellow human beings. Joy helped me figure out what kind of things, both inside and outside of the workplace, nurtured me. I learned what I love doing: helping others, and interacting with peers and colleagues in a learning environment. That was huge for me and has enabled me to work in roles I love that allow me to sleep at night. That means a lot!”
“If that isn’t enough Joy impact, I met Sarah on my first day at Camp Joy. She eventually became my wife and mom of our delightful now 25-year old daughter. I also learned how to play the guitar there and will never get that “Oh Boy, Camp Joy” song out of my brain!”
When thanked for the inspirational work he has done – and is doing – to help so many, Frank replied, “I’m just paying forward what I learned at Camp Joy.” And that he is doing incredibly well!