Meet Briii Jones: Fresh Air alum and The Fund’s New Camp ABC Director
How did your Fresh Air story begin – do you remember the feeling of leaving Brooklyn and attending Camp ABC for the first time when you were eight?
My Mom saw a flyer about The Fresh Air Fund and although she was skeptical at first – she decided to send me to camp. Every year since, my mom and dad would both cry at departure.
I think I felt a little bit of everything. My dad participated in the Friendly Towns program when he was young and visited a family in Syracuse, NY. I didn’t have any expectations because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I was excited. I was nervous. I was also scared of many things as an eight-year-old. But when I got there, it was great.
What were some of the things that you tried for the first time or loved doing at Camp ABC?
Hiking and all the outdoor activities that I had never tried until I went to camp. Activities like making a campfire were new to me.
In NYC we went to the pools, but it was my first-time swimming in a lake! I never was a good swimmer and was scared but counselors still made my experience great. There’s someone always teaching you lessons and I always had a good time.
After being a camper, why was it important for you to participate in the Camp ABCleadership programs including Teen Leadership and CIT?
I remember there was a CIT (counselor-in-training) who really inspired me because they went on to become the Assistant Director for Camp ABC. I thought to myself when I think of their stories, I want to be just like them!
We also had such great bonding experiences at camp that created a community. It was a full circle moment and I wanted to give back in that way. We all grew up together and then went on to be admin staff together. So, we always keep great connections. Years later, we continue to visit each other at colleges, birthdays and different events – they’re like family now.
What were your interests after high school and what did you pursue?
I went to college at St. Thomas Aquinas College, a small liberal arts school. I went to school for education to pursue teaching. However, I changed direction while I was in school and went into working with what I love. I’ve always played sports and tried different activities, so I went into sports management. My overall goal now is to open my own camp focused on sports programming for people with disabilities. I received my bachelor’s in business focused on sports management, and then went back to school and got my master’s in teaching, so I could be well rounded. When I was offered the opportunity to be Director of Camp ABC, I thought that this is a great job and aligned with my career goals.
As you step into this new role, what are you looking forward to this summer and what are you planning to focus on for Camp ABC?
For me, and for our camp team – it is important to focus on education this year. This is a big year for our team to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. We encourage our team to be leaders and take more responsibility. For example, if they want to be the next village leader, I challenge them to try new things because if you learn this year, it’s only preparing you.
What are the three words to describe your experience with The Fresh Air Fund?
Enthusiastic, optimistic and accountable. I think learning about holding yourself accountable is important because you learn that it is okay to make mistakes, and recognize them.
Learn more about Camp ABC and our summer 2022 programs!