ECC Community Spotlight

Dr. Robert Power
Newport School Committee
2013 – 2015

“My time at ECC certainly impacted my work in schools and on the School Committee. When I went to camp I learned about what it really meant to be in Christian community – more than just church on Sunday. I learned that how you treat people matters, and how important it was to make sure that everyone was doing ok. If my camper was having a good time, I was having a good time.
I took that mentality into my work in schools with my work on the School Committee and in my role as Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent. I wanted to give everyone the chance to succeed, even if people thought they couldn’t do it. It was also important to me to be able to work well with lots of different people to find common ground so we could get things done.
Now that I’m retired, I’m spending my time raising money for public schools so they have endowments for technology.”

Jasmine Smith, right.

Jasmine Smith
Finance Coordinator at Spanberger for Congress
Virginia 2020

“Last campaign cycle, I worked on a local House of Delegates race for Juanita Jo Matkins as an an intern and was promoted to the position of finance director. After working full time as the finance director and going to school full time simultaneously, I said “I am never working on another campaign unless it’s for Abigail Spanberger.”

I’ve always admired Abigail from the first day I researched her. She first started her career in law enforcement, working in narcotics and money laundering cases for the US Postal Inspection Service. Abigail then moved on to serve her country in the CIA as a case officer, and after running for Congress, she made history with being the first Democrat elected to her seat since 1968 and the first woman to ever serve this district. And right now, I’m sitting in our office, writing this blurb after ending our last fundraising quarter last night. Sometimes I can’t believe it.

I was a very shy child, I didn’t speak unless spoken to. ECC has given me the ability to thrive and speak my mind in any situation, because of camp’s acceptance of anyone from any background. Camp has given me so many useful tools that I use every single day in my life. The most important & impactful, is the meaning of hard work. Work projects at camp are what make camp well… Camp! Cutting down trees, painting cabins, and cleaning all make camp the place we all know and love; and when you see your hard work after a work project, it’s a reminder of a job well done. While we do not have the results of the elections, working hard on Abigail’s campaign and seeing her work in Congress for her constituents and the nation is, in a way, like a work project.

If you work really hard, you get to see the amazing end result. The result in this case being, a Congresswoman that works hard for the American people. Abigail is the 5th most bipartisan House member, and works hard with people from across the aisle to deliver real legislation that helps everyone, regardless of their political affiliation. I am so thankful, and so grateful, to work for someone like her.

So, thank you ECC. Thank you for accepting me for who I am and helping me become the person I am today. I will be eternally grateful for the experience I had at ECC, because it gave me the tools I need to help re-elect my Congresswoman and my role model.”

Heather MatsonHeather Matson
State Representative of Iowa House District 38
Elected in 2018

“From 1983-1994, I spent part or all of my summers at ECC as a camper and then as a counselor. There are countless ways ECC impacted my life, not the least of which are lifelong friendships. When I reflect on my time at camp and how it informed my life, I always come back to the idea that no matter what, you pitched in.

It never occurred to me that attending “work camp” might be unusual because why wouldn’t I want to clear brush and paint cabins if I was doing it with my friends? We were taught how to get the job done and how to share our gifts with each other, and part of the fun was always a sense of accomplishment. I think most counselors learn how to be leaders at camp, but the extra special thing about ECC is that my experience also taught me how to be vulnerable in the best sense of the word; that I could try something new or put my ideas out into the group without judgement. I believe that leadership – especially political negotiating – requires a hint of vulnerability to put yourself out on the line to get big things done. There was, and still is, a feeling of a greater good at ECC, of finding ways to make our corner of the world a little bit of a better place than we found it. To me, that’s the essence of public service and it’s what I try to accomplish in my community and as a legislator.”

Emily HarrisonEmily Harrison
Volunteer Poll Worker
Lincoln, RI 2020

Spoiler: Emily is not an alumni. In fact, she is isn’t quite yet voting age either. She IS, however, pre-registered and able to provide us with a great example of how to get involved and take action, beyond just casting your ballot.

“After attending this sacred and unusual summer camp my whole life, it took me the longest time to figure out why I kept wanting to come back (not just because every single person in my family goes religiously – pun intended). I couldn’t place why it was so special to me, but I knew I shouldn’t take the time spent on that property for granted. I can look back and see that because I was being loved and supported by the ECC community, it gave me permission to put in the work to really find myself.

My major interest in public service, or just helping people in general, came from my participation in City Camp Woonsocket and Bridge Camp. There’s something about serving others that I can’t really put into words, but I know it makes me happy to be able to help other people enjoy a camp experience. Seeing the positive impact that you can have on someone’s life, no matter how small, is something I hold very dear. These moments of impact from my time at camp have been the key inspiration that led me to want to work at the polls. Helping to make the experience of a voter a little bit more positive, can be my way of bringing the same love and support that camp showed me, out into the world.

Thanks to ECC, I know my time at the polls this year will be the first of many!”

Megan Birch-McMichaelMegan Birch-McMichael
Elected to Board of Selectman
Stow, MA 2020

“It’s actually hard to put into words how being at ECC impacted my desire to get involved in public service. For me, as for many, ECC was a completely formative experience. I started attending at 12 years old, as a Junior Work camp camper (begrudgingly at first…what 12 year old is excited about going to a camp where you also have to like, clear a path or scrape and paint buildings?) While my friends were spending endless days at the beach, I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and having to go to church twice a day.

But that’s the strange and magical thing about ECC, really. The impact that one week of work camp had on the rest of my life is immeasurable. I kept coming back to camp and then eventually became a counselor and young adult staff. From there, I spent a year working at City Year in Providence and as a young adult volunteered for anything and everything that I could in my spare time. I worked for a non-profit in DC for close to a decade, where I met my husband and had two children.

After I became a parent, and we moved to MA, I got involved with the food pantry in our town as well as the PTO at my children’s school. I live in a small town, and when there was an opportunity to get involved with our local Planning Board, I volunteered to step in. I spent 2 years as an associate member and then, with the support of lots of people in my town, I decided to run for the Select Board and was elected to a three year term in June 2020. For those of you not in MA, the Select Board is a group of 5 elected individuals who serve as the policy making body in town; it’s sort of like a city council in RI.

Service to one’s community is ingrained so deeply inside of myself, when I thought about why I do what I do, it really all comes down to my time spent at ECC. It’s the tenet of “Love your neighbor” that is a guiding principle.”

In addition to her civic work, Megan is a published writer. Read her article published in the New York Times this week here:…/family/foster-parents.html…