Max Lippa was the Venture Section Head for summer 2020 at Muskoka Woods. He is currently in the last semester of a biodiversity and conservation biology degree at the University of Toronto, and also serves as a youth leader at The Meeting House in Toronto. Max plans on pursuing the full-year Core Leadership staff position at Muskoka Woods after graduating from University of Toronto. He’s also considering pursuing a master’s degree or teacher’s college in the future.
Previous roles: Service Crew Supervisor, Schools & Groups Host, Venture Counsellor, WILD Counsellor & Camp Store Crew
Years attended as a guest: 9
Fun Fact: Alexa Lippa, Camp Store Supervisor, is his brother!
What made you want to work at Muskoka Woods?
When I finished CEO, I was really trying to figure out what I wanted to do during my next summer. For me, the answer was obvious: I wanted to work at Muskoka Woods because of the counsellors and the other kids I attended with as guests. Over my nine summers, I grew so much as a person: I grew my leadership skills, grew my confidence and made friendships that really did last a lifetime. I wanted to be able to create an environment like that for other youth and future guests.
What’s the best part about working at Muskoka Woods?
Getting the opportunity to create an environment for youth that’s open and welcoming, an environment where they feel they don’t have to be anyone but themselves. The staff are contributors to the growth of the next generation and leaders in the world. It’s amazing how the little things that staff do — like putting a smile on the faces of guests or simply asking them how they are and where they’re at — can transform how the next generation of youth feel about themselves. We have the opportunity to work with a lot of kids from diverse demographics. It’s a camp that’s truly international. It’s a camp community where everyone can feel welcome no matter what background they come from.
What are some of your favourite Muskoka Woods memories?
My favourite memory as a staff member happened two summers ago when I was a Venture counsellor. I created a rap video for Spark — the theme was Muskoka Woods Got Talent — with one of the WILD counsellors. We called it “Wenture Gang,” a combination of WILD and Venture. That was something I never thought I would get the chance to do. I’m always willing to make a fool of myself to make the kids laugh. It’s cringeworthy but fun. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve listened to the song.
When I was a guest, I did Golf Academy. One day we were coming back from Grandview Golf Course in Huntsville and we were really craving ice cream. So we went to Kawartha Dairy. As you may know, a single scoop is quite large. So we got three or four scoops each. There we were, in a van, with a cone and two or three cups each that we had to finish before dinner. They were melting everywhere in the van. We all got back to camp feeling sick from the ice cream but it was worth it!
What are the top three activities at Muskoka Woods?
There are so many amazing activities! But when I was a guest, I always loved Free Swim. I loved being down by the water. Now the kids get to use the Wibit! That would have been amazing when I was a guest. I grew up playing tennis, and loved playing it at Muskoka Woods. Finally, I love soccer and I enjoy helping out with it during the summer.
How has Muskoka Woods made a difference in your life?
It provided me with an opportunity to surround myself with people who love me, support me and are there for me when I need them the most. That was the big thing. Much of my social circle today is made up of people who I met at camp or have some sort of connection to Muskoka Woods. When I was a guest, it was important to me that I could go back and see counsellors who I knew and supported me. Even today, I know when my time at Muskoka Woods comes to an end — hopefully not in the near future — I’m going to have a community surrounding me. Even though Muskoka Woods may no longer be my ‘summer place’ one day, I know I will always have people from Muskoka Woods in my life who will be my anchor. I know I’m not unique in saying this. Muskoka Woods has done the same thing for a lot of other people, too, and that’s what makes the place so special.
Jamie Hunter is a freelance content specialist living in Dundas, Ont. with his wife, eight-year-old daughter and four-year-old son. Over the past 15 years, he has contributed to a variety of national lifestyle and entertainment print publications and worked in corporate communications roles at Harbourfront Centre and the University of Toronto. A self-described amateur entomologist, wannabe ornithologist, and fair-weather angler, on weekends he can be found covered in dirt tending to his gardens.