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What I Did This Summer: Ricki Miles ’18

What I Did This Summer: Ricki Miles ’18

By Kaitlyn Garner ’17

Ricki Miles ’18 has spent her summers at Camp O’Bannon in Newark, Ohio, every year since 2005.  She started as a camper, but has since grown to be a counselor and now is serving as a staff member. Miles enjoys the welcoming atmosphere and the friendly campers.

Camp O’Bannon is a non-profit organization that works hard to send kids from low-income families to their overnight summer camp at no charge to the families. The camp works hard with supporters to raise money, allowing more than 400 children each year to attend.

This year, Camp O’Bannon worked with the Newark Kiwanis Strawberry Festival, raising nearly $30,000. Miles worked among others to make hundreds of shortcakes for the festival.

Campers stay for one to two weeks, depending upon their age. They take part in camp activities, arts and crafts and silly songs around the campfire.

Miles has some of her favorite memories at Camp O’Bannon, and credits the camp to becoming who she is today.

"I feel, actually I know, that this place has helped form my character and showed me the good versus the bad," she said.

Camp O’Bannon has turned into more for Miles. As a counselor she recognized her love for children and want to help others. Now Miles is double majoring in psychology and sociology and plans to work with children after graduation.

“Several of us counselors that still come around grew up going to camp and haven't left. This is the exact reason why I come back every year. We, as a staff, impact these children's lives — they look up to us, and look to us for guidance,” said Miles.

A typical day at Camp O’Bannon starts with the children raising the flag at the flagpole and enjoying their breakfast. The children are taught responsibility through awards — for example, the Clean Jean Award is awarded to the cleanest cabin. There are countless activities planned each day, including swimming, arts and crafts, and evening activities before bedtime.

Campers are encouraged to share their favorite and least favorite parts of the day. This allows staff members to improve the programming. According to Miles, it is very important that the campers feel they can express themselves at camp.

Miles hopes to give today’s campers the same experience she had many years ago herself.

“I remember just feeling like I fit in,” Miles said. “At camp, I didn't have to worry about what was going on at home I just had to let those around me care for me and have fun. Camp was my safe place.”

Learn more about the Department of Psychology and the Department of Sociology, Criminology and Justice Studies.