Beth Corkum-District Director of Wellness and Equity for SAU67: Bow & Dunbarton schools-Coniston: 1993-2000

How old were you when you started Camp?

I was 9.

How were you introduced to Coniston?

Rolf Gesen told my parents about Coniston at our church in 1991. My brother attended first and then I started attending in 1993.

Did you attend college, and if so, what did you study?

Yes – I went to Fairfield University and earned a BA in psychology, Boston University for a MEd Masters of Education in School Counseling and Southern New Hampshire University for a CAGS Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Educational Leadership.

What is your current job? 

My current role is the District Director of Wellness and Equity for SAU67: Bow & Dunbarton schools. My job involves supporting systems intiatives focused on wellness and equity for our students, staff and our community. I organize professional development opportunities, student leadership trainings and wellness initatives throughout our district. I am responsible for expanding our Social Emotional Learning opportunities for our school district focusing not only on the mental health and wellness of our students but also our educators.

How has your career journey evolved?
I believe my career journey evolved when I was a camper. I loved my counselors, I loved seeing the leadership of the lifeguards and program area leads. As soon as I was able I started with programs like babysitting courses, becoming a lifeguard myself, helping out at basketball summer camps, and coaching youth sports. I then was a CIT at coniston and learned a ton of leadership skills. All of these experiences helped me realize that studying psychology in college would give me pathways to support all of my passions, leadership, coaching and working with kids. After college, I worked at a residential youth placement center in Hampston, NH for court involved kids. I loved it! I then got a masters in school counseling and spent 15 years as a high school counselor in NH. This past year I transitioned to a district leadership position where I am able to utilize my passions for coaching, leadership and working with kids and adults of all ages!
What moment in your career are you most proud of?
I am most proud of being a part of creating my current program. About a year ago, I sent an administrator in my district a list of “dream roles” in a school and they believed me and helped get the position funded with a grant as a one year position, now we are working to find ways to fund this position in our general budget so that it can continue to grow and have an impact of our communities. I am proud of myself for being vulnerable and taking a risk to advocate for something I am passionate about!
Did Coniston influence your ability to create this journey?
Absolutely! I attribute my “systems” thinking to coniston. When I was a camper I was facinated by the idea of activity schedules! I absolutely loved the moment each year when we got our activity schedules! I started realizing overtime all of the work and effort that takes to organize program areas, leaders, schedules, rotations, etc. I loved the idea of evening programs and creating events with such a creative focus. Evening programs expanded my mindset on creativity and collaboration, I love planning events and creative activities and I think that came from the joy I felt while experiencing evening programs at Coniston!
Are there any skills or traits you gained at Coniston that you use in your professional life?

So many! People skills! Organization! I am incredibly grateful that there are at least 4 other people that I work with who attended Conistion, we all have things in common that I can attribute to skills we developed at camp. We are all able to make strong connections with others, see the big picture in situations and are creative and emotionally resilient. These skills that we learned as campers transfer seamlessly into our daily lives as educators.

Are there any specific memories from your time at Coniston that are still impactful to you?

So many! When I reflect on camp, which I often do, it is a time in my life that is protected in my mind. No one can touch it, no bad in the world can impact those memories and no one can take it away from me. When I am in a stressful situation, or time of life, I close my eyes and think of camp. I take a walking tour of camp in my brain and it calms me down immediately. The memories of soccer games on the A field, dances in the pavilion, sitting on the rock by the climbing tower, jumping off the diving board at G-fro, walking quietly to Vespers, and time on my bunk in my cabin are the small moments that literally give me goosebumps when I think about them as an adult.

After my CIT year in 2000, I took a step away from camp life for a while. I didnt go back in 2001 on staff so for many years I felt as though I wasnt “in camp” any more and that “other people” who were on staff were the ones who were able to maintain the connection to camp. I honestly didnt talk to many people from camp for a long time, except my childhood best friend who went to camp as well. Eventually, I had my own children and they were about old enough to start going to camp and I wanted them to have the experiences that I had. I took a risk and reached out to some old camp people and reached out to start attending events with camp people. Immediately the emotions I felt as a child camp flooding back into my life and for that I am forever grateful!