Director Jud's Blog

A Strong Sense Of Community: From SMA Campers to Juniata College Students

Posted by Jud Millar on Tue, Nov 22, 2011

Former SMA Campers at Juniata College and PSU!
What do five students at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, have in common? They all learned the value of relationships within a tight-knit community while at Stone Mountain Adventures and how that experience can make a teen’s life that much richer. While SMA has had second generation campers and campers return as counselors, something new happened in the fall of 2010. Five former campers found themselves at a small, private liberal arts college less than 10 miles from SMA in the rolling hills of central Pennsylvania.

Kim Amrod (Connecticut) ’12, Kelsey Miles (Huntingdon) ’14, Zane Stalberg (Pennsylvania) ‘14, Justin Wright (New Jersey) ’14, and Brianna Voth (California) ’14, all chose to attend Juniata College, in part, because of their experience at a small camp. They were all looking for a unique set of characteristics in their higher education quest, but “small” was the key word. We also have another SMA Alum, Ali Sanzo (Pittsburgh, PA) ’14 at Penn State University located in State College 20 miles north of Stone Mountain Adventures.

One of the many opportunities available to campers ages 15 and 16 at SMA is a college visit to Juniata College, just minutes away, and The Pennsylvania State University in nearby State College, about a 30 minute drive. Even younger campers ages 12 to 14 can experience a trip to Juniata College via an activity like tennis or to PSU for the annual Arts Festival held in July.

“My experience at SMA definitely influenced my decision to go to Juniata. When [the campers] went to see Juniata and Penn State they were actually the first two colleges I ever visited and it was because of SMA that I was able to have that experience,” Zane Stalberg commented.

Kim Amrod, who helped keep the SMA office running smoothly in the summer of 2010, added, “I always knew I wanted a small school because of SMA’s small welcoming community. It dawned on me, having previously gone to a large camp, that I enjoyed a small community atmosphere like SMA. This translated to my decision to attend Juniata, which only has about 1500 students. “

While a small, rural college like Juniata is not for everyone and a campus of 44,000 is a big leap for others as well, according to our former campers, choosing the right campus for you can be challenging. Justin Wright’s advice: “Go to a college that fits what YOU want. Don’t let parents or friends sway your decision. It’s worked out great for me.”

Kim Amrod, a 2010 Longstreth/NFHCA Division III All South Atlantic Region and Second Team All-Landmark Conference field hockey selection, added, “If I could give any advice to SMA alums or current campers struggling to make the ‘big decision,’ it would be to trust your gut. That is what I did and I am very happy here in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.”

When asked about advice to give prospective students, Kelsey Miles, a former camper, Juniata swimmer and current assistant in the barn, said, “I was dead set on attending PSU or Pitt until I visited JC. I immediately felt at home and could picture myself going here. Now, thinking back on it, it was the best decision I have made.”

Regardless of where any SMA veteran lands beyond his or her camp years, one thing remains true – at SMA, you are always family. Brianna Voth, a five-year camper, reflected, “SMA is always a home away from home for me and being at Juniata makes it that much sweeter. I know I can visit anytime I want and it doesn’t matter how far away my mom is.”

We also have another SMA alum at Penn State University over Pine Grove Mountain in State College which differs from Juniata in many ways including that is has over 40,000 students. Ali Sanzo says that her time at SMA helped her feel comfortable in this area. Ali commented “I’ve been in love with central Pennsylvania since the day I first came to SMA. Also, all the trips we made to State College helped me feel particularly comfortable with the area, making my college move in feel more like I was moving back home. I visited Juniata & PSU with SMA and I know it was the right choice for me. Ever since the first grade, I attended a very small school in my town. I knew more than half of my grade for twelve years and decided I wanted to go someplace much bigger and have that different experience.

Note: Juniata College has offered SMA an invaluable resource as well – counselors. Brett Basom, Director of Enrollment Relations and International Admissions at the college, is a 1985 graduate and worked as a counselor at SMA in the summer of 1984 & 1985. Other Juniata grads who donned ‘bunk junk’ and experienced a summer of silliness:

Paul “Dunk” Dunklebarger, Current Juniata Student, SMA – 07,08,09
-Brenton “Sutt” Mitchell, Juniata Alum, SMA – 06,07,09
-Ben Gibboney – Football Coach, SMA – 05,06,07
-Justin “Army” Armbruster, Juniata Alum, SMA -08
-Kira Troutman, Juniata Alum SMA – 04,05
-Chris “Pud” Collier – Football Coach, SMA 1988
-Will Thompson, Juniata Alum, SMA -1984, 1985
-Brett Bassom – Director of Amissions, SMA 1984,1985

Penn State University has also been good to SMA over the years. The following veteran SMA staff are connected to PSU.

San Anchord ‘05

Lance Riddle ‘90

Leslie Slowikowski ‘03-‘06

Jim Shaw ‘07

Valerie Alexander (Black) ‘98

Kelly Christie ‘07

Tracy Norman ‘07

Danielle Davis ‘09

Shelly Lasczynski ‘03

Melissa Maiuro ‘10

Nate Stunkard ‘10

If we forgot anyone please accept our apologies and e-mail to let us know

Topics: SMA Camp 2011

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This blog will give you the "411" about everything that is Stone Mountain Adventures Teen Summer Camp!  Everything from "Summer Updates" to useful family and camp resources.  Check it out! 

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