Janelle Rooks

When Janelle started camp in 1992, she had no idea that it would shape all areas of her life — including her current job and long-time boyfriend. In fact, she enjoyed the camping experience so much, she wanted to help other kids find that enjoyment as well.

Rising Through the Ranks

Janelle first enrolled as a camper in 1992, stayed for 3 years, and started working at camp the next year, rising through the ranks
from Office Assistant (1996–99) to Highlands CA (1997–98) to Winds Counselor (1998–99). Then, after five years, she decided that she hadn’t had enough of camp, and came back in 2004 as the Woodlands Unit Director, only to become the Waterfront Director the following year. With all that exposure to the different aspects of the camp, Janelle considers being a Winds Counselor her favorite position. “You get to know a particular group of kids really well — their fears, as well as what makes them happy,” she says, “and you are able to build a community within the group and really connect with the kids.”

Inspiring Moments at Camp

Janelle remembers a particular girl who was so homesick, she cried day after day, and how she helped her find peace. “One afternoon, we were sitting on the boat dock, where the male fish would hover over their nests. We started talking and the discussion led to her father and brother. After that her home sickness went away.”It’s those kind of moments that inspire Janelle, as well as the close friendships she’s fostered at camp. “I got to see how the kids grew into adults and got to build a connection with them as camp alumni.” Today she stays in touch with campers that she had as a counselor, including Cathy Senta, Adrian Croke, and Mary Healy.

A Romance Develops

Janelle formed a long-term relationship with another alumnus, Michael “Ace” Barth. They met the first summer that Janelle was on staff and a romance developed. They stayed in touch, and when
he came back as the Reservation Unit Director in 2005, they rekindled their romance and have been seeing each other ever since.
Ace owns an entertainment, marketing, and event company in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

Still Working with Kids

Janelle was recently promoted to Director of Operations for Appleseeds, a play space for newborns to 5-year-olds in Manhattan, a position she owes to her experiences at camp. “When I first interviewed there, all I could talk about was camp,” she says. She was hired as their Camp Director and eventually worked her way up to Senior Manager, then General Manager, and then her current position.

“It’s the perfect position for me,” she says. “Everyone has real love for working with young children and it’s an amazing environment
to see how everyone interacts.” And it’s not the only way she experiences the spirit of camp on a regular basis. “I want Derek Edwards to know that I am practicing Scrabble daily,” she says, “and one day, I will beat you.”

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