When we were seeking a camp property manager earlier this year, Norm Button rose to the top as a perfect fit for Camp Jewell. With training as a mechanical engineer and experience as property manager at other camps, he had the right combination of skills and experience to take on the huge task of overseeing all of camp’s facilities, including our upcoming Capital Campaign. Here’s Norm’s story.
My first experience working at a camp was in 2001 when I took on a job managing a brand new private camp in Hamilton, N.Y. I was in school for mechanical engineering and had a lot of experience with maintenance and building, and it ended up being a great job for me.
What affected me at that camp wasn’t just how rewarding the property manager job was, but also how much kid’s lives were changed there. The campers came from New York City, and the kids were expected to come for 10 years and essentially graduate from the camp program. As a result I made some strong connections with some of the campers and I’d like to think I helped make a change for them.
In early 2008 I moved on to a maintenance job at Colgate University, but after my previous camp experience I felt like something was missing. So, a year later I took a job at Wa Wa Segowea, a YMCA camp just over the Connecticut border in Massachusetts as the facilities manager. The camp was run down and had been vacant for five years so there was a lot of work to be done. I saw it as a challenge and was motivated by the improvements I could make there.
When I heard Jewell was looking for a property manager, my wife, Dianne, and I decided the move could be a good one for us and I was excited to start here in May. I’ve found Camp Jewell to be very friendly and I like the general attitude here—it’s very optimistic. It’s nice to have staff support and that people are always willing to jump in and help out wherever they can. Working with Ray has been great; we see eye to eye on our priorities and he respects my expertise and my ideas.
My rule is that anything I do has to turn out as good or better than what’s next to it. I’m looking forward to getting some of the aesthetics of camp in order to make things look even better cared for. As for working with the maintenance staff, my job isn’t to supervise them it’s to teach them how to do their jobs. When we do things right it means the counselors and everyone else here can do their jobs right.
I’m most excited about the big changes that are coming as a result of the Capital Campaign. I’m really looking forward to renovating or replacing the cabins. Having the ability to design buildings makes me a better builder and I’m excited to show what can be done to improve the functionality and the energy efficiency of our cabins.
I’m always learning and always doing what I can to make what I work on the best it can be. And that’s what I’ll do at Camp Jewell.