My good friend Jen Halloran, executive director of Camp Horizon, sent me the email below a couple of months ago. I have been waiting for a good moment to share, but as I mentioned last week, why not share now? Great ideas and stories need to find their way into the world.
So, courtesy of Jen, here’s a story of a friend of hers by the name of Julian ‘Josh’ F. Powell. Unfortunately, Josh passed away earlier this year, so I’ll never get a chance to meet him personally. His story is one of passion, dreams, and living values, and it felt just right to share on this blog — so without further ado, here are Jen’s words:
I hope you don’t mind, but I wanted to tell you a story of a friend who did something similar. When I first graduated from college, I taught school for several years, but I worked at a day camp during the summers. When I first interviewed for the day camp counselor position, I thought the owner, Josh Powell, seemed like just a simple country fellow. There were no formalities. He interviewed me on his front porch as he widdled some sort of wooden structure. As I got to know him that summer, and even better during the years to follow, I realized he was a brilliant man. He graduated from Georgia Tech and went to Emory Law School. After 10 months of practicing law, he knew it wasn’t for him. To every one’s shock and horror, he quit a respected, well paying job and gave up a plush office to start a day camp (in 1972). He bought land in Cherokee County and built his home and camp on that land.
Josh marketed to wealthy schools and families in the Atlanta Area, so he was able to charge a premium price for kids to get a woodsy, camp experience. He also knew he was doing the kids a favor by showing them it’s OK to get dirty and have a good time outside. He “stole” the milk motto and printed, “Camp, it does a body good” on all of his t-shirts. Anyway, he eventually made enough money each summer, so he didn’t have to work the rest of the year. While I worked there, I saw him preform in musicals (he was a wonderful singer), turn one of the cabins into a coffee roasting house (just for fun, but he did sell his coffee to local businesses) and buy an airplane so he could learn to fly. He was always looking for new things to try, just for the experience. He was able to live an incredibly full life because he took a chance.
Josh passed away this past spring when he lost his battle to cancer. I went to the funeral and it was standing room only. First of all, the funeral opened with a video that I had never seen. It was Josh being interviewed by the Today Show. They came out to his camp and highlighted someone who lived an unconventional life. It was an old clip (maybe mid-80’s?), but it was amazing to hear him talk about his thought process and why he was so much happier with the path he chose. Second, when other people at the funeral got up to speak, there was the same theme throughout every one’s speech – Josh changed their view on life just by sharing his life with them. That’s how I felt as well.
I hope this story has brightened your day and inspired you to realize (as it did for me) that making enough money to live comfortably doesn’t mean being uncomfortable at work for years and years. Being passionate and unconventional in all that we do can pay off in the long run. I’m sure Mr. Powell would agree.
So, what will be your equivalent of the Josh Powell Camp?
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