A Q&A with new Assistant Camp Director, Michelle Holloway
Mid-pandemic, Michelle Holloway, director of personal training and health promotions at the YMCA of Greater Michiana, got a chance to help clean up camp.
“We cleaned out the garden beds and walked around,” she said. “Every time I am out here, I wish I was here all the time."
When the job was posted for an assistant camp director, she decided now was her chance to make that happen. She applied and got the job.
Right now, Michelle is spending about one day a week at camp but will live at camp for the summer starting early to mid-Spring.
The Y’s marketing team recently sat down with Michelle to ask her about her Y background and what she’s looking forward to at Camp Eberhart.
First, tell us a little bit about you.
I’ve worked at the Y for 15 years. I turn 50 this year. I grew up in Massachusetts and my family moved to Michigan when I was 14. I've been living in the Niles-Buchanan/Dowagiac area ever since.
My son, Troy, is my world. He is a three-sport athlete. He’s graduating this year and he plans to go to Northern Michigan University. It’s only a seven-hour drive from camp.
Tell us about your education and career up to this point.
I started my fitness journey at the Y years ago. I got into fitness because I worked in a factory, so I needed to build strength to hold steel in one hand and work with the other. I began riding my bike back and forth to work and became aware of the change in my energy level. I was suddenly bubbly and energetic after a long day's work.
When my son was born, I got him involved in the Y too. We did swim lessons and I started taking a couple of group fitness classes. It really just stemmed from there.
They tried to talk me into being an instructor a couple of times, and I wouldn’t do it. I finally broke down and decided to give it a try. Getting into the instructor world, I had a boot camp, high-intensity mindset, but over the years, I’ve learned so much about the body and now focus more on functional movement, corrective exercise, and stress management.
There are so many opportunities at the Y to work with people from all walks of life and it’s very rewarding. I am looking forward to more of that at camp.
What enticed you to make the move to work at camp?
I was already a nature person. Being outside is so calming for me. When the opportunity came to combine my love of nature, working with and learning from diverse groups of people, and the Y came about, it seemed like the perfect fit. I can’t wait to meet all the kids and counselors and dive into programming.
What else are you looking forward to about working here?
I’m excited about everything. I am looking forward to being involved and learning. I think moving into this role will allow me to bring my skill set and new ideas to camp while simultaneously allowing learning and growth for myself.
Is there anything about camp you’re not looking forward to?
Not at all. I’m a little nervous about making a career move after all these years in fitness, but I’m mostly just excited. If something doesn’t scare you, you’re probably not dreaming big enough, right?
Do you have a favorite camp activity?
Anything water-related and gardening. A garden is something I am looking forward to starting at camp.
What aspect of your fitness background are you going to bring to camp?
I work with many people who suffer from chronic pain and other health issues, and about 85% of it can be controlled through the food we are eating. So, I’d love to tie in more healthy foods and environmental awareness of what we’re putting in our bodies.
For example, the garden I mentioned earlier could provide vegetables and herbs for our outdoor kitchens and nature programs. In terms of environmental awareness, we can explore what types of plants and flowers bring beneficial bugs instead of using pesticides. Things like that.
Do you have any other goals or things you’d like to accomplish at camp?
I’m currently very involved in our local Lions Club, garden club, and chambers, so I’m out and about a lot. I’d love to get connected to Three Rivers and the areas surrounding camp too.
I’d also like to see our winter programming come back. It would be great to offer snowshoeing or cross-country skiing here in the off-season.
Will people still be able to catch you at the Y?
Hopefully, in the off-season, I’ll still be at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA twice a week training clients. I’ve worked with most of my personal training clients for many years, so it would be hard to leave them completely.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to alumni and/or the public about you, or this coming summer at Camp Eberhart?
I just can’t wait. YMCA Camp Eberhart is such a special place to so many and I am excited to immerse myself in that passion and positivity. I've got a lot of learning to do, and I’m excited for the opportunity!