An always-energetic kid, at camp Austin found himself joyfully unleashed in a place where his energy was welcomed and constant activity was the norm. United Methodist camps have impacted Austin’s life since he was a 6th grader unleashed at Warren Willis Camp in Florida.

Austin thrived there for 8 summers and stayed on to pay it forward on the summer team. Warren Willis Camp was a constant in the life of a young adult who tried out 8 college majors before finally settling on a degree in Recreation, Tourism, and Events. A conversation with a college buddy led to swapping stories and finding a shared love for camp, which led Austin to join his friend for a new adventure at an awesome camp in North Carolina. At Tekoa it dawned on Austin that that special feeling that had kept him coming back to Warren Willis Camp wasn’t only found in one place. The energetic fun, radical acceptance, and love of Christ were a hallmark of other United Methodist camps, too. 

This marked the moment when Austin fully embraced the UMCRM community. Following a transformative stint as an environmental education intern at Camp Don Lee (NC), a fellow Methodist site, Austin delved even further into the intersection of camping and faith leadership. There he recognized that serving as a Christian and bringing his whole self to the work would be a key piece to living out his call. Eager to continue his journey, Austin turned once again to the UMCRM Job Board in the autumn of 2021, embarking on a new chapter of learning and personal growth across the country as a dedicated staff member at Camp Indianola (WA).

Now serving as Program Director at Mt. Shepherd in North Carolina (thanks again to the UMCRM Job Board!) Austin reflects that the UMCRM Association has been a through-line tying his experiences together. The Association has helped him to build and maintain connections and stay grounded in faith. Now UMCRM gatherings feel like a family reunion as he reconnects with friends and mentors from all along his vocational journey. He was amazed to realize when Mike Standifer, a childhood idol as the “big boss” up front at Warren Willis Camp, became a colleague and friend! Association events and resources continue to help Austin build collaboration and provide opportunities to develop as a leader. He is honored to be a part of this community of deeply passionate leaders who invest in him and inspire him to keep unleashing that God-given energy as a leader to others.