How did you get your nickname?
From high school Spanish class. My teacher told me my name, Nina, was already pretty Spanish so I didn’t need to make up another. I told her it wasn’t spicy enough and asked her to call me Chiquita instead.
What are you most excited about for Camp Grounded this summer?
I am excited to be a part of creating an immersive experience for people. What a cool job – to be responsible for maximizing joy and exploration. I love that I will be helping people feel simultaneously transported and more deeply connected. I am excited to help people get a little nutty, really enthusiastic, and totally untethered. I am excited to become the 16 year-old camp counselor I once was: rallying campers together to join a conga line through the forest, encouraging them to use more glitter on their popsicle stick houses, and to try kayaking for the first time.
What can camper’s count on you for this summer?
Being kind and present for them. I want campers to be able to approach me to talk about anything.
Maintaining a positive, campy, enthusiastic and energetic vibe. As a leader, I know my energy has a big influence on setting the tone and helping others really feel disconnected from their everyday worries and connected to camp, nature, and the people around them.
Did you go to camp as a kid? If so what is a favorite camp memory from your youth?
Yes. I went to camp well past the time that most people do. I distinctly remember my Dad approaching me the summer between junior and senior year of college and saying “Neen, y’know, a lot of people your age are getting internships. Things to prepare them for the real world. You might want to consider that.” And I was like “Nah, brah, I’m the soccer counselor this year. Not happening.”
My favorite memories are of experiencing that inexplicable, magical, summery togetherness of camp. It’s an energy that pulsates more strongly at different moments, but it’s always there. It’s that ambient, joyous feeling I felt every Friday afternoon when the whole camp would gather around the fire, sing songs and recount the week’s events. It’s the feeling when I would walk from archery to woodworking with my camp best friends; sun streaming through the pine trees. It’s the feeling that made you never want to leave camp.
What’s something you always carry with you?
Gratitude. When I’m enjoying a sunny hike, I try to remember to be aware and grateful that it’s not raining. When a cashier or waiter is really nice, I tell them how much I appreciate them. When I start to complain about something, I try to also think about something I’m lucky to have at that moment.
And a pen. I feel naked without a pen. Who knows when you’ll need to leave your mark?
What’s your favorite camp food?
Peanut butter. I love peanut butter so much that I don’t keep it in my house because as long as I’m in the same place with it and a spoon, it never ends well. But, when I’m camping or hiking, peanut butter is totally justified because it doesn’t go bad, is filling and provides good energy. And it’s the most underused S’more ingredient of all time.