Christina Mayhaus is Program Director for the annual Leadership Development Camp. In other words, she is the leader who leads the leaders who teach leadership to the campers. This is her fifth—and final—year as supreme leader of the camp. We sat down with her to learn a little more about her and capture her memories before she leaves.
Q: How long have you been with the Red Cross, and what is your job now? Do you have any other jobs?
A: I have been with the Red Cross for what I believe is my 17th summer, and I am currently the LDC Program Director. This is my fifth year back with that title. Outside of the Red Cross, I am also a therapist and have my own practice.
Q: You attended the Leadership Development Camp in 2000, what about that camp made you want to become a counselor after attending?
A: First of all I had fun, and it was also nice meeting different people who went to different schools and did different things than I did. I also learned a lot about my leadership style and myself and wanted to use those abilities, so I decided to be a counselor.
Q: What drew you to the Red Cross?
A: I had done a lot of different types of volunteer work before I did LDC the first time, but I actually found out about the Red Cross and LDC through a counselor at my school. She nominated a group of us to go to camp and I thought it sounded like a good experience.
Q: What is the LDC offering to kids that is hard to find elsewhere?
A: I think the big thing with LDC that is different is that it is peer led. So there’s other high school counselors that meet throughout the year to plan the camp, and they not only plan it, but they are also the ones who run it. I always say that now as an adult, if the campers do not know who I am, that is okay.
Q: When you were in the camp was there ever a defining moment that came to you and you thought, “I want to be a counselor and help other kids?”
A: I think a lot f it was just seeing how much of an impact all of the counselors had on me. It was cool that as a teenager I recognized I could have that impact on someone else. It was also cool seeing how close all of the counselors were and how well they got along, and also how diverse they were. It was in the combination of all of them that I found that moment.
Q: You have been doing these camps for a very long time. Do you have a craziest story?
A: There are so many. There happened to be one year when we were at camp and there was a tornado warning, so we had to get all of the campers into one little hallway in the dorms. We were all shoved in that small space so it was hot and we just could believe it was happening. We also had one year that our walkie-talkies somehow ended up on the same frequency of staff on Xavier’s campus. One of the counselors said “Code Red, Code Red” over the walkie and the staff there picked it up and called the fire department. When the fire department showed up, we were so shocked. Those were some of the more off-the-wall things that happened.
Q: Why does this year with LDC have to be your last?
A: It was one of those things that the adult staff and I have been talking about for a couple years. There were definitive ends to all of my other positions during LDC, but now there really is no end to what I am doing now. I love LDC and it means a lot to me but there are other things that I have had to focus on and I can’t put enough time in to LDC that I would like. It has been very rough, especially telling the counselors that I was leaving, but it is time for me to try other opportunities.
Q: Do you have any advice for the new LDC Director?
A: I think that just being open to the experience is a big thing. It is also important to let the kids use their leadership skills, because every day is different when working with teenagers. So just be open and trust that the kids will do good, and also put a lot of faith in them that things will get done.