OSWEGO, NY – Milford native Brandon Morey was born in Cooperstown – his “first official job” was working at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Now, after a slightly winding course, he’s landed the job from which he says he wants to retire.
Morey is the new Coordinator of Recreation and Youth Development for the Oswego County Youth Bureau. He is taking over for Jim Farfaglia as the director of Camp Hollis.
“Brandon brings a great deal of enthusiasm and practical experience to his job at the Youth Bureau,” said Kathy Fenlon, director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau. “He is responsible for overseeing the county recreational camping program at Camp Hollis and the Oswego County Nature Park at Camp Zerbe, and for making sure that the camp facilities continue to operate in compliance with all state and federal health codes. He has been very busy planning for the summer 2011 camp season. We welcome him to our staff and are looking forward to our 65th season this summer.”
Morey is also responsible for the Oswego County Nature Park at Camp Zerbe in Williamstown, and other youth development activities.
An outdoor enthusiast, Morey has more than six years of experience in running adventure and educational day camp and overnight camp programs in New York State.
“I had worked for farms and stuff around Milford, but my first like official job was at the Hall of Fame,” he said. “It was great. I worked there for about five and half years. The passion that some people have for baseball is rabid.”
He received his BS in Recreation and Leisure Studies from SUNY Cortland in 2005.
“My concentration was in Outdoor Recreation and my emphasis in Camp Management,” he explained. “I have been leading summer camps since the summer of 2004.”
His summer program experience ranges from running the Milford Town Summer Recreation program, the Clarks Sports Center Science Day Camp, Adventure Day Camp and Adventure Overnight Camp and then to NYS licensed Summer Day Camps.
He had originally gone to Cortland for Environmental Studies on the advice of his (temporary) high school guidance counselor.
“In high school, I had wanted to be an electrician. And my guidance counselor talked me out of it,” he said. “I really loved being outside, so I went into Environmental Studies. I just love it; I love being outside.”
The adviser said SUNY Cortland would be a good college for that.
However, at SUNY Cortland, when it became time to declare his major, life threw him a curve ball.
“My adviser said ‘We do not have an Environmental Studies major.’ I said what do you mean? And he told me that they had one class, Environmental Studies 100,” Morey recalls.
His roommate at the time was a recreation major and suggested he try that.
He has been a camper all his life – winter, summer, warm weather or blizzard.
“So I went into Camp Management,” he said.
After college, he became an Advantage After School Program Director for the Olean Family YMCA.
It’s something he never pictured himself doing, “bit I absolutely loved it.”
His summer responsibilities included the implementation of the Summer Day Camp.
Later, he and his family moved to Cortland and he became the School Age Supervisor for the YWCA of Cortland.
“I was responsible for managing and supervising seven before and after school child care programs as well as two summer day camp programs. All of the programs that I ran for the YMCA and the YWCA were regulated by NYS and were all NYS licensed programs,” he said.
He became more involved with being out working with the kids rather than strictly just the management side of camps.
He even had a position all lined up at a Y in Georgia for a while.
“I love the Y. They do great things for kids,” he said. “I wanted to move up, so in order to move up; you have to move around laterally a little bit.”
This time he was ready for a curve ball. But life blazed a fastball past him at the knees over the outside corner.
“I got down there and they had given the position to someone else. I felt like everything was dangled there in front of me and then yanked away,” he said. “But I am a real big believer that things happen for a reason.”
He got hooked up with a construction company down there and he started bidding and estimating projects for them. He quickly moved up to project management. “It was a good experience. But it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” he said.
His wife, a Fulton native, was with him.
“We decided that we missed our family, missed New York,” he said. “So, we came back up here. We both got jobs back in Cortland. She got a job with the Cortland City Youth Bureau. I got a job with the YWCA.”
The funding for his wife’s job got cut and she lost her job Dec. 23.
Shortly after that, life left a hanging curve out over the middle of the plate.
“I found out that this position was open. My mother-in-law actually told me about the position,” he said. “I came up in the first part of January to interview for this job. I had contacted Jim, talked with him, saw Camp Hollis.”
“I had my interview and here I am!” he said. “Camp Hollis is a landmark for Oswego County. It really is. I am glad to be a part of it.”
He added he isn’t going to start making big changes at the camp.
Morey succeeds former Camp Hollis director and youth specialist Jim Farfaglia, who retired in January.
Youth Bureau Director Kathleen Fenlon and Recreation and Youth Development Coordinator Brandon Morey recently visited Camp Hollis in the Town of Oswego to plan for the 2011 camping season.
“You don’t want to fix something that isn’t broken. Jim has been great out there in his 21 years. I hope I can keep what he has built and just keep going and add to it over the years,” Morey said. “I hope to retire from this position. I don’t have any desire to move again.”
“My philosophy, my outlook – I really don’t know what to call it – is that there are certain things that make a camp a camp and should never be changed, never ever,” he explained. “There are things that my grandfather did at camp; things my father did, things that I did; the same skits, the same camp songs, you know, the little things that only exist at camp like playing hide-n-seek in the pitch black. Just waking up and being out there. Getting up and cleaning your cabin, the flag raising, just being outside. There are certain things that I want my kids and grandkids to do and enjoy.”
There is an extreme disconnect with Nature and the natural world these days, the new camp director said.
“It’s sad. If places like Camp Hollis can keep kids connected to Nature, I think they will do great things,” he said.
Morey says he is fortunate that most of the senior staff will be back this year at Camp Hollis.
“That will help me a lot. Jim has been a big help and I will probably rely on him while I get my feet on the ground,” he said, adding, “My professional goal, since I realized it was viable, has been to run a residential camp program. I do it because I know what camp did for me growing up and for what I have seen it do for the kids that have gone through my programs. Also camping keeps us connected with nature which I am a huge advocate for.”
Camp Hollis offers a residential camp experience for youth ages 8 to 14, complete with swimming, nature hikes, arts and crafts, games, evening campfires and many more activities.
“I am looking forward to an exciting season and building on the great tradition of Camp Hollis programs,” said Morey. “I’ve always loved being outside and enjoy all types of outdoor activities. Camp Hollis and Camp Zerbe are wonderful resources for Oswego County residents and I look forward to meeting the many people of all ages who use these facilities.”
Week-long sessions at Camp Hollis will begin July 4 and run through Aug. 19.
There will be a special “mini-camp” June 30 and July 1 to introduce eight-year-olds to the overnight summer camp experience.
For a camper application and more information, go to http://www.oswegocounty.com/youth/hollis/index.html or call the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau at 349-3451.