The Alumni Spotlight gives us the opportunity to catch up with a Tamarack alum, hear about where they are now, and learn how Tamarack Camps shaped them. We are thrilled to check in with Sam Appel. Read his story below!
When did you attend Tamarack Camps? What villages or programs were you part of?
I started the summer 1999 in what I didn’t know at the time was pronounced DeRoy. As a camper I worked my way through main camp, then attended a Western trip and went to Kennedy. I returned as a counselor at main camp for three years and was lucky enough to be in boy band at camp (shout out T5!), as well as staff and supervised Western and Alaska trips. My final role as a staff was heading to Agree for a week to lead a rag tag group of Pioneer campers on a backcountry.
What lessons did you learn from camp?
I learned a lot about the importance of showering and not staying in your bathing suit too long. And sun screen! It’s just so important. But more importantly I learned about friendship and the power of a strong and supportive community. I learned a love for the outdoors, and an appreciation for the cooking and clinic staff (shout out to them), they work so hard!
What are you up to now personally and/or professionally?
Personally I am marrying my partner of over 10 years and love of my life, Ariel Oppenheim. Feel free to pick something out on our registry, the big day is 9.19. And professionally, I work with a tech company called Sonic Boom Wellness. We run corporate wellness programs for companies around the U.S. and work to help employees be healthier both physically and mentally. We try to focus on building community around wellness. I just ran an Olympics team competition using activity trackers for Nintendo. So basically I’m running color war for corporate America to try and reduce health care premiums. It’s all about connection, communal support, and changing daily habits. At camp I learned how the power of community can do so much good! So it’s been great applying that to my career in the wellness industry.
How did camp impact how you live your life today?
My career prior to Sonic Boom was working with university Hillel’s, so I’ve been trying to make the world more campy for a while now. Beyond that, so many of my lifelong friends have come from camp. I even attended JAMD because I wanted to keep hanging out with my camp friends. My push to make the world more kind, welcoming, and silly was greatly influenced by my experience at Tamarack.
Was there a staff member that made a lasting impact on you and why?
Jeff Grey is usually the first person who comes to mind. His music, my experiences with him and his memory will always be an important part of my life.
Favorite camp meal:
I’m a sucker for pizza.
My Yosemite backcountry as a camper was not easy for me. Katie Sherman basically had to push me up the mountain. But at the top we by chance got to enjoy world renowned slack liners walking between two mountains.
Favorite program/theme day:
Big time Circus Day guy.
Dream Tamarack reunion idea:
Bring all the alumni back for a color war!