Chris Arnold (S1995-2000)

Hometown: Liverpool, United Kingdom

Contact Info: chris@worldmerit.org

Current City: Liverpool

Cabins: Kingfisher ‘95, Olympic Club ‘96, Dogwood ‘97, Penthouse ‘98-’00

Roles: Waterfront Director, CIT Director, Program Director, Division Director

Education: An undergraduate degree studying something I didn’t like.

Occupation: Entrepreneur/CEO, Camp Leaders, Smaller Earth and Co-founder of World Merit

Spouse: Sarah Arnold

Children: Finn (age 6) and Isaac (age 4)

Where does your story with camp begin?  How were you first introduced to Camp Lincoln? An international camp staffing agency must have thought I was brilliant to put me forward for the best camp in the United States.

Did any of your family members attend or work at camp? No, but my swimming coach had done so a decade before me. After my time at Camp Lincoln, I approached him to Co-Found Camp Leaders, which is now one of the biggest international camp staffing agencies in the world.  It brings about 8,000 people to work at American camps each summer.  It has been a thrill to provide 50,000 people the same experience that CL and CLH gave to me.

What are a few of your favorite memories from your days at Camp Lincoln? Time on the Lake Hubert Waterfront is my favorite to daydream about, but the truth is that the staff at camp changed my life.  My summers working at Camp Lincoln with incredible staff comprise some of the best memories of my life.  In my six summers, several staff taught me so many things. Camp Lincoln was the place more than any other that formed my ideas and eventually my ethics. I learned a lot from the incredible people hired by Sam Cote, Bill Jones and Phil Bertrand (S1983-1997), as well as from those incredible men directly. I laughed countless times and wish I could write here the long list of those who constantly made that happen.  Camp outlined the picture of the man I still hope to become, and the memories of taking first steps on that journey are incredibly valuable.

What are some of the things you learned at camp? I learned that a leader should carry boxes and sweep (thanks Sam Cote).  I learned that you need to give people space to grow and that people change – particularly campers – so don’t hold your prejudices and grudges long.  I also learned that I am the luckiest person I know.  As for my favorite activities, Loon Jumping and grading cabin clean up as Division Director!

Do you have any fun/funny travel stories about getting to camp, camp canoe trips, or traveling outside of camp with camp friends? On my arrival into Minneapolis Airport, I was picked up in a camp van, with some other British staff and a 6’4” Russian – Vlad Kuskovski (s1990-1997).  I sat in the front passenger seat, he started and we were off on our drive to camp.  Vlad became a very good friend – I would love to talk to him again.

What is your favorite camp quote, and when was it from? “Look at that Rooster Tail.” Scott Johnson (S1991-1997, 1999) and Hugh Seyfarth (S1992-1996). Not everything was profound – but everything was fun.

What was your favorite camp meal or dining tradition? For a few years I had the keys to Pop & Candy if that counts.  I loved the singing and noise in the dining hall, particularly all that “give me one,” hand banging stuff.

Can you elaborate on any lasting friendships you have from camp? I consider hundreds of people to be my friends, though I know that I have been particularly poor at staying in touch.  Thanks goodness for Facebook, and I hope to get to a reunion one of these days – I would make a list, but won’t, for fear of accidentally forgetting to mention someone.  I was very proud to be the best man at the wedding of Tim (2014, S1988-1989, 1995-1999) Kimm Lucas (1989-1993, 2014, S1997-1998), and to be in Damien (S1995-1996, 1998) and Becky Boynton’s (S1996) wedding.  At the time, I would have gotten married to most of the staff from CLH. I tried often to appear worthy, but it never really worked.

What did you love most about camp?  What is the biggest take-away you have from your days at Camp Lincoln? In my first year at camp I was still reeling from being in the Hillsborough Disaster in England some years before.  Camp allowed me to recreate my life and be the person I wanted, and more, it provided me with many role models and personalities that revealed what I cared for and enjoyed most.  Camp showed me that people are good and that everyone will teach you something if you listen.  Camp is the best place for fun, fulfillment and accelerated learning on the planet, and not enough Americans know that.  Through my company, Camp Leaders, I have arranged visas and camp jobs for tens of thousands of internationals from over 100 countries.  Camp shows the world that we are all the same – we ALL prefer to love and laugh.

What are you up to now?  Tell us about your life and interests. I have stumbled into leading the most beautiful organization on the planet – World Merit.  We build confidence, raise aspirations and provide opportunity to young people from every single country.  I’m focused on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through World Merit.  In the next 15 years, we will build hundreds of schools and hospitals around the world, initiate thousands of high impact projects, and develop millions of global citizens.  I travel the world and speak and try my best to get good people to do great things.  This September World Merit will bring 360 young people, representing every country together at a residential camp in Pennsylvania.  With World Leaders and the United Nations, we will tackle the world’s most complex issues – and I basically get to be the Program Director and Division Director!  We will start this Merit360 program with a concert with some A-List people on August 27th at the Camp and our outcomes will be presented to the UN General Assembly on September 9th – every CL/CLH person is welcome to come!

Do you have a mentor you look up to or creed that you live by? My mentor is a man who lives in Washington DC called Jack Healey (You should watch this video from Jack).  Jack is the former Executive Director of Amnesty International and he encourages me to fight to make the most of every day.

What are some of your outside interests? Having established my businesses Camp Leaders and Smaller Earth, and having appointed a CEO to replace myself, World Merit and my family are now my whole life, and that is exactly what I want.  I travel to speak at places like the United Nations, but only because it helps me build opportunity for young people all over the planet.  I can honestly say that I now fill every single day with the things I love most.

Is there anything else that would complete your story? Whatever story I manage to build in the coming years, camp, and the people of Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert laid the foundation for almost everything I do.  Of course I miss those summers, but it’s the character I developed then that now enables me to be the happiest person I know.