Claire (Goldstein) Swanson (1990-1994, S1999)

Hometown: St. Louis Park, Minnesota

Contact Info: clairebswanson@hotmail.com

Current City: Wayzata, Minnesota

Cabins: Chipmunks, Fawns, Clubhouse, LT, Windy Lodge (Staff)

Roles: Camper, Staff

Education: B.A. Government, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH – 1999; M.A. Journalism, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL – 2002

Occupation: I now raise our five amazing kids and keep our house afloat!

Spouse: Matthew Swanson

Children: Eleanor (9), Noah (9), Clark (6), Maxwell (6), and Louisa (4)

Where does your story with camp begin?  How were you first introduced to Camp Lake Hubert? There was a girl in my Sunday school class who couldn’t stop talking about CLH.  I had been to a few other camps and had a good time, but they were nothing spectacular.  I signed up for a session at CLH and was quickly hooked (and wished I could be at camp all year long)!

Did any of your family members attend or work at camp? Nope.

What are a few of your favorite memories from your days at Camp Lake Hubert? I have vivid memories of the last days of camp each year feeling like the end of the world – the amount of hugging, laughing and crying is a true testament to the strength and intensity of camp friendships.  My camp friends truly became family, and still are!

What are some of the things you learned at camp? The most important thing I learned at CLH was to be comfortable and confident in my own skin.  I learned that “cool” comes in many forms. It wasn’t tied to hairstyles or Guess Jeans, being a star athlete, or the most popular girl.  At camp, “cool” was being yourself and being inclusive.  As far as activities go, I did a little bit of everything, but one thing I always loved was the swim to Lincoln (though funny, we NEVER seemed to see boys on the dock when we arrived)!

Do you have any funny travel stories about getting to camp, camp canoe trips, or traveling outside of camp with camp friends? We took our LT trip to Duluth and it rained, and rained, and rained some more.  Several of us ended up sleeping in the camp van as everything we owned was soaked!  It might sound awful, but it was heaven.  And come to think of it, in Fawns we did a Boundary Waters canoe trip and it rained like heck!  Our tent nearly washed away. And guess what?  We loved every second! Ironically, my daughter Eleanor cannot stop talking about the Happy Hollow camp out last summer when a thunderstorm came out of nowhere and they had to be “rescued” in the camp van and brought back to their cabin.  It was her favorite night of the session!

What is your favorite camp quote, and when was it from? My favorite camp quote is from a camp song. “…And wherever I wander, and wherever I roam, there’s a blue sky way up yonder, that’s calling me home.”  The song still makes me teary – Camp Lake Hubert is most definitely home and whenever I sing or hear that song I am transported back to Bass Beach on a clear, still evening with my camp friends.

What was your favorite camp meal or dining tradition? I loved nothing more than camp rolls with butter and honey.  Oh, and making granola, honey, and yogurt concoctions from the salad bar!  Funny, I also loved “banquet chicken” – which my kids now call “squirty chicken.”  But they don’t love it so much (yet, anyhow).

Can you elaborate on any lasting friendships you have from camp? My best friend in the world is from camp.  Kristine (Falk) Beverly (1986-1994, S1996-1997, 1999) and I have seen each other through glasses, boyfriends, braces, break-ups, weddings, twins!, aging parents, and everything in between.  We might live thousands of miles apart, but when we get together, it’s as if no time has passed. Kristine and Sarah (Campbell) McKee (1989-1994, S1996-1997) and I still get together with our kids every summer at Grand View, and it’s heaven.  Our kids play so well together and us mamas get to catch up on the year.  It’s much like how it was every summer meeting up at camp!

What did you love most about camp?  What is the biggest take-away you have from your days at Camp Lake Hubert? I loved that at camp I could be 100% myself.  There were no boys to impress on a daily basis and no expectations to keep up – especially during those ‘tween and teen years when you’re labeled a “jock” or a “brain” or an “artsy kid” at school.  At camp I got to try new things without fear of failure and to befriend girls who at home might have sat on the opposite side of the lunchroom.  I could breathe deep knowing that I had all the support I needed and every tool to become more independent.  But funny, that is obviously the “camp mom” talking, as back then, what did I love most?  Simply, it was FUN!  At camp my job was to have fun…. Without a care in the world!  Isn’t that a beautiful thing?

Where did life take you after graduate school? Before kids I worked in marketing in New York, Chicago and Denver. Matt and I climbed mountains, camped and mountain biked a ton!

How did you and Matt meet? He and I met in Washington, D.C. where we were both attending a conference on Middle Eastern politics during undergrad.  Matt was at the University of Michigan and I was at Dartmouth.  We then ran into each other in Los Angeles, where I was interning with Good Morning America and he was in law school at University of Southern California.  Later when I started at Northwestern we got reacquainted as he was at the University of Chicago for his MBA.  We were engaged within a year!

What is like to be on the other side, being a camp mom? I am most definitely living through my children, Eleanor (2012-2015) and Noah (2012-2015).  As my husband can attest, I get GIDDY when we drop off/pick up at CL or CLH.  The smells, the sounds, the excitement–it’s intoxicating!  Heck, I get all pumped up about packing for camp.  Friends often ask how I could “let” my nine-year-old twins go away for a month.  Of course we will miss them terribly, but I KNOW that they will be having the time of their lives.  And that when they come home, they’ll be a bit older and a bit wiser, but most importantly, they’ll be more confident and more themselves.  I feel so happy that my kids love camp.  And I can’t wait for my younger three to experience the magic soon.

What are you up to now?  Tell us about your family life and interests. Mornings are a bit insane in the Swanson house (getting two third graders and two kindergartners out the door and on the bus should be a medal sport)!  Afternoons are often even more crazy as we have a steady mix of gymnastics, baseball, piano, girl scouts, chess, wrestling, boy scouts, fencing, basketball and more!  I’m holding on to my last few years of being a mom to a preschooler–“baby” Lulu and I do a lot of playing/going to the park/art/cooking and snuggling when the older four are at school.  Our weekends are family time. All of our kids love nature.  On any given Saturday morning you can find the five of them working together to make a “habitat” for the slugs/frogs/ladybugs/beetles that they “adopted.”  And I joke that when we bring our kids to a big playground, they always end up hiking in the woods or climbing the trees!  Though I can’t say that I blame them.  We also enjoy swimming and biking, playing board games and romping around the yard.

Do you have a mentor you look up to or creed that you live by? I try really hard to live in the moment.  The early days with twins (times two!) were exhausting and I found it hard not to wish the time away just a little bit to a time when they could at least hold their heads up!  I try hard not to ever think that way now.  I am so aware of how each day blends into the next and suddenly my kids are so big.  Silly to waste time worrying about the small stuff.  It all goes by way too fast so I’m soaking up every last cuddle.

What are some of your outside interests? I got into long-distance running, road cycling and triathlon many years ago (before having five babies).  I completed three Ironman Triathlons between 2002 and 2004 and loads of other marathons, century rides, and half-ironman races.  Now I really enjoy shorter distances–half marathons, Olympic-distance triathlons–I get to push myself a bit.  The sweat, the sun, the air, the sky, the trees–it’s where I find my peace.  It’s hard for me to go a day without sneaking in a run or a ride.  I’m a much better mama when I’ve moved my body.

Is there anything else that would complete your story?  My husband used to joke that camp was “cultish” as every one of my camp friends he met was as crazy about CLH as I am.  I always said that our future children would attend camp and he would jokingly say, “Yeah, no.”  That was until we started going up to Grand View as a family every summer and I took him to visit camp.  Even just visiting, he felt the magic. And here we are, many years and several camp sessions later!