Just Checking In: Erin Sunstrum


We’re back with another edition of Just Checking In, where we see what our staff members are doing in the off-season. Today, we check in with our Administrative Director, Erin.

Where are you right now?

I’m actually at a farm in Eastern Scotland right now.

What are you doing in Scotland?

My job as Administrative Director still runs part-time from September to the end of March but, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I am able to do my work from pretty much anywhere with a wi-fi connection. This fall, that means that I have been able to do my job while taking time to do some travelling through Scotland.

After a few days in Edinburgh, I am currently into my second week of WWOOFing (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) on a small farm near the east coast. For those of you not familiar with the program, WWOOF allows volunteers to find farms around the world to lend a hand in exchange for room and board. For two weeks, I am helping out on a small family hill farm as they get ready for the cooler months. That means putting gardens to bed for the winter, harvesting the last of the fruit and vegetables from the orchard and gardens, and moving livestock to their winter homes. Daily chores also include feeding the ducks and hens, collecting eggs, taking the dog for a walk and helping with meals. Each day brings a new experience for me – be it learning to cook on the AGA range, or chasing 40 sheep up and down a hill for three hours after they escaped their paddock.

From here, I’ll spend another week and or so visiting the rest of the country, before making a quick trip to Iceland then heading home to Canada in time for our fall receptions.

What was your favorite memory from last summer?

Right before dinner at the end-of-July Banquet, a big rainstorm moved in. We had set up everything in preparation to eat outside, but within about five minutes of the bell, it became obvious that Mother Nature had different plans. As the clouds rolled in, the entire camp – staff, campers and guests – pulled together to move all of the tables, benches and dishes inside. We finished with literally seconds to spare before the sky opened up in a huge downpour. Everyone had pitched in, no one complained, and we all had a good laugh. It was amazing.

What are you most looking forward to for this coming summer?

Any time I get to spend up at camp is wonderful, but this coming summer is a really special one for me – it will be my fifth with Wanapitei. I am excited to get my five-year paddle at Harvest night!

How has camp played an important role in your life?

Camp is a HUGE part of my life – it’s my career. It has taught me to appreciate the beauty of nature and living simply. It has taught me how to be a good leader and, I feel, a better friend. Wanapitei in particular has taught me the value and importance of community – how everyone has something to contribute, and how quickly strangers can become like family.

Erin has been with Wanapitei since January 2011.