Where are they now: Katie Carpenter

Where are they now: Katie Carpenter

Where are they now: Katie Carpenter 

By Katie Bertelsmen


Katie and Rambo

Heepwah, Go Irish and Fly Navy are a few mottos close to Katie Carpenter’s heart. The satisfaction of service to others has been instilled in Katie since her days as a camp counselor.  Later, she became a Residential Advisor during her tenure at the University of Notre Dame- This call to service resonates even now, as she quite literally watches out for others from above in her Navy helicopter. A few words to describe Katie are: empathetic, intelligent, generous, innovative, and adventurous. The sky is the limit when it comes to Ensign Carpenter!

Give me some background about yourself:

I grew up in Millstadt, Illinois, and first learned about Camp Ondessonk during a presentation in grade school.  My first time at Camp was as a mini-camper in Goupil in 2003.  I went to a few weeks of Girls’ Season over the next few summers, eventually becoming a CIT in 2008 and serving on staff from 2009-2013 (Stop, look and listen, here comes Garnier!).

What did you value most as a camper and later on as a staff member?

For campers, I think that one of the unique aspects of the camp experience is the environment in which you are encouraged to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.  Campers have an important journey of self-discovery jammed into a week or two of camp.  As you return in following summers, you learn more about yourself.  The camp environment is conducive to this self-discovery due in large part to the presence and efforts of the summer staff.  As a staff member, you continue to learn about who you are, but also who you want to be.  Exposure to many different leadership styles over the course of a summer helps you learn which styles you like, and which styles you don’t.  Having been fortunate enough to be on leadership staff, I was also able to employ foundational leadership styles and see which worked for me.  University helped me further develop those basic leadership skills and fine tune who I am as a leader.

Some of the best parts about Camp for me are the long-lasting and growing friendships.  One friendship, for example, began in 2006 between me and a staff member in my unit.  I went on to become a CIT under her direction, and then a staff member in her activity area and unit.  It is truly amazing to be friends with your childhood role model.

So, Katie, what have you been up to recently?

I graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2015 with a degree in Pre-Professional Sciences (ND’s version of a pre-med degree).  Shortly after graduating, I became commissioned as an officer into the United States Navy.  I am currently in Florida for flight school.  Hopefully over the next few months, I will complete my current training and move on to advanced helicopter training.  After finishing flight school, I will have the opportunity to fly for the Navy while also utilizing the leadership skills I first began developing at Camp.


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