At the YMCA of Lincoln, people make everything possible. We are so grateful for the wonderful staff we have that not only make the Y a great place to be, but serve our community every day. Keep reading to meet one of our amazing team members:
Jason Smith, YMCA Camp Kitaki Executive Director
How long have you been working at the YMCA of Lincoln?
I started full-time with the YMCA of Lincoln in December of 2003. However, I started working as a summer staff member at Camp Kitaki in the summer of 1999.
What other roles have you had at the Y?
I started working seasonally as a summer staff member at Camp, and went from being a cabin counselor, to teens unit director, to senior counselor. Then I took on a full-time position as a Program Director at Camp, then Associate Executive Director, and now Executive Director – all at Camp Kitaki.
What makes the YMCA of Lincoln different than other places you've worked?
The YMCA of Lincoln has been my only full-time position, but something that sets it apart is the unique way that we're able to provide services through such a wide range of offerings to our community. From Youth Sports, to before and after school programing, to fitness, to swim lessons, to overnight camp – the Y does a lot for youth development, social responsibility, and healthy living!
What has been your proudest career moment and why?
I have had so many proud moments in my career. I've had the opportunity to chair the Mid-America Camping Conference, to speak at the Global Camp Conference, to work with international camp directors serving youth displaced by war in Ukraine through the Campacity event, and to keynote the American Camp Association Great Rivers Conference.
At Camp Kitaki, I am proud of the investments we have been able to make in our facility – from the Tango Tower to the Welcome Center. The best part of my job, however, is the thing I am proudest of. That is the opportunity to watch people at camp develop and grow into leaders who can confidently see how they make the world a better place, and then to see them do it. It is humbling and beautiful.
What is one of your favorite memories from working at the Y?
One of my favorite memories will always be leading a group of teenagers to our camp in Northern Minnesota and one evening doing a music sharing activity on the beach of the lake. The northern lights came out and danced in the sky as we shared music with each other – truly a magical evening!
What is the best advice you've ever received?
That time is the most valuable resource that can't be duplicated. Where you invest your time and attention reflects the world as you hope it to be.
What's something most people don't know about you?
Most people don't know (except in certain circumstances where I play it up to be funny) that I am color deficient. I sometimes genuinely can't tell if something is red or green, or if that shade of blue is actually purple, or if that gray actually is a color. So, I guess something that most people don't know is that I don't know what color things are.
We want to extend our sincerest thanks and congratulations to Jason for helping to make the YMCA of Lincoln a great place for 20 years! We can't wait to see how he will continue to make a difference in our community in the future.