In 2008, a fifth grader at Camp Galileo Sunnyvale named Helen Rice was interviewed for a story about camp in the Sunnyvale Sun. “I just like it here so much. I’m kinda sad that this is my last year,” she said. “I want to be a summer intern here when I am in high school.” This summer, six years later, she’s ready to realize that goal.
Helen, now a student at Saint Francis High School, has happy memories of the energy and fun of being a camper, citing the skits, songs, games “and, of course, the magical rubber chicken.”But more broadly, she notes that her years at camp have shaped who she is. “Galileo let me express myself and taught me confidence,” she says. “Whether it was racing marble rollercoasters, floating boats of straws and popsicle sticks or making a multi-media collage (which still hangs on my wall), I truly felt like an innovator.” It’s with that confidence and enthusiasm that she’s approaching her return to camp this summer: “I knew I wanted to be a summer intern ever since I was a camper. I can’t wait to be a part of the Galileo family again.”
But Helen’s gig at Camp Galileo Sunnyvale isn’t just the culmination of a longtime dream for her; it’s also a wish fulfilled for Greg Zillmer, the camp’s veteran Camp Director. Greg, who is kicking off his tenth year in the role, remembers Helen’s five-year tenure at camp fondly. “Helen was a great kid, the dream Galileo camper,” he remembers. And when he hired her this year as an intern, it was because he recognized that same great kid, “just a few years older. She just radiates positivity and warmth. Everything she does, she does to the best of her ability, and then ventures to do it even better the next time.”
Greg has long hoped to have one of his former campers join his staff. “There’s this idea of ‘growing up Galileo’ that I really value,” he explains. “It’s the impact of internalizing what we value at Galileo and taking it out into the world. I’ve been lucky enough to experience the benefits of it myself. This summer, I finally get to see what it means for one of my campers.”
So what are Greg and Helen most looking forward to about seeing their Galileo dreams fulfilled this summer? Their answers are remarkably similar. Greg is excited to see his former camper spread her wings and bring the same experience to campers and staff that they brought to her. For Helen, it’s about bringing her Galileo story full circle. “I want to help kids see learning in the exciting way that Camp G taught me to. I want to be part of that inspiration I felt from Galileo as a kid.”