Get to know Carl Michelli Camp Ranger at Kugelman in Lillian Alabama.
Tell me something about yourself.
I hold a Boy Scout World Record for the slowest Pinewood Derby Car. I don’t think it’s crossed the finish line yet! My dad was a master carpenter like me, and he decided to put the weight in the back of the car instead of the front. I argued with him until I was blue in the face until finally, I said, “Fine. Put it in the back.” He said, “It’s going to go so fast! We’re going to win everything!” My car would not go down the hill. It was so embarrassing.
I was a Boy Scout for seven years, and then I join the Hiwai Indian Guides because we got to do more primitive camping, archery, and hatchet throwing. My favorite part of scouting is the lifelong friends and how much you learn. You learn so much in scouting. You don’t realize it at the time.
When we moved here, and this position became available, I knew it was my calling. My mother was a preschool teacher and I always loved helping her with her class and playing with the kids. When I saw this job, I knew I had to do this because I love kids. I love that this job brings them to a place where they can learn and grow in a safe environment.
What does a day in the life of a ranger look like?
A day in the life of a ranger never stops. A lot of people don’t realize that. You’re committed to the property. We live on property, which helps a bunch, but we’re dedicated to our job 24/7. It’s hard to take time off, because as soon as you plan for a day off, something comes up that needs to be fixed right away. When the girls are here, we not only handle security at camp, but we also help with programs when they’re short on volunteers. I’ll do bay walks with the girls, I’ll cook for them, I’ll take them for a hike; whatever they need. Because bottom line, when the girls come over here, they can be sad or whatever, but when they leave, I want them to be happy with a smile on their face. I want them to spread the word, “Hey, we went to camp and had such a ball!”
I keep track of everything that goes on at this property: electrical, plumbing, landscaping, the boats, the equipment. It’s crazy. You’re always fixing something. It’s demanding and it’s a lot, but you run with it and it goes pretty well.
My favorite thing is when the girls are here, and I get to be a security guard and make sure they’re safe. I have some security cameras, but I’ll go out and do rounds late at night and early in the morning just to make sure everything’s alright.
What is your why?
That’s easy. My why is that I know that this is a safe space for our girls. When they’re at camp, they’re safe and having fun and not worrying about the outside world.