The following summer, I was seventeen, which meant I was old enough to return to my beloved Brighton camp to work for the summer. It didn’t matter to me that I was employed as a kitchen debutante (KD), one of six responsible for ensuring the kitchen was in order, and 250 people got to eat three meals a day. It was a dream come true. For the first week of camp, the water to the lodge hadn’t been turned on, so we had to haul water for about a block to tackle the mountains of dishes we had to do every day. I was eager to do any amount of work and do it well, earning me my camp nickname of Beaver. During the first week, I organized the entire kitchen. I made sure all the cookout supplies were separated into categories so that when a counselor wanted to take a group out, she had to grab a box, and they were ready to go. I earned 150 dollars for that summer. I figured it worked out to be about three cents an hour. But more important than the money was the experience I gained working there and the friendships I made.

Unfortunately, my prospects for returning the following summer were grim. It wasn’t that they didn’t want me to come back. I was welcomed with open arms. The problem was that I had my heart set on going to college and couldn’t earn enough money at the camp to pay my tuition. My dad had arranged for me to get a job ironing drapes the summer after high school.  I was grateful to him but couldn’t think of anything I did not want to do. Then on January 19, 1963, The Brighton Girls Camp was destroyed by fire. The camp had been a summer refuge to girls for half a century and was mourned by those who had spent time there. The disaster prompted me to put my dream of college on hold. I told my father that working at the summer camp to help continue the legacy of a place that had meant so much to my self-esteem and well-being was more important than ironing drapes.

The camp leased The Peruvian Lodge in a neighboring canyon at the Alta ski resort that year. I was hired as the head KD, meaning I was over five other young girls. The kitchen was much smaller than the one we were used to feeding all 250 campers and staff, so now we had to serve each meal in two shifts. We served six meals daily between the six KD’s and the two chefs on the kitchen staff. It meant almost constant work and a raging outbreak of dishpan hands, but we got the work done.

Mid-summer, we were to have a week off. The lodge had booked a national bookstore convention that couldn’t be rescheduled. I thought it might be a chance to make some money, so I approached the lodge owner and asked him for a job. He was thrilled I had volunteered to help and said I could have the job, but he said I had to ask my camp director if it was all right. She didn’t like the idea and wanted me to take a break, but I knew it was a chance I couldn’t refuse.

The lodge had hired a chef for the week of the convention, but he had never worked there before and had no idea where anything was in the kitchen, but I did, so we got along well. A small bakery was there, and he showed me what I needed to do. I did most baking for the fifty people gathered at the convention. One of my other jobs was to make coffee for the group. I had never even tasted coffee before, and needless to say, I had never made it either. So they told me to put the grinds in the top, add water, and it would percolate. I figured it wasn’t that hard, so every day, I brewed coffee. By about mid-week, people said it was the strongest coffee they had ever tasted and asked what I had done. It seems no one ever told me to remove the old grounds after the coffee was made, so I just added new coffee every morning on top of the old! Strong coffee, indeed.

The people attending the convention were all amiable. I got to know them when I served their meals, and I also acted as an unofficial tour guide when they wanted to do any hiking in the area.

Several of them had given me tips, and in the end, I made about 75 dollars in 1964, which, combined with my camp salary of 175.00 dollars, would pay for my first semester’s tuition at Brigham Young University Provo, Utah. Even more fortuitous was, by the end of the week, four of the bookstore owners had offered me jobs at their stores. The one that really caught my attention was the BYU campus bookstore owner, and the minute I got home from my job at camp, I put in my job application. Of the two hundred people who applied, twenty got jobs, I was one of those lucky few, and I was offered three positions. I ended up working for Bing Elliot, who was running the book department. In a short time, I made sure I knew how to do anything and everything there was to do there. I worked at the campus bookstore for four years.  After I worked there for one year, she promoted me to her head student, which I did until I graduated.  Bing was like my second mother.  She was always very encouraging to me about my schooling.  When I would get down after a hard test, she would say, “What to that test mean in eternity anyway.”  Her great support keep me going no matter how hard school was for me.