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  • Writer's pictureStephen Bean

An Interview With Our Newest Coordinator: Daniel Manriquez

Daniel served as a camper for two years and is now entering his third year as a staff member. Daniel is the very embodiment of the Camp New Heights mission and we'd like to think we were a small piece of his inspiration to major in Kinesiology. Daniel's thirst for knowledge, technique, and execution in every aspect of his role at camp made him a perfect fit for the coordinator role. He understands the experience from both a camper and staff perspective, so we're excited to continue watching him lead and grow campers and staff members alike.

Daniel is entering the 2023 season with a renewed goal and purpose. Daniel is embarking on a journey to complete his first triathlon at the Ironman 70.3 in St. George, Utah. Daniel will have to endure a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and and 13.1 mile run. St. George is considered among many to be the most difficult 70.3 in the world, so Daniel certainly has his work cut out for him.

Interviewer: Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your experience with Camp New Heights?

Daniel: My name is Daniel Manriquez. I am 20 years old and from a small city in Pacoima, California. I am currently working on obtaining my Associate’s degree, then Bachelor’s, in Kinesiology, which has been my passion since as early as I can remember. My experience with Camp New Heights has been nothing short of incredible, to put it lightly. It is a story that I will share for a lifetime on how I was introduced to Camp New Heights and the memorable experiences/opportunities that followed. As a freshman in high school, I quickly realized that Physical Education was my favorite subject, common amongst many. Stephen Bean, my P.E teacher at the time, taught the class in a way that was just as enjoyable as it was educational. The subject really expanded my interest on health/physical education, which will soon be responsible for my profession in the near future. I vividly remember the day that Bean asked me if I wanted to attend Camp New Heights. I was definitely curious with tons of questions, just because I have never attended any sort of camp before, but after hearing Bean explain all the activities, excursions, and schedule that campers experience…I was sold! I went home that day with high hopes. I immediately told my parents and I was ecstatic when they agreed on letting me go. From that day forward, the countdown was on. When I arrived in Santa Barbara on that breezy day in June, I would not be aware that I was taking the first step of many into the experience of a lifetime with such an outstanding organization. To summarize, I always described that summer as the best summer of my life, hands down. Which, not surprisingly, would be replaced with the following summer at Camp New Heights. They were summers that I will never forget, truly an experience that created memories and friendships that will last forever. Moving forward, I remember being asked if I wanted to come back to camp as a staff member, taking over the baseball program. I was beyond grateful for the opportunity. As a camper, I had such an amazing experience and part of that is because of the chemistry/effort of the New Heights team throughout those 6 weeks. As a counselor, I could not wait to give back that experience with all of the campers so that their summer is beyond memorable. Every year I strive to make each camper have an amazing time, while they are creating friendships/memories that will stay with them for a lifetime. I truly could not be more thankful for everything Camp New Heights has brought my way and for others. I am excited for everything New Heights related in the upcoming future.

Interviewer: What are your goals for 2023?

Daniel: Every time the year resets, I always wonder where and what I can improve on for the next 365 days that will benefit myself and the ones around me. With that being said, my goals for 2023 are as follows…I want to become an even healthier version of myself. I feel like throughout 2022, I learned a ton of valuable information, through college courses, regarding nutrition and physical fitness that I believe can really benefit my entire body if I implement those changes for a year. Not only will it positively impact me, but I am certain that sharing my facts/knowledge to family members, friends, and even campers will be an uplifting experience. My second goal for 2023 is one that has been on my mind a ton recently, which is completing an Ironman 70.3. This is the one goal that really keeps me up at night, truly because it is the greatest physical/mental challenge that I will have ever put myself through. I have little to no experience with any section of an Ironman, so with hard work, discipline, and dedication I hope to achieve a feat that I once thought was impossible. Not only will completing this Ironman affect me positively, but also the ones around me. Achieving this goal will show family, friends, and campers that anything is possible when you put your mind towards it. My next goal for 2023 is to broaden my intelligence. I have learned about many different subjects over the years, whether it regards my education or does not, and I realized that conversations with many different types of people has a big factor on the information I am receiving. I want to create connections with many new people, hear their life stories, opinions, and experiences to gain knowledge that I simply can not learn through my education. One of my last goals for 2023 is to improve on my skills as a Coordinator for Camp New Heights, so that campers can have an even better experience. I mentioned earlier that this organization has all of my respect, which in my opinion deserves the ultimate exchange of effort put back in to the camp. One other goal is to be voted as the counselor with the best music taste. I have observed previous years, done my research, studied, and I am confident that the work I put in during the off-season will strengthen my speaker controlling abilities throughout the summer, which will inevitably lead me to be voted as best taste in music. (Do not quote me on that in case I get voted last place)

Interviewer: What's something you want every camper to know about you?

Daniel: Something very important that I want every camper to know about me is that I am incredibly easy to talk to, seriously. I am mostly always available to listen, which I am excited to hear every campers stories, experiences, and goals while staying at Camp New Heights. It may not be camp related, which is totally fine. We all have lives outside of camp, do not be nervous on describing anything you’d like to talk about such as interests, hobbies, etc. I, myself, can go on and on when being asked a question, or I can have a simple straightforward answer, whichever you all prefer. Point is, do not be afraid to ask me questions, advice, recommendations, or anything in that nature, while keeping the topic of discussion camp appropriate of course. Secondly, I want every camper to know that I have experienced being a camper at Camp New Heights multiple times. I know the abundance of feelings and questions that you all may experience while staying with us. I am here to offer advice or simply a conversation to help ease your process of being a camper. I know I was nervous at first, but as time went by, all I can remember now is how great of an experience I had. Lastly, I want every camper to know that I am here to see you all try your best, while having fun. It may sound cliché, but I truly can not wait to see all of you progress as the weeks go by. Whether you go from doing 0 pushups to 3, or going from 20 to 40. I am ecstatic to see all of you go down your positive personal paths when it comes to nutrition and fitness. I can assure you that as long as you are putting in your best effort, that is all I can truly ask for. Can’t wait to see you all and get to work soon!

Interviewer: What motivates you to wake up every morning at 6:55am at camp?

Daniel: If you are not a morning person, such as myself, waking up early to start the day can be a bit daunting. When it comes to camp, I feel like their are many factors as to what motivates me to get up. First off, I am motivated by the lineup of activities we have for the day. There has never been a day where I wake up at 6:55 and say “Time to get through another day”. Every day has something different, which really psyches me up on the day we are all about to experience together. Another source of motivation would be to see campers learn or simply improve on something daily. Whether it is an exercise, anything baseball related, or making better decisions in the dining hall…I am motivated to see you all make positive changes every day, which will eventually carry on after camp, and knowing that makes waking up a whole lot easier. One of the main reasons I get motivated to wake up early for camp, has to be the fact that I am working at a job where I truly love what I am doing. Not many people can experience that unfortunately, which I have heard on firsthand accounts multiple times. I get to work a job that I am completely dedicated to, plus it contains all of my interests, I have little to complain about. As the weeks go by, I might become a little more tired in the mornings, which I have experienced before, but it only reminds me that everyone else is going through the same feeling of being tired, sore, or drained. That alone is another source of motivation to start my day up. I don’t want you all to think of me as someone who immediately starts their day with a huge smile and 110% energy, that is not me at all. I may need a few minutes to adjust, but with all of the motivational aspects I listed above, I am eager and prepared to start my day once I head out that door.

Interviewer: After this summer what's something you hope your staff and campers would say about you?

Daniel: Once the summer ends, I want my staff and campers to first say that their experience at camp was a positive one. When it comes to me, I first want my staff to explain how I was a beneficial addition to the team and that they enjoyed having me as a part of their experience for those 6 weeks. I hope that my contribution to the team/camp will have an impact that they all find to appreciate as the weeks go by. Overall, I want the staff to be able to say they are happy of all the memories made together and that they were genuinely glad to have me there. When it comes to the campers, I want them to say that I was a counselor that treated everyone with the same amount of attention and respect. I hope that they can all say that my classes were a great experience, but most importantly that everybody in my classes can say they had fun. I want them all to think of me as the counselor that pushed everybody which in turn helped everyone find their hidden potential, all while being an enthusiastic and funny counselor during excursions and other activities. To summarize, I want the campers to remember me as somebody that helped everyone, no matter their experience, to progress and being a fun counselor to be around throughout the number of weeks stayed.

Interviewer: What's your favorite area in Santa Barbara/Goleta?

Daniel: With so many great options to choose from, I have got to say that the beaches at Santa Barbara are my favorite, without a doubt. Being a Californian, I always wonder to myself why I have not been to the beach way more times than I have in my life. Once I am in Santa Barbara for the summer, I simply can not wait to get to the beach. I mean, there are a plethora of things to choose from once you are there. I can start up a football game, volleyball, play a game of catch, or simply run in to the waves full speed. Feeling a bit tired or sore for any of those options? No worries, the beach is a perfect time to get some rest and soak in that sun, or catch up on a book you’ve been reading. Just do not forget your sunscreen, I have had multiple occasions where I do. What more can you ask for, the beach has it all. Can not wait to feel that sand and hear those waves in the near future.

Interviewer: Way too early predictions for song of the summer (2023)?

Daniel: Music is undoubtedly one of the important aspects of everyone’s day. With each camper bringing in their own personal music taste and requests, it can be a bit difficult to truly predict which song a majority of the campers will enjoy the most. I am stuck between two options, Summer by Calvin Harris or Stronger by Kanye West. With all of 4 years at Camp New Heights under my belt, I have got to say that I heard those songs the most and they never disappointed a crowd of campers. Summer by Harris is just top tier during the summer time, obviously. “Summer” is averaging an even 10 for 12 from the three point line, the song just rarely misses. On the other hand, Stronger by Kanye seems to give everyone a boost of energy when in the weight room or while doing a circuit. Not your favorite song at times, simply because it can remind you of that hard workout from earlier in the day, but when in the middle of a workout, “Stronger” is batting 4 for 5 with 2 HR’s and 5 RBI’s, and that one out was a line-out. I may be paying it safe with those options, but why change something if it simply works. Excited to see how my predictions do.

Interviewer: What's your favorite period at camp?

Daniel: My favorite period at camp would have to be the team sport during period 2. As a camper, this period was always my favorite. As a counselor, I can say that period 2 and 4 are close, but that team sport really brings all of the campers together for a fun experience. I am glad when I see campers just as excited as I am, especially when they are just as competitive. It is a great feeling to watch the campers participate in a sport they have never played, or to watch campers finally get to show off during the sport that they have been playing their entire lives. I can’t wait to have friendly competitions alongside all of you. I have got to say ( I hope Stephen takes this into consideration), I hope that we can somehow organize a safe game of baseball that we can all play during that period one day. If we can set that up, it’ll be amazing. Let’s hope some of you are lucky enough to be on my lineup, counselors included.

Interviewer: What's your favorite activity outside of camp to stay active?

Daniel: My favorite activity to stay active, outside of camp, would have to be biking. I just recently received my first bike, so I am using it almost daily and I have got to say that it is quite a great feeling. Before October 2022, the last time I had rode a bike would have been before 2010. Beginning to bike again was an awesome experience and it is quickly taking over running as my preferred way to stay active throughout the week.

Interviewer: What's your favorite memory from all of your years at Camp New Heights?

Daniel: With so many memories to choose from, I have got to say that my favorite memory of all time at Camp New Heights was during my second year as a camper…the camping trip. It was just a great experience. I do not go camping as much as I should, but this trip really made me appreciate just how grateful I was to be a part of the camp. Specifically, my favorite memory from this trip was when myself, a couple of campers and counselors, walked over to the freezing cold waters near the running river. I remember the night sky being so clear, being able to see constellations, which is something I really can not experience at home. Anyways, I recall that memory as one of the funniest moments because of everyone’s reaction of just how freezing the water was, I was laughing pretty hard for a while. That entire trip contained everyone singing camp songs, competitive games of Uno, and amazing food. I believe at one point I even saw a Tarantula. That trip really had a bit of everything. Easily my favorite memory of my entire time at Camp New Heights.

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