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Mary Collins Atkinson

Deputy Press Secretary, U.S. Senate

Years as a Camper: Nine

Years as a Staff Member/Positions held: Four. JC and SIC on Aquatics, Assistant Head of Mariners, Camp Store

Current Profession and Title/Years in role: Deputy Press Secretary, U.S. Senate, 1.5 years

Can you provide a brief overview of your job responsibilities and/or walk us through a typical day? 

Our days are always a little bit different given the news of the day. I work with our communications team to track our boss’s media exposure across print, television, radio and social media. We also book him on news shows, radio shows and podcasts. I also draft press releases and statements and maintain our social media accounts.

What do you believe have been some of your greatest personal and professional accomplishments? 

Some of the greatest accomplishments are always those that we achieve as a team. Watching a bill go from an idea, to written text and then signed into law is always really exciting because it requires our entire team to see it through from start to finish. For instance, in 2020, my boss introduced legislation to establish a three-digit suicide hotline. Once we established what we wanted the bill to accomplish, our legislative team worked to put the idea into words and our communications team worked to promote the bill and garner support. Once the bill was passed in both chambers, it was signed into law by the president and now the hotline will be up and running in July. The process takes a while, but there’s really no better feeling than seeing it through from start to finish.

How do the values or skills you learned at Camp show up in your everyday work and/or personal life? 

More than anything else, Camp taught me the importance of teamwork. Politics can seem like a dog-eat-dog world, but without the work of a team, there would be no success. All of us are constantly working behind the scenes to ensure things run smoothly. 

Is there a person or a situation that had a huge influence on you while you were at Camp? How and why did they/it impact you?

Yes, absolutely. Molly Bills. Molly was my JC my first summer at Camp in Cabin 3. As the session came to a close, I’d received a letter from my parents that they would be the first parents at pick up on Closing Day—something I’d repeated (probably several times an hour) to my counselors. On Closing Day, I was the very last camper in my cabin and one of the last at Camp. Instead of going about the typical end-of-session cabin clean-up, Molly spent hours with me playing games and continuing to make Camp feel like home. She took me to lunch with her fellow counselor friends and treated me like I was her best friend—not like my parents’ tardiness was a burden at all. When my parents did finally arrive (following a flat tire incident along the way), I told them I wanted to be just like Molly when I grew up—something I still feel today. 

What advice would you give members of our Camp community who are interested in pursuing a career in media or politics? 

Internships are great—but don’t discount the experience you gain at Camp! The years I spent at Camp prepared me more for my professional career than my six-week internship did. Camp teaches teamwork, problem-solving, patience and independence. It teaches you how to make friends with strangers and time management. So much of this world is being able to communicate with other people, find common ground and work together as a team. 

Favorite Camp meal: Chicken patties

Favorite mess hall entry song: Come Clean – Hillary Duff (during rainy days)

All-time favorite skit memory: As a camper, I loved the Ski Show skits because the Ski Team was always invited to participate. As a counselor, I remember an Aquatics skit called “Bagel Fingers” that was so absurd it was hilarious. I don’t even remember what the occasion was, and I don’t think I was even on Aquatics that year.

Devotion you best remember from Camp: I loved the yarn web devotion. One person would start with the yarn and roll the ball to someone across the room after saying something they loved about that person. Each person would hold their piece of yarn until the very end when a web was created. If one person dropped their piece, the entire web fell apart. I always gained that we worked better as a team and that we all had something in common. If one person was left out, we weren’t “complete.”

If you had to have an intro song every time you walked into a room what would it be? Wannabe by the Spice Girls. I don’t necessarily “connect” with it, but I feel like it just gets everyone hyped up. 

Do you have a hidden talent? I was a really good systo-er in my day.

What three words best describe you? Passionate, excited, loyal

What profession other than your own would you like to try? I’ve always wanted to open an antique store with my mom.

What would you eat if you could only have one food for the rest of your life? Probably steak and potatoes. Maybe chicken tenders.