Chris Moncrief discovered his superpowers at Farm & Wilderness. Here he could explore, dream, and experiment. On a recent visit, Chris reflected on how F&W has shaped, nurtured and inspired him.

As a young camper, he stepped off the NYC bus as a “handful, a beautiful handful” and discovered new ways of relating to people and fresh thinking that matured him summer after summer. He developed the confidence to bring home some of his experiences — “learning and unlearning what I thought about whiteness” and meeting openly gay people who “shattered my understanding of what it meant to be gay, to be a man or a woman.”

After each summer as a camper, “I always felt that I came back just way more knowledgeable, and way more sure and more curious at the same time about the world.”

“F&W gave me a home and taught me a lot about myself at a time when I could really use it most. I have the chance to return that favor.”

As an F&W staffer, Chris organized canoe trips, Timberlake banquets, camper activities and staff schedules. He also embedded meaning and values into daily camp life. He created the “Anything is Possible” mantra as a “crazy” idea that stuck.

“As staff, I think F&W started to affirm my set of superpowers,” Chris said. His time at Timberlake gave him a shot at translating things that don’t make sense anywhere — except at camp — into concepts that could make sense to everyone in any place.

“You’re looking at a group of kids and you’ve got to tell them ‘No Body Talk’ and ‘Fifth Freedom’ and learn how to make that important,” he said. “How do you get a community to start saying silly phrases and how do you create a system that holds itself accountable to its values?”

As TL’s program director, he learned to partially develop an idea and then improvise after its launch. “Talk about an idea until you have about 70 percent of it figured out and then go do it and you’ll figure the rest out as you go. Being okay with uncertainty is something I picked up here [at F&W] … and it has been effective for me in my work now,” says Chris.

Those summer staff experiences helped him develop the skills and candor that propelled him through high school and college. Now he is a Senior Inventor at The Future Project, pushing NYC high-school students to discover their passions, cultivate dreams and channel them into bold actions.

“You try a bunch of things on a young person, and a lot of times they don’t work,” says Chris. Farm & Wilderness is a safe space for kids to explore who they want to be. “That impact isn’t always immediate, but it is always true.”

Building on the impact of being part of F&W, Chris chose to become a donor to Farm & Wilderness to deepen his connection with the community.

“F&W gave me a home and taught me a lot about myself at a time when I could really use it most,” Chris said. “I have the chance to return that favor, even if in small ways, by making a difference for campers.

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