On Heart of Business, we often interview people who take risks. Starting a business. Launching a product. Leaving a desk job to become a freelance consultant.
Our latest guest, Andy Shlensky, is not only my co-host Andy Shore’s childhood friend, he someone who took a massive leap and did something that was not only risky, but highly unusual: he bought the summer camp of his youth.
In the podcast, Andy and Andy chatted on what it took to acquire and run Hayward, Wisconsin’s North Star Camp for Boys, and why he decided that owning and running the camp was his destiny. Here’s what we learned from Shlensky during the interview:
1. You should share a sense of ownership with others
Running a summer camp is a lot of work, between cleaning, frequent repairs and preparing meals. How does Shlensky get campers to help out? He makes them feel like the camp belongs to them as well. Once the campers realize that they’re all in it together, they’re much more receptive to taking on tasks. This works with employees as well - try it in the workplace!
2. You can know what you want when you’re still a teen
When Shlensky turned 15 and was in camp counselor training at North Star, he made up his mind to buy the camp when he became an adult. At that point in time, most of his peers were still deciding what they wanted to do with the rest of their lives, but for Shlensky, his future was set. In interviewing Shlensky, we learned that you can map out your road when you’re still young, and successfully live out your dreams in the future.
3. Working with family can be a wonderful experience
Andy’s success as the owner of North Star could not have happened without a support network. Who helped him along the way? His wife Vickie. While Vickie serves as a camp director, she also serves as a resident physician at a well known Park Ridge, Ill. Hospital. Having both his wife and baby daughter Laney with him every step of the way has both grounded Andy and helped him make the camp the best possible place for boys. Shlensky also has a great relationship with the camp’s Directors Emeritus Robert and Sue Lebby, who offer wisdom and advice whenever he needs it.
After listening to the friendly banter between Andy and Andy, we realized that happiness and work are not mutually exclusive. Listen to the podcast and you’ll not only feel a creeping summer camp nostalgia, but you’ll learn what it takes to plan and execute one of the most important decisions of your life.