Bay Cliff Health Camp Principal Seth Rowles began working at Bay Cliff Health Camp the summer after his freshman year at Michigan State.
Bay Cliff Health Camp is a non-profit therapy and wellness center for people with physical disabilities. Although it operates year-round, its main program is a seven-week summer therapy camp session for children with disabilities. During these seven weeks, children strive to achieve goals of increased independence and lead more fulfilling lives.
Rowles was introduced to Bay Cliff during his senior year of high school when his football team shared a meal with the campers.
“It was my first introduction to Bay Cliff,” Rowles said. “I really enjoyed it and thought it was a really cool experience.”
Rowles enjoyed it so much that he decided to apply to work at Bay Cliff in 2014, the summer after his freshman year of college.
“After my freshman year,” Rowles said, “I was grabbing (at) straws of what I wanted to do for the summer, and I was like, ‘Oh, what if I apply to Bay Cliff? It might be a good experience. I 100% oversold my babysitting experience on my application, but I got the job and worked there in the summer, and it changed my life a lot, ”Rowles said.
It was through his work as a recreation instructor and Head of Unit II that Rowles fell in love with Bay Cliff, but he was originally not sure that the work would benefit his studies.
It was through his experiences at MSU, with Bay Cliff, that he was truly inspired to dedicate his life to helping children.
With a degree in psychology, Rowles has worked with children through MSU Youth Diversion Project. The program pairs an MSU student with a juvenile offender for the first time in the criminal justice system, diverting them from formal treatment and providing them with opportunities for community service.
“I was with a young man for, I think, a whole semester,” Rowles said. “The approach they use for the teenage project is a kind of social work, very green, very strength-based systems, and that’s when I decided social work was. the choice I really wanted to make. “
From his first year, Rowles knew he wanted to pursue a master’s degree in social work in order to continue working as a clinical social worker, according to an MSU article published in 2016.
That’s exactly what Rowles did – he graduated with a BS in Psychology from MSU in 2017, then attended MSU Graduate School, where he earned a MS in Clinical Social Work in 2019.
After graduating, Rowles practiced as a clinician for children who have experienced trauma in several different states and cities.
While working at Marquette as a basic clinician, the camp director position opened at Bay Cliff, and Rowles was offered the position, thanks to his extensive experience working with traumatized children. .
As Camp Manager, Rowles oversees the day-to-day operation of Bay Cliff, provides support to staff, researches ways that Bay Cliff can better serve its campers, and ensures that everything at Bay Cliff is of the highest quality and improves the lives of the people it serves.
The opportunity to work full time at Bay Cliff is truly a dream come true for Rowles.
“What I see that is really amazing to me are children who have lived their whole lives being told what they cannot do, or feeling excluded, feeling bad about their place, feeling the only person in their entire community who has a disability or has had their disability, they come to us for the summer and are just kids, ”Rowles said. (4:59)
The MSU School of Social Work is one of the strongest clinical programs in the country, according to MSU. Its mission is one of social justice and positive change.
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