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Former counselor returns to Camp Y-Owasco as new director

Melissa Cartner may be the new director at Camp Y-Owasco, but she will be known around the grounds by her old camp name: "Kanga."

Cartner said everyone at the camp picks a nickname for themselves. She chose that name when she began as a cabin counselor there in the summer of 2009 because she liked Kanga, the mother kangaroo character from "Winnie the Pooh." She said she often looked after others and played a motherly role for them when she was younger, whether it was for her siblings or her friends.

"I like taking care of other people and making sure they're OK," Cartner said.

The Auburn native began as director for the Owasco Lake camp, which is a part of the Auburn YMCA-WEIU, in December. It offers day camp and a resident camp for children who stay overnight.

After her first year as a cabin counselor, Cartner continued in that role the following summer. She then became the co-leadership director for programs where campers can train to become leaders or counselors, acting in that role from 2011 to 2012. After graduating from Stony Brook University in Long Island in 2013 and taking on a different career path, Cartner reached out to Joe Murphy, who had been the director at Camp Y-Owasco from 2009 to 2014, about serving as a job reference for her.

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