It’s no secret that people come to Culver Summer Schools & Camps from around the world,40 states and 35 countries to be exact. But would you travel 5,026 miles for a six-week summer job?
Nikola Filipovic A’12 has done just that for the past two summers. Five years ago, Filipovic packed up his bags, hopped on a plane, and came to Culver – and America – from Serbia for the first time. He spent three summers as an Upper Camper and the past two as a junior counselor in his old Aviation unit. In Serbia, he is a third-year student at Belgrade University studying Management and Business.
The opportunity to attend Culver became possible through a scholarship set up through the Educating Global Leaders – Serbia fund, which is supported by Culver parents. The Crown Prince Alexander Foundation for Education in Serbia assists in the selection and interview process for the scholarship. The foundation is named after Crown Prince Alexander Karajordevic N’63, ’64, who personally interviews candidates. The scholarship provides a Culver summer experience for one Serbian teen each year. Recipients of the scholarship are considered based on academic performance as well as the interview process.
I saw it as the next step after you graduate as a camper. You develop yourself even more when you come here to work. It’s like the next stage in your life.
“I was supposed to come here for just one summer but then my counselors helped make it possible for me to come again. I wasn’t sure when I came here the second summer if I was going to graduate, I was always waiting and waiting to hear if I was going to get the scholarship for the third summer, too.”
While in Upper Camp Nikola was able to embark on discovery flights and use the aviation simulators. During his third summer he served as the commander of a team that was a part of the Pegasus Challenge, a competition between Aviation and Troop. “We won!” Filipovic added, making the experience all the more memorable.
During his Culver experience he cites Jeff Paris as a mentor, friend, and prime example of a leader. Paris was Filipovic’s senior counselor when he attended camp, and later became his boss when he worked at Culver last summer.
Filipovic became the first Crown Prince Alexander scholar to graduate from Culver Summer Schools & Camps in 2012. But he knew his summers along the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee weren’t over. That is why he has returned to work as a junior counselor in the Aviation unit, where he serves as the TAC officer. He also teaches aviation in Woodcraft Camp.
“I saw it as the next step after you graduate as a camper. You develop yourself even more when you come here to work. It’s like the next stage in your life.”
Before coming to Culver, Filipovic had never had a conversation in English. He had only read and written English in school. His biggest challenge now is “sometimes you feel like you’re a first classman, like a camper, so you want to lead the unit but you’re not supposed to. You’re just supposed to help the campers learn how to lead the unit.”
There are probably summer jobs closer to home. But for Filipovic, the destination made the 5,026-mile journey worthwhile.
“I wanted to continue developing my Culver story.”