by Evan Roberts Posted Jun 4, 2019
Joanna “Rajmaninoff” Benjamin is the Women’s Director at Chimney Point. She has a long history with Pine Cove, is an Aggie, and is so dedicated to skits that once she suggested some of her hair be cut off on stage for dramatic effect.
How did you end up at Pine Cove?
I was a youth camper at the Ranch, Timbers, and Shores. (I was one of the first campers at the Timbers when it opened!) The next step for me was to become a Baby Ruth at the Timbers, then I became a counselor and senior counselor at Crier Creek, working in the summers of 2013-2015. I graduated from Texas A&M and went through Pine Cove’s residency program in Central Texas from 2016 to 2017. In the fall of 2016, Chimney Point was hiring for its opening summer, and they asked me to serve as assistant program director for the summer. I came to South Carolina for what I thought was just a few months, but in the middle of the summer, the director started talking with me about the women’s director position since it was opening soon. After prayer, I accepted the job and have been here since!
What is your camp name and how did you get it?
“Rajmaninoff.” I play the piano and there’s a composer named Rachmaninoff, so they took that into consideration. I’m also Indian and LOVE the movie “Aladdin”—some even say I look like the princess Jasmine. So they named me Raj, after Jasmine’s tiger, and pushed that together with Rachmaninoff and it was history!
What are some of your favorites?
Dr. Pepper, Topo Chico, really well-made coffee or espresso. I love fashion trends, kettle chips, and taking off my socks after a long day.
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I went through phases: I wanted to be a cook, a ballerina, and I think there was a time where I wanted to be a lawyer. When I got older, I definitely wanted to do something in marketing, which I ended up majoring in.
What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
Colossians 1:17: “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” I think that verse has resonated with me most because in the last several years I’ve experienced more change than ever before. Through it all, the Lord has shown me He’s the only thing that doesn’t change.
What is your most embarrassing camp moment?
I was throwing out trash and it was way too heavy to carry, but of course, I was doing it myself. I was swinging it through the dumpster window, but I completely missed and naturally, everyone was watching. Also, I didn’t realize it was filled with gravy, so it ended up all over the sidewalk and I had to power wash it in front of everyone.
What piece of advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?
Fourteen-year-old me? I would say, “Joanna, the LITERAL only thing that defines you in every aspect of your life, is how the Lord defines you and nothing else.”
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you at camp?
Recently, during a skit, a teammate/coworker cut off a piece of my hair. In another skit, I was forced to fill my crocs with steamy oatmeal and put my feet in them!
What was your reaction?
It was my idea! I had a weird tail in the back of my hair! The oatmeal was probably the worst part; it was extremely uncomfortable.
What staffer or director has made the biggest impact on you?
Jared “Shock N Awww” Schuler. He was the camp director that hired me, and I served under him as a staffer and a senior counselor, then under his leadership after I graduated. My own leadership style has been shaped after him and his family.
How has Pine Cove changed you?
The reason I said yes to the job, and kept saying yes to the positions at Pine Cove, is because the Lord is using Pine Cove, and it’s shaped my character more than I could’ve ever asked. Pine Cove calls for so much excellence and discipline, comes alongside you, and spurs you on while producing godliness because that is the gospel. And it’s all for these little moments where we get to live out the gospel, whether that’s serving a family a meal, holding their baby, explaining how the Lord has worked in my life—it all points back to the gospel. Working here, because of that vision, you experience what we’re created to do and the fruit that comes from that.