Bruce McDonald may be a vice president with Coca-Cola in Atlanta, but the JMG program is never far from his mind. Today, almost 35 years since earning his JMG certification as a camper at Camp Winona, Bruce says the program created a passion for outdoor learning and leadership that has touched his life both professionally and personally. And when the time comes for a second career, Bruce says, his commitment will be even more evident.
Bruce, who grew up in Georgia, found his way to camp in Maine in the early 1980s. Thanks in part to the efforts of his mother, who conducted a nationwide camp search that landed on Winona, Bruce earned his JMG in 1981 at age 14. Winona brought him that accomplishment, and at the same time offered a counselor and mentor in long-time JMG Director and Winona staff member Moose Curtis.
Bruce was hooked, he returned to Winona as a camper the following summer and helped Moose along the way. When he was old enough to become a staff member, Bruce began leading Winona canoe trips, continued to assist Moose in JMG instruction, and, when Moose left Winona, Bruce picked up where he left off.
Bruce says that although he began a business career after college, JMG and all its elements remained a “keen interest.” That interest translated to an outdoor resume that includes guiding sea kayaking trips in Alaska, British Columbia and along the coast of Maine. He has led bareboat sailboat charters in the Caribbean and regularly saltwater fishes in Florida.
Still Maine remains at the center of Bruce’s outdoor life. He and his wife have owned a cabin on Lake Mooselookmeguntic in the Rangeley for two decades, and since his three children have reached camp age, Bruce has volunteered teaching JMG skills at both Winona and Camp Wyonegonic. He was licensed as a Registered Maine Guide in 2008, and says he began teaching his three children outdoors skills from the time they were four years old. Fourteen-year-old daughter Brooke, a Wyonegonic camper, was certified as a JMG in the summer of 2015.
Bruce says his ongoing enthusiasm for the JMG program stems from his love of the outdoors and his commitment to “teaching kids to be independent, a value that extends into adulthood,” he says. As Bruce has advanced professionally, he says he has continued to use the leadership and teamwork skills the JMG program taught him. Today he serves as Vice President of the Strategic Partnership Marketing Group at the Coca-Cola Company, where he has worked since 1999.
The JMG program “teaches that you can reach your objective with hard work, practice and training,” Bruce says. “It’s incredibly valuable and I want to help publicize the benefits. I want to be involved long-term.”