This is the full version of the “Spirituality at Camp” article from the Fall – 2017 Camp Dudley News
The impact of Camp’s spiritual program is as diverse as the individuals in our community. It is also unifying as it draws all of us together to strive to improve and develop as human beings with a spirit of thanksgiving at its core. Reflection time is taught, and is critical to the life of a leader. Thought provoking Vesper questions and engaging conversation with fellow campers and leaders mark the end of every day. Chapel Talks begin each morning with thoughtful sharing of a meaningful experience by one of our community members. Chapel service and Hymn Sing close out each week, bringing everyone together with positive, motivating and encouraging messages.
- How has the Dudley spirit affected you? Please share with us, here.
How has Camp impacted you spiritually and/or informed your way of life?
James Mayo III #14866
For the past 26 years, part of the cornerstone of my faith and spirituality has been the spiritual program at Dudley. Having moved from cantor (as a camper) to Director of Music has helped me to develop a great sense of spirituality through the application of music in worship. The spiritual program strives to ascertain an ecumenical approach to the program – which allows everyone to feel welcome – regardless of their religious beliefs. I have benefited from this approach in many respects – especially through the music – mainly because that is how I am able to relate, personally, to God through worship. The spiritual program has a substantial amount music, of many different styles, that is used to express the sentiments of people’s hearts – whether it be inspiration, classic rock, jazz, chants, and/or gospel. This approach has helped shape my view of how many others, outside of my beliefs, choose to relate to God in their own way. And for this, I am forever grateful.
Blake Harper #18778
Every time we sing a camp hymn at my church in Berkeley I am swept away to Dudley, and to those times each morning and each Sunday when we would lift up our voices together in the sincerest form of prayer I know. I am so grateful to all those who make these moments possible. Belt it out boys, this is sacred stuff!
Kelly Dale #21883
The lessons I learned at camp, including a deep understanding of The Other Fellow First, have shaped the way I look at foreign relations. A concern for the betterment of others has expanded beyond my days as a leader into my chosen career path. I work in International Development, meaning that I spend my days thinking through the ways that a small percentage of American taxpayer money can best be used to improve the lives of others around the world. I focus my efforts on adolescents girls, trying to help expand the aspects of Kiniya that we love most- a focus on empowerment, embracing unique talents, encouraging curiosity and exploration, and letting girls enjoy childhood- on a global scale. I am incredibly grateful for Kiniya and Dudley teaching us all these important lessons in a safe space and enabling us to share them with the world around us.
Sheila Kapper #15305
My spiritual connection is something I try to grasp, late at night as I lay in bed reviewing the day that just passed. There is always the anticipation that someone will knock on the Infirmary door or ring the buzzer, you never know what is coming next.
But isn’t that a metaphor for life, living each moment with thoughts to what is around the corner….some positive, some not so…….
Taking time to see the trees, hear the birds or squirrels, feel the sun’s warmth or wind blowing, listening to doors shut, motors passing by. What a well run machine this world is, especially here at camp. I need to stop and pause more.
Alexander Foster #22760
I can vividly remember an experience I had my first summer at Camp Dudley at Kiniya that has impacted my way of life as I know it. I remember stepping off the plane by myself, not knowing anyone at camp and quite honestly feeling nervous and alone. The first person I met from camp was the Programme Director at the time Nicholas Ansell, he greeted me with a bone-crushing handshake picked up my suitcase and proceeded to enthusiastically tell me anything and everything about camp without a moment of hesitation. At the time this experience was a whirlwind to me, but looking back I can remember just how quickly he made me feel welcome and how he treated me as if I was an old friend without knowing anything about me and it made me feel a lot calmer.
I look back on this experience and instead of looking back on how uncomfortable or nerve-racking the entire ordeal might have been I look back and realize how welcoming the experience was. Now, if I ever find myself in the same shoes Nick was in, whether it be welcoming a new member to the camp community or perhaps and new colleague at work, I think back to this experience and try to make them feel as welcome as I did 6 summers ago.
Rev. Dr. Peter Allen #11584
Camp Dudley provided me with many opportunities to talk openly and regularly about my spiritual questions, convictions, and hopes, and to listen to others’ spiritual experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Because spirituality was built into each day, it didn’t feel like it was an afterthought or an occasional activity, like at home. Dudley’s focus on “the other fellow first” reinforced the best lessons I was learning from my family and church. Ultimately, my spiritual experiences at Dudley helped guide me toward my calling and career as an ordained parish minister.
Paul Brown #23587
As a child, and now as an adult, I have always been the proud bearer of an unwavering spirit of exploration. As a result, the actually existing world is a constant source of great fascination and wonder for me. If I had to define in any particular way how Camp has informed my way of life, it would be in the way it provides me with a profound sense of place and community. The physical landscape itself on both sides of the Lake holds great beauty and gives rise to generations of stories and memories. Names that are attached to familiar places – North Point, Kitchen Hill, Stacy Brook, or Junior Beach to cite a few – have meaning in the multitude of experiences that come to life there. We hang onto many of these as uniquely our own and even more as a commonly held bond and history. These places, experiences, stories, and memories are the cornerstone that continually builds a culture and sustains our community, over time and distance. This is a living process that I am always grateful and proud to be a part of.
Ben Cady #15198
I was in a bad place emotionally before becoming a leader at Dudley. I lacked confidence in myself, which led to my having a very cynical view of the world. On my third day of preseason, I was eating lunch at a table in Beckman when a giant, red-faced clown with crazy hair sat down across from me. He pointed his finger at me, declaring, ‘You. You’re going to host the Wednesday Night Show. And you’re going to be great at it.’ I’m not sure if Davo saw that I needed a confidence boost, but this moment was one of many integral parts in my development into the person I am today. So many of these happened at Dudley. As I’ve gotten older, I have come to realize how rare it is to have been a part of a community, especially one that is male dominated, where people truly care about one another. A place where the question ‘how are you’ isn’t a throw away greeting, but one expectant of an honest answer. To be cared for by so many people at once makes it impossible not to want to give back. So to answer how Camp has informed my way of life I can say, without any cynicism, that it has made me a better man. It has given my a positive outlook on life and shaped the way that I treat others on a daily basis.
Sarah McDonough (Bear) #21013
I grew up singing in a church choir. The director there, Sue Ellen, taught us that choristers should lead service – not perform. The music was usually my favorite part of church. Because of Sue Ellen (and terrific musicians in my family, like my grandmother and mom), I was familiar with many of our hymns when I came to Kiniya.
That background in choir helped me frame my role at hymn sing; learning the piano part was important because by playing on Sunday nights, I could offer everyone a chance to sing, dance, and unwind.
The flip side of that, of course, is that all of the singing and dancing girls also offered me a chance engage, let loose, and relax. Let the River Run isn’t nearly as emotional (or funny) when it’s just the piano part.
I find singing with other people to be a tremendously powerful way to connect, and for me, hymn sing – whether in Colchester, Westport, or D.C. – has given me a sense that I am part of a grounded and compassionate community. Pretty great way to end a week.
Kari McKinley #19231
For a number of reasons, religion is something I have struggled with. In my quest for a better understanding of what draws people to become so devout, I’ve come to find that the faith and community that embody religion are components that are incredibly inviting. The spirituality and sense that we are only a small part of much greater purpose are also luring. When I’m at Camp, on either side of the lake, I know I’ve found my “religion.” I have my old friends, those who I’m just getting to know, and others who I haven’t yet met but will learn from and share with in the future. I am surrounded by mother nature and the calmness, perspective, and simplicity she offers. There is music, laughter, tears, and love. From Vespers to Chapel Talk, we can openly reflect and question with the support of both our mates and our mentors. My faith is in the belief that young minds learning and living The Other Fellow First will make for a better world to live in.
Sister Carol Perry #26265
It was a decade ago that I first came to Camp Kiniya at Dudley as a chapel speaker, and I fell in love with its work from day one. I had had Dudley boys in my high school classes, but the work across the lake was a revelation. It began like this:
I was seated on a bench, watching a tennis match and a ten year old camper sat down beside me. After chatting for a bit, I asked her about her goals for the week, and she said: “There is a final competition in my favorite sport this week and I am aiming to win third place.” She looked very serious as she explained: “I am not good enough to be first or second, but I am good enough to be third.”
In our crazy world where “I’m Number One” has become a battle cry, that honest understanding of her talents has stayed with me. What was this place that could help girls see so clearly who they were? My annual visits have only reinforced my appreciation of this incredible work of self-education that Camp Kiniya develops. What a blessed spot!
Bill Harper #18500
More than 20 years ago I was introduced to the Spirit of Dudley, and it was clear to me that there was a soulful, real spirit to this place. Sitting on the Chapel Stage, at Willie Schmidt’s right hand, I watched as campers arrived in clumps of cabins. It was my first day at Camp, and the scene and sense was remarkable. But what amazed and touched me was the way Willie knew every kid, every Leader, and would lean toward me sharing a kind or intimate or funny detail about each one. Willie paid attention. He paid attention to every soul there. And I have been in that same Chapel chair over more than two decades, and I have been at the right hand of four distinct Directors, yet the experience has been the same. They paid attention. Matt Storey, today, deeply embodies that same practice. That is the spirit and spirituality I have experienced at Camp. The deep commitment and ability to pay attention; to give attention and recognition to the other person, the other fellow. To, in effect, treat the Other Fellow as sacred. I’ve seen it with Cub Leaders walking and laughing with their Cabin, thereby letting young boys feel something remarkable: this guy likes me, right now, right here, just as I am! I’ve seen it when a D-Head takes time to practice some silly skit with his Aide. I’ve seen when a JL works, day after day, to help one camper pass a swim test. It has has been said that “attention” to one other is the deepest form of prayer and compassion. When I have done Vespers in Cabins, and watched tears well up in the eyes of Leaders as they see their Cabin, their Campers, I know that their is Something More, not just in this place, but in our World . . .
Jane Phalen #19496
Two things that my husband Tim (#16849) and I try to do in our lives as direct result of our time at Dudley, and what I think each of these says about Dudley’s unique version of spirituality. First, we take time each week to reflect on whether we’re living in line with our own morals and values, ideally in a beautiful outdoor location. I did a lot of self reflection at Dudley, even as a staff member. There is something about that chapel that makes you take a deep breath, feel gratitude, and consider how you can improve on who you are in the world.
Second, whenever we do go to any sort of church, whether it be a Catholic wedding mass in NJ or the small community church that we attend when visiting Tim’s grandmother, Peggy Powell, in Peru, VT, we SING AS LOUD, and WITH AS MUCH JOY AS WE CAN! While Dudley’s spiritual program encourages quiet self reflection, it also encourages joyful and unencumbered enjoyment of life.