Click HERE to read Ian Mook’s Chapel Talk from Summer 2018!
Click HERE to read Ian Mook’s Chapel Talk from Summer 2018!
The following was taken from a recent email from #15638 Nana Bandoh.
Nana Osei Bandoh was a camper at Camp Dudley, who was infatuated by the world of pro wrestling at the young age of 12. In 1993 Nana’s cabin area at Camp Dudley was filled with posters and wrestling related items that everyone admired and sometimes joked on him about. Coincidently at that time Nana’s Leader, who is now current Camp Dudley Director Matt Storey, encouraged Nana to join the wrestling club at camp. It was right then and there, that Nana knew he was born to be in the Pro Wrestling world. He loved putting on a show before he won his matches at Dudley.
Almost 20 years later, trained by a WWE Hall of Famer, and numerous appearances at almost every top promotion in the USA, including WWE and trips overseas to Japan and England, Nana is one of the most well-known legends in pro wrestling today, known as Prince Nana from Ring Of Honor Wrestling/Sinclair Broadcast Group.
In wrestling Nana has done it all from wrestling at Madison Square Garden, managing multiple athletes, to producing and promoting events at prestigious NYC locations such as Hammerstein Ballroom and much more! Nana was instrumental in introducing the Camp Dudley “Yoha” hand gesture!!! To the wrestling industry having scores of wrestlers and fans throw up the symbol for a faction known as “The Embassy” that Nana leads with the likes of many individuals who are now signed with WWE, including current NXT Champion Tamasso Chiampa.
Currently, Nana is still active in the wrestling industry and Lives in Brooklyn NY and also owns a sales/Music Management Consulting firm known as The Bandoh Group.
It’s obvious that Nana’s ultimate goal is to be in the WWE, however, his early access to the “Other Fellow First” understanding at Camp Dudley has allowed Nana to enjoy a sustainable life and career in pro wrestling and entertainment while helping others achieve their dreams with him by their side in wrestling.
Till this day Nana credits some of his success to his summers at Camp Dudley and it’s not hard to see why.
Nana loves staying in contact with Dudley alumni and networking, To reach Nana Bandoh you can follow him on Twitter @PrinceKingNana or on Instagram: @PrinceKingNana
#7973 Tim Barnett, Saratoga Springs, NY, wrote to Matt recently regarding their Dudley family history that dates back to 1919. “Hi Matt, the Barnett’s are a three-generation approaching the fourth generation Dudley family. As such, we have a collection of Camp Dudley memorabilia. First there is the Dudley beanie. The second relic is the Dudley hat. Inside are the nametags from all the Barnett’s who have attended Camp Dudley to date. (see list below). The hats are nearly a century old. Finally, we have a collection of letters home by our father while at camp. I’m sure Camp can take credit that the exercise of young Lincoln writing home from Camp Dudley is what inspired and prepared him for his journalistic career. Our father #3550 Lincoln was born in 1909; his first year probably was 1919. He was followed by #7973 Tim Barnett (Buckles), #9676 Robby Barnett, #13550 Ian Barnett, #14550 Ned Barnett and #16476 Isaac Barnett.” Ed. Note: As we go to press, young Toby Barnett’s application is in for the summer of 2019, when he will be a Cub. Below is an excerpt from a letter home, in July of 1924:
“Dear Mother and Father: Some day or other — I forget which, I passed nature. We had to know and describe 25 trees, 25 flowers and 25 birds. I passed it the first day. I was the only one who passed all 75. The rest had to come back the next day. All these things had to be around camp. You couldn’t name a redwood tree, a tea rose or a penguin. They all had to be specimens that were, and could be seen around camp. Yesterday I went out for instruction in woodcraft for the flag. We had instructions in fire making, cooking, reading the compass, use of a map with contour lines, use of axe, use of knife, 6 knots, hiking equipment. Today I take a test on what I was supposed to have absorbed yesterday.” Linc Barnett graduated from the Columbia University School of Journalism and had a career at The New York Herald Tribune, Life Magazine and Time Life Books.
Bob first came to Dudley as a Junior in 1953 and was an Aide, JL, and then a Leader in the summers of 1956 and 1957. Bob Marshall was Camp Director, Willie Schmidt was a Leader and John Storey, Al Kaemmerlen, Charlie Johnson, Ben Nelson, and other Dudley luminaries were at camp with Bob. His older son, #14580 Tiger, attended Dudley in the late 1980s where current Board member John Ulin was his leader in Iroquois in 1988. Bob’s granddaughter, #24480 Ellie, is looking forward to her fourth summer at Kiniya, where Willie’s granddaughter, Zoe, and Dwight Poler’s daughter, Greta, have been her leaders. Tiger’s son, Robert IV, has applied to be a Cub.
Bob began summering on Lake Champlain when he was five years old, and he and his wife, Jamie, spend summers north of Westport, on Corlear Bay, where Bob spends time in his kayak, on his stand-up paddleboard and climbing some of the less challenging peaks of the Adirondacks. Attending at least one Hymn Sing at Dudley is a “must” each summer for Bob and Jamie.
While pursuing a legal career, first in New York and later in Washington, DC, Bob also coached little kids’ baseball, ran marathons, and was a Trustee and President of the Washington National Opera, working with Placido Domingo when he was the General Director. He and Jamie are also involved with Opera Theatre St. Louis, a city where their younger son Gerard is a James Beard Award-winning chef-owner of five restaurants.
He spent his career at Sullivan & Cromwell, where he was managing partner of the Washington office and is currently Senior Counsel (which means retired!). A graduate of Princeton, Oxford, and Harvard Law School, he served as the National Chair of the Harvard Law School Fund and as a member of the Visiting Committee to Harvard Law School. He currently co-chairs an International Law Committee, is President of the Friends of House of Sweden and is on the Advisory Board of Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH).
Chris first came to Camp as a Cub in 1984 and was instantly hooked on Dudley. He spent nine summers at Camp as a camper and rising through the leadership ranks culminating in 1996 as an Assistant D-Head in the Junior Division. He is a first- generation camper and is thrilled that his three sons #23465 Perry, #24065 Tyler and #24965 Zack are all current campers and in the leadership ranks.
Chris attended St. George’s School in Newport, RI, and graduated from Roanoke College in Salem, VA, in 1995. Following graduation and a couple summers at Dudley, Chris followed many other Dudleyites and ended up settling in Warren, VT, in the Mad River Valley. After meeting his wife Danyel in the Valley they moved to Sudbury, MA, where they currently live but still get back to Valley every weekend in the winter to ski and enjoy the Vermont pace of life.
While in Vermont Chris worked for Sugarbush Resort for eight years as a supervisor in Mountain Operations. After leaving Sugarbush, Chris started working at Chestnut Hill Realty as a Project Manager. The company wanted to manage capital projects internally and Chris started by managing and supervising smaller scale projects at apartment communities. In the following years, the projects grew larger in size and started to include new construction of buildings. Chris has been involved in all aspects of the design, permitting, and construction of projects and is also the lead Owner’s Rep. He is now VP of Design and Construction and responsible for a staff of over 20 people that perform all functions of design, construction, administrative duties, and owner’s representation.
Chris is honored to serve on the Board and is looking forward to contributing to the present and future of the two Camps that have provided so much for himself and his family. He is excited to work alongside a passionate and talented group of individuals that care deeply about The Other Fellow First.
When Erinn first arrived at Camp Dudley with her son, #24268 Spencer, she knew that it was a special place. The warmth of the Dudley community was as strong as the July sun, and the entire family felt welcomed and embraced. Erinn loved that Dudley and Kiniya provide nurturing environments where campers can explore new activities, develop new skills and enjoy the fellowship of friends.
Erinn works for Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation), in the Capital Markets Compliance group. She focuses on securities law compliance and risk management, as well as mortgage-related securities transactions. Erinn commenced her career as a corporate attorney, specializing in capital markets transactions, in large law firm practices in New York City and Washington, DC. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in African and African American Studies from Emory University and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Erinn’s husband, Mark, works for the State Department, so the family has lived in South Africa, Trinidad, Kenya, and Hong Kong. Erinn used her corporate finance skills as an investment banker at Standard Bank in Johannesburg, South Africa. She earned an elementary education certification and taught at the International School of Kenya and the Hong Kong International School. In addition, Erinn served as Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Directors at the International School of Kenya.
Erinn is originally from New Rochelle, NY, and currently lives in northern Virginia with Mark, Spencer, and daughters, Celeste (who eagerly awaits the day that she has a camper number) and Noelle.
Erinn looks forward to her service on the Board and says, “I fundamentally believe in the motto ‘The Other Fellow First,’ and support the Dudley-Kiniya commitment to helping young people realize their full potential. It is an honor and a privilege to contribute to the Camp Dudley and Camp Kiniya communities by serving as a member of the Camp Dudley, Inc. Board of Trustees.”
Alice came to know and appreciate Camp Dudley and Kiniya through her children, #22643 Matthew and #22316 Caroline Tornquist, who are the first in their family to attend camp. Collectively they have spent 14 years at camp, including serving on the leadership teams. It’s been truly amazing to see what a significant role camp has played in their lives and in their development as young adults.
Professionally, Alice works in Washington, DC, for Qualcomm Incorporated, the San Diego-based wireless technology innovator, where her focus is on spectrum and technology policy advocacy. In addition, she is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CTIA Wireless Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to developing and supporting initiatives that use wireless technology to enhance American communities in the areas of health and safety. Alice also serves on the board of directors of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and the Women’s High-Tech Coalition.
Alice began her career in Washington, DC, at the Office of Management and Budget, and she also worked on Capitol Hill for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure prior to joining Qualcomm in 2001.
As a volunteer, Alice has held several roles at Rock Spring Congregational UCC in Arlington, VA, including those of deacon, Christian Education board member and deputy financial secretary. She also served as a cookie mom for the Girl Scouts for twelve years and currently is a member of the Parents Committee of Swarthmore College.
Alice is honored to join the Camp Dudley Board of Trustees where she hopes to bring her experience and skills as both a professional in business and a volunteer in the nonprofit sector to ensure that these great camps can thrive into the future. She hopes that many more young people will have the same opportunity that her children have had to grow and develop in a nurturing environment that teaches them the value of putting the Other Fellow First.
As temperatures started to drop in the Adirondacks, the Dudley Gap Program flocked south to The Bahamas for our final expedition. The Dudley Gappers were joined by wonderful staff and alumni, including #18754 Connor Smith, #19524 Dawn Gay, and #14962 Josh Olcott. We spent a few exciting days at The Island School, where we learned about marine biology, sustainability, and farming in different environments. After freediving lessons, shark-tagging, and immersive work with The Island School’s sustainable systems, we were lucky enough to spend some with our Community Partners at the Deep Creek Middle School, home to many Dudley and Kiniya alumni.
To kick off the second half of our expedition, Dudley alum and current Island School teacher #19130 Caleb Florence brought us to one of Eleuthera’s pristine beaches along the atlantic coast, where we learned how to beach camp in this incredible setting. After heading to the northern portion of the island, we stopped in to see our friends at Island Farm–an inspiring organic farm, owned and operated by the family of #23582 Sim Bethel. We also toured the brand new Centre for Ocean Research and Education with its founder, Dr. Owen O’Shea. This new research center empowers young people to get involved in ocean conservation and marine studies, alongside world-class scientists and explorers.
When our Bahamian expedition came to a close, we were sad to leave, but eager to return home to finish up our program here in Westport. For our closing ceremonies, the Gappers hosted a dinner for the community that supported us throughout the journey. The Gappers planned, welcomed, and cooked for nearly 40 people, and we could not have asked for a better send-off! Thanks to all that joined and supported us along the way.
For more information on the Dudley Gap Experience, click HERE.
Kari McKinley, #19231
South Burlington, VT
Kari, daughter of #10231 Schelling and Annie McKinley, grew up in Westport, NY. As her brothers, #16231 Arne and #18231 Leif, headed to Dudley every summer, she yearned for a “sister” experience. While never a camper, she happily joined the Dudley Hike Hut staff in 2004. Her three years in the Hike Hut were incredible, but without hesitation she accepted the Senior D-head role at Kiniya in 2007. She then spent four years as D-Head, Tripping Director, and in Leadership Development with the Aides, JLs, and ALs. Earning her Kiwi disc in 2010, Kari reflected on the evolution of Camp Dudley and Kiniya and what an honor it was to be a part of that process. Since then, Kari has served as a member of the health care staff.
Kari studied Biology at McGill University, with a semester at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Upon graduating, she moved to Burlington, VT (“unable to pull myself away from Lake Champlain!”). Following graduate school at the Yale University School of Nursing, she now works as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Timber Lane Pediatrics in Burlington, VT, a practice, co-owned by Sara Quayle, wife of #9135 Ollie Quayle.
She and her husband, #18952 Joel Cross, are thrilled to be welcoming their first future Dudleyite in July 2018! They love living in Burlington and frequent gatherings with Dudley and Kiniya family. Kari is grateful for the opportunity to serve as the first female CDA Vice President, and couldn’t be happier to share this role with her dear friend from Dudley days, #16119 Marlon Fisher.
Marlon Fisher, #16119
Arriving at Dudley as a Cub in 1993, Marlon had never seen anything as beautiful as the Adirondack mountains. Through the generousity of the Dan Donahue family and the Merrill Lynch Scholarship Builder Program Marlon got to Dudley. Subsequently, Dudley and the people associated with it became the most cherished aspect of Marlon’s life. Marlon became a leader in 2000, Cub division head for several years and then a Dudley summer staff member.
Marlon served the Army as an All Source Intelligence Analyst, from 2008-2016, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan. There Marlon discovered his ability to make others laugh through comedy. Since then, Marlon has been known as “Big Fish” on stage. Marlon was a Seven Daysie finalist in 2015, and in 2017 was a finalist in Vermont’s Funniest Comic Competition.
Through public and community service, Marlon has instructed, mentored, and worked with youth in residential settings, wilderness programs, and the community, a desire that came from Marlon’s Dudley experience.
Marlon married Aron Steward, in August 2015, bought a home, adopted two kitties, and settled in Burlington, VT. The greatest joy in Marlon’s life arrived in July 2016 when Percy Wynston, a son was born. A second son, Malachai, arrived in February 2018.
Marlon brings energy and passion to the Camp Dudley Board, from years of dedication and the countless gifts he has received. He is committed to inclusion, connection, and effective leadership. Marlon works to engage individuals, audiences, and large organizations and to inspire others to share a common mission. Marlon believes in Dudley, founded on its’ connective values and looks forward to representing and promoting its’ mission.
Camp Dudley is seeking team-oriented individuals to facilitate programming at our beautiful camp. Must enjoy working with youth, with a secondary role as a positive role model for young people in a community dedicated to character and leadership development. Must be able to work independently and with a team.
Security: Seeking individuals who have experience in security and safety. Roles include Camp Dudley’s night watch program and leading camper, personnel, and facility safety. Must enjoy working with a team, be able to respond effectively to emergencies, and pitching in wherever help is needed. See full job description here.
Theater Tech: Seeking individual who has experience in theater lighting, sound design, and/or stage teach. Must enjoy sharing knowledge and love of the theater with youth! Role includes managing and maintaining the stage tech program in Witherbee Hall, our 400 seat theater throughout the summer months and planning and teaching activities for campers to participate in meaningful and fun ways. Must enjoy working with a team and pitching in wherever help is needed. See full job description here.
Lifeguard (multiple positions available): Seeking individuals who have current lifeguard certification to cover a busy lakeside waterfront. Lifeguards are responsible for providing supervision and ensuring a safe environment for all swimming activities and assist in the management of the physical operation and care for equipment. Lifeguards may also assist in conducting swimming lessons (WSI required) and help run all-camp events at the waterfront. Current lifeguard certification or equivalent required and current first aid and CPR required. See full job description here.
Kitchen Helper/Dishwasher: This is an entry-level food service position that is responsible for maintaining a high level of cleanliness in the kitchen. The kitchen helper is responsible for washing breakfast and lunch dishes, other dishes throughout the shift, mopping, accomplishing a schedule of tasks that promote kitchen cleanliness and organization, and assisting other food service staff as needed. Someone in this position will be exposed to cleaning compounds (we strive to use as many environmentally friendly cleaning products as possible), and a hot/humid environment at times during the workday. Physical demands include lifting/carrying 50# sacks, moving heavy trays of product, being on one’s feet for long periods, loading/unloading heavy objects from hot ovens and dishwashers. S/he must understand and support the mission of Camp Dudley.Knowledge, Skills, Abilities Familiarity with the dynamics of a professional kitchen is a plus. Attributes sought for this position are a willingness to learn, time/space management skills, physical stamina, a friendly temperament, a desire to help out where needed, and the ability to be a positive member of a cohesive team.
Interested in these positions?
Please contact Evan George
Leadership, Admissions & Program Director
The Board met on Friday, November 3, 2017 at the Renaissance Westchester Hotel for its annual meeting. The meeting started off with old video footage from both Camps (Kiniya 1938 and Dudley summer 1920). This was followed by the two Directors reporting to the Board using the Vision Statement as their guide to keep focused on our Motto, Mission, and Program Pillars.
Matt and Fred reported on the Gap program, the excursions taken, and the benefits of the mixed-age multi-generational experience. Fred provided a program level budget and financial picture to the Board. Information on the Gap program can be found at Dudleygap.blogspot.com. The Directors discussed their coaching and modeling of appropriate behavior as role models for conducting oneself within safe settings that positively impact personal and professional relationships. Matt introduced Jesse Smith, the new Assistant Business Manager, to assist Fred with finances and accounting. Marnie reported on the progress of the Lodge construction and the likelihood that the project will be built on time and under the $1.75MM budget. Marnie continues to work on re-designing the Alumni and Leadership Center. Marnie reported on the plans for Kiniya’s 100th anniversary celebration and encouraged the Board and Dudley alum to participate in the Saturday family picnic and party Saturday night with Friday night being a special time for the “pre-Dudley” Kiniya alums.
The Finance Committee led by Mike Bransford reported on the goal to pay off Camp’s debt by the end of the Building For The Future (“BFTF”) Campaign. Mike reviewed the financials and Fred identified a few items of note. Mike (as Treasurer of the Foundation) gave the annual update on the Endowment funds and the draw that was taken from the Foundation. Caroline Deans reported on the 403(b) Plan and Camp’s role as the Plan Sponsor and the use of the vendors that help administer the plan.
The Health Risk Management and Safety Committee, led by Kathy Wiseman, talked about teen anxiety and the support that Camp is providing through Mollie Farnham (as a licensed social worker) and by encouraging a device-free environment. Kathy provided the Board with some education materials regarding transgender youth.
The Program Committee created a Subcommittee, Keeping Camp Affordable (“KCA”), to look at peer camps, private schools, and colleges to see how other institutions stay relevant and accessible. The near term 2019 goal is to explore the ideas of tiered pricing, sliding scale fees, scholarship, sibling discounts, employee discounts, local area and other discounts, and financing options. The long-term goal (2035) is to explore how to reduce costs for families regardless of need and subsidize costs across the board (e.g., Brown University Promise).
Jack Kotz led a discussion about the spiritual program at Camp and the Board discussed the upcoming article in the CDA news, which allows alums to engage on the website as to each person’s experience on spirituality.
Dave Langston educated the Board about the “giving vehicles” available for 2017: tax deductibility options and the IRA Charitable Roll-Over Plan. He also discussed development now in comparison to 1978 and provided some stats on how the Development Program has grown. Lastly, he reported on the BFTF Campaign, which has risen over $8mm in pledges and of that received $4.8MM in cash.
The Board agreed to extend Matt Quigley as Board Chair and Whitney Phelps as Board Secretary for another year. The Board Development and Nomination Committee offered a slate of officers and acknowledged the need to look at Officer election earlier for 2019. The Board discussed the candidate options. Whitney reported that there was no excess benefit for any of the candidates under consideration. The Board proceeded to conduct a secret vote using the official ballot for the open seats. The Board voted the following to the Class of 2022:
John Ulin was appointed Assistant Secretary to assist in preparing the meeting minutes and also it was recommended that he join the Special Board Committee. Caroline Deans was voted as an Ad Hoc member of the Executive Committee.
The Camp Dudley Board of Trustees met May 6, 2017 in the new Dudley Leadership Barn. Matthew Quigley opened the meeting with a round of applause for Josh’s first meal christening the new building. The meeting followed a great day on Thursday at Kiniya for Board training and bonding. The Directors and staff collectively reported on:
at Kiniya, Clearing of trees ‘Neath the Pines and shoreline clearing; Water System treatment services to increase water quality; Resurfacing of the back tennis courts for tennis & basketball; Fiber optic; Homestead expansion; Lodge Update (shared final design and timeline); and 1281 design planning (high level concepts). At Dudley, Leadership Barn; Challenge Course; Swim point; New Avery roof; Fiber line and lights out to parking for parents.
The Legal Committee provided a brief update on the investigation and walked through the Camp Dudley and Camp Dudley Foundation Accounts and Flow of Funds Guiding Principles document to finalize the process and guidance for how contributions and expenses get allocated between Camp and the Foundation.
The Finance and Audit Committee agreed to create a budget, audit, and finance committee calendar. Fred went over the snapshot of the combined Budget and Finances with nothing noteworthy. He reviewed the Balance Sheet of the combined assets and liabilities. The Audit Committee reported on the Audit and discussed the Conflicts of Interest Policy and Report that must be completed by each Board member.
Dave Langston reported on Camp’s development activities to raise its $800K goal. Mark Valkenburgh went over the summary document of the Gift Acceptance Policy, which was adopted by the Board.
The Program and Policy Committee discussed the issue of “camper age” for Kiniya and Dudley, which has been researching the age requirements for other comparable camps. It was recommend by the Program Committee that Dudley accept Campers at a younger age – coming off of fourth grade instead of finishing fifth grade. Summer 2017 Dudley will have 12 – 10 year-old cubs. This change gives the Director some flexibility and provides consistent messaging across both Camps. It will require some campers to take a year-off before becoming a JL, but there are other options now with our other summer programming.
The Admissions and Diversity Committee (ADS) discussed the issues of race, sexuality and religion. It was decided that a Working Committee would be created to include critical feedback from Staff and that while each topic necessarily touches multiple Committees, it was proposed that ADS focus on Diversity/Race and Tuition (the latter with support from Development and Finance), that Program and Policy focus on Spirituality (one of our four Program Pillars), and that Health Risk Management and Safety focus on the issues around gender and gender identification.
The Board Development and Nominations Committee (BDN) discussed the needs on the Board and diversifying the Board with people of color and women. Rich Maxwell, as Chair of BDN, thanked each of the Committees for providing their updated goals and reminded them of the need to update their Committee Purposes Statements by the November Board Meeting.
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 Camp impacted you spiritually and/or informed your way of life?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 . . .
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.
Use the links to below to make your pledge or send your gift today.
Camp Dudley Foundation
BFTF Pledge Fulfillment
126 Dudley Road
Westport, NY 12993
The following links offer detailed information about the rationale and projects of the Building For The Future Capital Campaign.
Campaign Progress – These tools tell the tale of how far we have come and how you can get involved.
#11904 John Ulin
San Marino, CA
John (“JU” to his Dudley friends) returns to the Dudley Board of Trustees for his second tour of duty, having served from 2003-07 and as a member of the Executive Committee from 2004-07. John grew up in New York City, received his BA from Brown University in 1987, JD from the UCLA School of Law, 1992 and his LLM from Harvard Law School in 1995. John is a partner with Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP in Los Angeles, specializing in copyright and trademark litigation. He has a rich pro bono civil rights practice focusing on voting rights, public education, and providing for homeless veterans. He has volunteered as a Board Member of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and of California Common Cause. John was a Dudley camper from1976-79, then a JL and AL before serving as a Leader from 1985-87 and Plebe Division Head in 1988-89. JU also kept up his singing with a band in Southern California from 2003-2014. John and Mary Ulin have been married for over 27 years and are the proud parents of four Dudley and Kiniya’ites; #21256 Ali (a Kiniya AL in 2017), #20904 Tori (on Kiniya’s 2017 waterfront staff), #20304 Christine and #18756 Curtis. The Ulins lives in San Marino, CA. JU said, “Returning to the Board 10 years later is a great opportunity to honor the legacy of all the great men and women who put Dudley and Kiniya campers first and made our camps what they are today. It is great to be back among the Dudley Family and working with Marnie and Matt to assure that Camp continues to make a positive difference in the lives of young people.”
#13469 Joe Donahue
Joey graduated from Stanford University in 1993. After travelling, which included a semester of NOLS in Kenya, he graduated from Columbia University Medical School in 1999. Joey then did residency in orthopedic surgery in New York City and moved to Silicon Valley for a sports medicine fellowship year in 2004 at Sports Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Medicine Associates (S.O.A.R.) where he became at partner in 2005. In addition to his private practice, he is the SOAR Sports Medicine Fellowship Program Director, the Head Team Physician at Santa Clara University, was a team physician for the San Francisco 49ers from 2004-2007 and is currently a team physician with the San Francisco Giants. Joey’s first experience with Dudley was an open house in Connecticut in 1982. At the end of the slide show, Joey ran up to director Willie Schmidt and signed up for Camp on the spot. Starting as a Plebe, he enjoyed the idyllic days of summer in Westport for five years. His last summer was as an assistant leader in a cabin with fellow board member Pat Butler and sub-aide Matt Storey. More recently, he has served as the camp doctor for the past two summers. Since his first summer at camp, Joey embraced the Dudley motto as a guiding principle in how he conducts his daily life. Joey and his wife Kat have three children, #22069 Sam, #22469 Henry and #23369 Hannah, all happy Dudley and Kiniya campers. In a fast moving world, heavy in technology and overly concerned with academic and athletic achievement, the Donahues are thankful for camp, a true haven for kids to be kids, and where character is paramount.
#24514 Caroline (Foster) Deans
Caroline has been with Fidelity Investments in the Boston area for over 20 years, developing product strategy and ensuring compliance for Fidelity’s retirement services product line. She recently transitioned to Global Services, Fidelity’s offshore shared services organization. Caroline received her BA from Smith College and MBA from Clark University. She remains active with Smith as President of the Smith Club of Central Massachusetts and Planned Giving Chair / Class Fund Agent. Keenly interested in growing girls as leaders, environmental stewardship and general kindness to others, Caroline also volunteers with FidelityCares, Mass Audubon and the Worcester Animal Rescue League. Said Caroline “I’m honored and thrilled to join the Board of Trustees and look forward to helping the camps continue to thrive and evolve.” Caroline’s grandfather #2454 H. Torrey Foster, father #7114 Torrey Foster, brothers #11168 Torrey, #12004 Chris and #13000 Stuart as well as numerous cousins introduced Caroline to camp with stories of hymn sing, ‘lobes, Stacey Brook Country Club, Dead Bug and more. As the only girl, Caroline quickly memorized the Dudley cheer, helped her family host many Open Houses in Shaker Heights, OH during Director Willie Schmidt’s era and pined for the chance to attend a girl’s camp like Dudley. Her son, #20725 Ragon, and daughter, #21412 Gretchen, have continued the long Foster family camper tradition at Dudley and Kiniya. Inspired by Ragon’s experience on the Dudley NOLS trip, Caroline completed her own NOLS course in 2016. Said Caroline, “Dudley and Kiniya not only motivate our family to continue living the motto beyond the shores of Champlain, but they embody an ever-present energy and inspiration in our everyday lives.”
#13820 Marcus Chioffi
Marcus has taught middle school history at Brunswick School, an all boys Pre-K to 12 day school, in Greenwich, CT since 2000. In addition to his academic duties, he also coaches varsity football, as well as middle school hockey and lacrosse. He enjoys the challenges and rewards of teaching and coaching in an environment that so closely resembles Camp Dudley. He first learned of Dudley through long time family friend, the late Tink Bolster, and has been on campus for 24 of 32 summers since. Under the last four Dudley directors, he held positions in all ranks of leadership, including Junior Division Head in 1996. He has also worked in Westport as a member of the maintenance, boathouse and A-Hut staffs. Marcus met his wife, #16964 Joanie Chioffi at Camp in 1996. They live in Greenwich, CT with their two children, #24820 Jack (10) and Caroline (5). Together, Marcus and Joanie worked under Directors Wheaton Griffin and Andy Bisselle in the late 90s and early 2000s. In 2006, Joanie was asked to integrate and implement Dudley values and traditions into the newly formed Camp Dudley at Kiniya. Marcus joined Joanie in the summer of 2007 as the program director, and the couple worked with Marnie to help lay the transformative foundation for Kiniya. More recently, in addition to working in varying capacities in the A-Hut Marcus was thrilled to work with Matt and Marnie as the CDA Vice President under CDA President Jay Wells and alongside David Ready, the current CDA President. Of even greater excitement, son #24820 Jack will cross through the Dudley gates as an official camper this summer for the first time.
Each summer, Camp Dudley employs approximately 150 Program, Kitchen, and Maintenance Staff who work to produce an incredible camp experience for the campers. Hiring needs change from year-to-year and currently Camp Dudley is seeking individuals for the following positions…
Climbing Instructor: We’re looking for an experienced climber to run our indoor and outdoor rock climbing program. This includes leading trips to Adirondacks crags and supporting Camp Dudley’s Outdoor programming. Read the full job description.
Arts & Crafts Instructor: Interested in teaching art in an outdoor setting? We have openings in our Arts & Crafts program teaching various mediums. Arts & Crafts instructors typically lead classes in drawing and painting, printing, and ceramics, but there is room to incorporate new programming and teaching new skills. Read the full job description.
Tennis Instructor: Take the lead in one of our most popular program areas. We’re looking for an experienced tennis instructor to teach tennis at various levels to boys 10 – 14 years old. In addition, the tennis instructor will work with the rest of our Athletics Program team and work in other areas as well. Read the full job description here.
Maintenance: Work with our skilled Maintenance crew to keep campus safe and clean. This position offers an opportunity to work hard outside and be a part of a fun and dynamic team. Read the full job description here.
Food Service: Join a fast paced work environment filled with lots of opportunity for leadership and management experience. Our Food Service team works hard everyday to deliver 3 meals a day to the over 500 people on campus. In addition, the Dudley Food Service program works with local farmers to source as much of our food as possible from the immediate area and also strives to minimize waste by executing a high standard composting and recycling program. Read the full job description here.
As the Board convened in Westport, NY on January 27th light snowflakes fell and we all enjoyed the Adirondacks in the winter. Matt Quigley welcomed the new Members, Marcus Chioffi, Joey Donahue, Caroline Deans and John Ulin to the Board table. In addition, he presented the 2017 draft Board Goals that focus on Present, Prospective and Personal Goals for the Board. Matt Storey discussed the success of the 31 open houses available to our community and prospective new Campers throughout the reunion trail. Marnie commented on the success of the Kiniya Leaders Tea with 51 people, including 12 former Leaders, all of whom joined the Dudley Leaders Luncheon afterward. Matt updated the Board on some off-season shoulder programs that were a great success and will only be considered when the program is led by Camp Dudley in an effort to extend its mission. Matt and Marnie discussed implementation of some programs for administration of Camper scholarships and a web-based medical records system. There was lots of discussion about the new Dudley Gap Experience, the application process and the opportunity it has provided for Camp to reconnect with former Campers.
Matt gave the Board a tour of the new Leadership Barn. Rich Maxwell, as Chair of the Board Development and Nominations Committee reported on the Board self-evaluation process, results and provided certain recommendations, including looking at what would be considered a diverse Board for our Camps.
The Development Committee reported that the Annual Fund surpassed its goal for 2016 and raised over $825,000 (over 2,000 individual gifts!) and that there are over 100 people in the Beckman Society.
The Board adopted a Gift Acceptance Policy that can be shared with potential donors, as necessary, setting forth the guidelines that govern the acceptance of gifts made to Camp for the benefit of our operations, programs, scholarship and to the Camp Dudley Foundation.
The Finance Committee reported on the Camps financial position and presented the 2017 Budget to the Board. In addition, the Finance Committee reported on the upcoming closing for the construction financing loan with Merchants Bank of Vermont and Champlain National Bank for the New Kiniya Dining Hall project.
Lastly, the Board approved a motion allowing for the transfer of funds out of Camp Dudley, Inc. to the Camp Dudley Foundation, under certain circumstances.
The Dudley Board of Trustees met at the Renaissance Westchester Hotel in West Harrison, New York on November 4, 2016. Matt Quigley started the meeting giving a brief history of the German Exchange Program in 1961 as we look to launch the Dudley Gap Experience in the fall of 2017. Matt and Marnie then provided their Directors’ Report. On the reunion trail, Matt and Marnie are actively reaffirming the mission, motto, core values (character – community – leadership – stewardship) and the four program pillars. Marnie and Matt shared with the Board how they are sustaining and strengthening our community and year-round relationships. Attendance at Open Houses has been up from previous years for the vast majority. The numbers are strong and both reported they are confident that Camp will be very full for summer 2017. Camp has two new additions to the year-round team – Tom McDonagh at Dudley (Dudley Gap Experience) and Tom Braden at Kiniya (Maintenance and Operations). Camp is busy building, enhancing and preserving camp resources. In addition, Camp is investing in the systems, technology, and software to support operations. Camp has revamped its online application process, which is going live this week, and is partnering with TADS for purposes of processing scholarships. Camp is looking into the use of “campdoc.com” – an online medical program that organizes medication forms. Tom Brayden is helping to upgrade the WiFi at Camp Kiniya.
Matt provided the Board with an update on the Dudley Gap Experience, which will focus on Community, Leadership and Stewardship. Kat has agreed to work with Tom to co-direct the Dudley Gap Experience. It is anticipated that Camp will have 6-10 people enrolled in the inaugural year.
Marnie talked about the early planning for Kiniya’s 100th (summer 2018) and that she is looking to re-engage Kiniya Alums of all ages and generations!
The Board reviewed and approved our Camps consolidated financial statements and the independent auditors’ report. In addition, the Board adopted an Investment Policy Statement for Short Term Assets. The Admissions, Diversity and Scholarship Committee engaged the Board in a discussion about our Camps’ spiritual program. The Development Committee reported that new donors to Annual Giving were up 30%.
Lastly, the Board Development and Nominations Committee recommended and the Board approved the following new Board Members: Marcus Chioffi (educator), Joey Donahue (doctor), Caroline Deans (finance) and John Ulin (attorney). In addition, the Board voted in the following officers for 2017: Matt Quigley, Chair, Whitney Phelps, Secretary, Mike Bransford, Treasurer and Mark Valkenburgh as Ad Hoc Executive Committee Member.
The Camp Dudley Board of Trustees met on the Camp Dudley campus August 26, 2016 preceding the 2016 CDA Reunion. Matt Quigley began the meeting acknowledging the planned new buildings for Camp Kiniya – the Dining Hall and the Lodge and for Camp Dudley – the Leadership Barn and providing the Board with a history of all the other major buildings at our Camps. Matt and Marnie provided the Board with their Directors’ Report highlighting the over 1000 campers and 500+ others that benefited from an amazing 2016 summer. Each identified a few factors that they think helped to make the summer the best ever, including — a strong commitment by all Staff as evidenced by almost 100% leadership contribution to the Annual Fund, more seasoned and experienced Staff with our new housing accommodations at Kiniya, great pre-season training, multiple Kiniya alumnae visited Camp in-season that provided an infusion of fresh energy during Camp, reduced nights out at Dudley (allowing for better rest), and the addition of 2 new programs at Dudley (assignment of a Staff member to a Leader and cabin (e.g., Staff ate breakfast with cabins and sometimes participated in vespers, etc.) and every day a senior Staff person helped Matt and were on duty after dinner). Marnie reported on the capital improvements at Kiniya, including the new Edie and Knollandale cabins, new decks on other senior cabins, improvements to the publications office, the screen porch on Homestead and the two new properties reconnecting the Williams Property with Kiniya. All of which also helped contribute to a fabulous summer.
Marnie and Fred reported on two major proposed Vermont regulations that could directly impact Kiniya. Vermont is looking to (i) reclassify the SandBar Wetlands as a Class I, which would impact 20 Kiniya acres near the Lamoille River and (ii) impose on camps the rules applicable to hotels and motels. As drafted, the Vermont Camping Association (VCA) is opposing the latter regulation. Both Camps were visited by the respective state’s Department of Health and passed inspection. Matt reported on the condition of the Lake, which is having an impact on the Dudley Program and caused Camp to voluntarily close Swim Point for two days. Camp can’t control the Lake levels or the pervasiveness of the Blue Algae and thus, Camp needs to invest in the Waterfront to ensure future access and use.
The Board reviewed the Camp Dudley Infirmary Health & Safety Report 2016 as presented by the Health, Risk Management and Safety Committee.
Fred went through the financial statements and discussed the fluctuation in the numbers given that Camp started a week later and the impact of the Vermont real estate tax liability due to Camp no longer benefiting from a real estate tax exemption in Vermont for YMCA Camps. The 990s were filed and the 2015 audit is almost done. Bill Combs, Chair of the Audit Committee, reported on the Conflict of Interest Questionnaires completed by all of the Board and Key employees.
Mike Bransford, of the Finance Committee, reviewed the Pension Plan compliance requirements, which will become an ongoing Finance Committee responsibility.
Fred provided a financial update on the planned new Kiniya Dining Hall. The Board had previously approved a $3M Budget and so far Camp spent $300K. A motion was approved to allow the Executive Committee to negotiate and execute bank funding of up to $1.75 million for construction of the new Camp Kiniya Dining Hall.
Ted Smith, Board Development and Nominating Chair, discussed the credentials of each Board Member rolling off and the Committee positions held by each Member. In addition, he talked about the 2017 Class rolling off and that 4 Members on the Executive Committee will need to be replaced in the next two years. He discussed the need for women and diversity in the Board ranks (in all respects).
An Ad Hoc Special Subcommittee was created and it was agreed to hire Laura Kirschstein of T&M Consulting for purposes of investigating the circumstances that precipitated the letter to the Community from the Board Chair dated November 30, 2016.
School: Princeton University ‘17
Most Recent Role at Camp: 2014 Leader
My gap year was easily the most fulfilling year of my life. I spent a semester in Spain and a semester in Bolivia, and then came back for summer at camp. It was the perfect bridge between high school and college. It allowed me to take a break from academics and figure out what I was really passionate about without the pressure of following a structured plan. I developed a greater understanding of my identity, where I come from, and the way that I fit into a broader world. I experienced communities, people, and places that opened my eyes to the vast diversity of lifestyles, beliefs, and societies that exist in the world. I came home with a newfound appreciation for my home and my culture. My gap year helped me realize that inequality and social justice are the things that I care about pursuing most. Because of this, I am extremely passionate about the work that I am doing in school, and the work that I will be doing next year after I graduate. I think it’s really hard to know what you want out of life and I still don’t really know, but taking some time to experience life outside of the school context gave me a big head start.
Head back to the Gap Experience Page.
School: Middlebury ‘17
Most Recent Role at Camp: 2015 Junior Division Head
Why did you decide to take a gap year?
As for my gap year, I decided to take a year off between high school and college because I was young for my grade and I wanted to improve at soccer heading into my varsity career at Midd. I chose to plan out the year on my own because few programs offered exactly what I was looking for. In hindsight, this was a risky decision to make and there were plenty of moments when I wished that I’d had more support, but the experience of going out on my own was valuable. A program that allows for individual, self-directed exploration is in my opinion the best kind of gap year program.
What did you do during your gap year?
I landed in Bad Homburg, Germany for first half of my gap year because of a family connection, and I’d been interested in living in the country because I had such an incredible time during the Dudley-Abbensen German Exchange trip that I took during the summer of 2009. The family was American and British, and they had four kids under the age of 10. I stepped in as a “big brother” who helped out with a lot of babysitting responsibilities, and they welcomed me into their home. They also helped get me set up with a local soccer club and an bilingual international school in the city. I volunteered at the school three days a week, teaching gym classes with a Canadian gym teacher and working with kids aged 5-14.
The soccer was one of the best parts of my year. I played for both the U18 team and the men’s team at the club, and I quickly learned that I had to limit my turnovers to avoid being yelled at in German. I trained almost every day, and while there was a bigger language barrier between myself and my teammates than in other elements of my Germany experience, I learned and improved the most from playing soccer.
I was also able to travel, and I got to know the country really well. I was never more than a three or four hour train ride from any of Germany’s big cities, and I loved exploring new places on my own or meeting up with new or old friends. As was the case during the entire year, I found the Dudley network to be incredibly helpful, and the Dudleyites with whom I connect were generous and always made me feel at home.
I returned to the US for the second half of the year, volunteering at an organic farm in Florida for a few weeks during February before moving in with my aunt and uncle in Hamden, CT where I worked during the spring. I split my time between the New Haven Country Club, where I caddied and worked in the pro shop, and Park Central Tavern, a restaurant that my uncle owned at the time. I was able to make back the money I’d spent in Germany and get challenged in new ways. The days when I was the first one opening up the golf club in the morning and leaving the restaurant after closing were exhausting at the time, but I look back on them as the moments that toughened me up the most and prepared me for the challenges of college.
How has it impacted you in college/beyond?
My gap year prepared me for being a leader at Camp Dudley and for entering Middlebury in more ways than I could’ve imagined. I learned not to overreact when my plans went awry, to see the fun that spontaneity and flexibility created, and to trust my instincts. I also took pride in being able to plan out the entire year on my own and have it work out successfully. I went into the gap year wanting to improve my soccer, and I did so, but I came out of it having learned so much more about myself. I came into college confident in my own abilities, with a willingness to stay true to myself instead of getting sucked into the social pressures that college can present. The sense of adventure that I felt every day of my gap year has never left me, and for this reason I’ve gotten out and explored Vermont and the Adirondacks more so than many of my peers.
I kept a blog during my gap year called “For There is Much To Dare”—a nod to my Dudley roots and my desire for adventure. I accumulated over 50 blog posts, and I love looking back over them from time to time. They bring back so many positive memories and they inspire me to continue to explore.
Check it out and if you want to pull anything from it, feel free!
My final thought about gap years in general is this… So much much of education in the US is linear, structured, performance-based, and discrediting of students’ autonomy over their own learning. My gap year taught me that I could have a say in my learning environments and experiences, and I know it can do the same for so many who chose this option. A gap year offers a change of pace from the rest of our standardized educational trajectories—one that enables individuals to be critical of their education and to take ownership of it in a new, more proactive way.
Head back to the Gap Experience Page.