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One Last Look at My Gallery

One Last Look at My Gallery

Call them photos, captures, a portfolio, a galley, or a year’s worth of adventures and memories, I am proud of the images that I have featured on this site. Full disclosure, not every single image was my own; as I have noted on the sidebar throughout, I utilized Unsplash.com – an opensource library of photos by some of the most talented and generous photographers out there – to supplement my own photography when I lacked the perfect image for a post or idea. As the project progressed, however, I did find myself relying less on external images and instead utilizing my improving photography skills more.

I wrote extensively on photography and the approach I tried to bring to my practice of it in my July post titled “Photography, As It Sits With Me Now”, so I feel no shame in sparing words in this post. I kept a gallery of my best photos going throughout the blog, titling the page “Captures.” I encourage everyone to visit / revisit that page, but for viewing simplicity (and a little guilty pleasure), I have compiled my favorite images in this post.

Like other elements of this project, I do not intent to stop practicing photography just because I am bringing this blog to a close. In fact, I am inspired to continue (and maybe even upgrade my equipment). But for now, these photos are my best work. Thirteen selected favorites from thirteen months of working on this project. They can stand alone or they can represent the stories, memories, and ideas that I have tried to capture on this site. Or both. With each selection, I have provided a brief synopsis of where I was and what I was doing when I took the photo. I enjoyed the process of remembering these locations and moments, and I am pleased to share them.

SELECTED FAVORITES

(Featured in chronological order)

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Though I took this picture a few months before the idea for this site was conceived, I believe that it was the kernel of success that I needed to push my desire to practice photography from passive to active. The image is one of spontaneity. I arrived in Neil’s Harbor, one of the most northerly towns on Cape Breton Island, after exploring the island’s west side and its famed Skyline Trail, the crown jewel of the Highlands National Park. Caught off guard by the thirty degree temperature difference between the warm St. Lawrence Bay and the chilly Atlantic Coast, I nearly missed the dingy pulling out into the foggy harbor and out of sight. I appreciate the mystery in this image – a quality that I have tried to capture in my photos ever since.
Neil’s Harbor, Cape Breton Island, May 2016
Traveling to Norway in winter, Maddie and I found ourselves caught somewhere in between magical bliss and bitter-cold reality. It was our first big trip together, and with cold temperatures and a fresh dusting of snow every night, Nordic skiing was our priority, and photography was not. But, standing on a frozen lake somewhere in the hills north of Oslo, I did manage to capture this image, which I find appealing in its simplicity.
Oslo, Norway, February 2017
Ah, Craftsbury. Home to the best Nordic skiing in Vermont, and probably the Northeast. With newfound freedom in my class schedule during the Spring Semester of my senior year, I was able to make the trek to the Northeast Kingdom far more often than in previous years. After a fresh snow dump and my first foray on the Craftsbury Commons trail, I spent an hour puttering around the main trails and captured this barn image – so prototypically Vermont and perfect in every way.
Craftsbury, February 2017
My second barn photo came a few weeks later as I drove from Middlebury to Westport for what felt like the hundredth time. That number is not all that inaccurate. Counting summers, my back-and-forth between the Vermont and New York sides of Lake Champlain during my time at college easily reached triple digits, if I count each there-and-back as two drives. Everything about the drive and distance was ideal – not too short, not too long, never any traffic, and views the entire way. Plus, it connected two of my favorite places in the world.  This barn was always the prettiest thing I passed on the Vermont side, so I finally took the time to stop.
Bridport, March 2017
Speaking of favorite places, during a quiet springtime weekend I chose to do something a little different and spent a night camping out at North Point on Camp Dudley’s property. I have always slept in my hammock when I camp, and this time was no different, but with temps reaching a low in the thirties and a direct view of the sunrise over Lake Champlain and Vermont’s Green Mountains, I found myself stirring at 4:15 AM. I stoked up the previous night’s fire, set out to make some coffee, and played around with camera settings to dial in an ideal exposure for capturing the sunrise. This image frames the entire experience; spring buds, the sun directly over Camel’s Hump, a boat drifting down the lake, reflections off the water, and an ethereal glow.
Camp Dudley, May 2017
One of the greatest graduation gifts I received came as a complete surprise, when Hank Barrett asked me to be the fourth for a day of thirty-six holes at Shinnecock Hills and the National Golf Links of America, two of the country’s finest (and toughest to get on) golf courses. I have never had a better day of golf in my life, and never felt so lucky, especially when I closed out our final match of the day with a par-par-par-birdie stretch on the fifteenth through eighteenth holes at National. This is an image of National’s iconic windmill, and I love the late-afternoon lighting and the arrangement of highlights and shadows it created.
National Golf Links of America, June 2017
This image does not stand in for one particular moment for all of the memories I have from this location. Sunsets with my Dudley pals, games of CanJam and corn hole, rest stops on early morning training runs, walks up the hill from my grandparents’ house between dinner and dessert. I took it when I was relaxing in Westport, in limbo between graduation and launching for Germany. The school house might be the most iconic structure in my life, and I am glad I could finally capture it in its full glory.
Westport, June 2017
My crazy, awe-inspiring West Coast road trip with five of my high school buddies was the best way for us to celebrate graduating college and spend time together before we all started up jobs in various cities on the East Coast. Though my photos will never compare to the memories of that trip, I do particularly like this one from the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. We had risen before dawn in attempt to beat the crowds and heat in Yosemite Valley, and it paid off in unparalleled views and one of the best ten miles on trail of my life.
Yosemite National Park, June 2017
This is a more somber image, taken of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Germany. My month in Germany featured stark contrasts, inner disparities, and a roller-coaster of emotions. Perhaps I am drawn to this photo out of all of those I took during the trip because of the profound balance depicted. On the surface, everything is aligned and appealing. And yet the experience of walking through the memorial is anything but calming. Walking between the rectangular concrete columns, the looming, maze-like construction of the site quickly reveals itself. It is claustrophobic and disorienting. In some ways, I felt the same during my month leading the exchange trip. On the surface, I was leading a group of awesome kids from the best camp in the country, I had just graduated, and I have a job lined up in New York upon my return. But internally, I felt the pressure of responsibility and the anxiety of transition, and those emotions made it harder for me to relax and enjoy myself.
Berlin, July 2017
New York, New York. I arrived to the city exhausted and full of questions, and it took me a few weeks to settle in. I am still settling in, and I do not know if I will ever be completely comfortable here. And yet, I have found solace in my daily routines and my opportunities to step outside of those routines, if only for a detour through Central Park. The calm in this photo masks the hectic nature of the city, but in seeking spaces that remind me that nature is still out there, I have found beauty and incredible juxtapositions. I love that the lady in the red dress made an appearance in the image (fitting Matrix reference).
Central Park (East), August 2017
Pawling has served as weekend escape, and I am so grateful that I can get out of the city, be with Maddie and her family, and maintain some of my favorite outdoorsy activities that are just not possible in Manhattan. This is another photo that captures mystery; the gate is both open and chained closed, and the grass (and trees) are certainly greener on the other side of the fence (stone wall). But ultimately, it is inviting, and that is the way I feel about New York: being in this new place is an invitation to try new things and expand my parameters for how I define “adventure.”
Pawling, August 2017
I kicked off September and autumn with a trip home to Williamstown with Maddie to celebrate birthdays, be with family, and find more adventures. No moment from the weekend was more striking than when the sun rose over Lake George at the start of Maddie’s triathlon. With the air temperature thirty degrees cooler than the water, the fog rising off the lake was mystical. I felt lucky to be present for that moment, and I always feel lucky that mountains and lakes have been such an integral part of my life.
Lake George, September 2017
The foliage has been more muted this autumn, and that is okay. There is still plenty of beauty in less vibrant tones. I love the layering of greens and browns in this image, and I was thrilled to capture it when the priority of this particular morning was running a trail race, and not going out on an adventure to take photos. There is nuance in this image, which makes it a fitting one on which to end. Who would have known that my year long quest to capture moments worth savoring would end with an image of an unnamed bog somewhere in northwestern Connecticut, but I like it that way. Beautiful yet unassuming, bright yet mysterious, an ending and a beginning.
Macricostas Preserve, September 2017
Germany Wrap-Up

Germany Wrap-Up

I am back stateside, and my one-month whirlwind adventure in Germany is over. Ever since I returned from the German Exchange in 2009, I had dreamed of leading this trip. In the months before we departed from Camp Dudley, I had already constructed a vision of what the trip would be – built on memories from my past two stays in Germany and my expectations of what the third time around would entail.

Now the trip sits in concrete details, blurred only by the occasional foggy memories due to a lack of sleep. I have not written much about the last week of Intercamp or the round trip around Germany, so I will focus mostly on those sections of the trip. They were the weeks that flew by the fastest and packed in the most fun.

Intercamp’s male leaders

The one-hundred or so campers and leaders at Intercamp 2017 really became a community following our return from the hikes. With just a week to go, we were determined to form strong friendships and make every game better than the last. As the days progressed, I was struck by the sheer effort and selflessness of the German leaders who poured everything they had into the planning and execution of each day. With such a minute support staff compared to Dudley’s operation, everything fell on the leaders to make the camp go smoothly. That dynamic created a tight-knit community among the leaders – everyone had to have each other’s back or else it would not work.

I enjoyed increasing my responsibilities as time went along – taking on barbecuing jobs and leading wacky interest groups and even running the final game of the camp. In that game, based on the classic Saratoga Morning from Dudley, campers were assigned to roles as either a horse or a jockey, and they competed in races. There were, of course, odds on each horse and betting opportunities for the campers who were not racing.

Berlin, July 2017

Saying goodbye to the Intercamp community was challenging because it felt like it came too soon, but we quickly turned our thoughts to the excitement of the round trip. The week was stressful, especially for the leaders, because we were tasked with taking forty-seven kids from four different nations around Berlin, Dresden, and Munich. Every step of each day took coordination, which left little time for relaxation. Through determination and plenty of problem solving, the round trip ended up a success. We played beach volleyball in Berlin, ate Indian food in Dresden, toured the Dachau concentration camp, and spent an afternoon wandering freely in Munich – not to mention all of the guided tours and typical sightseeing activities in each city.

I rarely experienced the free-spirited feeling of exploring new cities that I had come to love during my gap year, but the few moments I had for myself were all the more refreshing and rewarding. I went on one sightseeing run in each city, found the best cup of coffee ever at The Barn in Berlin, snagged a few hyperlocal craft beers as a gift for my dad, and spent quality time with the other leaders on the trip. We spent the final day of the trip with only the Dudley / Kiniya crew, and traveling with fourteen instead of sixty-four was fun and much more relaxing.

Dresden, July 2017

Throughout the entire month, I was impressed by the maturity and general awesomeness of my Dudley group. I knew they would be great, but they blew me away. I felt really good knowing that I could help reward such a great group of kids with a month unlike any they have ever experienced.

On Sunday, we woke up early and began the last leg of traveling – from Hannover to Paris to Montreal and finally back to Dudley. As we neared the Montreal airport, knowing that the stress and responsibility of the trip was basically over, my body started shutting down. I heard a quote once along the lines of: “The best compliment your body can give you is to get sick the moment you finish a task into which you have poured every ounce of yourself.” I kept that in mind as I arrived back at Camp, weak and exhausted but beyond happy about how the month had gone.

That evening, I mustered up the energy to play in Dudley’s Sunday night brass quartet alongside my brother Sam. The moon and stars were out in full splendor, and I felt so lucky for everything Dudley had given me. Hopefully, my efforts in Germany could serve as a small way of giving back.

Munich, July 2017
The End of Graduation Celebration and the Beginning of the German Exchange

The End of Graduation Celebration and the Beginning of the German Exchange

(This blog post was composed somewhere over the Atlantic en route to Paris during the first leg of my travels, and published upon arriving in Hanover, Germany)

A couple months ago, I wrote “Germany, Round III” detailing my initial plans to lead Camp Dudley’s German Exchange Trip during the month of July. Well, July 1st has come and passed, and with it my group launched our trip “across the pond.”

I spent much of the past week reacclimatizing myself to the Adirondacks after my whirlwind of a road trip out west. The implications of my preparations during this time included not only the need to be ready to lead eight boys to Germany but also the need to enable myself to make a smooth and rapid transition to New York City and my job at Landmark upon my return.

Moreover, it was the last week that Maddie and I got to spend together in “graduation celebration” mode and it was our lengthiest stay in Westport of the summer. We loved being around my extended family, seeing Dudley kick off its 133rd summer, and squeezing in as many adventures as we could. Highlights included visiting the Keene Valley Farmers’ Market and then mountain biking at The Flume Trails in Wilmington, completing furniture and art projects for our apartment, “teaming up” as Maddie finished 5th in the Tupper Lake Olympic Distance Triathlon, eating straight out of the garden every day, and capping things off with an awesome trail run and mini-golf evening in Lake Placid.

Tupper Lake Triathalon

It felt strange saying goodbye to each other, knowing that the following four weeks will be the longest we have ever spent apart, but also recognizing that with each passing day, the post-college life that we have imagined together draws nearer. We will certainly make many sacrifices in moving to New York, but we will gain incredible opportunities and our first true chance to be adults, together.

All of that is ahead of me, and it is something I look forward to with eager anticipation. But for the next month, my number-one priority is to my campers, all of whom will be seeing Germany and attending Camp Abbensen for the first time. I remember vividly the mixture of elation and nerves that I felt flying to Germany with Camp Dudley eight years ago. It was my first time abroad, and the experience would and still continues to have ripple effects in my life. I found role models and close friends on that trip, both within my Dudley group and among the Germans I met. For me, the trip was a perfect mixture of intensity, leisure, and exposure to new people and places, and I was also challenged to be open to outcomes in a way that Dudley’s structure does not always allow.

I want to instill that magical feeling in my campers. It might happen when the meet a new friend during their homestays, when they participate in the longstanding tradition of a midnight extravaganza at Camp Abbensen, or when they are inspired by the history or grandeur of one of the cities we will visit. And I want to be able to rekindle those same feelings of astonishment that I felt during my first exchange trip and again when I lived in Germany during my gap year. I would certainly bet on making plenty more of those memories – the type that will stick with me forever.

Westport, June 2017
Spring at the Storey Farm, A Night at North Point

Spring at the Storey Farm, A Night at North Point

Being done has been nice. On Friday, with finals in full swing on campus, the temptation of warm Spring weather luring me outdoors, and the need to move some of my personal items from the dorm to Westport for the summer, I headed to the New York side of Lake Champlain for a solo adventure.

First, I delivered a car-full of items that needed to be stashed temporarily in my grandparents’ barn. I was happy to help out with the necessary springtime upkeep in exchange, clearing a few small downed trees, moving patio furniture, tidying up the barn. I was also thrilled to join Mommom and Babo for dinner – I even got to grill for the first time this year! The Storey Farm is looking beautiful, with apple blossoms and lilac trees in full bloom. Mommom said this has been the best year for lilacs that she can remember, and I feel lucky to get to enjoy moments of Spring in Westport, when so many of my family members and Dudleyite friends only see it in the Summer.

Connecting with my grandparents in a setting different than the large family gatherings of summer or of holidays in Williamstown is something I appreciate more and more every time I get to do so. They have a different perspective on my college experience and plans for the near future than my family or friends, but it is one that I cherish hearing.

After dinner, I set out for North Point on Camp Dudley’s campus – a destination for cabin suppers, overnights, and council rings. It is the most exposed promontory, jutting out into Lake Champlain and enclosing the cove that is home to Dudley’s boating and swimming areas. I have fond memories of fishing at North Point  and watching the moon rise over Vermont’s Green Mountains. This time, I was alone and content to enjoy the quietude, embracing the serene calm that Dudley experiences ten months out of the year.

I strung up my hammock, built a fire, and settled down to read Walking To Listen, a powerful coming-of-age personal narrative written by Andrew Forsthoefel. Andrew graduated from Middlebury in 2011 and in the year following walked across the U.S. – traversing from eastern Pennsylvania to California over the course of nearly a year. Though I am only partway through the book, I can recommend it, because I believe that his true anecdotes and thoughtful reflections speak to the empathy that is so lacking, and so necessary, in modern American culture and society.

I fell asleep with the fire still flickering and the stars above me shining bright.

Sleeping outside, I am always more in tune with the cycles and rhythms of the natural world. So I was not surprised when I began to stir at 4:30 in the morning, just as the earliest glow of the sunrise began to grow across the lake. I stirred the fire and quickly brought it back to full strength. I sipped coffee and at my overnight-oats. All the while, I watched the sunrise fill the sky.

Camp Dudley, May 2017
Camp Dudley, May 2017

I get conflicted when taking photographs in beautiful moments. I had not watched a sunrise like this in years, and my camera felt ancillary – a distraction from being present and enjoying the moment. But I can also draw a distinction between photography as a stand-in for memories and photography as an expression of art. I choose living memory, that which is encrypted into our brains, over static memory, that which is stored in hard drives, every time I can. But I also choose to be artistic, to improve my abilities, and to seek out things that make me proud.

Camp Dudley, May 2017

I cannot capture the essence of a sunrise, the vastness of a starry sky, or the warmth of a campfire in words alone, nor can my pictures to them justice. If given only one means of expression, I will always choose words. But part of why I enjoy this blogging process is because it allows for a unique combination of modes of communication.

Camp Dudley, May 2017

The day with my grandparents and the night at Camp Dudley served many purposes, but most of all, it was a reminder of how lucky I have been to go to school so close to my second home. The benefits have ranged from simply having a place to store my personal items to having access to a loving community of people who all take utmost pride in Camp Dudley and its mission. I am so appreciative for all of it, and I can say with full confidence that it has been one of the defining aspects of my college experience.

Theses Rough Drafts and a Family Weekend

Theses Rough Drafts and a Family Weekend

I am in the midst of finalizing my theses rough drafts and am finding it ironic that a rough draft has to be finalized at all, considering it is only a rough draft. But of course, the more presentable and polished the rough draft is, the easier it will be to achieve a final draft. And so I write, or I think about writing while I write a blog post. I do so while watching the greens and blues of a vibrant spring day, checking the scores of the Boston sports teams, and dreaming up post-graduation plans.

While the thesis work has consumed the majority of my time (hence, fewer blog posts), the past week or so has not been without highlights:

I built a cutting board and continued to dream up woodworking projects.

I presented my website titled The Stories of Alistair MacLeod at Middlebury’s Spring Symposium. The site pays homage to MacLeod – the focus of my critical thesis – and explores the geographies of his life and his stories. The mapping component of the website combines my interests in literature and cartography, and the cumulative product is a unique foray into digital storytelling that is atypical of an English thesis project.

I got to spend quality family time with my parents, my brother Sam, and my grandparents. We all stayed in Westport for a night – Sam to play in a soccer recruit camp at Middlebury, my grandparents to check up on the house after their two months in Florida, and my dad and I to sit in on preliminary summer staff meetings at Camp Dudley. We enjoyed some time in the new Leadership Barn and heard a detailed explanation about the new high ropes course that Dudley is adding – complete with a 400-foot zip-line and a giant swing that will soar over the lake.

And just this morning, I rode to Vergennes and back with Maddie, enjoying new roads, new views, and a coffee break at Three Squares Cafe.

Maple Street, Vergennes

As I turn back to my writing, I look forward to other events in the near future. I have two upcoming races, plans to mountain bike as soon as the trails open, and some IM Golf sessions that begin this week. And more momentous occasions lie in sight, too. The completion of my theses, the defenses, senior week, graduation parties, ADKs in June, a tentative trip (more details to come!), and the final send-off to Germany. I feel just as much excitement for the little moments as I do the huge celebratory events, and be they big or small, I will continue to write about them – mindful of how lucky I am.

Germany, Round III

Germany, Round III

Today marks the halfway point of my final semester and the beginning of Spring Break. I am home, eager to spend a few days with my family before returning early to school to have a few days of Vermont and Adirondack adventures. My attitude right now concerning the outdoors is “I’ll take whatever weather Mother Nature has to offer.” The official first day of Spring happened earlier this week, but the conditions call for skis and ice-spikes instead of t-shirts and bikes.

With some extra free time on my hands this week, I hope to post regularly and to explore some unique topics. Before I proceed with anything else, however, I need to give an update about my upcoming summer adventures.

I am fortunate to have a job awaiting me (and I will write about my job and moving to New York in the coming months), but before I launch myself into the “real world,” I have a special opportunity – one that I have dreamed about for many years.

For the month of July, I will lead the Camp Dudley German Exchange trip. The exchange is a 50+ year partnership between Dudley and Camp Abbensen, a YMCA camp located outside of Hannover, Germany. My grandfather, John Storey, took the first group of Dudley boys to Germany in the ’60s, and my uncle and current camp director, Matt Storey, led a trip in the 90s. I am thrilled to continue the legacy.

What has me even more excited, though, is simply the chance to return to Germany for my third time. I was a camper on the exchange trip in the summer of 2009, and it was during that month that I fell in love with the country, got to explore some of it’s charming cities, and established friendships that remain to this day. Camp Abbensen was so incredibly different than Dudley, but adjusting to a new style and program of activities made it all the more fun. My trip leaders were inspiring, and I was lucky to share the experience with lifelong friend Willie Treiber.

When I was considering options for my gap year, the fond memories from my month in Germany made it an easy sell. So, in August of 2012, I flew to Frankfurt, this time alone, and moved in with the Judson family. I cannot possibly summarize my gap year experience in a short paragraph, but I did keep a blog that features my adventures, growing pains, and reflections on the country. If I must, I will simply say that it was one of my favorite times of my life – full of soccer, travel, learning experiences, new friendships, and an introduction to German beer. It set the benchmark for all of my future travels, and so far it has not been beaten – not by a long shot.

Now, round three awaits. I am returning to Abbensen, and we will follow almost the exact same itinerary as my 2009 exchange trip. But everything will be different. I will be the one shepherding the Dudley boys (and Kiniya girls, a new addition to the exchange since I went), many of whom will be traveling to Germany, Europe and/or outside of the US for the first time. I will get to sit in on the leader meetings and help plan out extravaganzas while at the camp. And I will hopefully have a few days to choose my own adventures – a chance to reconnect with friends or return to my gap year stomping grounds.

Having a month in Germany before I start work and getting one last opportunity as a Camp Dudley Leader (especially after spending last summer away from camp) means the world to me. It makes the thought of starting my job less daunting, and most of all, it gives me great joy to imagine instilling in campers the same excitement that I felt when I first went to Germany.

Memory, and an Annual Weekend at Camp Dudley

Memory, and an Annual Weekend at Camp Dudley

I am commencing the sixth week of my final semester at Middlebury, and in four days I will be home for Spring Break. Whereas February Break was all about the big adventure (my trip to Norway), this upcoming week will be about appreciating the little details and enjoying some of the places that I love most.

Enjoying a place that I love was really the storyline of this past weekend, too. For the fourth year in a row, I helped out at Camp Dudley’s JL Weekend – an opportunity for junior leaders (sixteen-year-olds) to get some training and bonding as they prepare for the summer ahead. It has developed into one of my favorite weekends of the year, for even though it is usually snowy on Dudley’s campus, I always leave feeling like I’ve received a full dose of the summertime Dudley spirit. It is usually at this point in the semester, too, that I need it most. March can be dreary, and a refreshing weekend with fellow Dudleyites always helps me finish the first half of the semester on a high note.

A snowy shot of my grandparent’s Storey Farmhouse in Westport

A few items to note about this year’s JL Weekend that made it particularly special. First, I have been taking care of my dog Pepper while my family went to Virginia for the weekend, and having her around always makes things more fun. She had a nice vacation, too, because she got to play with my friend Tom’s puppy named Mango for much of Saturday morning. Second, I had the privilege of touring Dudley’s new Leadership Barn – a multipurpose space that will house many groups in the summertime and off-season, including Dudley’s new gap semester program, and be a hangout spot for Leaders during days off and nights out. It is a beautiful building, and with my newfound appreciation for woodworking and cooking, I was particularly impressed by the kitchen and the detail that went into the building. Lastly, I got to deliver a chapel talk on Sunday morning – a short “words of wisdom” speech to kick off the day. Given that I’m writing a lot about memory, both in my critical thesis and in my reflections for this blog, I decided to apply the framework of collective memory to Camp Dudley. Here is an excerpt meant to inspire the junior leaders to trust in themselves and in the Dudley community.

I feel like I’m at a pretty big transition point in my life. For this reason, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of reflecting, and a lot of reminiscing. Though I don’t think dwelling on the past is the best way to live life, I’ve become really interested recently in exploring the concept of “memory.”

So let’s talk about it. Memories are kind of funny, aren’t they? It’s crazy that our brains can decide for us, a million times a day, what scraps of information or random experiences get stored away for future recollection. That we can try for hours to memorize facts for a history test, and think that we know them, only to have that critical piece of knowledge slip our minds when it matters. That our memories make up a collection that we call “memory” and that our memory is always evolving and growing. And even more importantly, that our memory plays such a huge role in creating and recreating who we are and how we define ourselves, every single day.

Our group conversation last night was really just an exercise in selecting a memory and channeling a coherent response, and just like that, we had an amazing collection of leaders and leadership characteristics floating around the room. And think about this one: I may have never met your favorite leader, and you may never have met mine, but we can create memories about each other’s memories, and thus learn about each other’s favorite leaders through the process of collective memory.

To put this line of inquiry in other terms, remember as a camper how you probably had a canteen account for purchases at the store, going Sunday golfing, getting those archery pins, etc. right? Well, we all have our metaphorical Dudley canteen accounts, and each of us has been adding memories to that account every time we spend a day on campus, have a conversation with a fellow Dudleyite, or live the other fellow first. What I find inspiring and humbling is that a lot of the ideas and skills and memories that make their way into our accounts are not original. The messages you’ve received over the years from vespers and chapel talks, even from Bill Harper’s Sunday sermons, were all inspired by even older Dudley memories. It’s a cycle of listening, learning, reflecting, and passing on to the next generation of Dudleyites. When we lump all of our individual canteen accounts together, we are constantly building and extending the Dudley community and the Dudley spirit.

So when you’re facing your toughest leadership challenge of the summer, just remember that you not only have all of your Dudley experiences to draw from, but you also have the collective memory of 135 years of Camp Dudley boys and girls, men and women behind you, every hour of every day, without fail. That’s an empowering feeling. Sure, it’s a responsibility to inherit all of these memories from all of these years, but it’s the greatest gift you can receive as a leader. I can’t wait to see all of you put it to use this summer.

I am thankful that I was able to share my thoughts with a group of people who are continuously trying to live the Camp Dudley motto, “the other fellow first,” and that I have been able to mark the JL Weekend on my calendar for the past four years.

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