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Thanks to our Leaders from Camp Dudley

During a special moment at our final banquet, Assistant Director #15017 Evan George, shared the following tribute to our amazing 2021 Leadership team.

 

This is not the typical order of events this evening, but this has not been a typical summer, so Matt and I would like to take a moment and pay a special tribute to a special group of young men.

In every summer of our 137-year history, the Cabin Leaders represent the heartbeat of our camp. Anyone who has been a camper at Camp Dudley knows the incredibly important role they play in the lives of everyone on campus – campers through staff. 

And anyone who has been lucky enough to become a Cabin Leader knows the incredible joys, challenges, camaraderie, pride, and connection to this institution that comes along with the job. 

I want everyone to think back to this past January and February. That’s around the time that Matt and I sent out emails letting this group of Leaders know that we were hiring them for the summer of 2021. In a normal year, this would be a pretty straightforward process. But it was anything but normal or straightforward. 

Think about where we were in those months. The COVID pandemic was increasing in severity every day, vaccines were still months away, no one really knew where the next few months would take us, and, even though we were optimistic, we were not certain about our ability to have camp this summer. 

And so, in those early communications with these leaders it was, potentially, not a pretty picture. We had vague plans and the plans we did have were incredibly restrictive considering what we thought we might be facing come the start of camp. The one thing we did know for sure was that, no matter what, this summer was going to be a huge challenge and different from any that had come before.

Then, on top of that, think about the immense disruption to their own personal lives that these Leaders had just faced and were still in the midst of: Remote learning, canceled classes, canceled abroad programs, restrictive campus life at school, and the cancelation of their previous summer (almost all of this year’s Leaders were supposed to be Leaders in the summer of 2020). 

When Matt and I reached out with our hiring message we tried to be as honest as we could about what we thought the summer ahead would look like, so we tried not to sugarcoat it. Quite frankly, I was certain that we’d get a lot of guys turning us down and I wouldn’t have blamed them one bit. 

Coming off the two school years they’d just had it would have made complete sense for them to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Matt and I had visions of barely being able to get enough guys together to lead our cabins. In a typical summer our Leaders make big sacrifices to be here, this seemed a huge ask from Camp.

But that’s not what happened. Nearly every single offer we made came back with an enthusiastic, “I’m in.” 

Then, in March, we gathered for our first virtual meeting. We again outlined the challenge in front of us, the litany of unanswered questions, and the fact that we hadn’t even received guidance from New York State or official word that we would be allowed to operate, but these guys stuck with camp. 

Leaders please stand.

This summer hasn’t been easy, but it’s gone better than many of us could have imagined. In large part, that’s because of these young men standing up right now. 

Fellas, there are moments when we’re called upon to help others, even when it may not be easy to do that. We’re asked to put doubts aside and step up even when we might not be sure of the outcome. Camp Dudley asked for help and the 2021 Leaders stepped up, even when they didn’t know anything other than the fact that we were having a summer season and we needed them to be Leaders. 

At a time when it would have been very easy for them to focus on themselves (and rightfully so) they pushed past their doubts to make sure that the campers of 2021 had the best possible group of Leaders we could have asked for. They answered the call to serve their camp.

The pantheon of Dudley Leaders is filled with some amazing men. But, to our minds, the 2021 Leaders take a unique place in that group and that means that they take a unique place in the long history of this institution. 

Every camper this summer and really every person in the Dudley community owe these young men an incredible debt of gratitude for their service this summer. Without them, Dudley would have been without its heart and soul. And at a time when all of us needed Dudley, truly, more than ever, they made it happen for all of us.

Gentlemen, I’m not sure that there is an adequate way for Matt, me, or anyone in our community to express our gratitude for what you’ve done for all of us this summer. The only thing that I can think to say is that when Dudley called for help you answered and served as a bright symbol of our motto. You did it with positivity and grace and helped this institution face down one of its most challenging periods. For that, you have gained a unique place in our history and, more importantly, you have gained a unique place in the hearts of all Dudley men. 

Thank You.

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