2021 Last Whistle Dedication – #21982 Domanick Walker
Presented by #18801 Drew Rider at the 2021 Final Banquet
Awarded at the end of every summer, The Last Whistle Dedication is one of the highest honors one can receive at Camp Dudley. Presented to a member of our community who shows a devotion and love towards others, and this place we all cherish, and an unwavering commitment to living by the motto, The Other Fellow First.
This year, like so much else, we’re going to do things a bit differently. Ready?
It is my distinct honor to award the 2021 Last Whistle Dedication to our dear friend and beloved member of the Dudley community, #21982 Domanick Walker.
Coming to us from Baltimore, Maryland, Dom has been a valued and prominent member of the community for a little over a decade. Most of you do not know this, but Dom actually has two camp numbers. Originally slated to come as a camper, fate intervened, and it took a few more years for Dom to make it to the shores of Lake Champlain. Luckily, for all of us, and characteristically arriving “fashionably late,” Dom eventually, and thankfully, graced us with his presence. Arriving in 2010 as a first year leader, Dom walked — or better yet strutted — onto campus, and with his charm, charisma, confidence, and wit, instantaneously won over the hearts of every camper, leader, and staff member, quickly becoming an integral part of our community. Camp has not been the same since.
Dom, however, was not immediately sold on the whole “Dudley thing,” memorably calling camp “the weirdest place on earth” in a chapel talk. Fortunately for us, in his words, by his third year as a leader, everything clicked into place, and with the exception of one summer away, Dom has been joining us in Westport for over a decade. As he will often remind people, Dom was always a leader in the Plebes and will accept no alternative as “the best division at camp.” Dom was immediately the person in the division that everyone looked up to, and wanted to be friends with, and in a testament to what a special person he is, he somehow managed to find the time for everyone.
As the summers passed, his vibrant spirit, often complimented by a healthy and endearing dose of sass, made him a natural leader, and Dom’s prominence and presence in the community quickly grew beyond just the Plebes, with him becoming one of the best known figures at camp, the go-to person for guidance and advice, and culminating in 2012 with him winning the esteemed Pat Peavy Leadership Award, an honor selected by his peers and given annually to a leader who best exemplifies the care, integrity, and daily practice of putting “the other fellow first.”
Once Dom finished his remarkable tenure as a leader, he made the switch to staff and further expanded the use of his vast skill-set to make Dudley the best place it could possibly be. Dom joined the Witherbee team and used his talents to direct both shows and chorus, teach dance, and assist James Mayo with the gospel choir. His contributions were immensely valuable, and the arts department was all the better having him on their team. Also in his time on staff, Dom became heavily involved in leadership development working to foster talent amongst Aides, JLs, and ALs, and helping Leaders to become the best version of themselves.
This summer, Dom has taken on a new role, and his most important yet, as Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, working on both sides of the lake with campers, leaders, staff, and our board of trustees to help make camp a more welcoming and inclusive place for all. In this position, Dom has made it his primary mission to make Camp Dudley the best version of itself. With his unwavering commitment to teaching all of us how to create an equitable experience for every single person that walks through the gates, we have seen first hand how quickly positive change can take place when someone as talented and passionate as Dom provides the leadership needed to make things happen.
Throughout the years, Dom has served in many roles at Dudley, and I’m sure he’ll continue to impress us all by serving in many more. While he has been asked to do some of them, many times Dom will take the initiative to fill a hole where he finds one, stepping up because he cares and not because he is asked to do so.
But, while his larger-than-life personality and impressive camp resume might be what he is most recognized for by everyone here, those who know him best know that Dom’s most important role is as a mentor and friend, shining brightest in the quiet moments. Whether it is helping with a chapel talk, a difficult situation, or if you just need to blow off some steam, Dom is always there as a helping hand, or an open ear, to anyone who needs it, and I am sure every leader and staff member here has sought his counsel at some point during their tenure.
No matter how busy he is, Dom is always available when you need him. We are all coming off of one of the most trying and challenging chapters of our lives, and while Dom’s open door and being there has always been what has made him so special, this summer, it has been more important than ever. Dom has said it simply, “I do not want people to suffer,” and that sentiment is at the core of who he is as a person, and why his generous spirit is such an important thing to everyone here. Dom’s close friend and first half staff member, Caleb Florence, summed it up perfectly by saying, “Dom is someone I look up to in my life for his ability to meet people where they are, no matter the circumstance, and for his ability to foster a genuine connection and deep trust between all parties.”
Finally, perhaps Dom’s most defining trait is that he recognizes the potential for greatness in those who may be overlooked by others, and especially those who don’t recognize it in themselves. Dom’s intentional investment in the well-being and success of others is uniquely powerful, and it is the reason he develops such profound and meaningful relationships with everyone he encounters. There is not a person Dom has met that he has not seen the greatness in and helped them to cultivate it.
Dom, you have profoundly impacted the lives of every single person at camp this summer, and summers past, whether they know it or not, and we are beyond blessed to have you here. Your legacy at Dudley is nothing short of iconic, and I can speak for everyone in saying we know you’re just getting started, and we can’t wait to see what’s to come. Thank you for all that you do, for being here, and for being the best friend and brother that everyone sitting here could ever ask for. Your commitment to Camp Dudley, its people, and living by The Other Fellow First is unmatched, and we are all the better as a community having you amongst us.
With that, please join me in congratulating our 2021 Last Whistle Dedication recipient, #21982 Domanick Walker.