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The Yum Yum Tree

By #18801 Drew Rider

We all anticipate certain landmarks as we get closer and closer to campus on our return journey to Dudley—catching sight of the “Welcome to the Adirondack Park” sign on Interstate 87, driving through Westport and glimpsing the lake, seeing the “Camp Dudley” sign turning onto the Dudley Road, passing the schoolhouse and taking in the rolling fields and mountains off in the distance. Another memorable Dudley experience is closing in. One of the last markers, cresting over that final hill, is the Yum Yum tree standing sentinel in the middle of the upper fields.

For decades, the Yum Yum tree’s presence has been an iconic fixture on Dudley’s campus. Every summer, it serves as a gathering place for teams and divisions, a centerpiece of extravaganzas, and a welcome shade umbrella during a competitive football or soccer game on a steamy July day. Many have told its origin story— why it was planted there and how it got its unique name; I’m sure the real truth is out there somewhere, but it’s more fun not really knowing and allowing the magic of Dudley mythology to do its thing.

During the year, for those of us lucky enough to get to experience all four seasons at Camp, the Yum Yum’s strong, stalwart presence provides its own comfort as it changes color, sheds its leaves, becomes blanketed in snow, and marks the passage of time, with summer slipping into a collection of vivid memories. It is always there, and always familiar, even as everything else looks and feels so different. And then, the snow melts, the ground thaws, and little green buds begin to appear on its many branches, a sign that another summer is just around the corner.

The Camp Dudley campus is home to many landmarks; everyone has their favorite hang-out spots and views, and I’m sure for many, one of those is this magnificent tree, looming large and solitary in the middle of the rolling, green upper fields, ready to welcome more memories, rooted beneath its branches.

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