DKAA Reunion – 2023 Recap
By #17982 Matt “Rooster” McElroy and #21013 Sarah McKani
Hello, Alumni Community! It was incredible to see so many of you in Colchester in August to celebrate Kiniya’s 105th summer! We loved soaking up a weekend full of the best parts of Camp—a burst of energy as friends poured through the gates on Friday, a whole range of weather that didn’t slow anyone down, and lots of love to go around as dear old pals reconnected on the shores of Lake Champlain.
We gathered with friends who have been part of the Camp community for decades (three cheers for #7289 Ace Scharges!) and some of the newest members of our community (hello, baby Chip, who joined the many Piazza family members in our ranks!). It was an excellent cross-section of folks from various generations of both of our wonderful Camps.
The weekend had so many highlights—it’s hard to name just a few! Alums and future campers enjoyed the climbing wall, games in the field, and arts and crafts in Treiber. #25223 Liz Moore set up a raucous obstacle course of the board chairs, much to everyone’s delight! Hymn sing was full of joy and beautiful harmonies, with a medley of voices chiming in for favorite songs from both sides of the lake. #19976 Holly and #20076 Anne Kennedy gave a beautiful perspective on what Camp means to them on Sunday, and the community had many sweet and peaceful moments on the porch of Mimi’s Lodge and ‘neath the pines.
On Saturday evening, we celebrated with our past six board chairs and had a chance to recognize #22898 Whitney Phelps for her immense contributions as Camp’s first female Board Chair.
We continued annual traditions by handing out 50-year pins to #11321 Stephan Bradley and #11448 Rob Howard. (No 75-year pin earners were in attendance.)
We also honored the People of the Year: the Girls Committee that made our sister camp a reality after the Board expanded its mission to include girls. The Girls Committee included: #18141 Fran Bisselle, #11321 Stephan Bradley, #12082 Pat Butler, #11864 Tom “TC” Canning, #14255 Christy Coyne, #11264 Mark “Davo” Davenport, #18762 Betsy Edie, #19629 D’Anne Hurd, #19876 Beth Kaufman, #19976 Holly Kennedy, #10784 Wayne Meisel, #9555 Randy Quayle, #19408 Linda Saarnijoki, #8767 Sandy Short, and #10649 Steve Wertimer.
This remarkable team laid the foundation for the strong relationship between Kiniya and Dudley today. True to Camp’s values, they led with compassion, authenticity, and heart, all while connecting with the alumni community, nurturing relationships with Kiniya’s leadership, and honoring Kiniya’s history. We are so grateful for their devotion to our Camps and this group’s commitment, thoughtfulness, and leadership in navigating the expansion of our mission.
For nearly all in attendance, the most powerful moments of the evening came from #20108 Eliza Davis, #20076 Anne Kennedy, and #21049 Eva Wertimer, daughters of Girls Committee members Linda Saarnijoki, Holly Kennedy, and Steve Wertimer. Eliza, Anne, and Eva described their memories of their parents’ work on the committee and the impact of that work: their own formative summers at Kiniya. Their admiration for their parents was moving, with an emphasis on how meaningful the Girls Committee work has been to so many in our community.
We then moved over to Mimi’s Lodge for hymn sing, led by #20535 Giulia Campana and #22526 Matt Johnson. Marnie shared a special surprise as she announced the 2023 Spirit dedication, #20964 Amanda Perry, for her phenomenal work leading the spirituality department at Kiniya this summer.
The fun continued into the early morning hours, with so many wanting to make the most of every minute with these people in this place.
Sunday service brought peace and introspection, and included many alumni through singing and offerings. The mother-daughter duo of Anne and Holly Kennedy spoke about what Camp meant to them—the perfect pair to end the weekend!
There are many people to thank for this extraordinary opportunity to come together: #20053 Pat Teague, #25567 Shannon Anderson, #20005 Gail Coleman, and the entire kitchen staff for spoiling us with nourishing and delicious food. Tom, Angie, and Kissy for making sure the Kiniya grounds were ready for us all to enjoy. Dave, Dawn, and the rest of the year-round staff, who prepare the logistics of reunion for months in advance (all while also putting on the best summer ever for campers!). The summer staff members who worked an extra weekend so that activities would be open for all of us. And of course, Marnie, who brings elegance and warmth to these weekends while making us all feel at home every time we return to Kiniya. We are so grateful to everyone who pitched in and all who traveled to Colchester to join us.
Note from the authors: Reunion weekends are hosted by camp and the DKAA at no charge to attendees. If you enjoyed the weekend and feel so moved, please consider a donation to the annual fund. Your generosity helps support our Camps’ greatest needs.