2023 Last Whistle Dedication
#13820 Marcus Chioffi
Good evening. 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 who has an unwavering commitment to living by the motto, The Other Fellow First.
This year’s recipient is no exception, being an individual whose existence is fully defined by living by the motto, both here at camp, and out in the “quote unquote” “real world.” Tonight, it is my distinct honor to award the dedication of the 85th Last Whistle to camper #13820, Marcus Chioffi. Congratulations Marcus!
Born in Colchester, Vermont, home to Camp Kiniya — and probably a bit of cosmic foreshadowing of a later role in his life, but more on that in a bit, and raised in Norwich, VT, Marcus first came to Dudley as a Plebe in 1985 by way of long-time family friend, Tink Bolster. Since then, Marcus has been a steady presence at Dudley for 31 of the last 38 years.
After being a camper for three summers, Marcus rose through all of the leadership ranks, from Aide to AL, and then went on to be a Leader for five years, the last of which he was the Junior D-Head. But, his contributions to Camp did not stop there. For all five years that Marcus was a leader, in the Spring weeks between college and Camp, he worked Maintenance, helping the team to prepare this incredible and vast facility for another “best-ever” summer. After his time as a Leader, Marcus followed the natural progression of things at Dudley and became a Staff member, first in the A-Hut, and then the Boat House, where he still works to this day.
While on Staff in the Summer of 1996, Marcus met his now wife, camper #16964 Joanie, and in the years that followed, the two of them welcomed their wonderful children into both the world and the Camp Dudley and Camp Kiniya family – #24820 Lydia, who has been working in the Office and the Camp Store this summer, and #26264 Caroline, who is a second-half camper over at Kiniya.
Marcus and Joanie’s relationship, beyond both being incredible members of our community and dear friends to many, proved to be hugely beneficial to Camp when Dudley brought Kiniya into the organization in 2006. That first summer, Joanie went over and worked with Marnie to integrate Dudley values and traditions into Kiniya, and was followed by Marcus in the summers of 2007 and 2008, where he worked as Program Director. For those of you that know Marcus, you know how important being here physically at Dudley is to him. But, seeing the value and importance of providing a Dudley experience for girls, he put his own wants and desires aside, in order to help ensure a smooth transition and a successful first few summers at Kiniya.
And, he did not stop there. Always looking to help this organization in any way he can, Marcus became the Vice-Chair of the CDA, now the Dudley Kiniya Alumni Association (DKAA), in 2010, followed by becoming the Chair. Then from there, Marcus joined the Board of Trustees, where he served from 2016 to 2021.
In talking to Ted Smith, a Staff member first-half, current Board member, and father to Junior Leader Crosby, Ted stated that, “Marcus is someone you need in the Boardroom. He brings a unique, on-the-ground perspective, as someone who has present-day, 24/7 experience working at Camp, and he is always there to provide fact-based knowledge, matter-of-fact insights, and leadership, all things that are immensely valuable to the organization. He loves this place, knows it through and through better than most, and never hesitates to say what needs to be said, all with humility and never any arrogance or hubris.”
While on the Board, Marcus was also chair of the Board Development and Nominations Committee, a group of Board Members responsible for recruiting and initiating new members to the Board. This is an incredibly important role within our organization, and Marcus did not take his position lightly. He felt it was time to accelerate the diversification of the Board, in every iteration of what that means – increasing racial, gender, socio-economic, and professional representation at the highest level of our Camp. While DEI is always an on-going process, our Board looks the way it does today, far closer than ever before to being reflective of the entire Dudley community, in large part thanks to Marcus.
When Marcus’s time on the Board came to an end, it was Ted who gave his farewell speech. In it he said, “of our generation, there is not a single person who has done more for Camp Dudley than Marcus Chioffi.” This is high praise given how many people do so much for this place we all love, but speaks to the impact Marcus has had in his time here.
As I do every year, I took the time to sit down with a few of those closest to Marcus to gain some insights to help in the writing of this speech. Everyone I talked to had endless positive things to say, many funny anecdotes and stories, both from this summer and summers passed, but there were also some recurring words and sentiments that kept coming up. “Marcus is the most loyal person you will ever get the pleasure to know,” “Marcus has a heart of gold,” “Marcus is always there to help, whatever you need,” and “you could not ask for a better friend.”
Most recently, Marcus has taken pride in his role as a mentor and advisor, especially to younger staff, in the way that he was mentored by those older than him. I count myself among that lucky bunch. He is incredible at assessing any situation you might be going through from every angle, and giving measured, insightful, and always excellent advice. John Ulin, current Chair of the Board, was recently highlighting how Marcus is even a trusted advisor to our Director, Matt Storey, who himself said of Marcus when discussing this dedication, “he is one of the most consistent and loyal Dudleyites out there. He is the first to offer help and say ‘do you need anything from me?’ which enables Camp to run smoothly. We all know we can count on Marcus as a friend, co-worker, and Dudleyite.”
As all those who I talked to said, when it comes to Marcus, you could not ask for a better friend. He has a remarkable intuition to know when to reach out, even when you’re in totally different parts of the country, when to crack a joke to make you laugh on a bad day, or when all you need is a big hug. He is really good at giving hugs. While I’ve already talked about how Marcus is the first to help with anything without hesitation, even more so, he is always there for you, whenever you need him, and especially when you need it most.
In talking to Marcus’s wife Joanie, she said that one of the things he is most proud of in life is that he has been here for every single summer that he has been able to make it here for, missing only seven of the last 38 due to outside factors beyond his control. She also told me that his personal view is that summer camps have, and will, continue to change the world. Being in a community like this, and living by the motto “The Other Fellow First,” is incredibly important and has an impact that reaches far beyond the eight weeks we spend up here on the shores of Lake Champlain. That is what keeps him coming back, and that is why he works so hard to make sure that Dudley is the best version of itself that it can be.
Marcus, thank you for all that you do. Thank you for never hesitating to be there when there is a need, for being the one to go to, who always knows what to do when everything seems too overwhelmingly complicated to figure out, and for always knowing how to put a smile on everyone’s face.
With that, please join me in congratulating this year’s Last Whistle Dedication recipient, an individual who will never hesitate to help in any way he can, a champion heckler with a heart of gold, and both the kindest and funniest person you could ever have the pleasure to know, camper #13820 Marcus Chioffi.