Camp Winning Spirit — Good News

For 25 years Coniston has offered a care-free fun weekend at Camp for children and their families who have experienced the struggles of living with pediatric cancer. It was Aiden’s first time this summer and we were so happy to have met him and his mom, Sam.
Camp was AMAZING!!! I watched this kid just dive right in and just be a kid doing camp activities with so many new friends. I had a hard time keeping track of him because he was so comfortable being with kids his age he forgot to check in 😂.
Let me tell you, watching your little boy paddle away to kayak with his friends is a weird feeling. On one hand I was so happy he was trying something he had never done but on the other hand I was so nervous because, well hello, he’s floating in a lake with 1.5 legs!!! No fear I swear. He let me join him the next day though.
He stayed up late, played games, did gymnastics, and even figured out with the other kids how to play Gaga ball together. To see other kids hop around on one leg to even the playing field seriously made me want to cry. The compassion hit me so hard.
Aiden is already looking forward to next year at Camp winning spirit! The counselors, parents, and kids were just so welcoming to us and we can’t wait to see them again.

Cheers to a Great 2021 Summer

We love appreciate hearing from our community so much. Thank you for all your kind emails, phone calls, and social media posts. This summer was a success because of all of us—together we can accomplish anything! We hope you enjoy a few of the accolades we received below.

I wanted to thank the Coniston staff for putting in the enormous amount of work I know it took to make this summer work around all the changing dynamics of this pandemic.  Our daughter got to do the service trip she has been looking forward to for over 2 years in addition to an incredible Sessions 3/4, and our son was back for Session 4.  While our 16 year-old daughter shed some tears today, she would not trade the bittersweet transition back into “civilian life” for all the world.  As cliche as it sounds, Coniston truly is a home away from home for them both, something they carry within their souls throughout the school year until summer rolls back around. I don’t know what you put in the lake water there but it is truly magical!!!

Also a shout out to the Service Trip counselors who created an unforgettable experience amid challenging weather conditions for our daughter who had not camped apart from her overnights at Coniston and LOOOOOVED it despite all the rain. Those kids bonded in their 11 nights beyond her expectations.

Thank you again for making this happen and have wonderful year!

—Camper Parent

Thank you to all the staff of Camp Coniston for providing our children a summer of laughter and wonderful memories and building friendships. Thank you for the great care you have shown to all our children.

—Camper Parent

I started Coniston at 17 and ever since that beautiful place has been so special to us, to our children, and now our grand girls! Thank you for taking great care of my three granddaughters this summer.

—Camper Grandparent & Alumna

Thank you to all who pulled off another Amazing summer for our kiddos big and small, and still navigating this never ending pandemic.
—Camper Parent

Thank you Camp Coniston for being a light of fun and hope for our kiddos during a difficult time. We know it was extra hard this year and we appreciate everything you were able to do!

— Camper Parent

Meghan Salvas Ship—K-5 Math Instructional Coach—Coniston: 1990-2004

How old were you when you started Camp?
I was 9 years old, 1990.

How were you introduced to Camp?
A family friend told my parents about Coniston and we were signed up to go together. At the last minute, they switched sessions and I ended up going alone that first year.

Did you attend college, and if so, what did you study?
Assumption University-Liberal Arts/English (2003)
Northeastern University—Masters in the Arts of Teaching: Elementary Education (2006)

What is your current job? 
I currently work at Milton Academy in Milton, MA as the K-5 Math Instructional Coach.

How has your career journey evolved?
Interestingly enough, my first job after graduating from college was at a YMCA as an Aquatics Director. However, I knew I wanted to be a classroom teacher and quickly returned to graduate school to pursue my degree in Elementary Education. I have taught Grades 4 through 6 in Boston, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Massachusetts in both public and private schools. 

Beyond classroom teaching, I have served as a mentor to new teachers, am a certified CFG coach, and have done a great deal of curriculum development work across all content areas. One of my passions is the creation and delivery of professional development for educators, both within the school setting and at conferences across the county. I took advantage of every opportunity I could to serve as a teacher leader, which brought me to my current role as an Instructional Coach, supporting classroom teachers to hone their pedagogical skills, increase student engagement, and deepen their understanding of K-5 mathematics.

Did Coniston influence your ability to create this journey?
Without a doubt. The through-line between being a camp counselor and becoming an educator felt organic, so it is challenging for me to specifically identify how my journey was influenced. However, my experiences at Coniston working with campers of all ages, in a variety of situations, most certainly served as a solid foundation for working with elementary aged students. 

Working as Waterfront Director and LIT Director in my early 20s, provided me the chance to develop my communication and leadership skills. I was working with counselors who were working with campers, which has a direct influence on my current position—working with educators as they work with students.

Are there any skills or traits you gained at Coniston that you use in your professional life?
Growing up, Coniston was my safe place. I built relationships with my counselors and fellow campers that increased my willingness to take risks I wouldn’t have taken otherwise. This had a direct impact on my self-confidence. As educators, we know that in order for children to be successful they must feel safe in their learning environment. In order for that sense of safety to occur, educators must prioritize relationships with their students (and their students’ family) to cultivate a sense of trust. Relationship building is foundational in all aspects of my career. The relationship a student has with their teacher is the most important indicator for student success.

Are there any specific memories from your time at Coniston that are still impactful to you?
Having attended Coniston for 14 years and meeting my husband, we have countless memories that have impacted our lives. But honestly, dropping our daughter, Molly, off this summer (2021) for her first year at Coniston feels the most impactful. We are thrilled to be able to share such an amazing place with her and can only hope it impacts her life the way it has impacted ours. We have truly come full circle.

The Impact of Being a Coniston Tutor

Last winter, through a grant from NH Empower Youth Program, we launched an alumni based virtual tutoring program. The mission of the new program is to give students the additional support that they need to succeed. The program utilized Coniston summer staff members who are recent college students, and Coniston alumni who are teachers, to engage students with their studies and help them in areas where they struggle. Tutors meet 1:1 with a student virtually once a week to provide help with one or more academic subjects and/or test preparation in an effort to support academic success.

The program began with New American students from Concord, NH and we quickly expanded the program into Newport, NH. Our goal will be to offer this program to all Conistonians in the near future. If interested in becoming a tutor or receiving services, feel free to reach out to our Director of School Based Programs, Emily at

We hope you enjoy the testimonials below from first time Coniston Tutor’s—the impact was felt by the entire Coniston Community. If you are interested in become a tutor or receiving services you can find more details at the link above.

My time as a Coniston Tutor for the New American community in Concord, NH was incredibly impactful. When I spent time with my tutee I wasn’t just helping him learn geometry and history— I was forging a real, genuine connection with someone who could not have lived a more different life than I have. We found small things to connect over (a mutual love of TikTok, pepperoni pizza, and knock knock jokes), but also talked about his life plans and career goals. The more time I spent tutoring him, the more acutely aware I became that this program is about a lot more than after-school homework help. Towards the end of the school year, my tutee would show up to our sessions excited to show me his grades on the homework we had worked on together. This translated into him being proud; not just of his grades, but of himself.

I would recommend being a part of this program to anyone and everyone in the Coniston community. It was a way to give back, to help others, and (most importantly) to connect.

— Anna Feins

Weekly tutoring sessions allowed my student to pass his class and avoid summer school, and  allowed me to connect with someone I wouldn’t otherwise have met. I felt great knowing I was helping someone who needed it, and it made a difference to him to knowing that someone who had recently been a stranger cared about him and his success. I would encourage everyone to try their hand at this program, even if they’re a little nervous about it — there’s nothing like that moment when a student understands something which had mystified them before! 

Thanks to YMCA Camp Coniston for putting this together, it’s such an important resource for the community!

—Charlotte Perkins

At camp we see social and emotional growth happening all the time. Coniston tutors has been a great way for me to connect that with academic growth during the school year! I love that camp can now support kids in many dimensions and year-round.

—Kathleen Moore

While setting goals together at the beginning of last school year, my student identified qualifying for the National Honor Society and finding new ways to practice photography as ambitions he aspired to achieve. Throughout the school year, he worked with the Yearbook Committee to take photos and even enrolled in an independent study course in photography. In the spring, we heard the fantastic news that he had qualified for, and been accepted to the National Honor Society. I am so unbelievably proud of what my student accomplished last year and feel very grateful for the opportunity to support him along the way.
Through the success and growth of the tutoring program, Coniston has demonstrated how its commitment to helping children and young adults grow extends beyond Lake Coniston and into the surrounding communities. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this program and am eager to see it develop in the years to come. The person I am today has been directly shaped by the lessons I’ve learned and the people I’ve met at Coniston. I’m sure other alums feel similarly. Serving as a tutor is one way I can give back to an organization I believe in and a community that has given me so much.

—Gray Kaegi
It can be hard enough during normal circumstances to provide effective instruction to students. During this past year especially, it has been harder than ever to provide many students with the assistance needed to conquer subjects which their normal curriculum may not teach them properly. I myself did not learn as successfully through my former middle school’s mathematics program, and it took self study to master many of my curriculum’s skills. Different kids learn differently, and it has been a privilege to support students through the Coniston Tutors program in navigating material with individually-focused lesson planning. My student gained confidence with mathematics, history, and time management; and ultimately he didn’t have to go to summer school because of all that we accomplished. Coniston Tutors is a remarkable opportunity to grant educational assistance to the camp community. I am thrilled to have been able to chip in to this amazing effort and give back to students who faced challenges similar to those I faced. 

—Nevan Hughlett

Tyler Bascom—Technology/Software—Coniston: 1997-2011

How old were you when you started Camp?
8 years old. 

How were you introduced to Camp?
When my family move to New London, NH from Glen Rock, NJ to be closer to family in NH and VT they looked into a summer camp for me and my cousin Jennifer Parmenter to attend together. Luckily Camp Coniston was right down the road from where we moved to. I was a nervous 8 year old in B1 and the rest was history!

Did you attend college, and if so, what did you study?
I attended Plymouth State University for two years and then transferred to the University of  New Hampshire. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the Peter T. Paul School of Business & Economics; Business Administration and an option in marketing.

What is your current job? 
My current occupation is with a technology/software company in the Seaport district in Boston; Zerto. I’m a Manager of Sales Development. I’ve been employed with them for 4 years and 9 months.

How has your career journey evolved?
When I graduated from UNH, I wasn’t sure what I wanted do to. I graduated in 2013 and the job market was still tough after the Great Recession so it was difficult to find employment. After countless unsuccessful applications to jobs in Boston I feel back on Enterprise Rent A Car. I did my marketing capstone course with them my senior year, so I had established a close relationship with their HR recruiter and Area Sales Manager. I started off as a Management Trainee, was successfully promoted to a Management Assistant and finally a Branch Manager running a successful business for Enterprise. I was living in Portsmouth, NH at the time, and realizing I wanted more in my career I moved transferred to a branch location in Boston to apply and search for more lucrative career opportunities in the city. Again, I interviewed with half a dozen companies when I selected Zerto to continue my career.

Did Coniston influence your ability to create this journey?
100%—My success with Enterprise was through all the hard work I had developed with 5 summers on staff with Coniston.

Are there any skills or traits you gained at Coniston that you use in your professional life?
I was a part (and still am) of the Coniston Community for 15 years. 8 as a camper, CIT, and 5 years as a staff member. My 15th summer I participated in the 5th session—1 week camp. As a counselor I held basketball and tennis Director positions. All four sessions during the summer, I was a huge advocate for conducing a tennis tournament which was always a huge hit. My 5th summer on staff I was a co-adventure camp counselor with Beth Doucet. 

It wasn’t until I was promoted as Manager at Zerto and quickly became successful coaching and mentoring my team that I realized that I was becoming successful due to all the leadership skills I had gained at Coniston through the leadership of John Tilley and John McNair and all the other counselor and CIT leaders I had learned from over the years.

Are there any specific memories from your time at Coniston that are still impactful to you?
Too many to mention. The most significant was when my 2005 CIT group made it to the summit of Mt. Washington, we descended down to Lakes of the Clouds for dinner and then climbed up Mt. Monroe for sunset for highs and lows and to reflect on the trip with our leaders Zack Zimmerman and Molly Jepsen. After the silence of highs and lows one of the counselors (one of my counselors the year prior who I listed as a reference), Will Kavanagh, whom I looked up to tremendously pulled me aside and told me that Camp had lost one of my CIT recommendations and they reached out to him as a reference. It made my experience and helped propel my success over the next 5 summers. To this day I enjoy hiking back up Washington to Lakes and reading the journal entries from my entire CIT group and hearing how much that summer meant to everyone.

Returning a piece of Coniston History thirty years later

Alumni, Jared Reid shares a wonderful story about YMCA Camp Coniston and how a piece of history got returned to the rightful owner, Alumni, Kitter Spader.

After reading Kitter Spader’s spotlight piece in the Coniston Chronicle I began to think about a piece of history that may have been linked to him. I had heard that Kidder was the director of waterskiing before I arrived at YMCA Camp Coniston and I had heard about the famous waterski shows that were put on by their staff.  When I became the waterski director I was fascinated with the giant round plywood disk that the previous staff would ride on while sitting or standing on a wooden chair. There was also an early Burton Backhill snowboard that had been altered and made into one of the first ever wakeboards by screwing a waterski skeg onto the bottom of the board. 

At the end of 1995 camp season I asked everyone at camp Coniston who the board belonged to and no one really knew. I decided to acquire the board as a piece of snowboarding and Coniston history.  This wooden snowboard was my prized possession. It traveled around the United States with me from Boston to Virginia Beach to Seattle and then back home to Western Massachusetts. It was going to be the focal point of my future mountain house.  

The alumni spotlight got me thinking about how Kitter Spader may have been it’s original owner. When I brought my two children camp for drop off I saw who I thought was Kitter from the picture in the magazine.  I went up, introduced myself, and inquired about a piece of Coniston history that was left at camp over thirty years earlier.  I think he was amazed that the board still existed and that I knew where it was.  I asked him if he wanted it back after all this time.  He said yes.  Two weeks later at camper pick up we met up again.  He told me some of the stories from when he got the board and when they used it at camp.  The abandoned board was back to its original owner and someone I knew would treasure it as much as I had.

Twas the Night Before Camp

Alumni & Camper Parent, Kelly Condon shares her story about the night before Camp!

‘Twas the night before Camp and the big boys were packed, They fell asleep counting their Class A claps, Wondering if they’ll get bottom or top bunk beds, While questions re: boating tests danced in their heads…

And what are skits like at opening campfire? Who do you think will climb the tower higher?  When do we eat? What’s the Camp food like? How far away are the overnight hikes We really nap at siesta? Or just read and write letters?  Will we like ropes, archery or riflery better? How will we remember where to go and when? What if we’re not placed with a friend How will we deal with missing home?! Do we walk to the bathroom – at night – alone?! And why do they call the bathroom the college –

Slow down boys, Mom will drop some knowledge… They’re nervous (I’m jealous;) all hows? And whys? But it will feel like Christmas in July.

Small World Connections

When starting a new job, it’s always nice to see a familiar face – even if it has been quite a while. During the start of her internship, Liz Morris noticed a name on the attendee list she recognized immediately: Lindsey Bromm! Lindsey was one of Liz’ campers in G3 back in 2011. The two Conistonians caught up about that summer – including the cabin photo where everyone wore a towel on their head – and lots of summers since.
Lindsey is a rising senior studying business at Indiana University Bloomington and is interning with CVS Health’s Wellpartner group in CVS-Caremark. Coniston taught her how to “get comfortable with the uncomfortable” and make meaningful friendships. Her favorite Coniston memory was running through the dining hall to Eye of the Tiger as a West Coast CIT. 
Liz is currently an MBA student at the Tuck School of Business and interning with CVS Health’s PBM Strategy & Innovation Team. She credits her time at Coniston with innumerable experiences in problem-solving, going out of her comfort zone, and leading teams that prepared her for roles in health care. Her favorite camp food is a tin foil dinner cooked at Flume.

LOON’S EYE VIEW: LITs Hike Mt Washington During Staff Training

By Girls and Boys Camp Directors — Fran and Will

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered” —Nelson Mandela

This quote played repeatedly in my head as I returned to Mount Washington and visited Lakes in the Clouds last week. It was my first time back since I hiked the 6,288 foot mountain as a counselor-in-training (CIT) in 2015. I was accompanied by 40 first-year-counselors (LITs, as they are known) who were robbed of their own CIT experience last year because of the pandemic, along with three other seasoned counselors. Michael, Maya and I were all East Coast CIT’s in 2015, and Will, a former West Coaster, was set to be one of the CIT Directors last summer.

The 40 supposed-to-be CITs who returned this year came back to Coniston ready for staff, but we all knew that they lacked the important buffer a CIT summer provided. The last time these seventeen-year-olds were at Coniston, they were campers (most of them our campers, in fact) and now they were leading cabins of their own. While they were fully capable of taking on that challenge, Will and I thought they deserved even an abbreviated CIT experience before the summer began.

As we were talking about how unfair all of these losses were for these kids, we brainstormed ways that we could recreate some of our most magical traditions for the LITs during staff week; we settled on a surprise cog-up-hike-down Mt. Washington on the Friday before our first campers arrived. We told the LITs to be at the camp busses at 6:00 am sharp, and they were under the impression that the remainder of staff would be meeting them at Mt. Kearsarge in their own vehicles. After almost two hours of driving, many of the sleepy LITs began to catch on, wondering if we had gotten lost on our way to Kearsarge. We spent the day simulating a real-CIT experience, keeping them on their toes without letting them know what was around the corner. When we arrived at the Mt. Washington Cog railway station, we distributed the trail mix we had made, and handed them their tickets for the 45 minute train ride up the mountain. Since we had stored all of their cellphones on the bus, the LITs passed around my phone to take a few group selfies while they took in the view. “We should all hike down!” one of them suggested…be careful what you wish for!

The climate at top of Mt. Washington was true to its reputation. It was frigid, windy, and foggy. Luckily, the weather did not stop each would-be 2020 group from getting together with their group and smiling for photos on our communal phone. We divided everyone into the four hiking groups and allowed each bunch to pick out matching Mt. Washington t-shirts. One group at a time, we began the hike down to Lakes in the Clouds—an ancient CIT tradition spot. When we re-grouped at Lakes, the sky had cleared up and the weather was warm. We handed each of the 40 counselors their individual envelopes stuffed full of letters from fellow staff members and let them find a quiet spot with a view to soak it all in. Michael, Will, Maya and I enjoyed a nice moment on a rock at Lakes, reflecting on our own CIT experience and noting the significance of this moment for these kids. As we looked around at the future of Girls and Boys staff reading letters from their former counselors and new co-workers, many of them crying—we knew all the work that we put into fitting this day into an already jam packed staff week was worth it. 

A nice hiker walking through made note of the dispersed 17-year-olds reading their staff letters asking, “Who gave all these kids so much homework?” Although he did not directly comment on the fact that each of them was silently sobbing to themselves, he definitely seemed a bit concerned. One LIT came up to me afterwards, trying to act casual, and asked how his older brother (who was previously on staff) knew to write him a letter—clearly touched by his brother’s well-wishes. Many LITs commented on how meaningful their letters were, and the mood post-letter became much more sentimental. Our hike down the steep Ammonoosuc trail was filled with questions about being on staff and general getting-to-know each other conversations, as we shared our hopes and wishes for the upcoming summer. The line-leaders of each hiking group shifted, as each counselor took their turns making us all count off as well as practicing camp cheers and songs they would use on their own campers this summer. The four hour hike down seemed to fly by, and before we knew it, we were all together again at the base of the mountain.

After some group hugs and pictures, we gave the LITs the opportunity to “ask us anything” about the realities of being on staff, our own CIT experiences, and their own personal questions. After inhaling a bit of pizza, (14 pies, to be exact) we were ready to make the trek back to camp. Ignoring any requests for them to check their cellphones, or their unconfirmed questions about whether or not they were going to run in the lake when they returned, we blasted music and sang all the way back to Main Camp Road. It was only when all three buses arrived on the A-field that we let everyone know that they were, in fact, running in the lake just like the CIT years before them. To the tune of Eye of the Tiger, we drove to the top of Main Lawn, where current and former staff members, many of whom were siblings of unsuspecting LITs, lined the path to the lake in their own CIT shirts. After a tight group huddle, we sprinted and dove into the lake. It seemed like everything happened in slow motion, just as I remembered it in 2015. As I took a step back to look around at the forty LITs hugging each other tightly as all of staff roared, a few tears came to my eyes, it was truly a magical moment. 

After our tears dried and everyone changed out of their soaking clothes, there was a deep sense of gratitude—and closure. Will shared this sentiment as well, telling me, “Something I heard everyone saying tonight was how much closure they got today…I didn’t realize how it was the closure I needed too.” 

COVID took a little bit from all of us this past year in so many obvious and some subliminal ways, but if this day showed us anything, the strength and perseverance of the community of Coniston is not going anywhere. No pandemic is too strong to break the bonds that we have spent generations creating here, and I am excited to move into the future with a strong and united Coniston staff. And so the tradition continues…as we move into the summer, I hope that we all remind ourselves of the strong sense of community that day brought to us all. When the summer gets tough for us at camp and in the real world, I hope everyone reading this takes a little magic from the unwavering spirit of camp with them to their own trials and tribulations.

CITs on the Road—Remarks from a Stranger

Coniston CITs made quite an impact when on the trail and shared “a generosity-of-spirit toward a total stranger”…

Dear Leadership at Camp Coniston,

My name is, Amy and I hiked to the summit of Katahdin and back on Wednesday with my two brothers, their spouses, and our combined children, ages 12-22, along the Saddle Trail. With a bit of a bum knee, I was slower than the rest of the group, and as I was descending the “boulder climb,” I could hear a lively group of energetic and enthusiastic voices approaching for at least 15 minutes until they were upon me. We were finished the big rocks by that time and standing, as opposed to using all fours, but I turned around to see the young, healthy, spirited group behind me, and said a friendly hello. I told them to please pass me, but the girl at the lead declined, stating that they were a “big group.” I relayed that I was also part of a big group of 9, but that they were ahead a ways. We stuck up a conversation, and I learned that the first two (immediately behind me) were from Needham and Wellesley, MA (also where I am from) and that they were CITs from Camp Coniston in NH, doing Katahdin as part of their training. I learned that half of them had just done Cathedral and half had done Knife’s Edge and that it was a bit terrifying … I found parts of Saddle terrifying! And after a lovely chat, I let the group of 18 go ahead.

They stopped to gather at the benches at Chimney Pond, but soon went past my brothers and me for a second time, their ever-cheerful selves.

I write to you to let you know how impressive your group of kids were, how wonderfully articulate and well-spoken, polite and cheerful, and with a generosity-of-spirit toward a total stranger (with high school and college aged kids of her own) at the end of what was an exhausting day for all.

Congratulations to you – you must run a fabulous camp which attracts fabulous kids – they demonstrated everything one could hope for in today’s young adults!