Evan Ruderman-Outdoor Photographer-Coniston: 2005-2017

How old were you when you started Camp?

I started going to camp as early as possible at 8!

How were you introduced to Coniston?

We had some family friends (the Gesens) who were involved with Coniston and had kids who went to camp. Because of them, my older brother started going to camp and I would always go with my parents to drop him off and pick him up. I loved everything about camp itself and everything my brother told me about it, so my parents signed me up to go as soon as I was old enough.

Did you attend college, and if so, what did you study?

I did – I attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I studied Communications with a focus in Environmental Communication. I graduated in the Spring of 2019.

What is your current job? 

I currently work as a freelance outdoor photographer and as a photo assistant to acclaimed photographer Chris Burkard.

How has your career journey evolved?
 
Oh man, it’s been quite the journey! I moved to California to work as an intern for Chris Burkard – it was a part time position that was set to last for four months. I couldn’t get enough, so I asked to stick around for a second internship and from there got hired on full time to work at his studio. When I started working as an intern I had little experience in the photo industry but was excited to learn anything and everything that I could. I started working on smaller assignments and as I learned more I began working on bigger shoots with bigger clients and deliverables. After a little while I began working with Chris on photo shoots around the world and haven’t stopped since! Today I continue to work on shoots with Chris but have also gained the confidence to work independently.
 
Did Coniston influence your ability to create this journey?
 
Absolutely. I still think of Coniston as one of the most formative parts of my childhood and don’t think I’d be where I am today without it. Overall I think seeing and being a part of the magic that is Coniston helped show me that I could carve my own path as I got older. I was exposed to so many people from so many different places and backgrounds all of whom had different interests and skills. This showed me that there is no “traditional” path that needs to be followed and it also allowed me to try so many different things as I grew up.
 
Are there any skills or traits you gained at Coniston that you use in your professional life?
 
Most definitely. I think that above all camp taught me how to work with people and build meaningful relationships. This was at the core of both being a camper and on staff and today is equally important in my professional life. I think being able to connect well with anyone and everyone is an incredibly important skill and I attribute my ability to do this to all my years at camp. I also took my very first photo class at camp!

 
Are there any specific memories from your time at Coniston that are still impactful to you?
 
There are too many to recount. One thing that sticks out to me as I reflect on my time at camp are the amazing counselors I had and looked up to throughout my time at camp. It’s been 15+ years but I can still recount every cabin counselor I had dating all the way back to my first one in B2 at eight years old. I looked up to these guys so much and I think they had a large impact on who I was and wanted to become. I also absolutely loved overnights and I think they’re a big reason for why I love the outdoors so much and have pursued a career that revolves around the outdoors. There was one specific overnight at Penny Royal that I will never forget – the stars were the brightest I had ever seen and it made me want to spend many more nights sleeping under the stars.

Sara Noble-RN in Pediatrics-Coniston: 2005-2021

How old were you when you started Camp?

10

How were you introduced to Coniston?

My mom went to Coniston! 

Did you attend college, and if so, what did you study?

Saint Michael’s College – Biochemistry. MGH Institute of Health Professions – Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner track.

What is your current job? 

I am now working as an RN in pediatrics.

How has your career journey evolved?
 
My first job out of undergrad was working as a Camp and Non-profit management associate at Coniston. I then went on to work as a Mental Health Specialist on a Child and Adolescent Inpatient Psychiatry unit before starting nursing school at MGH.
 
Did Coniston influence your ability to create this journey?
 
Absolutely! Coniston has been such a large part of my development as a human being. At camp, we have the opportunity to learn about so many different interests and careers through the people that we meet. In fact, I would credit a conversation with Sue Strebel as sealing the deal for my choice to pursue nursing.
 
Are there any skills or traits you gained at Coniston that you use in your professional life?
 
I firmly believe that everyone could benefit from living in a cabin in the woods for two weeks with strangers. At Camp, you learn and teach interpersonal skills starting on day one by simply being together. I learned how to navigate difficult conversations, celebrate each other’s wins, and advocate for myself and others.
 
Are there any specific memories from your time at Coniston that are still impactful to you?
 
Where do I even start? I think the best part of being a part of a place where people grow up is getting to witness it. Knowing that you played even the smallest role in someone’s positive experience is what it’s all about and keeps the magic of Camp alive for generations to come.

Chloe Parker-Deputy Manager of a Children’s Home-Coniston Staff: 2014

How old were you when you came to Camp and what was your job role?

I worked at Coniston in 2014 (best summer ever!) when I was 22, and my role was Drama and Coniston Singers Director.

Why did you choose to work at Coniston?

My parents met whilst working at a Summer Camp and it is something they always said I should do. So I googled lots of Camps in America and set my sights on Coniston, I emailed them and was lucky enough to be offered a job.  

Did you attend college, and if so, what did you study?

I attended The Hammond School of Dance in Chester, England. I studied Musical Theatre whilst I was there. I had graduated college the year before I worked at Camp Coniston. 

What is your current job? 

I am currently a Deputy Manager of a residential children’s home. I look after children with complex behavioural needs. The aim of my work is keep the young people I work with as integrated with their families as possible. This can include reunifying them back into their family homes, or stepping them down into foster placements.  There are many different reasons which would lead to young people coming to my home. It could be a family breakdown, which leads to relationships breaking down. It could be that a young person has become involved in external circumstances such as gangs or drugs and they may need to be moved away from those causing harm. It may be that a child or young person has been abused, or a parent is victim to abuse or mental health issues.   

How has your career journey evolved?
 
I trained in Musical Theatre and have alway been heavily involved in the arts. However I have always wanted to work with Young People. I spent 5 years teaching dance whilst I was training and then worked at Coniston. It was whilst I was there that I decided to pursue working with children and young people full time. When I returned to England I gained a job working as a Residential Care Worker at a Children’s home. I then worked as a behavioural teaching assistant along side this. I also trained in Drama Therapy and I am now a Deputy Manager of a Children’s home. 
 
Are there any skills or traits you gained at Coniston that you use in your professional life?
 
Coniston has had a huge part to play in my career journey. Working there taught me to think on my feet, to push myself and opened my eyes to new ways of working with children and young people. Coniston gave me confidence, taught me empathy and gave me incredible working experience. I use the skills I learnt during my summer at Coniston every day in both my personal and professional life. 

Jodie Halls-Health Care Assistant-Coniston Staff: 2017

How old were you when you came to Camp and what was your job role?
I was 23 years-old and I came to Camp to work as one of the Drama Directors.

Why did you choose to work at Coniston?
I graduated from university and I wanted to travel to America to experience what it was like to work at camp for the summer. When Camp Coniston got in contact with me about a job opportunity, I was thrilled, I did my research and Camp Coniston really stood out to be a wonderful place. 

Did you attend college, and if so, what did you study?
Yes, university. I studied Musical Theatre.

What is your current job? 
Health Care Assistant.

How has the pandemic affected your job?

The Pandemic affected our normal way of working. We were introduced to wearing masks daily and having to social distance during the pandemic. Fearing that we could catch the virus at work and bring it home to our own families. The residents’ families were not allowed to visit their loved ones, which was very hard and especially on days such as Christmas day/birthdays etc. We did everything we could to make sure residents were in contact, through technology and facetime. I work with residents who suffer from dementia, the pandemic meant that days out and entertainment in the home were cancelled which is what brings them joy. 

The team worked so hard together during the pandemic, we had staff members taking on extra shifts because of staff shortages due to having to isolate. Staff were mixing jobs and all helping out with housekeeping, gardening, activities, and staff being bus drivers to pick the staff up from home so we wouldn’t have to get public transport.
 
How has your career journey evolved?
Since University and Camp, I decided to take a new career path. Originally, I was starting my own business as a performer, singing at weddings and parties etc. During this time, my Grandad got ill and I had to help my Nan care for him. This lead me on to the path of wanting to become a carer. 
 
I used to sing around the care homes in London and it made me want to ask about jobs.
 
I am now a full time care worker. I work with war veterans and their families/partners. I also sing at the home I work at for the residents, which has brought joy to the home during the pandemic.
 
My future plans are to progress in my job and become a Nurse. 
 

Are there any skills or traits you gained at Coniston that you use in your professional life?
Camp Coniston gave me skills which I have taken and use in my daily life. Coniston gave me confidence and the most important thing, believing in yourself. 

Are there any specific memories from your time at Coniston that are still impactful to you?

My time at Coniston is such a wonderful memory for me that I will never forget. Coniston is a place where you can be yourself and this is the reason why I loved it. Coniston was a place where your worries disappeared. 

A few memories that will stick with me: When we first arrived, the staff were so lovely. Being an international staff member I felt very welcome and we went on a week of trips to bond with out team members. The ice cream social, what a wild time. A whole lot of fun, laughter and dancing. The fireworks at the end of the session, just wow, emotional and beautiful!! Women empowering other women to be strong. And FINALLY… CHIPWICHES!

Coniston in the Community!

YOUTH AND GOVERNMENT GOES VIRTUAL 

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This year, YMCA Camp Coniston staff, along with dedicated teachers, worked virtually with Stevens, Newport and Kearsage High Schools to deliver Youth and Government sessions to serve 300 teens from 30 schools throughout New Hampshire. Coniston’s main role was assisting the press corps—a body of a dozen students from different districts that write, edit, and publish newspapers during the sessions. Sessions were held virtually, which allowed students to communicate differently and perhaps change the process for planning in the coming years. We look forward to the 2022 sessions this March!

YMCA Youth & Government is a national program of the Y that involves thousands of teens nationwide in state-organized, model- government programs. Students from every corner of the U.S. have the opportunity to immerse themselves in experiential civic engagement and to, quite literally, practice democracy.

 

THE BUDDY BENCH

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YMCA Camp Coniston has a new Buddy Bench. Thanks to John Tilley for the idea, James and Aaron in maintenance for building the bench, and Session 5 campers for painting!

Our Arts & Crafts Director, Barb Hawley took it to the next level—as we like to say at Camp she Barb’d it up a bit with some friendship quotes. Barb’s true mission is always to share the joy experienced while creating art and that is just what she did with us. We can’t wait for the bench to see many new friendships formed on its comfort!

“Sit here and be a friend, make a friend, love a friend… give your time and your ears.”

 

K-9 SEARCH & RESCUE TRAINING

We were glad to see Northern New England K-9 Search and Rescue return this past winter and spring to use Coniston’s facilities and grounds, free of charge, for training purposes. The group is the main search and rescue group for VT, NH, & ME and is called into duty when hikers and skiers are lost in the outdoors. With Camp’s record breaking forty-forty inches of snow the conditions were perfect for training. We thank this group for their wonderful service in keeping the New England outdoor community safe!

 

HYPETHERM VOLUNTEERS

 
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Hypertherm volunteers worked for six full days at Camp to help us get ready for the summer! Several of the volunteers were Coniston alumni and we had a wonderful time welcoming them back to Camp. We can’t thank all of the volunteers enough for all of your hard work. We could not get camp ready without you!

 

 

NEW LONDON NH ROTARY

 
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Thank you New London NH Rotary for helping us get ready for the summer! They provided us with 2,000 masks and what a difference that made! They also visited Coniston for their annual meeting at Camp the Friday before Labor Day!

Coniston in the News!

Read on to find out what our wonderful Alumni have been up to this past year!!

Coniston was featured on the New Hampshire Chronicle!

Sean McDonald and Audrey Cox with the New Hampshire Chronicle visited Coniston this summer to try out some of our Camp activities!

 

 

Parents speak about Coniston nationally!

 

Coniston parents, Abbigail Chau and Anna Caccavaro, along with John Tilley, spoke with Yahoo!Life about camp this summer in an article: Camp is back! Here’s how it’ll work and why families can’t wait: ‘This is a summer of healing for our kids’. 

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Click to read the full article! 

 

John Tilley was live on New Hampshire Public Radio!

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Before summer began, John Tilley was live on NHPR NH Roundup with Laura Knoy talking about overnight camp and camping.

 

 

RECORD BREAKING SNOW AT CONISTON!

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On December 18th, Camp’s home town was featured on Good Morning America for having gotten one of the largest snow totals in New Hampshire!

 

 

CONISTON PODCAST!

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Look out for future announcements on our social media about our upcoming PODCAST!! Our Summer Camp Director, Nicole Berthiaume, has created this podcast and has been recording sessions with our wonderful summer staff about how life on Lake Coniston echoes through all of our lives. If you are interested in being a guest on our podcast please contact nicole@coniston.org.

Career Development Program

As part of our college and career development counseling initiative, current staff members received special opportunities during the summer to meet with our alumni and parent communities all while learning about the process of college applications.

This summer, high school aged LITs (Leaders in Training) had the opportunity to attend a Common Application / College Admissions workshop and older staff members were provided with a Resume Writing workshop, all offered by Jennifer Tockman of Colby-Sawyer College.

If you are are willing to speak to younger staff about the college search process, please reach out to jesse@coniston.org.

Alumni News!

Read on to find out what our wonderful Alumni have been up to this past year!!

A group of alumni spent a changeover together— Meaghan (White) Bonin CIT ‘98, Erin White former camper and 90s staff, Berta Sinclair Coniston living legend, CIT ‘96, Mary (Blaney) Hughes CIT ‘96, Kelly White CIT ’96, and Tim White – CIT ‘00. Mary and Kelly’s daughters attended session 3, and Meg’s daughter hopes to be joining them in 2022! It was also the 25th Anniversary of Berta, Mary and Kelly’s CIT year!

That’s right! Katie Smidt, ’04 CIT, ’10 & ’11 Girls Camp Director and current member of our Board was on the docket for some virtual staff training this year. Katie taught our staff about how to care for campers and their own mental health this summer.

 

 

Former camper and staff member, Andy Miller got married to Alexandra this past! Congratulations to you both! We are so happy to see so many Coniston alumni at your special day.

 

 

Big congratulations to Rachel Adler, former camper and staff member, on her marriage to Alex Dixit! It is lovely to see so many Coniston friends there to celebrate your wedding day.

 

Ben Kamisar got engaged! We hope you have a beautiful wedding day!

Michelle and Gabe Faithfull got married! Congratulations on your magical day!!

Josh Bates got engaged! We hope you have a wonderful wedding day!

Katie and Matt Comstock are expecting their first child! Congratulations! We can’t wait to meet the future camper!

Kyle Leahy, former CIT Director and camper, got married to Olivia. Congratulations!

Cassie Short Cassie Short got engaged to Bobby McLaughlin. They will be getting married in June 2022!

 Liz Dion graduated from Ohio State University with a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy. Congrats Dr. Liz!

Dylan Lustig and his wife Katie, welcomed their baby boy, Jack, in January! Congratulations Dylan and Katie. 

Ken Sneider, took 3rd place in the 5th annual San Francisco Sourdough eating contest, with a finish of 3.5 loaves!

Coniston parent, Chris Winship, represented Coniston during his backcountry camping trip in Yosemite NP!

Coniston alumnae Georgia Rivett Mills, Lily Himmelman and Jesse Ladd have moved in together in London!

Helen Segil started her own pottery business – Sludge House! Check out her business on instagram @sludgehousestudio

Kate Powers is making history in Portland! She is an ultimate frisbee player for Portland Rising, Portland’s first women’s professional ultimate frisbee team!

Chris Lovejoy Coniston alumnus, has just released his first solo single ‘On & On’ on Apple and Spotify. Check out his music video on YouTube!

Catherine Merkt moved to London to work at a Family Law firm after graduating law school, and has now moved back to her hometown of Geneva, Switzerland to complete her legal training.

Catherine has been working for a year and a half in a top family law firm as a trainee lawyer, and will take her Geneva bar exam in October 2022! She hopes to further her interests in child protection and women’s rights in the future. Good luck Catherine!

 


Yes! That is Conistonian and legendary drama director, Allie Luecke on the Guardian modeling her sleeping bag up-cycled into a puffer jacket. On Allie’s instagram page @allie. upcycles she shows people how to make their clothes fit better by letting out a seam, or creating a brand new piece from a garment that you love, but just isn’t working for you any more.

 

Jake Stetson just started a position in Flight Test Engineering at Boeing. He flies primarily on the 737-10 which is a new plane working towards getting certified. He flies on the plane with the test pilots and a number of other engineers. His role is to monitor and manipulate the total weight and center of gravity of the airplane during the tests. He also acts as the cabin safety focal where he is required to be CPR and First Aid certified so he can handle any safety issues in the cabin of the plane during testing. Amazing work Jake!

 

Walker Horton graduated from UVM with a degree in Computer Science and Information Systems!

Chloe Parker, former Drama Director, welcomed her baby boy, Harley, this past year!

Talia Ungareli graduated from UVM with a major in Animal Science. She is now at Gladys Porter Zoo, Texas, working as an Animal Caregiver/Trainer for gorillas and large carnivores.

Colin Grip met up with his former camper Eddie Scott. They both just started grad school and undergrad at Duke University together!

GeIzabelle Serrentino just got accepted at the University of Arizona! Congratulations Izabelle!

11-year-old camper, Quinn McCarthy, volunteers with the Pascack Valley Navigators as a student mentor, helping children ages 5 – 18 with special needs learn the basic skills of various sports. Great work Quinn!

Bert Myer shared this lovely photo with us. All of these children—sons and daughters of former Coniston campers and grandchildren of Coniston—connected friends—attended Camp this summer at the same time! (The photo is a few years old).

Ronan Carroll, Ryan Berger, Cameron Dunphy, Cal Donnelly, Otelia Donnelly, Owen Dunphy, Thomas Berger  and Wesley Berger. 

 

Fall Chronicle – Director’s Message

This summer, we were together again. We played together, worked together, ate together, and laughed together. The smiles we saw on children’s faces every day made a difference and this was because of the hard work, sacrifice, and dedication of so many. There are countless memories from the summer of 2021, but the one that will never disappear is the feeling of connection and togetherness. We returned to where we flourish and become our best selves and created the extraordinary community where we are all valued and supported.

On the walls of the Sander’s Leadership Center hang four banners—Community, Leadership, Civics, and Service—concepts which embody the Coniston Experience. On the following pages, you will find inspiring stories highlighted by these concepts,moments of celebration from summer, days of adventure, and lessons in resilience.

You’ll read about the relief which was felt by being surrounded by a supportive community, the joy of being utterly silly, and the pride that comes from accomplishing new things.

We hope these stories bring a smile and give you the feeling of hope. As we look to the future, remember Camp is not just a place you go for a weekend, a week, or a month, but an idea we carry with us as we all try to leave the world—and each other—a little stronger than before.

Creating Lifelong Memories Through the Dick and Nell Leach Campership

It’s with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to our long-time friend, Dick Leach. He and his wife Nell have been among Coniston’s biggest advocates over the past two decades, sending twelve grandchildren to Camp, hosting many campers/staff at their home during days off, and throwing an annual community gathering— The Sunshine Christmas Luncheon—to send numerous children to Camp each summer! What a difference Dick made.

Before Dick passed away he wanted to give even more back and made a second $35,000 Campership in Perpetuity gift. Dick’s legacy will live on through
the two children his camperships will send to Camp, every year, forever. What a gesture of love.

Dick has left an imprint on many lives through the Camp Experiences he has provided. We are all grateful that Dick found Coniston and as we enjoy the beauty of Camp we will remember our dear friend.

We will continue the annual tradition of the Dick Leach Sunshine Lunch on December 10th, 12pm at Lake Sunapee Country Club.