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.

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.

Parker Olson—Entrepreneur—Coniston: 2003-2017

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

How were you introduced to Camp?
My brothers, Brenden and Kyle attended before me. We initially heard about Coniston from the Lenson Family.

Did you attend college, and if so, what did you study?
I attended the University of Minnesota where I studied finance, entrepreneurship, and  neuroscience.

What is your current job? 
I am the founder and CEO of Forij

How has your career journey evolved?
Radically… I started my career in a management consulting role, but quickly found that I wasn’t going to be happy without a creative outlet where I had full autonomy.

Did Coniston influence your ability to create this journey?
100%—I attribute much of my creativity, drive, and out-of-the-box thinking to my development that happened at Camp!

Are there any skills or traits you gained at Coniston that you use in your professional life?
Being a Camp counselor forced me to become a truly resourceful problem solver and taught me how to effectively work with others of different backgrounds and ages. Helping children navigate new experiences away from their parents while managing group morale and relationships with other staff members requires balance.

Are there any specific memories from your time at Coniston that are still impactful to you?
Too many to share. Working with the youngest children, it was awe-inspiring to watch them evolve over a few short weeks. Often their first time away from their parents, they must discover themselves and begin to form their identities for the first time. I still chase the high of fostering these experiences.

Howie Kalfus—Judge—Coniston: 1980-1991

How old were you when you started Camp?
11 years old. 1980-1991; Camper 1980-1983; CIT 1984; LIT/junior counselor (whole summer) 1985; Cabin counselor 1986-1988 (archery staff); Program Director 1989-1991.

How were you introduced to Camp?
My parents had some friends, from my father’s time in the Air Force, who lived in Claremont, NH.  They’d heard about Camp Coniston from their children’s friends so they told us about it.

Did you attend college, and if so, what did you study?
I attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where I studied music.  After that (and a gap year where I lived with three other former Coniston staff: Peter Twadell, Lael (Lambert) Jepson and the late Denice (Brigante) Choiniere in Burlington, Vermont), I attended Seton Hall University Law School.  I should also note that, after law school, I lived for a couple of years with another former Conistonian, Rick Hutchinson.

What is your current job? 
I am currently the presiding hearing officer (judge) for the Vermont Judicial Bureau (VJB).  The VJB hears all types of civil violations including traffic, municipal ordinance, fish and game, low-level environmental, boating, underage possession of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.  I cover the entire state going from county to county (like the circuit judges of old).  I also spend roughly 20-30% of my time covering superior court, most often juvenile court.  This includes child abuse and neglect (including termination of parental rights), delinquency and truancy cases.  

How has your career journey evolved?
I began as a public defender in Vermont’s biggest county where I represented indigent defendants in misdemeanor and felony cases as well as parents and children in juvenile cases.  From there, I went to work as an assistant attorney general representing the Vermont Department for Children and Families.  Most of that work involved prosecuting termination of parental rights cases when parents were unable to resume parenting their children.  After that I spent a few months in private practice handling a domestic (mostly divorce) and criminal caseload.  That wasn’t a good fit, so I left for a job representing the Vermont Department of Public Safety (DPS).  DPS includes the Vermont State Police, Emergency Management, Fire Safety, the Vermont Criminal Information Center and the state’s crime lab.  There I provided general counsel to the Commission of Public safety and the Department’s employees.  Most of the time was spent working with the State Police.  In 2011, I was appointed to be the VJB’s fifth ever Hearing Officer.

Did Coniston influence your ability to create this journey?
Without a doubt it did!  It was at Camp Coniston where I learned what it meant to become responsible and to handle whatever work is thrown my way.  As a sixteen-year-old, there where times when a co-counselor would be on a day off and I was responsible for 10 or 12 six- and seven-year-olds.  Along with ensuring their safety, I was responsible for keeping an eye on their health and hygiene, their emotional wellbeing and their entertainment.  Not only did this give me the skills I needed to problem solve, it gave me the confidence to go out and learn new skills at every turn in my academic and professional careers.

Are there any skills or traits you gained at Coniston that you use in your professional life?
I became more compassionate as a result of my time at Coniston.  This has helped in all my law-related jobs but has probably had the greatest impact on my current job.  Whether I’m imposing a fine on a motorist, sentencing a criminal defendant, ruling on a request for a restraining order or even terminating a parent’s rights to their child, the ability to show compassion can soften a blow or at least demonstrate that I’ve listened and that I care. 

Are there any specific memories from your time at Coniston that are still impactful to you?
Every one of them. There is still no greater view in the entire world for me than looking over the lake and the surrounding mountains in the moonlight.  Thoughts of vespers and chapels still make me smile and become a bit teary.  I can smell the dining hall and hear both the old bell in the dining hall and the big bell by the waterfront as if I smelled and heard them this morning.  I consider my camp friends to be among my closest.  While we’re all over the country, I still think about them all regularly and try every day to channel their competence, their work ethic, their demonstrations of love for people and the environment and their overall decency.

Kitter & Gordie Spater—Entrepreneurs—Coniston: 1978-1994

How old were you when you started Camp?
We both started when we were 8 years old.

How were you introduced to Camp?
Our neighbors from Chester VT, the Masses (Amy, Andy, and Cathy) all went to Camp Coniston. Our parents owned a business in town and worked 6 days a week, in the 80s there weren’t a lot of supervised activities for kids to do in the summer, so camp was an awesome option.

Did you attend college, and if so, what did you study?
Kitter:
BA – University of Vermont – Studio Art and Anthropology and MID – Pratt Institute (Masters of Industrial Design)

Gordie: Studied Economics and Political Science at the University of Vermont and then went on to specialize in business with an MBA.

What is your current job? 
In 2003 we started a pet products company together called Kurgo Dog Gear. Kurgo was focused on creating gear that makes it easier for dogs and their owners to get outside and enjoy adventures together. We created car products for dogs (seat covers, safety harnesses, etc.) and a full range of outdoor gear like backpacks, running harnesses and lifejackets for the dog. Kitter’s primary responsibility is user-based research, product design, manufacturing and marketing. Gordie oversees the business operations which includes managing their team in Salisbury, MA and selling to our customers such as Petco and Petsmart. 

How has your career journey evolved?
K
itter: When I was a kid, I wanted to be a Lego designer and run my own company. Although I have had a number of varied jobs – I’ve been a ski instructor, prep cook, a graphic designer, and started a few companies –  I have always come back to the essence of this childhood dream of being engaged in design, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Gordie: I started my career in NYC doing advertising. It was during a work weekend at Coniston that I determined I needed to move out of New York. I moved to Sunday River as the Marketing Director and then to Boston to business school. Since I graduated I have helped to found three companies.

Did Coniston influence your ability to create this journey?
Kitter: As with many of us, my first job was a counselor at Coniston. The early experience provided me with a solid understanding that a job can be tough, fun and fulfilling all at the same time. This early experience has guided me in making a company that had purpose for the people working there.

Gordie: Coniston gave me the confidence at a young age to be myself and try new things. Camp Coniston was one of the most formative experiences of my life.  

Are there any skills or traits you gained at Coniston that you use in your professional life?
Kitter: Leadership, creativity, adaptability, pivot, make it fun. It was always been part of my camp experience to make sure that the campers and staff had a good experience. This has stuck with me whenever making a product, working with clients, managing people and making sure the end consumer is happy with their purchase.

Gordie: I am pretty good at meeting new people and getting along with them. Seems cabin life is a perfect training ground for my job at Kurgo

Is there a specific moment or example from your career that you used these skills or traits?
Gordie: When we started Kurgo I literally had to go door to door selling our products and dealing with all the different types of customers I ran into. Meeting cabinmates on the first day of the session was pretty good training for those early days at Kurgo.

Are there any specific memories from your time at Coniston that are still impactful to you?
Kitter: One of the lifeguard training tests was to hold a brick over your head and out of the water for 2 minutes. At that age I was a sinker and couldn’t for the life of me tread water for two minutes with a brick over my head. I learned that sometimes you need to adapt and pivot, I held my breath for two minutes instead of treading water. Oh, I also met my wife, Erica at Coniston.

Gordie: I loved Dirty Night, it was a license to laugh a lot and play in the mud.

Guiseppi Marzelli & Alan Finlay—Entrepreneurs—Coniston: 1997-2006

Guiseppi and Alan believe that building a great network filled with good people is vitally important to growing ideas. Growing up in the family of a local business owner, Guiseppi directly saw the impact of technology and its role in commerce. While large corporations had the resources to learn to navigate new technologies, small and local businesses struggled to bridge the gap. Guiseppi and Alan teamed up to found Boomtown, turning their camp dreams of entrepreneurship into reality. Guiseppi points out that “reflecting back on the journey, it is crucial that it is understood that I could not have done this without Alan.” Today, Boomtown has 80 full time employees and 2,000 active technicians around the United States.

“Coniston personally taught me how to better understand everyone’s individual talent, creativity and personality. Not every person is the same and some people are extremely different than others, but when you’re off the grid and only have the same resources, you learn to be patient with each other and better understand the meaning of community. Coniston truly helped in the initial stages of building a company by being more thoughtful of other’s thoughts and ideas. If you look past others because they don’t have the same ideology, you will quickly find yourself siloed from the rest of society. It’s important to know your integrity is the same and without many resources you can still accomplish many things as a team.”

I know this will sound hard to believe, but there were times running the psych ER at Bellevue where I felt that lightness and ease and unity that I associate with Camp. One night, I had a bunch of patients singing “He’s got the whole world in his hands,” with the patients making up the verses. At one point, we were all singing, He’s got the Bellevue Hospital in his hands” and I really felt it. I believed it. I believe in the power of people coming together as one, in song, in nature, under “God” whatever we perceive that to mean. Camp gave me optimism. It made me believe in Oneness, and that is a great gift.”

Julie Holland—Psychiatrist & Author—Coniston: 1975-1984

Julie graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a major in The Biological Basis of Behavior, a combination of neuropsychology and psychopharmacology. While starting her own private practice in psychiatry, Julie worked at Bellevue Hospital. She is married with two children and is a published author, a noted lecturer, and a frequent guest expert. 

“My father-in-law used to call me “omni-capable.” I credited Camp with that. Every summer, learning different skills, whether archery, riflery, guitar playing, canoeing, or lifesaving. That kind of comfort with novelty, and most importantly, learning how to learn, is what I use in my professional life. Camp taught me how to do this with openness and compassion. Coniston helped me get in touch with my own talent for empathy, and that is a skill I use daily in my professional life.

I know this will sound hard to believe, but there were times running the psych ER at Bellevue where I felt that lightness and ease and unity that I associate with Camp. One night, I had a bunch of patients singing “He’s got the whole world in his hands,” with the patients making up the verses. At one point, we were all singing, He’s got the Bellevue Hospital in his hands” and I really felt it. I believed it. I believe in the power of people coming together as one, in song, in nature, under “God” whatever we perceive that to mean. Camp gave me optimism. It made me believe in Oneness, and that is a great gift.”

Rua Kelly—Trial Attorney—Coniston: 1984-1988

Rua was introduced to Coniston at 13. She spent the next four “life-changing” summers at Camp. Today, Rua is a dedicated mom and senior trial counsel with the Securities & Exchange Commission in Boston, working on investigating the many forms of financial fraud.

Rua recently reflected on how Camp influenced her life—“As a CIT and a counselor, I learned so much about leadership and decision-making.  When an 8-year old girl is homesick and crying inconsolably, you don’t have a manual to tell you what to say or do. You are constantly having to rise to the challenge.  I never felt like I was good at anything, or could make a difference in people’s lives, until I came to Camp.  My ability to succeed really came from Coniston.

Leadership, building teams, empathy, not judging people based on stereotypes – those are all skills and traits (gained from Camp) that I use in my job, especially when I have had to appear before juries in court, and make arguments that persuade people from all walks of life.  But the most important place I have used those skills is as a parent.  I learned how to really listen, how to empathize, and how to help people who are feeling vulnerable find their way when things are hard.”

David Koch—Chief Commercial Officer—Coniston: 1977-1982

After Coniston, David studied Mechanical Engineering while in the ROTC at MIT and was a Naval Aviator and Flight Instructor. After receiving his MBA, David moved into the corporate world and is currently the CCO for FI.SPAN, a company he helped found. 

 “… I was probably the youngest CIT and a young kid when I was exposed to Camp, and I consider myself lucky to have experienced it at a time when I could learn from those experiences and nurture them. In high school I wasn’t doing all the leadership things, so Coniston and the CIT program gave me the ability to launch some of my talents and use them. That gave me the confidence to continue on…”

“Each piece of your life builds on the other. For me, it was Camp that had a big impact on the things I was able to do in my later years of high school and that translated to what I brought to MIT. I don’t think that without that confidence I would have been successful in ROTC and the military. It’s also possible that people would suggest camp is nothing like the military, but I would suggest camp and the military are not so different and that a lot of things I learned at camp were directly attributable, to and directly helpful to succeeding in ROTC and the military. I’m not sure I thought that at the time, but looking back I think that’s absolutely true. I think Camp indirectly, [and even] much more directly, helped [me] in the military. The military piece that translates to later in my career is leadership. I left behind the technical skills of the military because I don’t fly anymore but the leadership piece carries over.”

Noah Kahan—Singer/Songwriter—Coniston: 2005-2012

At eight years old and having never been away from home for long, Noah was terrified to come to Camp. However, after his first summer, Camp became a huge part of his life—seeing old friends and the beautiful lake—“summer became synonymous with Coniston.”

After receiving a recording contract his senior year in high school, Noah pursued a career as a musician; he is enjoying a life which is a whirlwind of performing live on programs like Late Night with Stephen Colbert and Late Night with Seth Meyers, recording songs, and creating music around the world. 

“I would say that I use the social skills I learned at Coniston all the time. Meeting new people and cooperating in a group setting is difficult, and it’s something that Coniston taught me to do year after year. I believe those social skills have propelled me through the rest of my young adult life!

Coniston instilled confidence in my ability as a musician and person. I’ll never forget how excited I would be before every talent show… 

…I believe much of my identity was formed in the cabins in Boys Camp and on the docks of Boys Waterfront. I made lasting friendships on the wood panels of the Adirondack chairs, and slept under the stars on my overnights. What I remember most about Camp Coniston was the mythos of the place. Coniston was a place that survived in my mind on its reputation as a grounds for unexplainable magic that cast a spell on its campers, bringing them back every year. Coniston will always be a part of my life.”