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!

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.”