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!

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.

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 emily.hewes@coniston.org

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.

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.

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.