Camp Staff Alumni

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Camp Staff Alumni — April 2016 

Scout Spirit Done the Camp Staff Way

Growing up in scouting we can remember the “circle up” to conclude each campout. First the scoutmaster’s minute, an opportunity to recognize new advancements, and scouts could share their favorite experience or newly acquired skills… As well as providing an opportunity to get a head count to make sure no one had wandered off during the weekend’s activities. It was a great way to conclude the event, and reflect on the opportunities and experiences we were afforded in the scouting program.

Serving on the resident camp staff amplifies the patrol camping experience. Between sessions provided a brief stop/start, but there was so much energy focused on looking forward that time for reflection was often lost. By the end of each summer, new friendships had formed, memories had been made and each staffer had grown individually. A brief circle up doesn’t quite suffice after a 70-day campout, so each camp develops it’s own iteration of the “circle up” to culminate the summer. We called it “Poof Night,” why, we’re not sure. It was either that the summer had gone “poof,” or that we realized that the next day our contracts would do the same.

Although this night is not a coordinated effort between each staff, there are similarities that span across the reservation. They all start with a big pizza dinner (which actually is a coordinated effort on the part of the reservation) and are followed by a variety of skits, slideshows, videos, gift exchanges, and awards depending on the camp. Regardless of the format, which tends to vary from year-to-year, each camp uses this as an opportunity to laugh and reminisce about the summer. It’s followed by a more heartfelt circle-up, and finally a visit to She-She-Be to fulfill their obligation one last time before returning home to begin the “offseason.” Goodbyes are never easy, but fun traditions like Poof Night, and taking time to reflect make the experience much more meaningful.

Meet our Program Directors

In the upcoming 2016 camping season three of the four Program Directors at Naish and Bartle will be new in the role of PD, however they will be familiar faces with a combined 33 summers on the camp staff. Anthony Gonnello will return as the PD in Lone Star, Charles Winfrey will run the show in Sawmill, Robbie McReynolds will be on the mic in Piercing Arrow, and Spencer Weaver will make the jump from Bartle to Naish to direct the Central Camp at Naish. Let’s get to know them all a little better!

Which camps have you worked for in the past? Which lodges?

Spencer: 8 years spent in Sawmill: 3 at Ecology, 2 as Surveying counselor, 1 as the ORTC director and 2 as the Climbing Director.

Charles: I have only ever worked and camped in Sawmill so this is a bit of a dream come true to get to be the Program Director.  I started as an Instructor in the Ecology Lodge for two years then became the counselor there my third year.  My fourth and fifth year as a staffer I was the counselor in charge of the Communications Lodge when we taught Law merit badge.  Then I came back after a few years away to be the Ecology Director , ORTC Asst. Director and spent two years as the Climbing Director.

Robbie: Before this summer, I have always been on Lone Star staff at the Lakefront as an instructor, then counselor.

Anthony: This will be my second summer as the Lone Star Program Director, prior to that I worked in the Piercing Arrow at the Dining Hall, Scoutcraft Lodge, and Paintball Outpost.

Favorite camp memory (as a camper or staffer)?

Spencer: Staff- A huge super smash brothers’ tournament we had once on a change day. Most of the staff participated and we had about 4 GameCube’s going at once.

Charles: Favorite memory as a camper would probably be when Bob Merrill, MM Fast Squirrel was thrown in the pool by Wayne Weimer when Bob mistakenly thought he was safe from an impromptu swim.  He said something to the effect of, "Since there's no one here with red paint - I can't be thrown in the pool!" and someone pointed out that Wayne was right behind him. 

There are a lot of favorite memories as a staffer and pretty much all of them have to do with helping a scout in some way. One I can remember would be when I was teaching environmental science merit badge.  I found a small tackle box of lures had been left in my class.  The scouts in my next class asked me if they could have it and I said no because I could remember the boy's face that they belonged to.  I had to rack my brain and search through my merit badge cards (back when we still used paper records) to figure out what his name was out of the 40 or so that were in that class.  Then I looked up his campsite and walked them to his troop.  I managed to catch up to them as they were leaving for an outpost.  The scout thanked me and told me that they were his grandfather's lures which he had been frantically looking through his tent to find.  His relief and gratitude really made that day a good one.

Robbie: My favorite camp memory would be my first year on staff and getting to appreciate the brotherhood that I had found with the other staffers.

Anthony: There are far too many, but one of my favorite camp memories was from one of the change days my first year on staff. It was the Luau, so we got some great food. I also learned how to sail that day, but in the process I accidentally hit my friend with the sail as I whipped the boat around and it threw him overboard. I had to figure out how to stop the thing and he swam over. We both had a pretty good laugh about it.

What’s the most coffee you’ve consumed in one day at camp?

Spencer: Had a competition of it one summer, I think it was about 12 cups or so

Charles: I don't think I've consumed a cup of coffee at camp.  So zero?

Robbie: I am a unique member of the head table, as I do not drink coffee.

Anthony: Two pots. I believe I was helping lead a work day crew that day; I had a pot before lunch and one after.

If you could eat one camp meal for the rest of your life, which meal would you choose?

Spencer: The breakfast burritos or cheesy chicken!

Charles: Meatball Hoagies, those things are pretty amazing. Either that or the Call-Night meal of Beanies and Weenies with the potato salad.

Robbie: If I could have one camp meal for the rest of my life it would be corn dogs, with ranch obviously.

Anthony: Cheggs. Easy choice because that's the meal that will kill you the fastest, so I wouldn't have to put up with it for too long.

How many corn dogs could you eat in one sitting?

Spencer: I ate 7 once

Charles: I could probably do close to 8, but I wouldn't... just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Robbie: I have never had the opportunity to see what my limit is with corn dogs but I imagine I could finish off 10 or 12.

Anthony: Standing record is 9, but I think that's just because I ran out of time.

What is the longest period of time you have gone without showering? (a scout is honest.)

Spencer: 1st year as a camper I went 7 days without showering.

Charles: Well when I was younger when hygiene didn't matter, who knows.  As a teen-adult it would probably be during my troop's 50-mile backpacking trips.  Nearly 6 full days of hot August hiking between showers.  My mom is a war hero.

Robbie: The longest I have ever gone without showering is probably around 36 hours. The lake water never sits well on the skin.

Anthony: Two days. Wait, the pool counts as a shower, right?

Who is a staffer that you’ve always looked up to and why?

Spencer: Zac Lewis. It was very apparent the passion he held about serving on staff and he was never afraid to talk to anyone. There was never a dull moment around him.

Charles: A lot of the guys that were Directors my first year on staff come to mind.  Justin Ballard, Danny Dickinson, Jason Carlson and more were great leaders and really helped getting into the entire staff experience.  Then there's the guys that I was in awe of as a little camper, Justin Smith, Chris Poly, Mike Manley, Justin and Grant Dealy, Sean and Todd Weston and some more I'm probably forgetting.  After 9 years on staff you have to have a lot of respect for the guys that have been there for what seems like forever.  Mick Finn, Dave Woodman, and Bruce Reed are all in that category.  Overall I would have to say Jared Pearce though.  I was fortunate to work with Jared and see firsthand his dedication and hard work for the reservation.  I've had 3 brothers all work on Camp Staff and our combined time on staff from '94 on paralleled Jared's tenure so I literally couldn't remember a time when he wasn't at camp.  I will be very proud to announce 1st session opening night campfire for Camp Sawmill will be at Swift Running Bird Council Ring to the Dining Hall after we've all stuffed our faces with tacos.

Robbie: A staffer I have always looked up to is Kyle Anderson. He was my first director at the lake and was the reason I came back my second year which led to these past 6 amazing years!

Anthony: Nick Dodson. He was the first Program Director I worked for. He had only worked in the trading post before becoming a Program Director, but it was evident that he picked up a lot of knowledge about the lodges having in his time as PD. I also have a lot of respect for the way that he was welcoming to the younger staffers and related will to the more experienced ones. Having served as Program Director last summer, I gained a lot of perspective and respect for the Program Directors I worked for.

Chiefs, Royals or Sporting KC?

Spencer: I like all 3, but I prefer football and the Chiefs over the others

Charles: They are each my favorite team for their respective sport.  Overall baseball is my favorite sport though so I'd go with the Royals. 

Robbie: Chiefs. All day long and twice on Sundays!

Anthony: Royals.

What are you doing in the off season?

Spencer: I’m a high school history teacher in Independence, KS

Charles: Currently in school at Missouri State finishing up a degree in education.

Robbie: During the offseason I am a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and I am hoping to graduate in May 2017 with a degree in Forensic Science.

Anthony: I am a student at Northwest Missouri State University. I will graduate in December 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology/Sociology and a minor in Communications. I like to play music with friends on campus, and there are some pretty good places to camp up there as well.

Most odd or interesting fact about you?

Spencer: Deathly afraid of wasps and bees. I’ll run from them

Charles: Hmm... Well I visited South Korea last November.  That was pretty cool and interesting.

Robbie: An interesting fact about me is that I am the President of the UNL Waterski Team and learned to water ski my first year on staff.

Anthony: I shaved my moustache.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Spencer: Something in higher education. Not sure what yet.

Charles: I would like to be a Teacher.  Not so sure about the growing up part.

Robbie: I kinda hope I'm done growing up. 6'5" is pretty tall already.

Anthony: A trophy husband and/or ornery grandpa.

What is your one possession that you couldn’t go without?

Spencer: My rocking chair

Charles: Even though I don't wear them around my neck very often during the off-season, I would be really upset if I didn't have my Claws. 

Robbie: The one possession I couldn't go without is my water ski.

Anthony: My coffee pot.

Who is your favorite Disney princess?

Spencer: She may not be a princess per say, but I’m a HUGE fan of Mulan.

Charles: Geez, this is a toughie.  I'll go with Jasmine.

Robbie: My favorite Disney princess is probably Jasmine because she has a pet Tiger!

Anthony: Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldi, Princess of Genovia.

If you could leave the world with one piece of knowledge, what would it be?

Spencer: If a tree actually makes noise when it falls and no one is around to hear it.

Charles: Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things

Robbie: I haven't experienced nearly enough to know what one piece of knowledge to leave the world with.

Anthony: If you give a pig a pancake, he'll probably want some syrup to go with it.