Letter: Neudel Responds to Gator’s Camp Coverage

Students prepare for a biking excursion near Camp WIndgate Kirkland. Photo by Noa Schabes ’17.

To the Editor:

The role of a free press is incredibly important to society. For Brimmer, The Gator plays that role. I appreciate the way the paper allows for students voices to be heard inside and beyond our physical walls. At the same time, I believe the paper has an obligation to research its stories deeply.

I am writing because I was a bit surprised when I read two articles in The Gator, “Fall Camp Reteat Shortened” on 4/10/17 and the editorial, “Don’t Shorten Camp on 5/5/17. The original article did not contain the full reasoning for the changes and lacked the details necessary to give readers a full understanding. I have shared the letter that went out to the community explaining the updates to Upper School Camp. There certainly are some losses to changing the length of Camp, but there are many benefits to some of the new programming formats and additional programs being added to the year.

Thank you again to the writers and editors of The Gator for covering the events in our community.

JOSHUA NEUDEL, UPPER SCHOOL HEAD

Below, Neudel shares the letter he recently sent to the community

Dear Students, Parents, and Guardians:

I hope that this letter finds you well. As the end of the year approaches planning has already begun for next year. I wanted to write to you about some changes and additions to one of Brimmer’s core experiential learning programs, Upper School Camp.

Upper School Camp plays an important role for the school, and it is a great way to build community. This could not have been more evident than during the student led activities. These were opportunities to build student leadership, allow for students to build relationships outside of their normal circles, and to have fun.

During and after Camp many students shared feedback with me about the aspects of Camp that they felt worked well and areas that needed improvement. I also received feedback from faculty who attended. After conferencing with school leadership, faculty, Paul Murray, and students, I wanted to share some changes that are coming to US Camp in September 2017. Our goal is to provide an improved experience for students, create opportunities for ongoing community building during the year, and ensure that students and faculty are at their best for the start of the year.

For the 2017-2018 Upper School Camp:

  • 12th grade students will spend two nights at camp and 9th-11th grade students will spend one night at camp.
  • All students will spend a full morning on the last day and will board buses to return to Brimmer after lunch.
  • A student group is being formed to plan activities and build the schedule for Camp, creating new leadership opportunities for students.
  • We will continue to build on the concept of Camp Families and inter-grade relationship building, while limiting the number of specialized activities that received the most negative feedback from students.

In addition, we will be adding two additional days to support the work at camp to the 9th grade program: one day of team building with Project Adventure and one day of community service. We will also be having a Community Service Day for the 10th grade during the first semester. These mid-term days will further our work started at opening camp so we can be more effective building group dynamics throughout the year.

Though these changes shorten the camp experience by a night and by a half day of activities, we are excited about how the changes will enhance the experience for students and faculty beyond camp itself. In addition, we feel this will help our community transition into the school year with positive experiences without depleting the rejuvenation summer provides us.

Sincerely,

Joshua Neudel

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