On Thursday, April 5, Kevin Mitrano, the current Executive Director of Brantwood Camp, visited campus and addressed the student body at that morning's all-school meeting. Joined by eight current St. Markers with previous Brantwood experience, Mr. Mitrano emphasized the long-standing relationship between Brantwood and the School and encouraged students to volunteer for the upcoming summer.
St. Mark's staffer Nick Noble '76—former Brantwood director and current Brantwood Trustee—introduced Mr. Mitrano and the students. Mr. Mitrano spoke briefly about the Camp and invited interested St. Markers to speak with him at lunch. Joining him were VI Formers Will Allen, Cooper Giblin, Summer Hornbostel, Tyreese James, Drew D'Orsi, and Lauren Menjivar, as well as V Former Tom Paugh and IV Former Will Osborne: all of whom have volunteered as Brantwood counselors in the past. Ms. Hornbostel—whose grandfather was a Brantwood counselor back in the 1940s—volunteered both last summer and the summer before to work at Brantwood for Girls. Messrs. Allen, Giblin, and James volunteered for two consecutive summers at the boys' camp, while Mr. James also worked as a member of the full-time Brantwood staff at the end of the 2017 summer. In 2017, alumnae Payton Nugent '16 and Jasmine Williams '16 were Brantwood staffers for the fifth year in a row at the girls' camp, while alumnus Max Hinkley '15 worked for his fifth year at Brantwood for Boys. Mr. Hinkley will be returning to Brantwood this coming summer for his sixth year working at the Camp.
Brantwood campers engage in athletic competition; work on achievement "challenges" involving first aid, swimming, and other aspects of camp life; and prepare their cabins— called "shacks" in the Brantwood tradition— for daily inspection. Spirit and collaborative teamwork are important parts of the overall experience, and campers are active on ropes course elements and enjoy hikes, visits to Brantwood's property on Silver Lake in Nelson, NH, and enthusiastic singing at campfire gatherings each evening. The Five Brantwood Ideals-- Honesty, Loyalty, Cooperation, Good Sportsmanship, and Unselfishness-- are emphasized throughout. St. Mark's students are among those serving as counselors, energizing their leadership skills at the Camp.
In addition to Mr. Noble, SM Chaplain Barbara Talcott and Head of School John C. Warren '74 serve on the Brantwood Board from the School, while former Senior Master Henry Large is an Associate Trustee of the Camp. Mr. Noble is also a former Brantwood Director as well as the Camp Historian, having written two books about Brantwood. Additionally, ten other SM alumni/ae are Brantwood trustees.
The Brantwood facility is certainly familiar to younger St. Markers. Last May, the entire III Form spent five days at the Camp as part of Lion Term. This coming May, the current III Form will again travel up to Brantwood for an important part of their Lion Term experience.
Current St. Markers interested in serving as volunteer Brantwood counselors for a sixteen-day session this summer should see Rev. Talcott for application materials. You must be sixteen or older by June 1 to apply.
Brantwood was founded in 1904 as a summer retreat for boys sponsored by various Episcopal parishes in Massachusetts. Lacking manpower to staff its programs during the First World War, Brantwood was closed. In 1920, Brantwood reopened under the auspices of St. Mark's School, as a memorial to William H. Cheney, St. Mark's Class of 1916, who was killed in the war. Cheney's mother, Mrs. Mary Lyon Cheney Schofield, had been Chair of the original Brantwood Board at the time of its closing.
Since 1920, more than 1000 St. Markers have spent time up at Brantwood as volunteer counselors, working primarily with inner-city youth from the Northeast. Many St. Markers went on to become members of the Permanent Staff, while more than two dozen have served as Director, Associate Director, or Assistant Director at Brantwood Camp over the years.
In 1982, Brantwood started a program for girls, and today both Brantwood for Boys and Brantwood for Girls are thriving successfully on the slopes of North Pack Mountain in New Hampshire, exemplifying the spirit of service to others that has been the hallmark of St. Mark's School for almost a century-and-a-half.
In her recent LEO essay about Brantwood, Summer Hornbostel shared her experiences as a Brantwood counselor. In her conclusion, she wrote:
"Singing the song 'Long, Long Trail' on the last night of a sixteen day Brantwood term is hard. The long trail you never wanted to walk down in the first place is now the only trail you want to travel. The campers whom you had never met are now the only ones with whom you want to walk. The heartwarming memories you had thought were myths, you now realize no one else could understand but the people of Brantwood Camp. Although it was time to say goodbye, I knew that the memories we shared at Brantwood would forever stay with us."