On Thursday, April 4, Amy Willey, Acting executive director of Brantwood Camp, visited campus and addressed the student body at that morning's all-school meeting. Joined by seven current St. Markers with previous Brantwood experience, Mr. Willey emphasized the long-standing relationship between Brantwood and the School, and encouraged students to volunteer for the upcoming summer.
Brantwood provides an outdoor summer camp experience in southern New Hampshire for inner city youth and others who might otherwise not be able to have such an opportunity. For the past 97 years, St. Markers have worked at Brantwood as counselors.
St. Mark's Chaplain, the Rev. Barbara Talcott—a member of the Brantwood Board of Trustees—introduced Ms. Willey and the students. Ms. Willey spoke briefly about the Camp and invited interested St. Markers to speak with her at lunch. Joining him were VI Formers Tom Paugh and Lindsay Strong, and V Formers Alie Hyland, Nathaniel King, Samantha Leslie, Will Osborne, and Catherine Pellini: all of whom have volunteered as Brantwood counselors in the past. Both King and Pellini intend to return to Brantwood this coming summer as counselors.
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, St. Mark's alumnus Max Hinkley '15 worked for his sixth year at Brantwood for Boys this past summer. Now a member of the senior staff, Mr. Hinkley will be returning to Brantwood this coming summer for his seventh year working at the Camp.
At lunch on Thursday, Ms. Willey was joined by current St. Mark's staffer Nick Noble '76—a former Brantwood director and current Brantwood trustee— and met with all seven St. Mark's Brantwood veterans and spoke with at least four more current students who are already applying to work at Brantwood this summer.
In addition to Mr. Noble and Rev. Barbara Talcott, Head of School John C. Warren '74 serves 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, 10 other SM alumni/ae are Brantwood trustees.
The Brantwood facility is certainly familiar to younger St. Markers. Each May, the entire III Form spends five days at the Camp as part of their Lion Term experience.
Current St. Markers interested in serving as volunteer Brantwood counselors for a 16-day session this summer should see Rev. Talcott for application materials. You must be 16 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.