For someone who is just hearing about the Vermont campus for the first time, how would you describe the property itself? How would you describe the program?
It’s absolutely beautiful. We sit directly across from the Montague Golf Course, and the White River flows right alongside the course. Within the 668 acres we own, there are more than 24 miles of trails, all varying in degree of difficulty. One feature on the trail is our Sugarhouse, which we have converted into a bunkhouse with a wood-burning stove. Just past that there is another campsite with a survival structure as well as a fire pit we built using the recycled bricks from the sugarhouse. There are several westerly viewpoints that overlook the valley and mountain ridges, providing wonderful sunsets.
The program itself is jam packed with many different activities and leadership modules taught by Danny Dychkowski, the program director, and me. We strive to put the students in unfamiliar situations in which they must adapt to their surroundings and ultimately test themselves physically and mentally. The wilderness aspect helps students develop an appreciation for the outdoors and learn something they may not find in a classroom. Without having their phones, the boys must engage in face-to-face communication, and ultimately form friendships they never knew might exist.
What does day-to-day life entail for you while boys are visiting the Vermont campus? What about when they are not there and the campus is quiet?
While the boys are on campus, the day-to-day life varies for each group. Similar activities that the boys have participated in are mountain biking, hiking, and camping on-site, as well as reaching the summits of Vermont’s highest peaks. Two mornings are spent at local farms, where we all do some physical labor, ranging from digging holes, building pens, stacking hay bales, and even ultrasounding goats.
When the boys are not on campus, I’m usually helping with the programming, as well as organizing and maintaining all the gear we have up here. Aside from that, I lend a helping hand on the maintenance of the property whenever I can, as there is always something to do. Brian, Danny, Glenn, Taylor, and Maggie make up the entire crew, so it makes for a busy day maintaining the property and buildings.
One of the best parts of my job consists of finding new hikes and adventures for the students so I’m constantly exploring different peaks, trailheads, and activities all over the state. On days off, I’m usually out mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing, and, once there’s snow, I’ll start skiing.
What do you think the Vermont experience will do for a Brunswick boy? Have you seen proof of that already?
The experience will greatly benefit the boys as they are immediately taken out of their comfort zones. We’re a long way from Greenwich up here! The moment they step onto the campus, their phones, computers, and tablets are all taken from them until their last day before the train ride home.
I hope they take these lessons revolving around a wilderness setting and leadership positions and ultimately apply them to their everyday lives back in Connecticut. I hope they apply themselves more, whether it be in a group project, on a sports team, or truly any moment in their life when they find themselves working with others.
We also have the boys sign up for different leadership positions throughout the week, allowing them to experience leadership amongst their classmates. For some, it’s their first time ever leading a group.
How has being a Brunswick alum prepared you for this experience?
Going to Brunswick for 13 years really allowed me to understand the school and see all the different sides of it. It has eased my transition here and has ultimately made it easier to connect with the boys. It’s funny listening to them talk about the same classes I took while in the Upper School!