By Bob & Rob Wipfler
We are happy to announce the first ever dual Kingswood Directors’ Commentary!
First Bob, then Rob:
Our three children had terrific summers at Kingswood.
Mike was the program genius who masterfully scheduled days depending on the weather, boys’ moods and continuing feedback from staff. The buck stopped with him on all program calls. He was most clever and flexible, one day even going backwards from late-day choices first to morning activities late in the day to exploit what he deemed “suckerholes” between the rain clouds. But, he admits to loving the challenge, and he is one heck of a skilled programmer!
Sara is taking advanced photography courses and it shows with the improved quality of her material. Recently Alice and I went over to the camp accountant’s office, a fairly staid place until one walks down a corridor whose walls are laced with large framed Sara landscape photos. Every client notices and comments on them, we were told. Those Kingswood yearbooks, now up to four rendered, have lengthy coffee table life spans, much to the delight of many Kingswood families.
Rob’s story is next, the main subject of this year’s commentary. He now has become the full time co-director of Kingswood, along with mom and dad. I cannot tell you when we saw this day coming, only that we knew all along that it would. Mike and Sara, too, will have their day. But, Rob’s is now and here is the skinny:
Interestingly enough, Rob made the jump from classroom school teacher to summer camp director at practically the same age as was his father in 1988, my last at Landon School. We both profess to love teaching and insist on never having endured a bad day at the office. In fact, neither missed more than just a few days of school over 35 combined years in the classroom trenches, the pounding of exuberant youth notwithstanding.
So, when Rob approached his parents to dream aloud of moving to New Hampshire to start a fresh career of co-directing the camp, we knew the time was ripe to advance the business into its second generation of leadership. Some of his exciting ideas are his to explain in this and other commentaries to come. Rob and Becky have moved into their gorgeous new home in Lyme, close by Becky’s teaching job in Hanover and Rob’s commute to Kingswood.
Are Bob and Alice retiring from camp? No, no, a thousand times no! All Wipflers view running Kingswood as an enormous enterprise with chores aplenty every calendar month. I liken directing camp to producing a Broadway play: a ton of stuff has to happen before the opening curtain. But, unlike that performance venue, which could flop without inducing calamities from heaven, there is no room for error when educators are planning to supervise parents’ most prized possessions — their children, the charge of Kingswood and all camps.
Our family is at it already, anticipating issues certain to come to the fore as next summer draws nearer. We have a list of “Ideas for 2014,” with over 100 bulleted suggestions as well as “wish lists” from staff encompassing nearly as many more requests. Just the other day, Rob called to talk about the 15 items on his current “to do list.” Well, by the time he hung up, the list had expanded to 18!
As a family, we all have fun running Kingswood. It surely feels good to have Rob in the catbird seat. But, as for Alice and me, both will never truly rest, nor would we wish to, so long as we can contribute with those marvelous personal touches that have been earmarks of our directorship for nearly three decades.
Your turn, Rob.
I could not be more thrilled to be working for Kingswood full-time, co-directing with my father. While my sixteen years as a classroom teacher at The Hill School were an invaluable educational experience, Kingswood was never far from the front of my mind. Having grown up as a camper at Kingswood, becoming a counselor, and then finally viewing the experience of the campers through the lens of a camp administrator, I can say with assurance that boys exhibit tremendous gains in character and confidence as a result of spending time at camp. I am convinced that both campers and staff are often at their very happiest when at Kingswood and it’s my goal to work tirelessly to make the Kingswood experience an even better one than it already is.
First of all, I am lucky to be able to work in partnership with my father. We have a terrific relationship and are the closest of friends. Nobody knows more about running a boys camp than Dad. Between his wisdom and experience, and my own camp tenure and career as an educator, I think we make a formidable team! My wife, Becky, who in addition to having two teaching jobs, puts in an amazing amount of “behind the scenes” work on camp jobs during the summer and as well through the long the off-season. We’re already having fun planning for 2014.
Will there be drastic changes in the way Kingswood is run? Absolutely not! What we intend to do is to provide an even better product- to be increasingly more thorough, and run an ever-tighter ship. Whenever you have a human organization where upwards of 200 people live, there are many moving parts, and trust us when we tell you that it is a full time job to “think of everything”. Truth be told, the Wipfler clan is actually a pretty boring bunch, as every time Mike, Cristin, Sara, Baibhav, Mom, Dad, Becky and I get together our conversation inevitably morphs into a camp meeting! While we can’t guarantee that we can foresee each and every eventuality, we can promise you that we are never content to rest on our laurels.
The proximity of our new house in Lyme to Kingswood allows me to visit camp often to oversee facility issues. Living nearby camp will also enable me to connect with potential Kingswood families in the northeast. Informal “Open Houses” at Kingswood families’ homes where we show camp slideshows and answer questions have been a success in recent years. I’m also looking forward to hosting reunions or other special events at camp in the off-season.
Each morning I awake energized by the prospect of working on camp projects. I look forward to connecting with all of you soon, and to serving the camp for many years to come. In the years that follow closely, Kingswood Camp will grow!