YMCA Camp Coniston
Oct. 22, 2013
Camp Coniston is a picture of success. John Tilly, the executive director, toured us around for almost 5 hours and we could have listened to his wealth of knowledge for 5 days. He spoke eloquently of camp’s “front gate”. When you arrive on camp you are intrigued and excited by the nostalgic classic camp feeling of the buildings and the setting. You can see their private lake from the parking lot, framed by the office building and the lodge. As you approach the office, complete with wrap around porch and 2 story tall cedar pillars, the climbing tower and dock system come into view. Camp is Beautiful, with a capital B. John is rightly proud of the work and vision that went into making camp what it is today. He says that success comes from the willingness to change as well as listen to the needs of parents and campers, as well as staff, often in that order. To give some insight into the magic that happens at camp John told us the story of the last few hours of camp each session. Campers frenetically dance around the dinning hall to clean up from the last dinner. John says that dancing takes place on the stools and that the loud memorable energy is contagious and like so much of camp, can only truly be understood by participating in it. The night continues with campfire and moments of silence punctuated with fireworks and cabin parties. The next morning campers dance that summer’s last dance in the dining hall, often times with parents happily crying in the foyer. The magic of these last few hours no doubt helps bring their campers back year after year, Coniston this past summer had a 93% retention rate. They have dedicated time energy and creativity into scripting out the last few waking hours of camp and it has in John’s eyes paid huge dividends.