Tom DelPrete – 1960’s
For Tom DelPrete, Camp Yawgoog not only holds childhood memories, but family memories. He started as a camper and went on to spend 16 years as a staffer, including nine years as Assistant Camp Director and Director of Camp Three Point. He got his younger brother Rob on the staff, too.
“Rob was going down the wrong path and I tried to save him!” DelPrete explained. “Seriously, Rob and I started in Scouting together as original members of Troop 6 North Providence … When I made it to the staff I thought I was in Scouting heaven and that Rob should have that experience, too,” he said. “I enticed my younger brother Joe onto the staff some years later for the same reason.”
Camp taught DelPrete basic outdoor skills, teamwork, program development, planning and leadership. The experience involved great role models as well.
“We also did most everything with a positive team spirit, a great thing to learn,” said DelPrete. “I loved and learned from just about everything such as campfires, Saturday Night Shows, staff sports games and hikes and runs. Everything felt purposeful and fun.”
DelPrete is now a university professor and program director in Worcester, MA. He says his professional interest was helped along by his time at Yawgoog; for example, teamwork at camp readied him for productive professional collaborations.
He also explained that the friendships he made at Yawgoog have been a great gift and that he and his brothers have many friends in common, such as Mark and John Hopkins (“Mark and I were best men at each other’s weddings,” he said); Steve Hopkins; Mike Schwab; Kent Harrop; Howie Brightman; Shawn Donahue; James Hall; Donnie Carlson; Tom Allen; Ed Ryan (Rob Del Prete is married to Ed’s sister Peggy); Steve Dolan; Joe Herbold; Bruce Ingham; and John Carty, among many others.
As for the overall meaning of camp for DelPrete? “It helped me and others discover and develop some of the best in us.”
Rob DelPrete – 1970′s
Rob DelPrete of South Kingstown, RI, was a camper in the early 1970s who went on to serve as a Yawgoog counselor when he was a high-school junior. His brother Tom — who is one year older — recruited him to work at camp, DelPrete said, and he never looked back. His work with children at Yawgoog eventually led to a 35-year career as a high school physical education teacher and athletic coach.
“It was a natural transition to go into teaching,” he said. “Camp opened me up to enormous amounts of experience, working with younger children and working with peers.”
As a high school wrestling coach, DelPrete found parallels with his work as a camp counselor. He enjoyed the ability to help others achieve a rank or fulfill goals. Where he would only see high school gym class students once a week, coaching allowed him to spend more time with student athletes, getting a fuller view of their accomplishments.
“What was most enjoyable was seeing kids coming in, and they didn’t have confidence, but you would see that confidence unfold,” said DelPrete. “Yawgoog offers a lot of possibilities to try different things.”
As for his three sons? They have all gone to Yawgoog, and his oldest boy worked there, he said. His youngest son just earned Eagle Scout. DelPrete still keeps in touch with fellow campmates; the group plans a ski trip for six each and every year. “I’ve known them since I was 14 or 15 years old,” he said – proof that professional inspiration is only part of what camp offers.
Chris Rooney – 1990s
“Being out in the woods all summer is just good for the soul,” said Chris Rooney of his time at Yawgoog, where he participated as a camper from 1990-1994, and a staff member in 1995, and then again from 1997-2002.
Like many other former Yawgoog alumni, Rooney has many best friends to this day that he met while at camp. Many of his memories are of the people there, people he would otherwise not have met, worked with in teams and become lifelong friends.
Now, based in Philadelphia, Rooney handles site acquisition work for telecom companies. He finds it difficult to point to specific skills or benefits gained at camp. “It’s a gradual, but significant, enriching transformation,” he said.
“Camp was a place that allowed me to reflect on the type of person I wanted to be and gave me the strength of character to try to live a life based on my values instead of being merely careerist,” he added.
After graduating college, his first job was with the Narragansett Council.
Rooney explained that his years at camp shaped him as a person in ways he is still discovering; and is where he learned — with role models and working with others in Scouting — how to be an adult.
“It molds character in ways you barely comprehend until years later.”