For James T. Barry, now President and CEO of big-data company PASSUR Aerospace in Stamford, Connecticut, Yawgoog meant family, friends and future skills. Many skills and lessons from camp prepared him for his time in the U.S. Marine Corps, which would eventually lead him to the White House, before a career change brought him success in the world of business.
One of five brothers, Barry visited Camp Yawgoog at the same time as his older brother John during the 1970’s and ‘80’s. (John Barry was a popular member of the Yawgoog staff for many years and Barry says John is one of his hero’s in life.) Yawgoog was also a destination many years later for two of Barry’s Eagle Scout nephews, Mike Barry and Rick Barry. While at Yawgoog, Barry found a new kind of family as well in fellow campers and staff men Tom Allen, Mike Kent, Steve Hopkins, Steve Newman, Rob Sprague, and David Preston.
Beyond friends, role models and teachers, Yawgoog presented Barry with life lessons in responsibility, leadership and perseverance. All of these served him well as a Marine officer, as a social aide under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, with the Marines during the first Gulf War, as Vice President of Technology and Marketing for a cancer diagnostics company, in his current position at PASSUR Aerospace, and as a Husband and Dad.
A member of the waterfront staff at Camp Sandy Beach, Barry remembers teaching a canoeing merit badge class that was taking a solo trip across the Yawgoog Pond and back.
“High winds kicked up closing all of the beaches, but Waterfront Director Steve Hopkins had faith in me and he understood the value of taking risks,” said Barry. “He said, ‘Jim, I believe in you – if you think you can take your solo class across the water — then go for it!’ I built great confidence that day and so did my class. We all made it across the pond without any tipped canoes. Of course, my great friend to this day, Tom Allen, who also worked at the waterfront, thought I was crazy to take the risk! For those who know Tom, they’ll agree, there’s no one better.”
Barry also remembers Medicine Bow Waterfront Director Harry Dickens believing in his ability to earn lifesaving merit badge at such a young age and Harry cheering for him through the course – even when Barry doubted his only abilities. Ten years later, Barry himself became Medicine Bow Waterfront Director.
Mike Kent, a fellow member of Troop 61 Warwick (RI), who Barry worked with as Assistant Scoutmaster of the CIT Corps, was another big influence from Yawgoog.
“Mike was a great leader and always believed in me – to this day, because of Mike, I understand the power of focusing on your team’s strengths vs. weaknesses to help them achieve even more than they thought possible,” said Barry.
To this day, Barry remembers the lessons taught by Steve Newman at the Rifle Range while they worked there together (Steve was a Marine in Vietnam). Barry later applied to both the Marines as well as in business.
“Steve believed in his team, was tough, was clear in his expectations, and thought anything was possible,” said Barry. “Steve also taught me how to shoot a rifle – which helped me in the Corps where I served alongside David Preston, a great friend of mine from my Boy Scout Troop. David was the Marine pistol range leader and instructor when I received one of my expert pistol (.45) badges – how’s that for continuing your Yawgoog experiences!”
Echoes of Yawgoog continue for a lifetime.
“All of my previous experiences have allowed me to enjoy my life in the business world today,” said Barry. “The beauty of business and capitalism is that you have to be competent to survive and thrive. If you have the vision, the focus, the willingness to work hard, the perseverance and a terrific team, then enjoyment, fulfillment, and success often follow. From helping people through better cancer diagnostics to helping travelers, airlines, and airports through better information –– my career has given me great purpose as I know I’m making a difference.”
“It’s amazing the foundation provided by my friends at Yawgoog.”
Today, Barry lives in Connecticut with his wife Diane and their two daughters, Brooke and Abigail. (And their big dog, Henry).