Celebrating the retirement of our friend Phyllis Dank at the Camp Alumni ReunionSeptember 14, 2017
Our post-Camp Alumni Reunion was about celebrating all things in the Kenwood and Evergreen community, but most importantly, it was a chance to tell our friend Phyllis Dank how much we love her. Phyllis started here as a camper at the age of 6, and has spent 66 glorious summers as everything including counselor, unit leader, head counselor and co-director.
After so many incredible summers Phyllis decided to retire this year, and we wanted to make sure we threw her the greatest retirement party in the history of summer camps! So we stretched it out into an entire 8-week summer event. During the summer our campers and counselors had special Phyllis Spirit Days where they got decked out in her favorite colors Green and Gold.
One day while she was out our three female Administrators got the entire girls camp to take part in a single-take lip dub celebrating Phyllis. Over the summer our office staff gathered thoughts and memories of Phyllis from every current camper and staff member to put in a keepsake book. On her birthday a surprise Square Dance was set up in the Gym, since it’s always been her favorite event during Staff Orientation. And then there was the final dinner at the Alumni Reunion.
More than 300 Camp Alumni and their family and her closest friends gathered in the dining hall for an incredible dinner and night of all things Phyllis. Community members from every decade that she’s been a part of Camp got up and made speeches about what she has meant to us all.
Representing her family, her nephew (former camper/counselor and current Camp parent) Todd Finard spoke about the life lessons she has taught us all over these many generations.
Members of the extended Camps K&E family had a chance to tell her that she has been like a second mom to us all, and how grateful we all are for the love she has shared with each of us.
The female members of the K&E Leadership team presented her with a bound book of letters and photos from more than 100 former K&E campers and staff highlighting their favorite Phyllis moments. They also had a chance to thank her for her years of leadership, and to let her know one last time that the Spirit of Camp Evergreen was in the best of hands in her absence.
Yet it was not just a night of heartfelt speeches and tears. Many former counselors got up and performed former Counselor Show skits and comedy routines that they had done over the years with Phyllis, about Phyllis, or to just make her laugh. And so it also became of night of outright silliness.
And after all of the speeches, the tears and the laughter, Scott made an important announcement. Going forward, the area leading to Juniper Lodge, where our eldest Evergreen campers live, will now be known forever as Phyllis’ Path. Over the summer Tex on our maintenance team created a beautiful sign that will mark this area. Everyone will be able to see when they return to Camp this summer.
In addition, the pathway will now be lined with decorative bricks that members of the Camp community can have inscribed with their names or other special messages. Each brick will only cost $75, with the proceeds going to support Mickey’s Kids, the charity founded in memory of Phyllis’ husband Mickey Dank. We invite any and all campers, staff, alumni and camp parents to make their mark on the new path, and help out this worthy cause!
It was an incredibly powerful night celebrating someone we love so much. Phyllis promises us that she will be visiting Camp numerous times next summer, and our entire team is excited to start this next chapter in the storied history of our summer camp community! Thanks to everyone who helped make this the Summer of Phyllis, and to our friend for so many years of dedication to this extended camp family of ours!