Meet The Team: Don Gentle
December 8, 2021 by Darby Dame
Our Meet The Team Blog is back! We already featured, Woody Noland and Danny Stewart. Now introducing the one, the only… Don Gentle! Don can be found around camp with a pen and pad in his pocket and his dog barley by his side. (Maybe even with a megaphone in hand.) Don is the master of meal announcements and keeps assembly moving with his squats! From fireworks during 4th of July to flipping pancakes on Saturday’s, Don is a major part of keeping the camp community going and happy. Read on to see what Don gets up to in the off-season, his favorite camp meal, and more!
Position: Camp Director
Years Worked: 28 Summers
How did you learn about and starting working at Camp High Rocks?: I first learned of High Rocks from a paddling position advertisement in an a publication of outdoor jobs that would come in the mail. The AEE Jobs Clearing House would come out monthly in the mail as a source for outdoor jobs. (Townsend and Hank flew out to interview him on a very snowy afternoon.)
What does your day-to-day role look like in the off-season?: Our “offseason” still changes by the month. Typically, October and November is mostly filled with camper recruiting, travel to various cities meeting current campers, and introducing new families to camp. My wife and co-director, Elizabeth “Zoob” Gentle, spend a good deal of time thinking big picture for future years to come. Outside of that my day is filled with some meeting, planning, and projects. While a lot of my time is spent in the office, I do enjoy getting outside to work on items around camp. Last spring, for example, I enjoyed building the new pump track!
Favorite camp food?: Gotta go with Taco Day. So many options and so much goodness. I like the add-ons like fresh pico and guacamole.
What are you reading or watching right now?: A campfire story by Dan Noland inspired me to pick up Homer’s “The Odyssey”. I have sense put it down a few times. It’s a difficult read for me, but I am determined. I am enjoying watching SailGP. You should check it out on YouTube. It’s is a spectator friendly inland sail race with the foiling catamaran F50 design. Pretty cool stuff!
Share a useful camp tip or trick: I buy two pairs of “camp shoes” for the season. Rotating the shoes is better for your feet and your shoe but it also allows your shoes to dry inside and out before using them again. They are both trashed by the end of the season.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?: Right now I am focused on my kids. They will be out of the house soon, so my time is short. Zoob and I are often headed to swimmeets, horse shows, and theater productions! I spend a good deal of my time as a board member for our local Boys and Girls Club. It is a second job at times. I also enjoy biking. Mostly, I enjoy road biking, but some mountain biking too.
Team Barley, Team Tsali, or Team Harvey?: Um… Team Barley, but I’m partial 🙂
Why Camp High Rocks?: Our Staff, Our Community, Our Size. We are still small enough for me to get to know every camper. We spend a lot of time on staff. From there, the community begins and we continue to focus on this community every day. (I also have to add, meeting my wife while we were both on summer staff, was a huge bonus!)
What is one thing you are really good at?: First, the funny one. During COVID, my family learned that I am a “refrigerator savant.” They would ask me where something was in the refrigerator and I could describe the location including what was hiding it, etc… 🙂 Outside of that, I think I am pretty good at creating excitement and fun. I have been blessed with a “camp voice” that allows me to create a gathering and attention almost anywhere. From there, I just try to get everyone excited about what is happening next!
A perfect camp day would include…?: 79 degrees, partly clouding, winds ENE about 10 knots. The lake filled with canoes, kayaks, sailboats. There would be screaming swimmers on the waterslide, rope swing, and swim area. Trips out in climbing, whitewater, hiking, and mountain biking while all of the activities in camp are at full swing. Horseback riders jumping, climbers on the tower, and a full on soccer game on the field… and then a camp tour shows up with twin 7 y/o boys thinking about High Rocks. I get to show them all of this excitement happening at camp on this beautiful day!
And that’s a wrap! A big shout out to the man in front and behind the scenes. Camp would not be camp without Don Gentle! Next up, we are featuring Benjamin Birdsong. Check back in the new year for his Meet The Team.