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By Alicia Nemiccolo MacLeay '97
Every summer hundreds of kids ages 11-18 are introduced to Colby on the soccer pitch with Mark Serdjenian '73, during basketball drills with Dick Whitmore or at one of seven other summer sports camps run by Colby's Office of Special Programs. Often it's the beginning of a long relationship. "From the first time I stepped on campus for camp, I knew that I was going to come here as a student," said Jake Civiello '01 of Bangor, a former camper and now a guard on the basketball team.
Since retired football coach Dick McGee first offered a day camp in 1976, campers have enjoyed the experience, learned about the College's values and investigated Colby as a college option. McGee started his camp, which is still in action, to meet a local demand for fundamental instruction.
The Pine Tree Basketball Camp, directed by men's coach Dick Whitmore, is the College's longest-running overnight camp. Pine Tree started at Thomas College in the 1970s but moved to Colby in 1983 for the facilities. Its three one-week sessions bring about 1,000 boys to campus every summer. Until three years ago it included a girl's camp. Now girls have their own camp, run independently by women's basketball coach Tricia O'Brien.
"Pine Tree, of course, was the camp to go to," said Sam Clark '01, of Woolwich, Maine, a forward on the basketball team. Clark says Pine Tree, which he attended from middle school through his senior year of high school, was his first introduction to Colby and to being away from home.
Clark looked at other NESCAC schools but hesitated in applying to Colby because he associated it with summer camp only. "But the more I talked with Coach Whitmore and former players the more I realized how comfortable I felt with Colby," he said. "So a tour and a visit later I was applying early decision, and I don't think I've ever made a better choice."
David Forsyth '01, of Grand Rapids, Mich., read a Sports Illustrated article on NESCAC schools during his sophomore year of high school. "Basketball was important," he said, "but I needed an education that was top-notch regardless." When Forsyth's parents came to Maine for a sailing vacation after his junior year in high school, he signed up for Pine Tree.
"I fell in love with the campus," he said.
This summer's camp offerings include baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, running, soccer and softball. "It's nice to have the campus full of life in the summer," said Joan Sanzenbacher, director of special programs. Sanzenbacher has overseen the camps in the 23 years they've been on campus. Her four sons attended Pine Tree and the first cross-country and soccer camps. She says the majority of campers are from Maine or New England. However, grandchildren of area residents attend, and some physicians participating in the summer continuing medical education workshops offered at Colby enroll their kids.
Sanzenbacher says applications for men's soccer coach Serdjenian's coed soccer camp arrive by FedEx. "People know how quickly they fill up," she said. Serdjenian does no advertising, but the 175 spots in both of his one-week sessions are filled within a week.
Serdjenian, associate dean of students and a former elementary school teacher, says he combined aspects of the other New England soccer camps he worked at before starting Colby's in 1979. He made it coed because, he said, "I always felt that it kept a real sense of normalcy and civility." Serdjenian's camps also give many kids exposure to Colby and many of his campers return to campus as students, though not always as soccer players, he says.
Sarah Eustis '96, who grew up in Waterville and now lives in Albuquerque, N.M., is a former camper and Colby soccer player. "All summer I looked forward to my week at camp," she said. This summer, her sixth year on the staff, will see her taking a more limited role since she tore a knee ligament last fall. "It's nice to be in a place where kids are appreciated, where a common purpose moves us," Eustis said.
This summer, coaches Heidi Godomsky and Dave Zazzaro add boys' and girls' lacrosse camps to the schedule. Sanzenbacher says word gets out that Colby camps are well run and have great facilities. The cross-country camp run by coaches Debra Aitken and Jim Wescott started with 13 runners in 1984 and now enrolls 100.
Not only do the campers discover Colby, says Sanzenbacher, but so do their brothers and sisters. "Campers arrive in station wagons that are also filled with siblings," she said. "It's their first view of college life."
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