Camp is a Wider Lens to See the World

My name is Dave Welsford and I grew up in a small town called Mahone Bay, in Nova Scotia, Canada. My parents – both having Marine Biology Degrees – were fortunate enough to find a small wooden boathouse directly on the beach about 5 minutes out of town. My sister Lindsay and I grew up with two dogs as well, a black Lab named LULU and a miniature Dachshund with an attitude, named Katie. We spent many evenings having bonfires, running around the beach, and playing catch with the dogs.

Directly out of High School I spent two years working towards a Screen Arts Degree in Halifax, NS.  A few years after that I went back to University and obtained a Fine Arts Degree. Through both of these courses I was concentrating most of my studies on photography.

In 2003 a friend of mine recommended that I join her and a few friends of ours for a summer job in PA. I remember Andy did not have an initial position for me and asked that I call him back in a few months. Instead my parents encouraged me to sit down and write Andy an email outlining my creative and varied skills and everything that I could offer the camp. I had nothing to lose! That summer and the five following it, I took on the role of camp videographer and photographer. Looking back, even if I didn’t know it then, I learned so much in those early years at THC.

2014 will be my 12th summer at Tyler Hill Camp. Although I am not working primarily as the camp photographer, I still take photographs as the Division Leader for both the Sophomore and Cadet Boys. I have had many great experiences over these past 12 years. It’s funny, when you try and narrow them down to speak about it… and when you know, you know. This past summer a camper from 2012 was ill and could not join us in 2013. However, this camper Zach was able to join the Sophomore Boys for a few overnighters during the summer. Watching his friends run up to him and welcome Zach home to Tyler Hill must have been one of the warmest feelings I have ever felt. Those Sophomore Boys remained supportive friends and I couldn’t have been happier for all of them…it seemed as though all those teachable moments and small reminders about teamwork, friendship and STARFISH all added up into one minute.

Having grown up on the water has given me another home, the ocean. Over the past four years I have taken on a personal challenge. I completely restored a 28’ classic wooden sailboat. It took 5 months to get her to float again and sail her to the bigger vision, the Caribbean. Last winter a friend of mine, Kevin Fraser joined me the Grenadines and we created a short documentary that is currently playing in film festivals all over the world! Here is the trailer for the film: TWENTY EIGHT FEET: life on a little wooden boat

I find myself having the flexibility to join my friends at camp each summer and also continue sailing on “Lizzy Belle’ in the winter months. Now, between camp and sailing I also run a photography business too. My favorite part of this is seeing the look on a client’s face when they first see the images I have captured. It feels as if the work has added something to their lives, after all – the impact life has on us and our behaviors are only the moments we remember. I believe photography aids in reminding us of those most important moments.

Camp has changed me in many ways both professionally and as a person. I believe it is part of the root system of my photography career and of course working with children. Most importantly I believe what camp has offered me is a wider lens to see the world. It really hit in 2012 and it is too bad it took so long. This was the summer I realized it wasn’t all about what I could do at camp… it was about what collaboratively, we as a team, could offer our campers. No one person is born talented, it takes nurturing and guidance from proper mentors to truly be great at any one thing. It’s these lessons that I have learned and grown to love at Tyler Hill.

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