Awarded at the end of every summer, The Last Whistle Dedication is one of the highest honors one can receive at Camp Dudley. Presented to a member of our community who shows a devotion and love towards others, and this place we all cherish, and an unwavering commitment to living by the motto, The Other Fellow First. This year, not only does the recipient meet those expectations, he far surpasses them.
Tonight’s honoree has worn many hats and occupied many roles during his years spent attending, working, living and even growing up here. Starting as a cub back in 1998, he rose up through the ranks from camper to leadership to D-Head and now staff, where he has worked in nearly every department at camp, from Brodie to the A-Hut to Spiritual, Hike Hut, Leadership Development, and some particularly significant contributions by way of some incredible photography to my own publications team. To say he is multi-talented would be an understatement, and I think I can speak for everyone by saying that he is always an incredibly valuable member of every team he is on.
While he has logged over 20 years here from camper through leadership to staff, this year’s dedicee’s Dudley story started long before he stepped foot in his cub cabin. One of the few people in this room who can actually say they were baptized here, our recipient has literally been, in varying capacities, attending camp since he was born. In fact, he even lived on campus with his family year-round for the first 8 years of his life. Due to this, while we don’t quite have hard evidence to back this up, our director, Matt Storey, is on record as saying our recipient has netted more baskets on the Dudley courts than anyone else.
Though he might be most at home on the basketball courts, this year’s recipient has become what many have come to call him, a Dudley Renaissance Man. As I mentioned, he has had a strong presence in nearly every department, but this doesn’t come from a restlessness or desire to move around to every part of Camp. Our recipient has worked in so many different places because he has been asked to do so, and without hesitation, has always said yes, because he will do whatever he can to best serve Camp Dudley and its people, all while putting his own unique twist or spin on things.
And that is why I am standing here tonight. While his sheer amount of time given and spent here is notable, what really defines our recipient’s tenure here is his generosity. I am not exaggerating when I say that he will literally do anything to help someone out. He goes where he is needed to go, and does what is needed to be done, without hesitation, and not for any recognition or personal gain, but because he will do anything to benefit our camp and ensure that everyone has the best summer possible.
And it is this generosity that also defines our honoree’s personal relationships. For those of us who have the pleasure of calling him a friend, he is always the person that you can go to for a laugh, a great conversation, a compassionate ear, or a shoulder to cry on. He has a generous heart and boundless empathy to match, and will do anything he can to improve anyone’s day or life.
He doesn’t bake bread for himself to eat, he bakes it to share with others. He takes and distributes his stunning photography, while asking for nothing in return, because he knows that his pictures bring people joy. He writes and sends letters because he knows that getting one in your mailbox in the middle of February brings you some warmth and memories of Dudley in the midst of a long and cold winter when summer couldn’t seem further away.
Long-time friend and fellow D-Head Carl Jackson said of our recipient, “he is truly a multi-talented, multi-faceted individual who has made camp a better place for so many people over the years. But mostly though, he is a caring and thoughtful guy, who is an incredible listener, a deep thinker, and an amazing friend.” This statement speaks to the heart of who our honoree is. A compassionate, generous person who will go to all lengths to help and be there for anyone from a total stranger to his closest friend without hesitation, while expecting nothing in return.
If there is something he can do to make someone’s life better, he will do it, and for all of us, if there is something he can do to make this place the best place it can be, he will be the one taking action.
Tonight I am privileged to give this dedication to someone who fully embodies what it means to be a true Dudleyite, who lives a life characterized by his devotion to others, and shows us all what it means to put The Other Fellow First. Whether you know it or not, every single person in this room has had their lives and summers improved by the selfless actions of this individual, and while he has never, and will never ask for recognition or anything in return, tonight we honor someone who truly deserves our thanks and appreciation for his years of loyalty, hard work, dedication, compassion, love, and friendship.
And with that, it is my distinct honor and pleasure to dedicate The 2019 Last Whistle to camper number #18070, Dave Nelson.