People of Sanborn: Jerry

Name: Jerry McLain
Current Role: Director of Alumni Relations/COEC Officer and Board Member/Resident Historian and Camp Knowledge Aficionado
Tenure at Sanborn: Jerry started at camp in 1959 – the coming summer will be #62 – he has been the BS Program Director, SWC/COEC Associate Director, HTOEC Director, Executive Director, and is now Alumni Director.

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Fun Fact:
JM: Many people do not know that I am actually Apollo, God of the Sun. Back in the day during heavy thunderstorms at the end of a meal when Sandy didn’t want the boys charging down the hill to the store in the barn, he killed time by blaming me for causing the rain and said that we should throw me in the pool. This, of course, usually resulted in a trial.

As Apollo, I pointed out that I was responsible for providing the sun, and it was still shining above the rain clouds. What we really needed to do was to find out who was causing the clouds. We have all heard the adage, “Evil is the root of all rain” and I can’t think of anything more evil than throwing me in the pool. Sometimes the crowd would turn on Sandy, but sometimes I ended up in the pool.

There are many BS alums who know me as Apollo, but most recent ones don’t. Always remember, the sun is shining above the clouds.

What is your first memory at Big Spring?
JM: I arrived early the summer of 1959 and I remember helping to get the tents ready – of course, green paint on floors and frames and then flying the tent on the frame.

That summer there were two new tents being constructed at the top of ABC Ridge. At that time the tents had numbers, not names. Tents 1-7 were on the ridge up from the Lodge, 8-10 above Buckaroo (Big Deal) Hall, 11-12 on MOPQ and 13-14 on STUW. Sandy didn’t want to re-number all the tents, so the new ones became Tents X and Y. As they are today, these were the tents for the leadership program that became the Outbackers.

When we added a fourth tent above Buckaroo Hall, it became Tent 10 1/2. In the late 60s, we decided we should have a name plan that would allow for growth. Starting at the Lodge the tents (and 2 bunkhouses) are named for Fourteeners in Colorado alphabetically Antero through Wetterhorn (at one time there was a Yale).

Favorite camp cookie?
JM: That’s easy – ginger snaps. No, wait – chocolate chip still on the pan out of the oven. No, wait – Rice Krispie treats. No, wait – chocolate/raspberry. I give up.

Favorite or most impactful memory of working at camp?
JM: Seeing the joy, excitement, happiness, anticipation, delight of campers and parents on Opening Day. And ditto as Alums arrive for a camp reunion.

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A camp tradition you really love?
JM: The scholarship program has become a wonderful camp tradition. After Sandy died in 1999, The Sandy Sanborn Scholarship Fund was established by the COEC Board of Trustees because campers and staff who knew Sandy wanted a way to honor his memory. By 2003 we were able to give the first two scholarships for the summer program. Last summer 54 campers attended Big Spring and High Trails with partial or full tuition assistance totaling $132,100. After Laura died in 2009, her name was added to the fund. The funds help provide life-changing experiences for many campers and greatly enrich the camp community.

Financial assistance from the Fund also helps schools who attend the High Trails Outdoor Education Program in the spring and fall make it possible for low-income students to participate with their classes. Donations large and small come from camp friends and alumni, family foundations, and summer staff members. The Sanborn 70 Capital Campaign established a Scholarship Endowment Fund to strengthen the program in the future.

Was there a moment or a time when you thought to yourself, “I could do this for the rest of my life?”
JM: There really wasn’t. Every year was different. Always new challenges. Always great people. In the early years I had great jobs as a classroom teacher in junior/senior high school. Loved it, but could see that the most significant education for life takes place at camp. In addition the Big Spring nurse, Betty, swept me off my feet (Camp Marriage #4, Sarah and Mike are #79!) and we raised our two daughters in a boys camp.

Piece of sage wisdom for the young folks? Secret to happiness?
JM: An ancient Greek philosopher once said, “Change is the only constant in life.” Embrace change, adapt with the times while keeping your core values and standing up for what is right.

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Emily Burnham
About Emily Burnham

Emily has worn a variety of hats here at Sanborn over the years. She began as a camper, then worked on staff for four summers while affectionately known as “Edna,” taught as an instructor at High Trails Outdoor Education Center, and now works as the Assistant Director for High Trails. Her favorite things about camp include eating liberal quantities of chippy dippy bars, singing a little bit too loudly at Vespers, and watching campers accomplish incredible feats. She recently graduated with a degree in sociology from Colorado College and now lives at camp, counting down the days until summer each year.