Counselor Spotlight: The D’Anieri Bros

Monday, March 6th, 2017


We caught up with counselors Matt and Thomas recently to find out what they’ve been up to since camp ended and what they’ve got planned for the rest of the year. Here’s what we found out:

Matt D’Anieri:

What have you been up to since camp ended? 
Life has sped up a lot since leaving Birch Hill. In August, I was an organizer at a charity event in my town called 24 Hours of Barefoot Soccer, which raises money towards research and education to prevent AIDS in Africa. It’s a great tradition for a great cause, and was a fun activity to do with my local community before leaving for college.
Right now I’m a freshman at Tufts University, and I’m having a great time meeting so many new people who come from different stories and backgrounds. I’m taking some interesting classes in English, Spanish, oceanography, and food systems. Most Birch Hillers know that I would never be able to keep myself busy without SPORTS! Sadly, there’s no Birchball or Egyptian Water Polo at Tufts, but I’m running for the varsity cross country and track teams here, which has so far been a blast.
College is fun, but I definitely miss the simpler days at camp, and I miss the people. This fall, I’ve been staying in contact as much as I can with my Birch Hill family, and I still talk almost every day to my friends who went to Birch Hill with me as a camper. I always look forward to reunions, and will hopefully see some people from camp over winter break!

What was your experience like as a junior counselor this year at camp?
Working at camp this summer was easily the best seven weeks of my life. I got to see camp from a completely different perspective than when I was a camper/CIT. That’s not to say that this different view made camp any less fun; it meant that I got to take on new responsibilities, which I took pride in. Looking after a large group of kids nonstop can be difficult, but the results made it worth the work. I was overwhelmed with satisfaction when I watched my campers try new things, work together towards a common goal, and become best friends who didn’t want to leave each other at the end of each session. As a staff member, I love being able to take some credit for the positive impact that the Birch Hill experience has on the campers.
In addition to providing the rewarding feeling of working with kids, my experience also taught me new skills and improved many of my abilities. Leading evening programs, running PCs, and making cove announcements improved my self- confidence and my public speaking skills. I learned to improvise quickly to keep campers entertained. Everything I did, from teaching classes, to lifeguarding, to working in the kitchen, was a new responsibility that further developed my leadership skills.
Along the way, I got to play games in the sun all day. I also made plenty of new friendships with the amazing staff that I worked with, which was an added bonus.

What are your plans for 2017 and do you see yourself working at camp again?
After school and track are over in the spring, Thomas and I are looking to do a lot of camping and adventuring. We’ve explored so many beautiful places around New England, so hopefully we can make a trip out west for a change of scenery. We’re also in the beginnings of organizing a road race at Birch Hill! We think that the steep topography and winding roads could make for a tough but fun course in the early summer. As for the rest of the summer, I’m planning on WORKING AT CAMP AGAIN AND I’M SO HYPED FOR IT!

If you were to name one counselor that you think is a fantastic role model who would it be and why?
I look up to Owen Woodcock a lot. This summer, I quickly realized that he is wise beyond his years. He has a strong sense of patience and priority in taking care of people, and he will go out of his way to make sure everyone is having a good time. Owen is enthusiastic, which I believe is one of the most important qualities to have as a counselor, and his positivity and adventurousness rub off on everyone around him. I asked Owen for advice several times this summer, and by now I trust him enough to talk to him about anything. He’s a perfect example that being a great counselor has more to do with attitude and maturity than to do with years of experience, which really inspired me, as a first year member of the Birch Hill staff.

Do you have any further things you would like to share?
Go outside!

Thank you for sharing with us Matt!  Next we heard from Thomas:



Thomas D’Aneiri:

What have you been up to since camp ended?

Since camp ended I have been off in California completing my first semester of freshman year at Claremont McKenna College where I’m stuyding international relations. Keeping with the trend of photography and videography that I did at camp, I have taken up a job working for CMCtv where I make videos of student life around campus. Here’s a video I made for them that I’m particularly proud of:

When I’m not studying or working I run for the cross country team, go to the beach, and skateboard down the biggest hills that I can find. Many campers will remember me coming back from my runs very early in the morning when they were just getting out of bed. The summer work paid off as this fall I ran 25:45 for 8K at the D3 NCAA national championship and helped CMS finish 5th overall, our best performance in school history as well as the best of any team from the west region in NCAA championship history. Beyond the running I have done my best to get out on the weekends, going to places like San Diego, Laguna Beach, Malibu, and more. 

What was your experience like as a junior counselor this year at camp?

Being a counselor made this summer one of the best of my life. I remember how much I looked up to my counselors and how great they made my two weeks at camp back when I was a camper, so to be able to give that back to kids this summer was one of the most rewarding feelings imaginable. The kids made my day every single day and I could not have spent my summer in a better place. In addition, the counselors I worked with over the 7 weeks became family and it is amazing to have so many friends all over the world. Doing the photo and video work with Alex was so much fun because for the first time I got to produce my work for a large audience. This not only made me work harder to do my best work, but made it that much more rewarding to see the campers and counselors enjoy it.


What are your plans for 2017 and do you see yourself working at camp again?

Looking forward I will be running track in the spring and finishing up my first year of school at CMC. Then I’m hoping to take a road trip in May with my brother as well as a few camp friends who I was a CIT with. Camp friends really are forever! And yes, this summer you WILL see me back at camp. I’m so excited to be back at the best place on earth and to see all of the wonderful campers and counselors. 2017 is going to be the best summer yet! Yahoo!
Most of my photo and video work has been for my job since I’ve come to school. I have not done too much personal stuff doing being a student, an athlete, and an employee takes up a lot of my time, however here are a few favorites that I have taken throughout the year.  (*We have put Thomas’s photos throughout his questionnaire).


A few nights ago I had a dream that I was lying on the water tramp looking up at the beautiful night sky. The stars were out in full force and the distant galaxies, planets, and stars were as bright as ever. We’re talking Milky Way spreading its veins all the way to the edges of the horizon. Slowly, the pitch black water around me and the sky started to merge, until I was eventually just floating through space. That’s about it, and while I doubt I will end up floating through the galaxy this summer, looking up at the stars at Birch Hill on a clear night are about as close as you can get.


If you were to name one counselor that you think is a fantastic role model who would it be and why?

So many counselors come to my mind when I think of great role models. Ian, Alec, Claire, Alexa, James Allouicious Parolisi, the list goes on and on. However two that come to my mind that I always admired were Jackson and Nick King. Jackson was the waterfront director from I believe 2006 or 2007 until 2011. He was my counselor for two years. The guy was really the first person to treat me like an equal (I would have been 10 at the time) and expose me to what real life is actually like. Camp is so great because it gets you outside of your comfort zone and forces you to learn how to do things on your own.  On top of that the guy was compassionate, tough as nails, cared about everyone, and told great bedtime stories. I was an entirely different person after my first summer at camp (and still am today) and he was a big part of that. 


The next guy, Nick King, is what many people like to call a Birch Hill legend. My first few years at camp, Birch Hill really loved SPORTS! And it was very athletically focused and often competition driven. This was great for me, as those are things that I love. However, I have noticed some changes in camp over the past few years that really started because of Nick and a number of other people just being unbelievably, unashamedly, and fantastically WEIRD. I absolutely love it. No longer is it mostly athletes coming to camp but rather it is literally any kind of person no matter how weird or bizarre or different they are being welcomed and even cool at camp simply because of who they are. Nick does not care what anyone thinks of him and he never stops being himself. He makes this very clear to anybody who spends 7 weeks, or 7 minutes, with him. This incredible quality has permeated throughout camp and it makes every day just ridiculously fun, silly, and inclusive. He makes everyone feel at home no matter who they are. Nick is a great role model because he has helped create positive change at camp to make it the best environment it can be, and because he has the best cove announcements.