Mark Hodgson (S2002-2003, S2006, S2009-2011)

Hometown: Widnes, England

Current City: West Kirby, England

Contact Info:

Cabins: 2002 – Ranger, KFC and Apache; 2003 – Chippewa, Eagle and Beaver; 2006 – Crow Wing and Gopher; 2009 – Tamarack and Senior 1; 2010, 2011 – Gold Coast

Roles: Sailing Asst., Sailing Director, Head Counselor, Division Director, Advisor

Education: Hazards and Geoscience, BSc Hons, John Moores University, Liverpool

Occupation: Manages a European Union funded project that creates businesses and jobs in Merseyside.

Spouse: Sophie Hodgson (S2006- 2007, 2009-2011)

Children: Ted Hodgson (age 3 months – Lincoln 2020 and beyond!

Where does your story with camp begin?  How were you first introduced to Camp Lincoln? I was in a lecture in 2001, and Chris Arnold (S1995-2000) presented about his new company, Camp Leaders in America.  I arranged an interview and Chris helped secure me a position at Lincoln for the following summer.

Did any of your family members attend or work at camp? I met my wife Sophie outside the Intermediate Dining Hall in May 2006.  Ted, our first child, was born three months ago and his camp fund is already going strong for 2020!

What are a few of your favorite memories from your days at Camp Lincoln? I love the anticipation of opening day. Staff bright eyed, campers excited, worried, full of anticipation.  The energy builds and builds through the day, and we always had lasagna for our evening meal. One summer I remember taking the kids to the athletic field to watch a meteor shower at about 11pm.  Everything was quiet, still, there was not a care in the world.  Another year I found a younger child who struggled to connect with other campers.  He wanted to lead, so we set up a secret club (that everyone knew about and all could join!) that would explore camp.  We had adventures down to the Pioneer cabin, down to the boat graveyard and out on the lake during free swim.  We adjusted our tennis shoes so that the tongues were above rather than under the laces and quite quickly he had a following of over 20 campers.  The kids made the calls, and we would meet for things like whiffle ball at free swim.  I love activities – however for me camp is about the moments that happen outside of this.

What are some of the things you learned at camp? I remember once hearing that camp is the best training ground for becoming a parent.  You learn how to listen to kids, how to build kids up and how to help them shine, I could not agree more. When I first went to camp, I had no focus in what I wanted to do.  Camp changed me from a kid to an adult through hard work and by providing a clear set of values which I shared.  I was introduced to people who led by example, and I now strive to do the same myself.

What are some of your favorite activities? Sailing is the best activity at camp, but as former sailing staff I am biased.  The sailing regattas v’s CLH were fun, we would practice ‘man skills’ before – things like being a good sport, being gracious, etc.  One year Ruggs Cote (1979-1984, 1986-1987, S1988-1991, 1998-2014) dug out some old ties and we pretended we were all members of a fancy yacht club – good times!   Sailing lets kids who know what they are doing lead staff when out on the lake, something kids don’t often get to do. I remember one year a group of senior kids insisting they go to the bog at least once a day – I made a good chunk of those early morning trips, and I am sure I am a better person for it!  Because of my relationship with Sophie, I ended up spending lots of time at the barn.  We would head up early to the pasture to herd the horses, sometimes when they escaped we would head out to round them up.  One day as we crossed the road a car pulled up, and a guy told us about how as a kid he had spent a week driving 30 horses across the state 60 years earlier, himself on horseback – what an adventure that must have been.

Do you have any fun travel stories about getting to camp, camp canoe trips, or traveling outside of camp with camp friends? In 2007  Eduardo Ascencio-Lane (S2004 – 2005, 2007), Sophie (S2006 – 2007, 2009-2011)  and I bought a 15 seater van from camp.  We took a group of staff down to the Cities after camp closed down for the fall.  Anthony “Ant” McGuiness (S2004-2008) had adopted a kitten that had appeared under the program office that summer.  He had it in a box on his lap.  As we got close to St. Cloud, the kitten started to make strange noises.  Ant got it out of the box, and suddenly it was quite ill on him.  Ant is very preppy, and he nearly jumped out of the window of the van!  We pulled over as Ant freaked out and we all fell over laughing.

What is your favorite camp quote, and when was it from? Cam Scott (1988-1991, S2005) said something along the lines of ‘good counselors shine, great counselors make others shine’ – to this day those words echo in my ears.

What was your favorite camp meal or dining tradition? Stew and rice is the best meal ever – I hear a rumor that it may be off the menu!  International Food was also great – one year a German member of staff could not get the kids to eat the cheesy sausage he had made – I spent an hour screaming how great it was and got rid of it all.

Can you elaborate on any lasting friendships you have from camp? I live 4,000 miles from camp however it remains a part of my everyday life.  There is a picture of camp on the wall next to me, I am wearing a shirt that I got on a road trip after camp, and I married Sophie after meeting her in 2006.  Sophie ran the riding program for two summers at Lincoln, she was Program Director in 2009 and headed up Intro Camp in 2010. I work with lots of Lincoln and Hubert alumni for a company founded by alumni, including Katie Cunliffe (S2011) and Sarah Lang (S2009 – 2014) (who is at camp at the minute but will leave us for teacher training in the fall), and more people are on our National Team.  Two years ago I met alumni from 11 years earlier in Texas; John Henry (1993-2000, S2004) and Matt Inabinet (1995-2000, S2002-2003).  It was great to see the boys after so long!  John hadn’t changed, and Matt is now a family man with two children. Last year Andre` Brewer (S1990-2014) and Mark Schulien (2005-2009, S2011-2012) visited, and a few months later Blake Holman (1993-2001, S2004-2007) stayed.  A few weeks ago Mark Hall, the Sailing Director at Hubert (S2001-2005) flew over  – Ant Guiness and I took him camping for a few days.  I have visited Mark twice in Australia, time spent on the lake fixing the world and sailing has secured a life-long friendship.  The list goes on – the camp community is a huge part of my life.

What did you love most about camp?  What is the biggest take-away you have from your days at Camp Lincoln? The standards of camp, the investment in individuals, the drive to be the best for each camper is something that has profoundly impacted me.  In 2007 I started to work for Chris Arnold’s company, and because of this I have visited about 60 camps across the United States.  No camp I have been to so clearly puts their values at the center of what they do, or places such an emphasis on developing young people.

What are you up to now?  Tell us about your family life and interests. With a newborn in the house, we are both loving getting to know him.  (Super) Ted likes to stay awake at night, but thanks to camp, we know you do not need too much sleep to survive! I am a Twitter junky and immerse myself in business startup books and podcasts. In a couple of months I will print my second book that will help people to start up their own business.   (My first book is about working at camp and how to be a great camp counselor – check out @ICampC).

Do you have a mentor you look up to or creed that you live by? Ideas and people drive me, and I love nothing more than meeting people who are passionate and knowledgeable about what they do.  I have always admired people who throw themselves fully into what they do.  I saw Sam Cote (1951-1958, S1960, 1962, 1968-2014) and Bill Jones (1959-1960, S1970-2014) lead by example at camp, my father does the same.  I strive to emulate these great men.

What are some of your outside interests? When I can, I love to mountain bike, watch Liverpool Football Club and play five a-side ‘soccer’.  I occasionally sail, but I have been spoiled by the good weather at camp – the water is always cold here!  Very close to where I live there is a huge estuary that has incredible sunsets which I get to as often as I can.

Is there anything else that would complete your story? I mentioned above that  ‘I love arrival day’.  Camp is a part of who I define myself to be.  The hope is to come back in a couple of years when Ted is old enough.  I may have to see if CLH will take Sophie and me, as Ted needs to be free to make his own mistakes and grow away from mum and dad.