Matt Spence (2001-2008, S2010-2011)

Hometown:Eden Prairie, Minnesota

Contact Info: mttspence@gmail.com

Current City: New York, New York

Cabins: 2001: Beaver, 2002: Badger, 2003: Apache, 2004: Bunkhouse, 2005: Olympic Club, 2006: Senior, 2007: Tamarac (LT 1), 2008: Eagles and Badger (LT 2), 2010: Chippewa and Pioneer (Head Counselor), 2011: Crow’s Nest (Jr. Camp Division Director)

Roles: Camper (‘01-‘06), LT (‘07-‘08), HC (‘10), DD (‘11)

Education: Eden Prairie High School, Class of 2009; University of Wisconsin-Madison, BS Genetics, Class of 2013; University of Minnesota Medical School, Class of 2017

Occupation: Pediatric Resident Physician at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in Bronx, New York.

Where does your story with camp begin?  How were you first introduced to Camp Lincoln? I first heard about Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert when my brother attended Camp Lincoln in the late 90s with other kids from our neighborhood, and I first attended Camp several years later with friends from our neighborhood. I spent one week at Camp Lincoln my first summer and immediately knew I had to go back the next summer.

Did any of your family members attend or work at camp? My brother, Ryan Spence (1999), attended Camp Lincoln for one summer in the late 90s, but I remember sitting in the Junior Dining Hall wishing Fred Rogers had my name on his list of legacy campers.

What are a few of your favorite memories from your days at Camp Lincoln? Picking only a few memories to share is extremely difficult, so I picked a few memories from different times throughout my years at Lincoln.

Apache: During my session at Camp that summer, our cabin only had three staff members, but they managed to convince our entire cabin that we actually had four staff members. We heard all about our fourth staff member who spent his nights repairing the tunnel under Lake Hubert to CLH and his days sleeping in the cabin while we were at activities. The staff were dedicated enough to leave things of his behind and make up stories to tell us about him whenever we asked. They were so successful that all of us begged to go to the sailing dock for our final night of vespers just to meet him in all of his scuba gear.

LT 2: After spending six weeks at Camp Lincoln as an LT2, I couldn’t believe I was leaving as a camper for the last time and entering into my gap year between LT and staff. The final morning I remember slowly saying my goodbyes around Camp before entering Intermediate Dining Hall to say some final goodbyes. When I got there, I burst into tears as staff came to hug me and say goodbye. I couldn’t stop thinking about all of my wonderful memories from the past six weeks and previous summers at Lincoln, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to return as a staff member in a few years.

DD: One of my favorite things about Camp has always been vespers. It is one of the best times to get to know the people you live with on a deeper level. I have many memories from vespers as a camper and HC, but one of the most meaningful was a session I led with staff during OSD (Orientation and Staff Development). I led one of my favorite vespers, which involves listening to different songs, often not in English, and then having the group reflect on what the songs made them think about or what they imagined the song was about. We did this session on the Crib dock, and people shared some of the most meaningful experiences, joys, and fears from their lives.

What are some of the things you learned at camp? Favorite activities? This is about to sound cheesy, but it’s true. One of my favorite things about Camp, especially as I have grown older, has been the core values! Community, Excellence, Fun, Personal Growth and Development, and Quality Relationships are things that I still strive for in all areas of my life. My favorite activities as a camper were sailing and riding. I remember both activities being intimidating as I first started participating, but I grew more and more invested in each the more time I spent doing them. I grew to enjoy both activities so much that I remember spending almost every morning of my summer in Senior sailing and every afternoon riding.

Do you have any fun/funny travel stories about getting to camp, camp canoe trips, or traveling outside of camp with camp friends? I remember one of my favorite traditions early in my Camp years was going to Snuffy’s Malt Shop in Edina with friends immediately after getting off the bus from Camp. It was an excellent way to unwind from Camp, and I known my mom loved it because I would tell her all about what I had been up to while away. One of my favorite things about Camp is all of the friends I have made. When I was a staff member, I loved inviting staff to come visit me at college in Madison, Wisconsin after Camp. This was particularly fun with international staff in a quintessential American college town during football season.

What was your favorite camp meal or dining tradition? My favorite camp meal is lasagna. I love it because I love lasagna, but it had an extra special meaning when I was at Camp. Lasagna was the first dinner of a new session, and the excitement in the air was always incredible.

Can you elaborate on any lasting friendships you have from camp?  Thanks to social media, I don’t think a single day goes by without me interacting with a friend from Camp in one way or another, and each interaction brings back fond memories of Camp. I’m looking forward to living in NYC because I will be closer to two of my CFABs, Philip Johnson (S2008-2010) and Brent Taylor (S2011-2013).

What did you love most about camp?  What is the biggest take-away you have from your days at Camp Lincoln? One of the biggest lessons Camp taught me is the importance of balance. I spoke about CEF-PQ before, and thinking about that is one of the ways I keep myself feeling balanced through stressful times. Excellence is wonderful, but what is life without a little fun. Community is engaging and fulfilling, but fostering a close relationship with a select group of people is uniquely rewarding. Personal growth is about pushing myself to become a better person with each opportunity.

What are you up to now?  Tell us about your life and interests. I just graduated from medical school at the University of Minnesota, and I just started my pediatrics residency program at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in Bronx, New York in June. Within pediatrics, I am currently interested in the urban underserved, healthcare disparities, and critical illness. I’ll be working around 80 hours per week during my residency, but when I’m not at the hospital, I enjoy cooking, watching movies, and traveling. One of my life goals is to return to CL and CLH as the camp doctor, but I still have a few years of training before then!