by Sarah Einselen
Dave Wright’s influence on Carroll County could be measured several ways: By the 23 years he directed the YMCA Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, by the 38 years he spent working full-time there or even by the $7 million he helped raise from 2005 to 2007 to double the camp’s facilities.
But Carroll County Chamber of Commerce director Julia Leahy referenced a different number: The thousands of children and adults who’ve stayed at the camp or attended programs there.
Wright, 64, recently became the second person to receive the chamber’s Charles Carroll award. It recognizes someone’s spirit, dedication and passion for Carroll County. Dr. Janet Ayres was the award’s inaugural recipient last year.
Wright “has touched the lives of thousands of kids and adults,” Leahy said. “He was always willing to go above and beyond and cared very deeply for his family and friends. Dave was a leader, a mentor and a generous man who believed in others and his community.”
Current camp director Scott Brosman, who took over in September after Wright retired, said his 16 years working under Wright gave him the chance to be mentored by someone he described as “a visionary leader.”
“I think it was well deserved,” Brosman said of Wright’s recognition. “He’s done a lot for the camp and a lot for the community.”
Wright said he was honored by the recognition.
“I hadn’t thought about it at all,” he said, “and I got some communication from Julia Leahy that said, ‘You’ve been selected for the Charles Carroll Award.’”
Wright, who moved to Holland, Mich., this fall to be near family, started out working at the YMCA camp as a summer job. He then got his first full-time job there. His two daughters and his wife have both been involved at the camp as well, he added.
When he started there in the early 1970s, he said, just over 1,000 children used the camp each year. That’s grown to about 34,000 this year.
To handle the crowds, the camp employs 35 to 40 staff members year-round and swells its staff to more than 200 over the summers, said Wright.
Outside of his work at the camp, Wright got heavily involved at Delphi United Methodist Church and was instrumental in its relocation to a newly built building in 2010-2011.
He was also on the board of directors of the Carroll County Chamber for the past six years.
“I really enjoyed being part of the Carroll County Chamber because it allowed me to learn a lot more about the county and get involved in some of the things that impacted the smaller towns,” Wright said.
His most important contribution to the camp, though, was his effort to maintain a strong Christian emphasis in the camp’s programs. He attributed the camp’s growth over the years and continued donor support to the faith emphasis.
“Lots of institutions in the U.S. have moved away from that spiritual emphasis while ours has remained very strong,” said Wright.
The camp’s motto, he said, is “God is first, the other person is second, and I’m third,” based on the Golden Rule. “It just became our culture, and people became very attracted to that.”
Brosman, a protege of both Wright and his predecessor, Dick Marsh, said Wright’s love for his work and desire to make things better were key to the camp’s success.
“He had this personality that was always moving forward and always looking for the next good and best thing that would take the camp to another level,” said Brosman.
Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com or 574-732-5151.