Q Crew Capture the Flag

It was July 8, 2023, and Brian Kelley, PGA, CCM, general manager of Quechee Club, shared the exciting news that the certificates of occupancy were issued for the newly constructed beach house at Lake Pinneo and recreation building. A key phase in the Member-approved Campus Master Plan, both new amenity buildings were going to be ready for action in time for the height of summer.

But two days later, on July 10, 2023, Kelley announced the Club was shut down in the midst of the major flooding event that swept through the Upper Valley last summer. The flood had widespread impact, including the Club’s campus and golf course, even temporarily suspending access to Lake Pinneo’s waters. Cleanup and restoration efforts continued for months following the event, and the new amenity buildings never made their full debut.

At the time, Julia Ferguson and Joe Grizzle were interns in Quechee Club’s recreation department. Both graduates of Winona State University in Minnesota, Julia and Joe are now program coordinators for the recreation department.

Quechee Club summer camp fun

“Our goal is to create a fun environment at the Club that makes everyone excited and happy to be there,” said Grizzle. “We provide an avenue for hobbies and create memories, which equates to happy Members, and makes the Club a better place to be.”

Now that the duo leads the recreation programming at Quechee Club, they are aiming to expand the offerings to cater to a wider range of ages and interests. “One of the big things we want to do is to provide more, to reach different age groups, different interests, and provide opportunities that haven’t been focused on in the past,” explained Ferguson. “Traditionally, rec programming has been geared to families, kids, and outdoor enthusiasts. We want to spread our reach to more people, and introduce new interests.”

Two areas of focus are teenager and adult communities. This summer, Quechee Club is launching a new program for teens, ages 13 to 17, called Teen Adventure Program. “It’s important to have these teen programs, but there hasn’t been any real set programming. We are creating a community that’s interesting for teenagers, so they have a healthy, safe, and fun environment for the summer,” Ferguson added.

The active Counselor In Training (CIT) program at Quechee Club allows CITs to experience camp in a different way than they have had in the past, transitioning out of their younger childhood years into a role with more responsibility. The Teen Adventure Program creates an opportunity for CITs and their friends to come together for social experiences curated to their interests. The program will launch with a beach party at Lake Pinneo, and off-campus trips will include Tip Top Pottery, Killington Adventure Park, Six Flags New England, and a Minor League Baseball Game. On campus, activities in the works are a lockin, pool party, teen-only “Flick n Float” (a popular movie-viewing event in the pool), Fling Golf®, and a camping trip.

CIT with a Quechee Club camper

The Teen Adventure Program starts in July, and activities will be scheduled every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday through mid-August. Quechee Club Members, their families and guests, as well as the local community are invited to participate.

For the adult community, programming is happening more naturally, with a focus on popular hobbies and the introduction of new activities, as well as leaning on Members to teach their skills to others. Budding ideas include fly fishing, a book club, and crafting.

“We’re trying to build these micro-communities, connecting people with like interests, or who are willing to try new things, all together,” said Grizzle. “And new friendships are just organically happening.”

In addition, the rejuvenated recreation team is bringing enhanced elements to the ever-popular kids’ summer camps. This year, each camp week will feature a theme, kicking off the summer with “Magic Week.” Campers can expect counselors donning fairy wings and wielding wands, a magic forest, potion making, and games of quidditch. Other themes include “Farm and Nature,” “Time Travel,” and “Carnival Week.”

The recreation building, newly named the Den, is now open and this summer will serve as a base camp for recreation activities and summer programming. Lake Pinneo is scheduled to open, as it traditionally does, on Father’s Day weekend, with plans for the new beach house to serve up sunsets and lakeside ice cream.

With new facilities and a fresh outlook, the summer of 2024 presents an exciting opportunity to make the most of the season. “We’re breathing some new life into recreation at the Club,” said Ferguson. “We have a good foundation, but it’s time for some funky-fresh things. While it’s hard to build up a culture around doing new things, that is something we really want to try to do this summer.”

Julia & Joe: Creating Summertime Fun for Quechee Club Youth

If there’s any indication that summer is on its way to Quechee, it’s the youth recreational program initiatives at the Quechee Club.

This year, the outreach will be led by an enthusiastic couple, Julia Ferguson and Joe Grizzle. Ferguson and Grizzle moved to the area within the last couple of years from Minnesota, where they met at Winona State University.

While at college, each was passionately involved with their local communities – actively serving on the board of the Warrior Entertainment Network, an on-campus club geared towards offering students social activities such as band nights, ice cream socials, and special guest appearances including SNL’s Michael Che and Bill Nye The Science Guy.

Now based in the Upper Valley, and with over a year of experience from interning and working at the Quechee Club, the couple is ready to take on leadership of the multiple summer programs offered.

“We took feedback from the community members,” Julia said, “And we’re excited to create more in-depth opportunities for the kids here…We want to decorate the halls, maybe even set up a dragon’s den for magic week,” she added, emphasizing the unique and engaging activities they have planned for this summer.

Julia said she’s most thrilled about the theme of “farm and nature” week because the majority of the campers come from city environments, where the presence of local agriculture and wide open outdoor spaces are likely new concepts for them to learn about and explore. “It’s so important for these kids to just be outside and play,” she explained.

Joe shared his passion for facilitating an outdoor approach for these families. “Sure, you can sit in your basement all summer and play video games,” he explained, “But you may not get much out of it. It’s important to get out and play, use your imagination, and meet new friends.”

While working with the Quechee Club recreation department, Joe has offered adult outdoor activities such as birding, hiking, and kayak trips. With terrain of wooded trails and multiple watering sources, the Quechee Club is nature’s playground. It’s also a place for community relationships to flourish.

The duo spoke about continuing that community bond, saying that while they’re focused on the youth programs, they’re also a benefit for the parents. “Parents get childcare in a warm, safe environment,” Julia said. “It’s about creating experiences for each other.”

The duo will lead a team of four interns, 15 professional counselors, and five to ten previous student attendees who will serve as junior camp counselors. While it’s sure to be a busy summer for the couple, they said they’re thrilled for the adventure and happy to work together. “I’m so ready for the program to start,” Julia said. “We’ve been talking about it since last summer!”

~ Dorothy England