Camp Pasquaney, New Hampshire
About » Ryder Bio
The following text is an excerpt from a White Birch article written by Dick Beyer in 2001.
In the 1952 Pasquaney Annual, Jay Borden wrote, in the woodshop the most outstanding work was done by Dave Ryder in the construction of a seat similar to those used in Baird Hall at campfire. This was Dave’s second year as a camper. Fifty years later, Dave is still hard at work in the shop, and, over the past twenty years, he has transformed it into one of camps most popular places.
Dave came to camp in 1951, the nephew of Nelson Curtis, Most Faithful Boy in 1909, one of the three original trustees, and a key figure in the first half of Pasquaney’s history. Dave’s camper years were spent in the shop, at the nature museum, in the theater, and at the waterfront, sailing and canoeing. His canoe tilting was legendary. He won the junior tilt his first summer and the senior tilt his last two. The story of his winning tilt with Dave Hughes in 1954 is still told in waterfront lore. In a maneuver since outlawed, Dave (as paddler) ran his canoe broadside over his opponent’s gunwales as Dave Hughes moved from stern to bow to sink the opponent. In his final camper summer, 1955, he was a COI and Most Faithful Boy, as well as stroke of a winning crew, one of two senior sailors, and one of the Long Walk rear guard.
During DaveÃ¢â�¬â�¢s first four years on the council, he served as the nature counsellor. Those who have watched him develop his successful (and ever expanding) shop program over the past twenty years will recognize this quote from the 1959 Annual (in his words): Ã¢â�¬Å�Like a cancerous growth, the Museum infiltrated the White Birch office to take over the entire building Ã¢â�¬Â¦ improvements included an equipment room, drying rack containing six bins, meterological instruments including a hygrometer, two barometers, a rain gauge, wind vane, and several other small additions.Ã¢â�¬Â�
In 1958, Dave undertook his first construction project Ã¢â�¬â�� the nature hut up the hill from camp. He wanted Ã¢â�¬Å�to build a structure using only an axe and an auger.Ã¢â�¬Â� Your editor recalls joining him at second rest as he felled trees and stripped them. His reputation as a woodsman grew the following year when Mr. Charlie asked him if he could cut a trail from Nancy Brook to join the old railraod path in the Pemi Wilderness. That first Notchpost expedition was known as N.E.T.E. (Northeast Trail Expedition), and we discovered that the geodetic survey map had Nancy Pond in the wrong location.
In the later 1960s, Dave moved from nature to become head sailing counsellor, but he continued to run the Notchpost expeditions, often leading both expedition weeks. He is more responsible for the construction of the Nancy Pond Trail than anyone else. Also, in the late 1960s, Dave and Melinda took over the Mary Lamb, living there with their young children, Donald and Cynthia. Dave was not on the council in the 1970s when his son, Don, came to camp, and it was indeed exciting to report to him in 1980 that Don had become the third member of his family to be elected Most Faithful.
Dave returned to take over the shop program in 1981. A new shop had been built in 1977 and 1978 replacing the three smaller shops. The new building was a huge improvement as Dave created his wonderful woodworking program, but he soon ran out of space. Between 1986 and 1988, he directed campers and counsellors in building a new addition. The project included milling all the wood from trees on the hillside and constructing the addition, while only needing to buy the windows and the roof.
Over the past twenty years, Dave also supervised campers and counsellors in the construction of a bathhouse addition (1983), a waterfront shower/laundry building (1984), a second office building (1992-93), a wood storage building for the shop (1997), and a major addition to the nature center (2000).
In 1988, DaveÃ¢â�¬â�¢s wife, Melinda, began taking a more active role in camp: for the past thirteen years she has run the camp store each morning, organized camper travel, helped organize camp uniforms, and added valuable insights as an educator.
DaveÃ¢â�¬â�¢s life away from camp has had an equal impact on others over the years. He completed a B.S. at Fitchburg State College in 1961, an M.A. at the University of Maryland in 1963, and a Doctor of Education at Boston University in 1970, majoring in Educational Technology. Dave took a Ã¢â�¬Å�temporaryÃ¢â�¬Â� job at Fitchburg State College in 1963 and Ã¢â�¬Å�fell in love with college teaching.Ã¢â�¬Â� The temporary job led to his becoming Professor of Communications and Media. His career at Fitchburg spanned thirty-seven years. When he retired last June, the communications department was FitchburgÃ¢â�¬â�¢s largest with 400 students. Dave left Fitchburg for several years in the late 1970s to found and direct the Commonwealth Center for High Technology/Education in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The center developed education materials for high tech companies and courses for corporate training all over the world. He has also served nine years as Deacon at the Congregational Church in Townsend, Massachusetts, as well as helping to plan an addition to the church.
The common thread in all of this has been education and growth. The projects Dave takes on always attract a large following and tend to get bigger because of his leadership. But now, he says, Ã¢â�¬Å�IÃ¢â�¬â�¢m going to start downsizing.Ã¢â�¬Â� WeÃ¢â�¬â�¢re happy to report that his downsizing plans do not include Pasquaney.
Dave Adds his Reflections on Fifty Years
As Dave reflected on his fifty years at Pasquaney, he commented on a Ã¢â�¬Å�remarkable evolutionÃ¢â�¬Â� at camp over those years: Early in his career, Pasquaney Ã¢â�¬Å�provided a group of boys an extraordinary opportunity for physical growth and character development within a traditional camp framework. Then Pasquaney went through a period of self-assessment and renewal evolving into a learning organization with a shared mission, an emphasis on open dialogue at all levels with both boys and counsellors sharing responsibility for insuring individual growth and self-realization. Ã¢â�¬Å�From this dynamic learning environment has emerged a community of interdependent campers, counsellors, trustees, and alumni participating in practices which define its unique culture based upon a rich history, kept alive by retelling our story through exemplary men who have embodied the Pasquaney ideals. One of the rewards of being a part of this community is seeing how Pasquaney enables its members to go beyond camp contributing to society at large.Ã¢â�¬Â�