ALUMNI SPOTLIGHTS – Alumni on Both Sides of the Aisle

Hi-Rocker’s around the world are watching closely as election season heats up. Three Hi-Rock alumni who serve in the Connecticut State Senate are part of the race.

Connecticut State Senators John Kissel, Anthony Musto and Andrew Roraback are all Hi-Rock alumni. All three are also practicing attorneys in addition to their work as public servants. John is a Republican currently serving his tenth term and seeking an eleventh representing the towns of East Granby, Enfield, Somers, Suffield, Windsor Locks and portions of Granby and Windsor. He is the Senate’s Ranking Member on the Committees on Judiciary and Program Review & Investigations and serves on the General Law and Legislative Management Committees. Anthony is a Democrat serving his second term representing the towns of Bridgeport, Trumbull and Monroe and is seeking a third term. He is the Majority Whip, served as chairperson of the Select Committee on Children for two years, and currently serves as chairperson of the Human Services committee. Andrew is a Republican who has served in both the State House of Representatives and more recently the State Senate where he is the Ranking Member of the Legislature’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. He is currently running for election to represent Connecticut in the United States Congress.

We were able to ask John and Anthony about their experiences at Hi-Rock and found that the things that had a lasting impact on them thirty years ago continue to play powerful roles in the experience campers have at Hi-Rock today.

John speaks passionately about the six summers, beginning in 1978, when he worked at Hi-Rock in roles including Abnaki counselor, the first ever unit director of the Woodlands Unit (when it housed the youngest boys on camp), unit director in the Mohawk Unit and Program Director.

As he contemplated the importance of Hi-Rock to today’s children, John explained that at Hi-Rock you can “feel more free and more self-confident and leave your regular self behind, unafraid to put on your silly self. You are with brand new people and you can make yourself into whatever you want to be. It is a unique environment to spread your wings and where you are encouraged to do it.” He recalls of the summers he spent at Hi-Rock, “There was never any feeling that you would be kidded or that there would be any down side if you tried and failed.”

Anthony attended Hi-Rock as a camper for four summers approximately thirty years ago. He recounts his experience learning how to waterski and the support he felt while trying, with difficulty, to learn something new, “I kept falling on the waterskiing, but I kept getting up and finally I got it. My counselor didn’t let me give up, and I still remember how happy he was when I finally made it. It made me feel great.”

When asked about the importance of Hi-Rock for kids today, both John and Anthony highlighted the benefit Hi-Rock offers campers in the opportunity to live and learn with such a diverse community of campers and staff. Anthony commented that, “Being away from home and learning to get along with other people from different places is essential these days. We work and live in a much larger world than we used to. We need to understand that other people have different ideas and react to things differently than we. Being at camp is a great first step to learning how to listen to others and to understand them.”

Indeed, John credits Hi-Rock with helping him develop the skill of listening that he finds vital to his work as a senator. John says that each of the jobs he held at Hi-Rock “demanded that you listen before you do anything.” Whether he was listening to his nine campers when he was a counselor or putting his ear to the ground to understand what was going on with all of the camp staff he relied upon as program director, John learned at Hi-Rock that “you need to be able to listen to be there for people.”

After telling tales of the wonder his campers felt upon sharing their first porcupine siting, discovering roots that glowed in the dark on a night hike, and seeing more stars in the sky than they had ever seen John concluded, “There is a place for Hi-Rock now and there will be a place for Hi-Rock 100 years from now.”