Dear Quinebarge Friends,
Arnie has left the building!
After 41 years of incredible and unwavering service to Camp Quinebarge, Paul “Arnie” Wooten is retiring. It is hard to imagine Quinebarge without Arnie. Generations of Quinebargers know and love Arnie and appreciate just how much he knows about camp. It is staggering. I will miss the friend I have been able to know as both a teenager and later adult and parent.
Arnie started at Quinebarge as a counselor in the Sioux cabin in 1979 and ran our trips program for nearly 20 years beginning in 1980. His facilities role started as shoulder season work in the 1980s and became full time in the 1990s. He has been the camp director, camp cook, staff recruiter and about a million other roles in the process.
Mostly, Arnie has always been there for Camp Quinebarge, in good times and rough, and has dedicated his career and life to this special place. The beauty of Camp Quinebarge, the natural setting, world-class facilities in a rustic background and even the flowers put out each summer, are all Arnie. The working boats, nature pond, horse ring, running water, it is all him. Boy, will he be missed.
What some miss behind a, let’s say, sometimes gruff exterior, is Arnie’s heart and passion for Camp and others. Arnie notices all the little things about camp, and people. He hears and sees all. His memory is truly a wonder, as he recognizes campers from 30-40 years ago when they come to visit. He knows each generation of campers and staff, their brothers and sisters, where they are from, etc.
Each summer I tell staff that if you watch and learn from Arnie, you will be a better person for it, in terms of your work ethic, quality and attention to detail, but also your integrity. I also tell them you disregard him at your peril.
Honest as the day is long, ethical to a ‘t’, I am proud to have known Arnie when I was a camper and staff member (1980-87), enjoyed the trips he ran, the level of detail to his thinking on trip safety, and a couple great days off including seeing Tom Rush. We had a trip up Chocurua where we were both crying laughing over something a camper said. I am even more proud to have known Arnie in my professional life the last seven years, and I have learned immensely from him (including that the utensils and napkins go at the end – not the beginning – of the buffet, and you need to start the grill 45 minutes before dinner, among many far bigger life lessons).
Arnie has truly earned this break from the long hours and stress of a summer camp. He will have the time to fish in the summer and visit his favorite (and secret, I will add) lean-to and generally relax. He’ll be able to attend to his home, not ours. He will be around, helping with the transition and taking on some special projects on his own schedule.
I am so proud to call Arnie my friend and mentor, and wish him the best. Please join me in thanking Arnie for more than four decades of hard work and commitment to Camp Quinebarge. Camp will not be the same.
Thank you, my friend,