By Mark Dibble, CEO


An open letter to our Camp Family about why I am grateful


I’m worried about a lot of things. I’m worried about my children. I’m worried about my wife. I’m worried about my parents. I’m worried about the health and well-being of everyone I work with, everyone I love, and everyone for whom I care.

I’m not worried about our future as an organization. I’m not worried because the YMCA of the Pines has had excellent leadership in the twenty-first century and we are in excellent health. Instead of being worried, I am grateful.

At a time when Ys and camps all over the country are facing real existential crises, we are not. We are worried about caring for our employees, about connecting with our alum and our campers, and reassuring our parents that when we re-open we will be stronger than ever. But we are not worried about staying in business.

I am grateful for Gary Graham and Tom Rapine, and their leadership in the early 2000s that righted the course of the YMCA Camp Ockanickon ship, put money in our accounts, and left a legacy on which future leaders could build. Under their leadership we went from an organization that needed to reuse nails (literally) in order to keep things running, to an organization that was healthy and investing heavily in capital improvements.

I am grateful for the volunteers who helped us secure large grants at a time when we were facing a real existential crisis. The organization would not exist today if it weren’t for people like Jim Slamon, Al Buchan and Dave Mitchell (may they rest in peace) as well as Bill Henderson, and Fred Melroy. This is not an exaggeration, the organization would have gone out of business without the great work of these volunteers and others like them.

I am grateful for the volunteer leadership we have had over the previous two decades, particularly our Board Leadership. People like Julie Smith, Joe “Spiffy Joe” Bertolino, David Herron, Mick Weeks, Marla Schechter and currently Lynne Stanwood-Leadbeater. These people have had to make very difficult choices. Choices that go beyond what anyone should have to ask of a volunteer. The people in the previous two paragraphs helped us secure contributed and earned funds and Julie, Spiffy, David, Mick, Marla and Lynne made hard choices to ensure that those funds were protected for a rainy day.

I am grateful for the recent staff leadership. I took over as steward of this wonderful organization in 2015. I was handed an organization that was successful, with money in the bank, thanks to Keith VanDerzee, and the people who worked for him.

Finally, I am forever grateful and indebted to the leadership of Cindy Culotta and Greg Keresztury. Under their guidance our organization has improved in nearly every measurable way. They have increased the depth and breadth of our mission objectives. They have increased the number of people we serve in all of our programs. Our customer impact scores, which reflect the impact we are having on the lives of young people, have increased all across all departments and in many areas are some of the best in the nation. Finally, they have handled our finances in a way that has allowed us to reinvest millions of dollars into the organization without having to take on any debt.

There are so many more people I could and should thank. Andy Smith, Suzette Belz, our awesome donors, awesome full-time and part-time staff, awesome seasonal staff, awesome customers and on and on and on, all deserve credit and praise. However, rather than try and list everyone, I choose to highlight the names that pop into my head every time I find myself grateful that we are not on the brink of insolvency; the names of the individuals who make it easier for me to fall asleep at night.

On behalf of myself, the staff, the volunteers, the parents, campers, alum (both living and departed), and all of our program participants, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.


Mark Dibble
YMCA of the Pines
April 13, 2020