Posted by: Staff | 05.08.2008

Faculty Spotlight: Mr. Camp

GABBY GUTMAN ’08

Mr. Camp is an absolutely amazing teacher. Every day during the first and second terms I looked forward to his class. I always knew that it would lift my spirits if I had a bad day or create a memory that would last me a lifetime. When a test or quiz came up, I would never panic, but rather, I would be excited. Mr. Camp’s tests and quizzes were always fun to take whether he had us relate baseball positions to vocabulary words or draw Oedipus Rex solving the riddle of the sphinx. This English class has shown me that learning can be fun, even if I am learning something that is seems mundane like Sophocles or grammar. Mr. Camp has been one of the best teachers I have ever had, and I learned a lot more about him through this interview.

Q: What is your most embarrassing moment in your childhood?
A: I was really quiet as a kid and, actually, I am pretty quiet in my personal life. But when I teach, I am loud which is sort of weird. When I was young, I got spanked by my mom in front of a lot of people as she yelled, “Why don’t you talk to people?” That was a really embarrassing moment.

Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in Arlington, MA. I have an older brother and an older sister, so that makes me the baby of the family. We had no pets at all growing up, because my mom didn’t like them. Now I have two dogs, two cats, two birds, and I support all animal rights.

Q: Where is your favorite place to be?
A: My favorite places to be are at home with my family, in the classroom teaching, or on a football field coaching.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: I hate it when people litter their cigarette butts; it’s annoying and I don’t get it. I also don’t like having to deal with my own OCDs. I need to have my right foot in front of my left when I am standing still or tying my shoes. Also, almost everything I do is based on a number system even though I am a word kind of guy. I have an obsession with needing Neutrogena hand cream. My whole life is governed by OCDs that others may not notice, but that affect me constantly.

Q: What is your favorite type of food?
A: I love chicken. If I am celebrating, I would want Indian food, chicken Indian food. Oh yeah, and salt bagels. I also hate mushrooms and olives with a passion.

Q: What is your favorite and least favorite movie?
A: My favorite movies are: Good Will Hunting, Pulp Fiction, Jindabyne, Memento, and Fargo. I only want to see a movie if it’s going to change my life or leave me thinking; a movie that didn’t do that is Smooth Talk, which was a waste of two hours.

Q: Do you have any TV show addictions?
A: I love LOST, American Idol, Seinfeld, sports, news; those are like my OCDs—I love them and could watch them all the time. My son was laughing ‘cause I was watching an episode of Seinfeld, and when he saw me laugh he did the same. That was cool. My son Grady just turned one year old, and he has a little sister arriving in July. Yikes!

Q: What is your favorite book?
A: As an English teacher, obviously I have a lot, but O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods is really deep and dark, and I love dark literature. My favorite Shakespeare play is King Lear, the darkest of the dark!

Q: What do you admire most in your students?
A: I admire depth and the ability to understand that learning and fun can happen at the same time.

Q: Why did you start teaching?
A: I knew in high school. I loved English, and it is very cool when I realized I could spend every day doing it. I think I have the ideal life: every day I get to teach and coach, which is incredible. I also love to read students’ writing and to hear how they think; I enjoy being part of that process. I keep a list of every student I’ve ever taught and periodically go through the list so I remember everybody. So, in 20 years, I’ll be able to say, “Oh, Gabby Gutman, she was in my Black Class at Beaver.”

Q: Who was your favorite teacher?
A: In college, I had an amazing professor who was deep and analyzed a lot of things. I hope I am doing the same in my teaching. He made me realize then that you could take anything and look at it from all different angles, as long as you support what you say. And then you can have any analysis.

Q: Do you have a favorite word?
A: Perspicacity: very aware, intelligently aware. I really don’t like the phrase “shut up”.

Q: How do you like your experience at Beaver so far?
A: I love the format, what the school represents, the progressive aspect, and the students have been awesome. It has been an overall great experience. I’m sad about leaving, and I’m especially going to miss the students and the English department teachers.

Q: How does Beaver compare to the other schools you have taught at?
A: I came from teaching at an all-boys catholic school for 8 years and teaching at boarding school the four years before that. And this is the opposite end of the spectrum, but it’s great. Going from all boys to co-ed isn’t really different, but it is proven that boys will participate more if they are alone. I believe that, if you engage the class, everyone will participate.

Q: Do you have a tattoo?
A: I don’t have one, but if I were to get one it would be a hand holding a skull, which is a Hamlet reference. When Hamlet looks at the skull he contemplates the fact that one day we will all be reduced to skulls, it’s common in all of our humanity. During life when you are not a skull, you have to be good to the people around you, so that they will remember you and your impact on each other will be meaningful.

Q: What sports did you play growing up?
A: I was a three-sport athlete through high school. I played football, basketball, and baseball. I played football at Middlebury College.

Q: Are there any interesting facts about you that you would like to share?
A: Ummm…In high school I had a flat top. Everyday I would wash it, then blow dry it with gel, blow it again, and then use wax to make it stick up. Not quite the same these days. I love puppets and Broadway musicals especially Wicked, Hairspray, and Rent. I also once coached women’s football!

Q: What is the story behind the baseball bat you always carry around with you?
A: My First year teaching, I needed a prop for class because I was doing something with puppets. It turned out I had an old bat lying around my apartment that I had since I was 9 years old. After class I was walking with the bat in the halls, and everyone was questioning it. I realized that if you do something just a little differently everyone is obsessed with it and wants to know the story behind it. So, since that day, throughout 13 years of teaching, I have always had it with me. Carrying it with me represents teaching, family, and sports, the three most important things in my life.

Q: What is the story behind the website you have for all of your students?
A: I wanted to make a good way for my students to have access to information on my class. My wife, who was a pro figure skater, and did Disney on ice for 7 years, took a web course designing web pages. When she stopped touring, she made a site for me. I have no idea how to do it on my own; it was all her. All I do is input the info each day, which I think is helpful for everyone (especially when I put extra credit on it for quizzes or tests!).

Mr. Camp has left a lasting impression on numerous Beaver students. Just ask Jessica Penzias ’08, who said, “Mr. Camp is without a doubt one of the best teachers I have ever had. I have always loved literature but now I have an increased passion for the study of literature. He is not only invested in his lessons, but also, he has a great passion for inspiring and befriending his students. I am so grateful to have met him.” Sarah Mink ’08 eagerly added, “Mr. Camp embodies progressive education at its best. His love for Lost and his innovative methods have left a lasting impression on all of his students.”

If you have not had the great opportunity of having Mr. Camp as a teacher, I would highly suggest introducing yourself. Unfortunately, he will not be back at BCDS next year. He was recently offered a job at St. Mark’s high school where he will teach English and be the Head Coach of their football team. He has been a great asset to the Beaver community and will be missed by everyone when he leaves.

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Responses

  1. I’m not sure if he likes biscotti or not.


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