Marc White ’80 has spent nearly his entire adult life at camp. Fueled by his mother’s tales of a great Vermont summer camp experience during her youth, the Oberlin, Ohio-born White headed to Kutsher’s Sports Academy in Monticello, N.Y. (it was later moved to western Massachusetts in 2008), after Denison, responding to the camp’s notice in The New York Times Magazine that it was looking for counselors. Captain of the Denison basketball team in his senior year and under contract to play for a Venezuelan professional team in the fall, he needed a place to work and to stay in shape over the summer. He hasn’t been far since.
When he arrived as a counselor in 1980, Kutsher’s was a basketball mecca, a destination for both aspiring professionals seeking training and established players looking to stay sharp. Every year, the Maurice Stokes Game—originally planned as a fundraiser for a player grievously injured during a game— was held at the camp, with legends like Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar going head-to-head. “It was even bigger than the All-Star game,” says White, who became camp director in 1991.
But Kutsher’s also offered expertise in other sports, including volleyball, golf, and lacrosse for men and women. “The difference between us and a regular sports camp is that we try and keep the traditional feel of a summer camp,” says White. The main common interest among campers is that they are interested in sports. Very few are elite, but they all have an enthusiasm for play.”
Kutsher’s still remains a summer destination for professional athletes. Former All-Star shortstop Wil Cordero, whose wife is a former camper, served as a first-time coach while his children attended the camp. Tony Campbell, who won an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1988 and coaches at a prep school in Brooklyn, has worked there for the past two years. But White says that star power alone won’t carry a summer. “We’ve had big names walk out onto the court in sandals and shorts and say to the kids, ‘Ask me some questions,’” says White. “Kids are thrilled to see a big name, but they’re more thrilled when they have someone who can really work with them.”
Running Kutsher’s—which recently opened a camp in the Dominican Republic—has become a family business. White and his wife, Caroline—whom he met in 1984 when she started at Kutsher’s as a counselor— bought the camp from the Kutsher family in 2004. Their daughter, Rachel (one of their three children), manages recruiting and social media marketing from a satellite office in Florida. “My family has grown up in camp,” says White. “It’s our Camelot.”