Staff Spotlight: Merrowvista’s Carl Dugdale

Posted on

Carl Dugdale has traveled the globe during his 20-year career, working with youth in Germany, Austria, China, and most recently, California. His latest stop: New Hampshire, where he stepped into the role of Director of Programs at Merrowvista this month.

During his time at University of California Riverside, he helped establish Camp Highlander, a traditional award-winning college campus camp focused on social mobility, equitable access to the outdoors, and inclusion. He brings that same passion for cultivating capable, confident youth leaders to his new role at Merrowvista. Learn more about Carl, his thoughts on the Northeast, and his passion for youth development. 

Why did you want to take on the Director of Programs role at Merrowvista?
“The American Youth Foundation mission aligns very closely to the mission the team and I created at Camp Highlander in California in 2018. Important messages like equitable access to the outdoors and an environment of inclusion and diversity were present in the good work blended throughout AYF programming. When I look at the AYF, I see many ships sailing in the same direction, which means we can enact great positive change in our world.”

What was your career like before you came to Merrowvista?
“I loved running youth programming on college campuses, which aren’t traditional environments for such activities like camps. Before that, I spent time teaching English and directing camps on three continents.”

Why do you enjoy working with youth?
“Making small positive differences in the lives of young people is invaluable. I am also a big kid myself and love joining in activities.”

Tell us about your family. How has their transition from California to New Hampshire been?
“My wife Amy is a professor of comparative literature and Italian; she also has history in youth programming and was a camp director. Autumn (pictured above) is 6 and loves camp. Ivy, who is 1, will love camp once she is old enough to understand the concept! Amy, Autumn, and Ivy will be arriving properly in December, so the distance between us has been difficult, particularly for the girls. It will all work out in the end, though, once we settle.”

What were your initial impressions of Merrowvista when you first arrived on site?
“In the words of Robert Frost: ‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep.’”

The Canaan Valley is known for its beautiful scenery, lakes, and hiking. What are some of your favorite outdoor activities?
“I am a runner. I ran in the Mojave Desert for the last seven years, so I’m looking forward to some rain, a change of landscape, and lower temperatures.”

What else do you enjoy doing outside of work?
“I love spending time with my family, who are avid campers. We generally camp by the Pacific Ocean in California, so we are looking forward to some new spots out East. I also collect first-edition hardcover books and graphic novels, listening to vinyl, reading, and watching the mighty Blackburn Rovers FC play football (soccer).”

What is the last piece of media (book, podcast, article, TV show, movie, etc.) that left a lasting impression on you?
“If you haven’t watched the film Cinema Paradiso directed by Guiseppe Tornatore, I highly recommend it. There isn’t a better film about the journey through childhood to adulthood. Just magical.”

What is a little-known fact about you?
“My wife and I were camp directors in Germany, where we met and fell in love on Lake Konstanz.”