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Takodah Alumni Spotlight: Dotty Seiter

Sarah Cunningham — March 29, 2024


Dotty Seiter

Dotty as a Cabin Leader in 1970

Years at camp: 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1969-71; family camp 1981-2005 and 2007, 2015-2017 | CT: 5 (and 37 combined summers!)*
LIT Year: 1966

Staff positions held at Takodah:

I was a leader at Takodah 1969-71. 1970 and 1971, I was on staff for the whole summer, working in the kitchen during set-up and boys’ sessions. Summer 1971 I was Monadnock Division Head.

How were you introduced to Takodah?

Oscar Elwell was my maternal grandfather’s cousin. My mother and her two siblings attended Takodah. When my generation came along, there was no other camp than Takodah! My granddaughter, Caroline Peery, and I have spent considerable time creating a family tree showing who in our extended family, starting with Oscar Elwell, has taken part in Takodah programing. *I’m including my years at Takodah here. 1959(9 years old), 1960, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1969-71; family camp 1981-2005 and 2007, with my husband and children, and several years solo; family camp 2015-2017, with my daughter, my son-in-law, and my two granddaughters. *I think that adds up to 37 summers of participation in programing, but since those years included several of what were called short-term sessions of one week, along with decades of family camp, only 5 of my summers qualified for traditional CTs.

Did you attend college, and if so, where and what did you study?

I attended Connecticut College, earning a BA in English in 1972.

What do you do for work?

I have a private one-to-one tutoring practice that I run from my home, working with students of all ages with language-based learning challenges and/or organizational and executive function needs.

What moment in your career are you most proud of?

I don’t know that I have a single career moment of which I’m most proud. What has always lifted, nourished, and energized me in my career is the relational aspect of my work, i.e. the academic partnership that develops with each student.

Did your time at Takodah influence your career, if so, how?

My time at Takodah strengthened and affirmed my interest in working with children. I secured a teaching certificate as part of my studies at Connecticut College but came out of my student teaching experience not wanting to pursue a job in education. However, when I commented in an offhand manner to a fellow student teacher that I thought I was more of a camp counselor than a teacher, my situation changed. She suggested I consider applying to work in the summer program at Landmark School, a private school on the North Shore in Massachusetts for children with language-based disabilities, then just finishing its inaugural year as a school. I did apply, finding a setting that had many of the same elements as Takodah—strong core values, tremendous respect for children, and excellent support and training for staff. I worked at Landmark as a teacher and supervisor for many years, after which I transitioned to a private tutoring practice.

Are there any skills or traits you gained at Takodah that you use in your professional life?

My time at Takodah, whether as a Cherokee (Buffalo) Division short-term camper, a leader, a division head, a family camper with my husband and children, a family camper attending without family, or a family camper with my adult daughter, my son-in-law, and my granddaughters, affirmed the value and gift of meeting each individual exactly as they are. As a result, I’ve practiced that value in all walks of life.

Are there any specific memories from your time at Takodah that are still impactful to you?

Dotty in 2024, holding a painting of camp she did in 2015

My memories of my time at Takodah are actively impactful—the community building, the laugh-out-loud vulnerability of Takodah Follies, the tender vulnerability of Candlelight, creating no-frills-needed fun out of anything and everything, the crunch of pebbles underfoot while walking down to the waterfront, Uncle Oscar’s resonant voice and power-of-positive-thinking, being out in the fresh air more hours than not every day, singing at full volume as a whole camp while clearing dishes in the dining hall, starting every day with “God Has Created a New Day” and the “Give Me Clean Hands, Clean Words, Clean Thoughts” prayer, coming together at dinner to sing “Now the Day is Over” to piano accompaniment, and ending the day—after singing Taps—with Uncle Oscar’s saying, “Good night, Takodians,” and our saying in unison in reply, “Good night, Uncle Oscar, good night, Aunt Frances.” One particularly cherished recent memory: Following attendance at Girls’ Session 4 in summer 2023, my granddaughters Caroline and Emmy spent a night at my home in MA en route back to their home in VA. They peppered me with questions about Takodah back in the day and I peppered them with questions about Takodah 2023. At one point I opened my Takodah song book and we sang our hearts out for a good hour! I loved how the difference in our ages was of no consequence as we became as one and embodied all that is ageless and timeless about being Takodah born Takodah bred. Even as we were sifting through some of my CT memorabilia together as we sang, each time we started a new song we had no choice but to do the hand motions! The best!!!