When I stepped off the bus at Camp Bil-O-Wood in 1995 I was an athletic and energetic young boy unsure of his decision to spend the summer away from home. As eager as I was to start the season I lacked some confidence and social skills that many kids are wanting of early in life. The first weeks were tough but Uncle Carl Wahl’s leadership and the new friendships I formed in my cabin had me hooked for summers to come. The confidence and socialization I experienced at Bil-O-Wood were unmatched by any other environment at home. I built life long friendships and, more importantly, I learned how to thrive in a team environment. The canoe trips and wilderness experiences offered at camp taught commitment, selflessness, social skills, and mental toughness.
When I entered the service in 2010 I began a rigorous curriculum of training, which lasted almost two years. Attending US Army Ranger School and Airborne School, among others, it became apparent to me how much summer camp had profoundly influenced my leadership potential. Traits such as integrity, communication, fortitude, selflessness, and creativity were immediately more accessible because of the experiences at Bil-O-Wood that shaped my development. The lessons and adventures that broadened my horizons at camp helped prepare me to lead others in much more severe situations. In November of 2012 I deployed to Eastern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a Platoon Leader. Now, as a Captain, I continue to lead Soldiers and shoulder greater responsibilities. Not a day goes by that I don’t reflect fondly on my summers at Bil-O-Wood. Camp was where I was given the opportunity to experience the outdoors, build relationships with a diverse group people, and realize my full potential.
Uncle Sy Spinelli is currently serving as a Captain in the United States Army Infantry in the 101st Airborne Division. He lives outside Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Aunt Alisa (Wilcox) Spinelli and their dog Tucker. They are expecting their first child, a baby boy, towards the end of March.