The Stone Ridge Community bids a fond farewell to Summer CampUs Director Angie Romano, whose career and dedication to Stone Ridge has spanned twenty-eight years.
When Ms. Romano joined Stone Ridge in 1995, her initial roles were as the first full-time athletic director, a coach for the varsity basketball team, and PE teacher. Just three years later, she had a dream—to create a summer camp where children can have fun, expand their horizons, and explore new interests with the same personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom that Stone Ridge provides during the school year. With the inspiration of Goal V, the Stone Ridge Summer CampUS was created, and Ms. Romano, as its founder, has led the camp with enthusiasm and joy for its entire twenty-five years.
Perhaps no one can better relay Ms. Romano’s impact than Christina Besozzi Cary ’01, who was chosen in 1997 to play varsity basketball during her First Academic year at Stone Ridge and considers Ms. Romano her friend and mentor. When asked about Ms. Romano, Christina lights up and describes her as “authentic, genuine, and driven.” “Ms. Romano brings a constant drive and dedication to everything she does to the point where you might mistake her for the energizer bunny,” explains Christina, who played basketball all four years and also worked for her at Summer CampUS. Of her dedication, Christina remarks, “Ms. Romano doesn’t know how to give one hundred percent. She only knows how to give one hundred and fifty percent or more. But, what is even more amazing about her is the positivity she consistently displays and the support she always provides to those around her. That’s one of the qualities that I think sets her apart and makes her someone that you just want to know and be around.”
There have been significant changes to Stone Ridge and the Summer CampUS over the decades. What started with 30 campers in its first year, the Summer CampUs now serves 300–400 children each summer. Ms. Romano is keenly aware of these improvements and describes an emotional moment last summer as she watched campers performing “The Lion King” in the new Cokie Boggs Roberts ’60 Theater. “It just hit me how far we have come. From a tiny little camp with no pool (we used to hose the kids off!), no Upper School building, no theater, no turf field, and no lunchroom—to this gorgeous new Mater Center and stage with lights, microphones, and props. It made me proud to see how far we have come while still retaining the essence of what makes our camp so special.”
Ms. Romano’s fondest memories include not just the fun times like Wacky Wednesdays, ice-cream socials, shaving- cream fights, and talent shows but also challenging times. Losing power and water in the 2012 derecho, a bear loose across the street at NIH, and construction-related changes kept her team united. “Weirdly enough, some of my favorite memories of camp are when our staff had to navigate these challenging times because it was then I saw what tremendous camaraderie and teamwork could do,” she says. “We had to think on our feet, make adjust- ments on the fly, and work together. It made me so proud to be a part of the camp team.”
Other cherished memories include: her “heart bursting” at the sight of her daughter Abby Romano ’19 singing at her first Feast Wishes in Grade 9 and then coming full circle and having the honor of presenting a diploma to Abby at graduation; watching dedicated basketball players grow into “absolutely wonderful women;” team spaghetti dinners; basketball trips to her hometown in New Jersey playing against her high school team and coach; and her husband Mark acting as the “unpaid assistant basketball coach” in the budget-strapped early years and helping her line fields on the weekends, move goals, tape ankles, and sweep floors.
Over the years, time and time again, Ms. Romano has witnessed the Stone Ridge community live out its Goals. “I will never forget how everyone came together to support my good friend and colleague, Kevin Duffy, as he battled cancer,” she notes. “It was truly watching our Goals come to life as our community walked with him on his final journey. The kindness, faith-filled outpouring of love and generosity will stay with me forever.” And, if she could go back and rename the camp, she’d change it to “Goal V Camp.” Ms. Romano explains, “Personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom is truly what our summer camp experience has been about for our campers for 25 years. We have been very intentional in our camp planning to allow campers to make choices and take chances all while growing their own sense of independence within a framework of safety, fun and learning. This ‘atmosphere of wise freedom’ at camp is only possible because of the quality and dedication of our amazing camp teachers and counselors, many of whom have worked side by side with me for many, many years. They are the heart and soul of camp, and I have been honored to be their ‘coach’ every summer.”
Witnessing these goals in action over the years and getting to know strong female Catholic role models profoundly impacted Ms. Romano’s faith. In 2007 she decided to go through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program, choosing Madeleine Sophie as her patron Saint name.
As for her retirement plans, she wishes to spend more time with family and friends in Maryland and New Jersey and seeks adventure in the great outdoors. “I want to climb mountains, raft rivers, zip on zip lines. I like nothing more than hiking the Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls on a cold, crisp day, and I look forward to getting back to doing more of the outdoor things I love to do.”
Ms. Romano feels an overwhelming sense of gratitude for her years at Stone Ridge. “What a privilege it has been to spend 28 years of my life with such wonderful colleagues, parents, campers, and players,” she avers. “I am grateful that Stone Ridge took a chance on an earnest 26-year-old and gave me the opportunity to grow not only the athletic department but also the encouragement and support to create and nurture Stone Ridge Summer CampUs into what it is today. It has not just been a job for me, but my passion, and I feel lucky to have had such a long career at such a special place.”
We wish Angie all the best in her next adventures.