Sandi Lando Welch, Founder and Executive Director
Sixty years ago, my parents gave me the gift of overnight camp. When my dad died fifteen years ago, he and my mom were just beginning to understand how profound the camp experience was for me. It wasn’t their fault - it was mine. I didn’t share camp.
I didn’t have the words to tell them I was two different people when I was younger – the ’home’ person who did as my friends did, and the camp girl who reveled in finding a world that fit me, really fit me. Fortunately, I found the words before my dad died.
I held fast to my camp self for 50 years before founding Circle Camps and now I seldom stop talking about this remarkable organization. I want everyone to know that even though I unpack my camp stuff after every Circle program, I never really put it away. I want to share that the best gift from my parents was making available to me two different worlds and finally understanding that both would always be with me.
We give that same gift to our campers. We send them home with the knowledge, the deep-in-their-hearts knowledge that Circle will be there for them. I thrive on sharing my Circle world. It is a remarkable one, filled with love and hope and vision for the future. What amazing work we are doing...
I am a long distance cyclist. Years of riding culminated in Cycle for Circle 2019, my 740 mile, 15 day, $100,000 fundraising ride from Circle of EKC in Morgantown, West Virginia to Circle of Tapawingo in Sweden, Maine. Digging in the dirt is a passion of mine; I have been a Master Gardener for almost 20 years.
Peter Emmons, Chair
After graduating from Bowdoin College, I went to Emory School of Law where I met my wife Susan. From the day I met her, Susan talked about her summers at Camp Tapawingo, what her years there meant to her and how she wished for a reason to go back to her camp. In 2001, her former camp friend Sandi Welch called to ‘invite’ Susan to join her start and plan for Circle Camps, and Susan got her wish.
She and I were first-year counselors at Circle Camps’ pilot program Circle of Tapawingo. Since then, our whole family has taken part in Circle. Both of our daughters, Lane and Ricky have volunteered at Circle and they are deeply committed to and supportive of the camp and it’s purpose. Lane is now one of the Directors. I was one of the original directors of the Circle Summit Leadership Program and am pleased that the program has become the primary source of new, young counselors for the Circle Camps programs.
Susan was a volunteer at Circle for 15 years, developed the camps’ Land Sports Programs, and went on to become Chair of the Board of Directors. She and I were married for 31 years before her death from cancer in March of 2016. Ricky, Lane and I continue to celebrate her life by surrounding ourselves with all the wonderful campers, counselors, staff and directors that make Circle a very special place - a place where girls can also celebrate life after experiencing a loss of a parent.
Board of Directors
Four summers ago, Sandi Welch sent me an email asking me to be the dance instructor for Circle of EKC. The email turned out to be one of the best gifts I have ever received. Dance at Circle Camps is a chance to let go, to express emotions of life through music and movement. It naturally fits into Circle Camps program designed to build confidence, self-awareness, self-expression, fun, and team building.
The gift that I received from a simply worded email invitation to enter into an enriching and rewarding magical experience of Circle Camps is very difficult to describe. Being a part of the Circle Camps experience has exposed me to an understanding of the power of strength and healing through this program. It has given me an awareness and respect of the benefits that a week at camp can instill in these young girls and young women. It teaches them to forge ahead and fly.
I began my involvement with Circle Camps by writing checks to contribute to what I determined to be an excellent organization that fulfills an important need. By volunteering, my connection has grown, and so has my commitment.
I am very proud and honored to be a part of Circle Camps and to serve as a member of the Board of Directors.
This summer, through many hours of shared gardening with Sandi Welch, I learned more about Circle Camps and its beginning and growth. I was intrigued and inspired by Sandi’s passion.
I never went to camp. Some of my friends would leave for weeks at a time to come back with talk of new experiences and new friends. There was such excitement in their chatter. They talked about fellow campers and would keep in touch. They couldn’t wait to go back. Some went on to become camp counselors.
When Sandi approached me about becoming involved with Circle Camps, the time felt right for me at this point in my life. My sister-in-law passed away at age 53 leaving two young girls. They are young adults today trying to find their way without their mother. I wish they would have attended Circle Camps. I think it could have made a difference in their healing and grieving. My brother-in-law also passed away (different families) that same year leaving two boys and a girl. Again, I believe my niece could have benefitted from being around others going through the same thing.
I am married with 3 children and became a grandmother this year. I have many years’ experience with not-for-profit organizations, serving on committees and chairing events. I am honored and proud to be a part of the Circle Camps organization.
Sandra Garbowicz David
I am passionate about Circle Camps. With more than 30 years of camp and leadership experience, I am no stranger to summer camp, Circle Camps, or leadership positions. I am thrilled to be back in full force at Circle Camps and on the Board of Directors.
My balance of being a public-school educator and summer camp counselor spans more than 20 years. As the years passed, I earned a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and moved out of the classroom. I acquired an elementary principal position. At the same time, I joined Circle Camps as a counselor and one of the initial Board members.
During the early years at Circle Camps, I spent time as a bunk counselor and life guard. The middle years found me taking photos for the annual slideshow. After a short hiatus to complete a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, I returned to Circle Camps.
The balance is back for me. I am not only serving on the Board of Directors for Circle, but I am taking the oldest campers enrolled in the Leaders in Training (LIT) program on a five-day expedition filled with hikes, trees, and mac and cheese. I strongly believe that one of life’s most rewarding experiences and precious gifts is serving campers.
Outside of camp, I am the Director of Teaching and Learning for the Beaver Dam Unified School District. My many passions lead to large and small adventures. I call southern Wisconsin home.
Some things are meant to be. This is how I feel about the wonderful opportunity to serve as a Board member for Circle Camps. I first learned about Circle Camps while having lunch with Mary Riddle. I know Mary from our years of working at The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta. During our lunch conversation, Mary happened to mention how excited she was about her work at Circle Camps. I exclaimed that I have a passion for camp.
Camp has been a part of my life since I was a young girl. The friends I met at camp are still a part of my life. During my summers, I attended an overnight camp for six weeks in the Allegheny mountains of Virginia. The experiences I had there have greatly influenced my life and I am grateful for the things I learned there and the lifelong friendships I made.
A second bit of irony is that Sandi Welch lives in Pittsburgh and I grew up in Pittsburgh. After college I lived in Boston for four years, Virginia for three years, and then I moved to Atlanta where I’ve lived for over 35 years. I retired from
The Coca-Cola Company in 2015 after 25 years.
I love travel, golf, tennis and watching many professional sports. I enjoy meeting friends for dinner and one of my passions is rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It turns out that a simple mention of a topic at lunch has turned into a very special opportunity for me. I’m very honored to be a Circle Camps Board member and am very excited about what lies ahead.
I never went to summer camp when I was a child. In fact, I never even heard of summer camp nor did I know anyone who went to summer camp. I suppose it was just a fluke and that my friends and I were happy as clams wasting away our summer hours doing what teens do.
My limited knowledge of camps changed once I had children. My daughters have attended a variety of camps over the years and each time they enormously enjoyed their adventures into different realms with different friends. I sit here today a strong proponent of the benefit of spending time at camp. I am doubly happy that a camping opportunity like Circle Camps exists. I lost my father when I was a teenager and know well the hurt and confusion that such a loss creates. I love that there are organizations out there that serve this very fragile population during a very fragile time in their lives.
Peter Emmons introduced me to Circle Camps via a random conversation. I don’t think he knew at the time that I had been a longtime supporter of Kate’s Club, an Atlanta-based organization that locally serves children who have lost a parent. I am glad he made me aware of Circle Camps, and I have been an enthusiastic supporter ever since. I am honored to have been asked to serve on the Board of Directors and look forward to helping Circle Camps thrive and expand.
When working, I spend my hours picking stocks and managing investment funds for Artisan Partners Asset Management. When not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends taking advantage of life’s bounty. The more travel, the better.
When Sandi Welch asked me if I would be interested in becoming involved with Circle Camps, I was delighted. But I also had to smile because of the irony of being asked to get involved with camp – any camp for any reason. When I was eight years old, my older sister, Helen, was going to Camp Stoney Mill for the second year. I begged my mother to let me go – not because I really had even thought about what camp entailed, but only because this would be the second summer Helen got to go away for two weeks to camp. If she was going, I was going! My mother agreed and off Helen and I went to camp-- my one and only camping experience: I cried every day for two weeks. I don’t think I ever stopped crying. I was homesick!! I embarrassed my sister daily (she loved camp and went every year until she was 18!). I never went to camp again!
I grew up in southern Virginia and by the time I went away to college, I was over my homesickness. After graduation, I moved to Atlanta and in 1970 began working for
The Coca-Cola Company. In 1998, I was elected Vice President of the Company by the Board of Directors, in addition to serving as Director of the group responsible for the supply chain of more than 4,000 confidential ingredients used in the production of all the products - worldwide - of the Company. I retired in 2016 after the most incredible and wonderful 45-year career I could ever imagine. In the not-so-distant past, I completed several marathons; currently I am an enthusiastic half-marathon runner.
A few years after moving to Atlanta, I met Susan and Peter Emmons. They became dear friends to Bill (my husband of 43 years) and me. From them, I learned of Circle Camps and from the beginning, I thought how wonderful for a young person who has lost a parent to be able to spend a week at camp surrounded by others who understand.