Bill and Susan Yaddof were among the first class of fifth-graders to visit Cispus Outdoor School 50 years ago. From being high school counselors to becoming adult volunteers, there is rarely a year at Cispus that goes by without a Yaddof at the camp.
“We absolutely believe in the program,” Susan said in a news release. “It meant so much to us as kids; it meant so much to me as a counselor. We hope that our daughters might one day want to go as volunteers too. We’re thankful for getting to do it all of these years and to get to continue.”
Volunteer work for Bill and Susan starts at home as Bill makes all of the “wood cookies” — awards given to kids when they complete various tasks — a duty he has taken on since his daughters were in school.
“I made about a thousand a year,” Bill said in the release. “But I guess it adds up over time, with 800 or more each year for 15 years.”
The slices of fir tree “wood cookies” are special reminders of time at Cispus that kids can keep for years. Bill still has the original wood cookies he earned when he went to Cispus in fifth grade, and he still wears them to camp.
When the Yaddofs began volunteering, they would help out wherever possible. Susan enjoyed helping with crafting and making bracelets while Bill had experience with the Boy Scouts and taught students to build fires and emergency shelters.
They each take a week of their vacation time from their full-time jobs to volunteer. They don’t see each other much as Susan stays in the girls cabin and Bill stays with the boys.
“We see each other in passing, while he’s going to one activity and I’m going to another,” Susan said in the release. “We do kiss each other good night each night. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
This year, the Yaddofs are inheriting flag duty from Tevis Laspa, another long-time volunteer of Cispus who is retiring this year. Bill works with the students on flag holding and etiquette, while Susan shares stories of flag history at the flag raising and lowering each day.
Both of them think Cispus is a vital part of the community in Ridgefield, and the fact that it continues year after year is something that makes our school special.
“We see how important it is for these kids, to be outside and exploring, going on hikes, studying water and soil and plants,” they said in the press release. “Even being without their parents, some of them for the first time ever. It’s a rite of passage. We love being a part of that growth. It’s a tremendous gift to us.”