At Brewster, We Play With Purpose

At Brewster, We Play With Purpose
Meredith Fidrocki

A deeply meaningful (and fun!) part of the Brewster experience is the learning that happens outside structured hours in the classroom or on the sports field. From beloved Brewster traditions and service opportunities to campus activities and local excursions, our campus life programming in the evenings and on weekends is designed with intention.
Our offerings are all about building community within community and creating space for students to grow as they discover what a “life of purpose” looks like for them.
We sat down with Assistant Head of School for Campus Life James Reilly to learn more about our many activities, and the meaning behind them.
Life at Brewster
“At Brewster, we’re embedded in a town, which is unique,” Mr. Reilly notes. “It gives our students another perspective of being part of something bigger than themselves,” whether it’s volunteering at a canned food drive, attending a local youth group, or grabbing a smoothie to enjoy at the Wolfeboro town docks as they take it all in.

Evenings and weekends at Brewster are filled with on-campus activities like coffee houses, dodgeball, crafting, and movies. Off-campus offerings include community service opportunities, skiing and riding at the local mountain, trips to Portland, Maine, shopping excursions, and more.
In warm weather, staff bring floats to the beach so students can enjoy a dip in Lake Winnipesaukee. And when the ice melts in the spring, the boldest (and then undoubtedly, coldest) members of our community brave the weekly Polar Plunge.

Annual traditions like the Quad Cup, Winter Carnival, and Random Acts of Kindness Week promote a sense of even deeper connectedness on campus. For New Hampshire Day, a new tradition this year, students learned about the state where they live, visiting nearby Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, hiking Rattlesnake Mountain, or getting lost in the Moulton Farm corn maze.
Purposeful Planning

“To be intentional and purposeful with what we're doing, why we’re doing it, and when we're doing it—it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes planning and preparation from the Deans’ team and faculty and staff,” Mr. Reilly says.
“For example, we schedule community dinners around busy times like finals week, when excitement can be high,” Mr. Reilly explains. Community dinners—a favorite of Mr. Reilly’s and many Brewster students—bring campus together to enjoy a formal dinner with seating assigned across grade levels so diners can connect with new faces.

“It's a time to pause and remember what it's all about—that’s something we do really well here,” Mr. Reilly notes. “Brewster leans into our community core values of respect, responsibility, independence, and interdependence. It’s about taking a whole lens of what our community is doing 24 hours a day, seven days a week. How are we supporting students so that they're in a place to be successful?”
While planning is key, Mr. Reilly notes, it’s also important to leave openings for students to suggest and direct their own programming, guided by thoughtful leadership training rooted in Brewster’s values.
The Student Voice
“What I love about Brewster is the agency we give students,” says Mr. Reilly, recalling how students founded a Mountain Biking Club (now offered as a popular interscholastic sport), or how students from the Environmental Club recently collaborated with campus partners and local farmers to educate the Brewster community about sustainability.

“Through leading the Environmental Club, I have been given the opportunity to strengthen my leadership skills,” Liam Fahey ’24 shares. “I have also been given the opportunity to collaborate with students to create change on our campus. Through working with my peers, I have been opened up to a wide range of perspectives, which has helped me to think globally about how my actions are able to impact my community.”
Liam notes that, as a day student, he’s actively engaged with campus life: “On weekends, I come in and enjoy the activities that Brewster has to offer. Throughout the week, I participate in a multitude of events.”
“Day students have full access to all activities and events,” Mr. Reilly echoes.
Ellery Gnazzo ’24, a senior prefect, shares the personal growth she’s experienced through community service opportunities at Brewster: “Volunteering with Best Buddies, the most vital benefit I received was learning to appreciate community service and how giving acts of service can improve your own identity, and even just improve your own happiness. I was also able to connect with people around our community, and seeing them in town or around campus during our Unified Sports games allowed me to expand my community beyond Brewster, which was a gift.”

Mr. Reilly notes, “It's a collaborative relationship—we get to participate in the community, and the community participates with us, making Brewster this one larger space to live and work in.” 
Reflecting on Brewster campus life, he adds, “As we're preparing diverse thinkers for lives of purpose, it is also about enjoying what they do. We want to support students in what their purpose might be, all within the framework of what we do as an institution.”