Ted B. Hilton’s quiet wisdom and absolute humility might have allowed him to fly under the radar (which Ted may have preferred), if not for his incredible track record of service on Frost Valley YMCA’s Board of Trustees. Ted began his tenure on the Board in 1972 when Frost Valley’s then Executive Director, D. Halbe Brown, requested that he join. He has been faithfully serving as a Trustee ever since – 46 years and counting.
Yet, when asked about his contributions to Frost Valley, Ted remained tightlipped; the very picture of self-effacement. When pressed, Ted explained, “When Halbe asked me to join the Board, I asked, ‘Why me?’ He said it was because I had so much experience, but I don’t know how my experience helped much.”
Ted credits his longevity on the Board to simply finding something he loves to do and sticking with it, though his history paints a clearer picture of his drive and dedication. His illustrious career as both a principal of the West Side Elementary School in Cold Spring Harbor, New York for 40 years and the Director of Deer Hill Camp for boys in New Hampshire for 52 years are a testament to his abiding commitment to fostering positive child development and his unwavering perseverance to achieve that endeavor.
Ted’s experience with and advocacy for summer camp stems from a long and distinguished familial history. His mother Mary Rose McLaughlin Hilton established, owned, and directed Plumfield School in Darien, Connecticut and Plumfield Camp in Center Harbor, New Hampshire. She owned and directed both until she passed them on to Ted’s sister, Jean Bush Hilton, in 1957.
Ted began attending a private camp at the age of nine, missing only two summers as a young man when he was in the Navy Air Corps during World War II. Upon his return and driven by his passion for summer camp, he established Deer Hill Camp for Boys.
“I started my own camp in 1948 and I have always been convinced that it was an important part of education. It’s the reason I became interested in school teaching,” Ted says.
As an elementary school principal of West Side Elementary School, Ted was instrumental in bringing his school’s 8th grade class to Frost Valley for its Environmental Education Program. When 8th grade was moved to the high school, Ted safeguarded the trips against dissolution by advocating for their continuation with the 6th grade classes. Because of his efforts, the 6th graders were able to continue visiting Frost Valley for many years.
In a 2013 interview, Ted describes his passion for Frost Valley, saying, “The greatest gift Frost Valley has given, in my opinion, is the tremendous impact it’s had on all the children that come here. I’ve been involved in camping all my life and I see what camping and outdoor education can do for children. I brought my sixth graders up to Frost Valley for more than 30 years, and I see the impact that it has had. I have always been impressed with the staff and what they accomplish not only in the school trips, but in summer camp as well.”
Ted was instrumental in brokering the partnership between the Tison family and Frost Valley. As an intermediary, who has taken great care in nurturing this relationship, he provides a valuable and unique perspective because his interest in Frost Valley permeates beyond its geographical boundaries to the neighboring community as well. He can be faithfully counted on to offer opinions and insights that ensure Frost Valley remains sensitive to the concerns of local residents.
Ted has also been a staunch supporter of Frost Valley’s Environmental Education Program. “Frost Valley could not have evolved into the year-round facility it is today, making it the flagship YMCA in the world, without Ted, who has always championed the Environmental Education Program,” says Jerry Huncosky, CEO of Frost Valley YMCA. “Ted was hugely instrumental in advocating for its expansion and enhancement.”
For his four decades of dedicated service as a member of Frost Valley’s Board of Trustees; for his unwavering commitment to ensuring that Frost Valley’s legacy of providing quality outdoor educational and recreational opportunities for all carries on in perpetuity; for generously sharing his extensive professional expertise as an educator to guide Frost Valley in its pursuit of cultivating a culture of excellence in youth development and social responsibility, for all these reasons and more, Frost Valley’s Board of Trustees is honored to induct Ted B. Hilton into the Frost Valley YMCA Hall of Fame.