Celebrating Two Decades of Nick Musciano!
By Thomas Joyce, ’90, ’00’s
I met Nick Musciano 23 summers ago, on Opening Day 1998, as he climbed out of his mom’s car. He was brand new to Birch Rock, and it was my first day as Head Counselor. Since that fateful morning, I have come to rely on Musc as my living and breathing Birocapedia, as a barometer for the “pulse” of camp, and as a great friend. I could not have predicted any of these things. I remember Nick as a quiet and less than gregarious kid, who needed a phone call or two in those early years to convince him that he should return for another summer at the Rock.
It was in that first summer that I changed his name, from Nick Musciano, to Nicolas the Italian Stallion Musciano, during Morning Bell. He would often come bounding out of lower camp, preparing to battle any fictional foe in his pre-Flagpole shadow-boxing match. Since that first summer, it’s been clear how much stock Musc puts in friendships. When the country entered our social lockdown this spring, Musc rallied our far-flung community to show strength, determination and mutual support. Before or after Birch Rock’s virtual campfires, Musc would reach out to the staff and set up a zoom hang-out session. Musc, as ever, was the catalyst that brought together friends from the ages of 18 to 50+.
As Head Counselor on campus, Musc must both take the pulse of the camp and help maintain a full day of positive energy. He does so by making every Birch Rocker feel like one of his oldest friends. When Erik, Mike, Brian, or Rich wonder if something will be a hit at camp, Musc is the first person consulted. He knows what will be popular and what tweaks are needed to make ideas even better. He regularly stays up on the Hill after evening activity to play basketball with a rotating cast of upper campers. When anyone wants to play a game, Musc can be counted on to join in.
After completing his undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of South Carolina, Musc worked at a pediatrician’s office – but only after the doctor agreed to give him time off during the summer so he could return to camp. Musc discovered his passion at camp and, like so many Birch Rockers, it’s teaching. He is a born educator. Fortunately for all of us who know him through camp, and all of his students at Catawba Trail Elementary School, in Elgin, South Carolina, Musc finished his MAT in Elementary Ed and now is able to teach full-time and still return to Birch Rock every summer. An added bonus for many staff members is that Musc grew up in Falmouth, Maine, where his parents still live. Frank and Dana have hosted countless counselors on days off, and many Birch Rockers consider the entire Musciano family an integral part of their Birch Rock experience.
In his time off from the classroom or Birch Rock, Musc is invariably outdoors, hiking, exploring local parks, and playing basketball, naturally. To keep himself sharp for rainy day activities during the summer, Musc is a total trivia nut, with particular expertise in sports, VHS movies, and Blink 182 trivia categories.
This summer, we celebrated “Musc Day” to honor his 20 tremendous summers at the Rock. The big day began with the reading of a Musc Proclamation and the tapping of the ceremonial sword on his shoulders. Throughout the day, we heard laudatory citations read by current campers and staff members that had been written by former campers, staff and his family. There were three consistent themes: number one, Musc’s smile is infectious. His megawatt grin can instantly lift ANYBODY’s flagging spirits. Second, Musc is one of the kindest people you wilever meet. He personifies Help the Other Fellow. Finally, Birch Rockers are richer in friendships because of him. Musc wants all of us to be connected in one ever-widening circle of inclusion and friendship.
Although I saw him just a few short weeks ago, and we recently spoke on the phone, I am greatly looking forward to the next time I hear the Morning Bell and I get to bellow out “Nicolas, the Italian Stallion, Musciano!” I can picture Musc bounding out of lower camp (now Semanas cabin) with that incredible smile on his face, ready to take on the world.