No one at Camp To Belong Washington calls David-Lewis Randolph by that name.
When he first arrived in 2010, he became part of a team of four – camp’s own A team (named after the 1970s TV show),
who lugged campers luggage to and from the cabins and took on a myriad of tasks that made camp run smoothly. He instantly became BA and has been every year since.
“He’s always been whatever we wanted him to be and done whatever we asked of him,” said long-time camp Director Deb Kennedy.
BA said he came to camp in what was supposed to be a group of four people from Gateways for Youth and Families, seeking to fulfill their requirements for an internship as they learned job skills.
“I was the only one of the four who showed up,” BA laughed. He showed up – and never left.
“From the time I got there, it just felt like a family,” he said.
BA is one of seven siblings. He and three of the other siblings were close. But he had never met his three oldest sisters, until he came to camp and saw the importance and strength of the sibling bond. He reached out to establish a connection.
“Now all of us are super close,” BA said. “There was like a part of me missing.”
BA has always been a great counselor, especially with teen-age boys who feel comfortable talking to him, Deb said.
“I’ve seen him having fun with all the kids,’” said Sarah Stochel, a veteran counselor and now a Board member with the organization.
“He’s fun loving and has a lot of energy. But he can sit with a kid and have a conversation.“
His role in camp grew to the point he is leading camp songs, helping emcee at the often-raucous mealtime activities and just having fun with the campers. He also has been president of the Board overseeing the organization – “I wanted to be part of camp to see how it came together.”
For several years he has brought bandanas to camp – much treasured by the campers. He also had printed at his own expense Camp To Belong baseball caps. When the kids are swimming in Horseshoe Lake, BA will join in, often carrying up to twenty kids who are climbing on his BA-sized body trying to dunk him.
"One of his most important qualities is his continued presence at camp," said veteran counselor and camp leader Emily Stochel.
“The great thing about him is showing up year after year,” she said.
Deb echoed those sentiments.
“BA literally is one of my favorite counselors of all time,” she said.
“He is just totally loyal to the program, the campers, the counselors and to me personally. He just has a great heart for kids, campers – everyone. He is just one of those counselors I literally feel is just like my family.”
BA was born and raised in western Washington and lives in Tacoma.
In his day job, BA is a project manager for a private company that works on water systems all over the country. He started with the Tacoma Water Department and grew into a leading expert in water works, traveling to job sites in the US. “Literally, I know everything about water from where it comes from to where it goes out,” he said,
BA is now 32 and the dad of Kamarrie, 12, who he has brought to camp to see the importance of sibling connections and perhaps carrying on her dad’s legacy.
His favorite part of camp is when all the kids get there and reunite with their siblings. He cannot imagine not being part of his camp family.
The slogan the 1970s A team show from which he got his nickname is “I love it when a plan comes together.” He lives that mantra.
“I just love watching the kids interact and just get to know their siblings, he said. “I love watching them come together.”