9/13/2011 11:37:00 AM In chapel or A-frame, former camp director led with love
Msgr. Carl Gimpl
CYO/Camp Howard photo
The dining hall, now named Gimpl Hall.
Clarice Keating Of the Catholic Sentinel
Msgr. Carl Gimpl remembers carrying out tasks at Camp Howard that he’d never imagined as a young seminarian would someday be a part of his priestly duties – chopping wood, building A-frame cabins and correcting teen counselors who veered out of line.
From his first year of priesthood after a 1955 ordination at the age of 26, and for nearly three decades to follow, the venerable priest served cheerfully as the director of Camp Howard and CYO.
Despite the challenges, most of the Camp Howard years were a charmed time, said Msgr. Gimpl.
“When things went really well, kids were enjoying themselves and growing,” he said. “That was beautiful.”
Msgr. Gimpl has received both the Spirit of CYO award and the Legend award from Camp Howard. He has said that spiritual aspect of the camp is indeed a powerful tool for both evangelization and ecumenism.
When Msgr. Gimpl was first assigned the directorship, he had very little experience with children; his Boy Scout years were the extent of his familiarity with the camp atmosphere. But he just jumped right into the ministry, following the advice of his parents.
“My mother and father always told us to do the best we could with those around us,” he said. “With respect to the campers, I always worked hard for them and did the best I could.”
There are a few campers and staff who will always remember Msgr. Gimpl for his incredible hotdog eating abilities.
Father Don Buxman, vicar for clergy for the Archdiocese of Portland, met the older priest when he was a 12-year-old camper and then, later, worked for him in the camp kitchen when he was a seminarian. He remembers Msgr. Gimpl’s love for hotdogs went so far that the older man was known to suck on them frozen as he drove home from supply runs into town.
“I remember there was one afternoon when I believe he ate 18 hot dogs, then had dessert, and then washed it down with another hotdog,” Father Buxman said, a memory from his time as a cook.
Father Buxman also recalls the older priest excusing himself from staff social time every night to go down to the chapel for prayer, never skipping a day.
“He is a good man,” Father Buxman said. “He gave himself entirely to whatever he was doing, whether he was presiding at prayer or, on top of a building, putting on a new roof.”