Building Community One Burger at a Time

Guest post by Daniel DeSmit ‘16: It all started with a desire to promote and enhance the sense of community at Gilman — a small thought that turned into a self-sustaining organization. At the end of my sophomore year, students and families were supporting the lacrosse team against Gilman’s big rival, McDonogh. There was a cookout going on and I noticed that it brought people together in ways that went beyond the game. It enhanced the spirit of the crowd as well as encouraged the community to stay longer than they would have normally. Inspired by this, I came up with the idea of creating the BarBQ Club. The objective of the club is to provide great food and elevate school spirit, while raising money to invest in programs at Gilman and in the community beyond. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, nor could I imagine what it would become or all the things I would learn.

IMG_9252This club did not ease into its development like I had imagined originally; it went right to full speed. Before the start of my junior year, the BarBQ Club worked three days in a row feeding over 300 people at opening events such as a program for new students and their families as well as class orientations. After this cooking marathon, it was apparent that the club was fulfilling its mission: people were enjoying each other’s company as well as getting to know one another in a comfortable environment. Taking this jump start into the year, we set off to reach goals. As a club we pursued expanding our cooking abilities and brought in a smoker for pulled pork and chicken. We were told by multiple students that it was the best pulled pork they have ever had.

After a successful first year with the BarBQ club we raised several thousand dollars, and with the help of Gilman’s Business office, we purchased our very own smoker on wheels. We call it the ”Iron Hound.” It can fit a whole pig and has a front grill, a storage area, and a big warming box. The best part is its mobility. We can follow Gilman events on and off campus.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the BarBQ Club is being able to support the whole Gilman community. The club focuses on supporting students of different organizations. The club cooks for groups relating to academics, athletics, as well as the arts.

Running the club has been an exceptional experience. Through my experience, I have grown personally. I learned how to enhance people’s connection to their community. I realized that paying attention to details gives just about any pursuit a better chance at success. The club has given me the opportunity to work with school administrators, faculty, maintenance staff, security,as well as the entire student body. I have cultivated communication, planning, publicity,and  business skills. Thanks to the BarBQ Club I learned to hire, organize a workforce, plan events, purchase goods, promote and market a product, and balance a budget. I know how essential it is to maintain a brand.IMG_9253

The conversations I have had while we man the grill demonstrate the enjoyment and satisfaction the club has brought to the Gilman community. I am delighted with the spirit and camaraderie that have resulted from events we have organized. Successful clubs need conversations and my friends Buck Davies and Aaron Cranston who joined me in the pursuit to make this club a reality and I had them. Our student leadership was advised by faculty members Mr. John Schmick, Mr. Trevor Shattuck, and Mr. Troy Wilson.

The leadership of the BarBQ club is in place for next year and they are looking forward to carrying on the tradition. A tradition that will follow the latin phrase Ut Prosim (that I may serve). As the founding BarBQ club members graduate, we hope that this is just the stepping stone of many years of the BarBQ club at Gilman School.

So, Gilman Upper School Students: the challenge is to not be a chicken, come join the BarBQ club and “keep the fires burning”!





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