The Baldwin Summer Program has a new director. Teddy Rohrs is taking the reins after director Rob Oliveri, 51, died suddenly on May 6, leaving the community struck with sadness.
“Rob has left a huge void in the Baldwin Community, and I will try my best to fulfill his shoes, and then some,” Rohrs said in a message on Facebook. “He was a coach, friend and mentor to many, including me. I wish to keep his legacy going through the Baldwin Summer Program.”
The annual program is operated by a nonprofit organization run by counselors and supervisors, which offers a variety of activities, including sports programs, music and arts classes and field trips to Adventureland. It’s open to students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade who live in Baldwin or a neighboring community. The program, also known as “camp,” runs from July 8 to Aug. 16 this year. The six-week program has operated out of Baldwin Park for 33 years, and roughly 150 to 200 campers take part each summer.
Rohrs, 31, who was born and raised in Baldwin, is well-acquainted with the program. He worked with the organization for 13 years before taking a hiatus to begin a teaching position at Grace Church School in Manhattan. Since 2013, he has worked as a phys. ed. teacher and after-school sports coordinator for the elementary school.
“Rob reached out to me and asked if I wanted to come back, and I said, ‘Of course,’” Rohrs told the Herald. “And that was it. I was always coming back before Rob passed away. I was planning to come back anyway.”
Elissa Kamerer, the Baldwin Summer Program president, said Rohrs was Oliveri’s right hand. “I’ve watched [Teddy] grow, and I always thought that he would be able to work well with Rob,” Kamerer said. “I’m just devastated [about Rob], but I see the light at the end of the tunnel with Teddy.”
“He was a very selfless guy,” Rohrs said, adding that Oliveri ran many youth sports programs in the community, including the Baldwin Little League and Long Island Royals. “He did a lot for the community, and he was like the guy behind the scenes — like an unspoken hero. Everyone who was involved in Baldwin sports knew who Rob was, and he pretty much sacrificed his own personal time for all of the athletes in Baldwin.”
While Rohrs plans to continue the activities and classes offered to students while Oliveri led the program, he said he aims to incorporate new elements, as well. “Rob ran a great program,” he said. “I think there was a lot of freedom that was given around, and mine’s going to be more structured and going to focus on the arts, music and physical education part. I want it to be more teacher-based because we’re going to do more scheduled art classes, music and physical education classes.”
He is aiming to be more inclusive, he said, because “I know not everybody loves doing sports. I want to improve the camp as much as possible — keep the traditions that Rob had but add my little twist to it.”
Rohrs also said working with the camp helped him choose his career path. He originally focused on physical therapy but enjoyed working with the children so much that he decided to shift his course to teaching phys. ed.
Rohrs said the camp has an open registration cycle, and anyone interested can contact the program by calling (516) 865-0482.
Rohrs “has really taken over the program,” Kamerer said. “He’s going to make things so much better. The program will never be the same, but hopefully, there will be new aspects to it. He has the same demeanor that Rob had — mild-mannered and to the point. He’s just a lovely young man. We’re lucky. I don’t think we could’ve gone on without him.”