Bridging the Gap: Inside Bridgton Academy’s postgraduate documentary project

A few weeks back, I introduced Bridgton Academy’s documentary project Bridging The Gap, in which Bridgton and the Wilkins family work to show how a family comes to choose a postgraduate high school experience for their son; how the experience works; and, what the postgraduate experience will mean to Cam in the long run.

I get to follow and share the project’s backstory- checking in with the Wilkins and Bridgton admission director Chrs Webb to see how the project is going and what everyone learns along the way- Documenting the PG Year through A Family’s Lens.

This is my first backstory post- an interview with Cam’s dad, Scott Wilkins, about the project’s beginnings.

1. How did you (the Wilkins) come to the project? How did the whole thing start?
Based on Bridgton’s annual tuition, we were looking for additional options beyond standard financial aid offered by the school to help offset the total cost to attend.

Collectively, Janine and I tossed around several ideas that we thought might interest the school. The initial concept was an idea Janine had where she and I would donate our time to recruiting efforts that Bridgton was involved in. Anything, from being a reference for parents of potential candidates, participating in recruiting fairs, or even serving on the board at Bridgton, we thought our time and positive perspective would be of value to Bridgton.

We approached Chris Webb with the idea and he was pleased that we reached out to the school. He indicated during an initial call that he would take our offer seriously and get back to us. A couple of weeks passed and we had another call with Chris where he outlined what he considered a better idea which essentially was the video project chronicling Cameron’s experience and outcome at Bridgton from the initial contact with the school until his first semester in college. We expressed deep interest and Chris said he would put the proposal/program in writing and forward it to us. It was a few weeks later when we received the package.

Our initial reaction to the “Bridging The Gap” project was positive. Yet, we had some reservations about the time commitment as well as how Cameron was going to react to the amount of effort on his part and the high level media exposure of being highly visible while he was at school. Basically, how comfortable would he be and how would his potential classmates react or even treat him? We voiced some of our concerns to Bridgton and they assured us that they would be on top of it and manage all the moving parts throughout the life of the project. After a few follow up calls with Bridgton (mainly, Chris Webb), we agreed to the final details.

2. Did you know anyone else who’d floated a similar idea to a school? Where’d y’all get the idea?
No, we were not aware of anyone else who approached Bridgton nor did they share that with us.

3. Did Bridgton’s receptiveness and enthusiasm surprise you?
Yes, we had no idea what to expect when we approached Bridgton with our original idea. So it definitely surprised us a bit as to how receptive Bridgton was to what we were proposing. Chris Webb seemed to be willing to listen to our initial thoughts and was intrigued by our enthusiasm. We don’t know whether Chris had already thought about the video series and considered us good candidates, or, our initial proposal prompted him to invent the “Bridging the Gap” idea. We don’t really know how the idea was born.

4. How are y’all feeling about the project now that you’re committed, and deeply into it?
Initially, we felt “how are we going to come up with enough material for a video series” and how hard, or easy, would it be to perform consistently in front of a camera? However, Scott came up with an initial outline, and content, to be covered for the first several videos so it made it a bit easier to film the excerpts.

We also asked ourselves “is anyone really going to watch these?”

Well, I guess they do. Two examples come to mind. When we were moving Cameron into the dorms, one of the moms recognized him and told us she had watched the first few episodes. She actually nicknamed Cam “Hollywood” which made us laugh. The second confirmation came at parents/homecoming weekend when we were told two families had visited Bridgton based on watching the videos which is what the videos were intended to achieve.

5. What are you most looking forward toward in the project? What seems most challenging at the start?
The challenging parts as I indicated are:
Could we come up with enough interesting material to video?
How comfortable would all of us be in front of the camera?
How many episodes were we really going to have to film
Lastly, as an 18 year old getting Cam to sit down and spend some time filming was a challenge.

We’ll be checking in with the Wilkins and Bridgton’s Chris Webb throughout “Bridging the Gap.”

Brian Fisher

A product of both private and public education, Brian Fisher served as a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and administrator at three different boarding schools. Brian also fills the role of Director of Development at Wolfeboro, The Summer Boarding School, in NH along with being a partner at AdmissionsQuest.

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