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Kelsey Peck: A Global Perspective

Wren Wertin/wren@vaildaily.com
Kelsey Peck is heading to Seattle University where she'll play soccer and study business.
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Kelsey Dayo Peck is a whirling dervish of plans, a perpetual motion machine. The 18-year-old never commits to anything halfway ” and she’s not gun-shy. Juggling three jobs, soccer, telemark, volunteer work and a full load at school, the only thing she skimped on this year was sleep.

“Kelsey’s really spunky,” says her sister Kendall, 12. “She loves to be in charge. She’s really funny, and she really, really loves her car. She named it Champ.”

Kelsey’s the oldest of five siblings, the daughter of Martha and Steve Teien and Marc Peck. “It will be quiet when she’s not around,” adds Kendall.

Kelsey graduated from Vail Mountain School last week, and is heading to Seattle University in the fall. She plans to complete a study of non-profits in the university’s business school. It’s no idle idea; she interned at the OK Corral this spring, and intends to remain involved during the summer. It’s part of Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall organization, which, at summer camps around the world, strives to build self-esteem and restore joy to children who suffer from serious illnesses.

Interning with the board of directors wasn’t the first time Kelsey had the opportunity to serve others. She traveled to India last year with Ethically Engaged Youth and the Dzi Foundation and, among other things, helped build toilets for a school. It was an eye-opening experience for her.

“I don’t think my main qualities have changed,” Kelsey explains. “But I’m more aware of what I have. I’m conscious of being a leader, of what others have and what we have. We’re very lucky here.”

In India, the villagers she met lived in a very different situation than she’s ever known. “They had to worry about how the next day was going to be, like whether or not they would have water,” she says. “The majority of our valley doesn’t have to worry about day-to-day factors like putting food on the table.” And yet living in poverty doesn’t mean people are unhappy. Kelsey was awed by the sense of community they have.

“They’re so focused on each other and helping build everybody up,” she says. They all have a bond and they don’t let anybody fall behind. Their lives aren’t simpler, but they know what to focus on when.”

She admires that. In addition to building the bathrooms for a hostel that served handicapped kids, they got to play with the kids. They took them to the river, played Frisbee and took photos.

“Kelsey is someone who’s really easy to look up to,” says her sister Maddie, 13. “She makes you want to be a better person. Last year she won the community service award, and that’s something I would like to do, too.”

Last week, at the VMS graduation ceremony, Kelsey was asked to give the community service award to this year’s recipient. She wrote her speech about the importance of being actively involved with those less fortunate, making a convincing argument for service. She didn’t know who the recipient was until just before the ceremony, in which she ended up having to award it to herself.

This summer she’s headed abroad again, this time to Nepal with Ethically Engaged Youth to work with a few girls’ schools. The group will teach English, build walls and do whatever else they’re asked to do. Traveling isn’t hard for Kelsey. “But I am kind of worried about the leeches,” she admits. “Apparently they fall down from the trees. We’re going during monsoon season.”

But when she’s on the soccer field, Kelsey’s anything but a sweet young thing. She serves her team. The girl is tough, rushing headlong into battle. Though she’s petite, her position of choice is center back.

“It’s where I can read the field the best,” she explains. “Most center backs are 5’8″ or taller, so I get knocked over a lot.”

She wants to play in college, but the coach wants her to bulk up ” a lot. She intends to spend the summer working intensively with Pete Petrovski on the field. Despite her ambition to save the world, she seems happiest on the soccer field. She’s played since she was four.

“I just love the game,” she says. “I love everything about it.”

“You do not want to get in her way on the soccer field,” Maddie says.

Kelsey’s excited to go to college, but it will be strange to be a one-and-only, after growing up in such a big household. She will miss her family fiercely, and they will miss her. Of all the siblings, who resembles their mother the most?

“Is that a trick question?” asks Kellyn, age 8. “Kelsey of course.”

And Kelsey’s learned a thing or two from Martha, who owns and teaches at Mountain Montessori in Avon. “I’ve developed a lot of good characteristics by being around her, like the importance of relationships. Plus she knows when to be strict and when to be goofy.”

Perhaps that, more than anything, will serve her best when she’s living in a large dorm, immersed in a new world. Kelsey Dayo Peck is one balanced kid.


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