By David Voegele
Executive Director, Essex CHIPS

David Voegele

As if Vermont did not already have enough fun things to do in the middle of winter, the teen leaders at CHIPS last January introduced a new and unusual winter event to the Essex community – the Vermont Birdie-Bash! A variation of badminton, Birdie emphasizes festive fun and friendly competition.

Although Birdie is played indoors (like competitive badminton played throughout Europe and Asia, and in the Olympics), it is more similar to the family-fun badminton played in back yards across America. Birdie is an intergenerational sport with some quirky rules, where a 10 year old youth may be playing with (or against) a 70 year old senior. The inclusiveness of Birdie, in which players of all ages and skill levels can enjoy an athletic activity together, is consistent with the positive youth development approach embraced by CHIPS and other youth serving agencies. The support for this event, by the EWSD, local businesses, and parents, is further evidence of this community’s commitment to Quality Youth Development.

Payton Hoy

One local teen who seemed to enjoy herself immensely at the 2018 Birdie-Bash, was Payton Hoy, a 13 year old Essex Middle School student. Payton is an enthusiastic soccer and hockey player, so I asked about her impression of the Birdie-Bash last January. She responded, “I liked that the Birdie Bash brought people from Essex Chips and people from all over the Essex community together.” What a thoughtful response! Payton Hoy, a middle-school student, cited the community-building effect of the Birdie Bash. The event did in fact attract more than 100 players and supporters from the immediate Essex area, and beyond.

The second annual Vermont Birdie-Bash is scheduled for January 27th, at the Albert D. Lawton School. The 2019 Bash will consist of 3-4 distinct tournaments, each lasting for 75-90 minutes. Teams of three friends or family members will play a series of short games, after which there will be trophies awarded to the 1st and 2nd place teams. As importantly, however, “Wildcard Trophies” are awarded to teams and players for a variety of accomplishments such as tremendous teamwork, excited enthusiasm, and creative costuming. The Championship and Wildcard Trophies are awarded by the Czar of the tournament. Yes, each tournament of the Birdie-Bash is ruled by a Czar. Last year, those selected for these highly coveted positions of authority were State Representative Dylan Giambatista, Dominque Sweat (Co-Chair of the CHIPS Board of Directors) and Lindsay Going-Strong (another CHIPS Board officer). All excelled in this important executive role!

More information about the 2019 Vermont Birdie-Bash can be found at the CHIPS website ( Although players must pre-register, there is no registration fee. The event is supported by business sponsorships and donations generated by players. Proceeds of the event will benefit local youth. As Payton Hoy said, the 2018 Birdie-Bash “brought people from all over the Essex community together.” What a great way for the community to demonstrate its support for youth.