Chris Uttenreither and his family moved to Millsboro, DE from New Freedom, PA in 1996. He graduated from Cape Henlopen High School in 1998 and then moved to Newark for Computer Science studies at the University of Delaware.
After college, Chris provided technical support and wrote software for over a decade before returning to Rehoboth Beach in 2014. Now he’s self-employed as a freelance developer doing business as First State Apps & Web. He will never be too old for video games and in his spare time he helps plan Rehoboth Beach’s first Bear Weekend.
Chris resides in Rehoboth Beach, along with his dog Drake, “the old black lab who barks a lot.”
When did you start volunteering at CAMP Rehoboth and what events/activities have you been involved with since?
I went to the first orientation I could after returning to Rehoboth as I’d always been curious about CAMP. The Jeopardy game used in the orientation was a PowerPoint presentation at the time. I was really impressed that could even happen but there were a few hiccups so I decided to build a custom Jeopardy clone from scratch. After a demo I was invited to join the Volunteer Development Committee and I’ve been helping out with orientation night ever since. I also help out with the heavy lifting and moving truck for Sundance.
What’s your best memory volunteering here?
I put together the photo reel for the recent Volunteer Appreciation Party and it was really cool to see the crowd’s reaction to it.
Celebrating a quarter century as a local LGBT non-profit, please tell us about a special anniversary you’ve celebrated over the last 25 years.
This April marked a year since I returned to the area as a full time resident. I’m having more fun here as an adult—no curfew.
Favorite season here at the beach and why?
The best part of living at the beach is definitely summer. I still enjoy the off season but summer is so fun and I’ve met some great folks who were from out of town.
Name a childhood mentor or someone who influenced you while growing up.
Ellen Degeneres came out when I happened to be dealing with everything, myself. I figured if she could come out on TV, I could handle it in my own life.
If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do?
I always seem to have some sort of side project that could use one more hour a day!
Favorite U.S. city and why?
Baltimore. It’s where I was born and my family has history there. Dad gets Ravens this or Orioles that every Christmas.
Best year of your life and why?
2000 was definitely the best year. I really enjoyed the New Year’s party that time around, which is always a good sign. I had a great group of friends in college, curriculum was challenging and interesting, and I liked my part time job. That summer I rented a house with three other gay guys in Newark and we unceremoniously threw a bunch of keggers.
Favorite holiday and why?
Christmas, because I’m still a kid at heart. I like the thought that goes into picking out a gift for someone without explicitly asking what they want. Getting presents is sweet, and so is the nice excuse to visit family in Florida in the middle of December.
The LGBT community has made significant progress in the fight for equality over recent years. Did you expect to see this in your lifetime and why or why not?
I sort of did. The way we’re portrayed in media has changed a lot, and that’s connected to the big picture somehow. It was great to see cool gay characters in so many different shows these past few years.
Name the biggest change you’ve seen in Rehoboth and how long have you been coming here?
There’s been some coverage of Cape Henlopen High School in the Washington Blade and despite the troubles I was glad to learn there’s a Gay-Straight Alliance club there now. The school is also twice as big and it looks great.
Name three events that have shaped your life to where it is today.
My first experience volunteering was helping out with paper drives as a Boy Scout in small town Pennsylvania. It was a lot of hard work, but there was a sense of satisfaction seeing everything we gathered for recycling once it was all done. Next, I got my first computer around age 10. It was about as old as I was, with a loud clickity-clack keyboard and a monitor that only showed black and orange. There were some BASIC games already on it and I figured out how they worked, making my own. That eventually lead me to major in Computer Science and go into programming. Lastly, both times I’ve moved to Rehoboth have been good for the soul. The town has always mellowed me out and it’s good to see so many people doing their own thing here. It gives me confidence that I can make my wildest ideas happen.
Describe an ideal date night.
Dinner somewhere new, and there’s always a lot of great options for that locally. Conversations by the shore. Live music and drinks somewhere that has both. I picture it being off season.
What are you most thankful for?
I got started with computer programming on my own, at a young age, out of interest. I never would have guessed it would turn out to be a useful skill or that this big tech revolution was coming.
Having been one of the creators of the initial Volunteer Orientation Program here, I’m personally grateful you’ve risen to the occasion and helped advance the program to the level it exists today. The staff and Board of Directors all extend sincere thanks, Chris, for all of your contributions at CAMP Rehoboth.