Dear NCE Families,

On Thursday October 8th we lost Chip Piatti, a great friend and family member to NCE. Chip was diagnosed with liver cancer in the spring of 2019 and fought to the end, determined not to give up living. Chip had many careers in his life: as an architect, designer, cook, musician, wine tour guide, teacher, camp director, and even food tester for trips to the moon. None of us really knows the complete list of what he did, but trust me, it’s longer than the list of what he didn’t do. Chip was a devout Catholic and a Jewish cantor. He spoke Hebrew, French, Italian, and perhaps a few more languages—it was impossible to get to the bottom of his knowledge. In any interview I ever sat in on with Chip, he always found something unique about the candidate that somehow he had in common with them, and always loved to tell stories of his own experiences.

Chip is best known at NCE as Director of our beloved Camp Innovations. Chip came to NCE about 25 years ago, first hired to run a vacation-week version of this camp and later asked to take over the summer camp, which became more and more popular over the years. In recent years it sold out the day that registration opened in January. The magic was Chip’s camp philosophy: while he and his adult staff were in charge and maintained structure, he gave the campers and student staff lots of authority, empowering them to work hard, excel at anything they chose to do, and make connections with new friends of all ages. Thus lifelong friendships were formed.

Chip treated every single child with respect and expectation. Expectation that every child would leave his camp having learned and grown. If a child wanted to create a new camp activity, Chip let them run with it. If a child was on the brink of discovery, Chip stayed with them through that eureka moment. Kids who whipped up culinary delights in our cooking classes went home to make great meals for their families, those who ran the lights and sound for camp plays later ran the theater tech departments at their schools, and students who made videos for the first time in our music video activity later studied film in college. Many of them counted Chip as a friend and confidant into their adult years.

At NCE we will mourn the loss of this great man. We hope to carry on his legacy of believing in children and giving them every opportunity to make discoveries and find passions. We know that many of you have your own memories of Chip. We plan to incorporate these into a memory page in our catalog and/or on our website. Please share them with us by sending them to We have also established a scholarship fund in Chip’s honor. Donations can be made here.

Thanks for your support and shared condolences,

Lisa Rucinski
Kids Program Coordinator
Newton Community Education |