Tuesday, October 30, 2007

from the t-shirt collections

There are 1,000 t-shirt collections out there. At the Labor Day '06 reunion we held an auction to benefit campership and one of the many things we discovered that afternoon was that old FV t-shirts and sweatshirts have surprising value (to us, I mean). Above you see a photo Dave Lockwood recently took of his own long-sleeve T from the Wawayanda Centennial summer (2001). If you offer Dave a ton of money for it, perhaps he'll sell it to you.

Kudos to Carol O'Beirne for having organized nearly every aspect of the 100th year celebrations that year. Carol also led the team that designed the centennial logo.

Monday, October 29, 2007

return after 20 years

Last weekend Lenny Aberman went back up to camp for the first time in 20 years. 20! He took his wife and two kids and tried to convey to them how much everything there meant to him. From the account he wrote of this return to the valley, it seems that he did a fairly good job. Here's Lenny:

I was taking my family to Frost Valley for the day. It has been over 20 years since I had been back and I was really looking forward to it. It took us approximately 3 hours to get there. I was surprised by all the new buildings and lodges, although, it was nice to still see a few old cabins. I was surprised by the renovations at Reflection Pond, but thought it still must be a great place to catch frogs and newts.

As I expected, old memories came flooding back and I tried to share some of them with my wife and kids. We had a lot of fun boating, doing crafts, and walking around. I saw that Mt. Hayden is now just a chimney and no longer a climbing wall with the ultimate reward and badge of courage being a nose smeared with soot. The black-top in front of the infirmary is no longer a street hockey court, but rather a parking lot in need of a paving.

Castle hill is still as steep as I remember and, if it had not been for my wife obeying a warning sign, my son and I would have been rolling down the hill as I did many times in my childhood. I wanted to go up the mountain to where Outpost and Lenape were, but time did not allow for that. I did get to take my son in a canoe and walk with him through Big Tree Field. I showed my daughter where we used to go tubing and she wondered how I ever made it down the wall using the small steps built into the wall. My wife and daughter made flavored vinegar using plants grown in and around the greenhouse which now occupies the place I once knew as the archery range.

It was a great day and we will go back.

Monday, October 15, 2007

thank you, Ken

On September 15, 2007, we gathered at the farm (for those who don't know - it's along the East Branch Neversink road, past Claryville and a mile or so short of the Straus property) in order to dedicate the main building there (currently serving as a dining hall and meeting room - as well as bath facility for the kids in the summer, who live in yurts without bathrooms).

The building is now named in memory of long-time FV trustee Ken Estabrook. Ken loved his grandparents farm as a young boy and years later dragged his family off to live on a farm themselves. Overall he was a very successful attorney in the Westfield NJ area was very generous to Frost Valley with his time and money. His dream, all the years he was on our Board, was that we would create a working farm so that suburban and urban kids coming to summer camp would have the option of living on a working farm for two or four weeks.

Go here and read more about Farm Camp. "Among the animals living at Frost Valley's farm are: Pigs, chickens, sheep, rabbits, goats, cows, horses and of course birds. Farm campers will interact daily with the animals, performing chores, learning how to care for them, and understanding their importance in the ecosystem."

The Estabrook family traveled to Frost Valley for the dedication, and, over lunch which consisted almost entirely of farm-raised food, a number of Ken's friends shared stories about him.

I recorded some of these talks and hope you'll have a listen. You'll hear, in order: Fenn Putnman, President of the Board of Trustees; Jerry Huncosky, who is of course FV's CEO; Jenny Snyder, Farm Camp director; Alex Huncosky, Jerry and Patti's daugther and a veteran of Farm Camp; Ann Estabrook and finally Ken's sister who remembers their childhoods at the family farm.

Fenn Putman, President of FV's Board

Inside one of the yurts: Steve Roehm, Paul McGrath, Hunter Corbin, Lisa Ernst.

This is the building we dedicated to - and shall now be named for - the late Ken Estabrook.

Jerry Huncosky

Jenny Snyder

Alexandra ("Alex") Huncosky

Saturday, October 13, 2007

remember your last summer as a camper?

Andy Ware has recently been in touch - after some years in and out of contact. Andy's last summer was 1990. This photo was taken in front of Margetts Lodge one night in '90, Andy to the left and Dave Mager on the right. Andy has just discovered that Mark Gottdenker, who was Andy's counselor in Pac that summer, lives just an hour away. They'll get together.

autumn colors

You're looking at the road up to cabins 21-25 and the dining hall from the point of view of the Big Tree, a photo taken just the other day. Nearly peak colors! Drive up there right now and see them for yourself. Pull your car into the ad office parking lot. Go into the office and ask the folks there if you can hike for the day (you might be charged a nominal fee for lunch in the dining hall). Do it now! Today--Saturday--the high temperature will be just under 50 so bring a sweatshirt; but it will be sunny. (Low tonight will go down to 36!)

Friday, October 12, 2007

90s facebook

For you Facebook users, a few of the 1990s generation have just recently formed a Facebook group for the 90s. Go here and submit a request to join: LINK. David Lockwood is the group's main instigator.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

artist among us

When Halbe Brown, with help from Bill Hettler, Mike Ketcham, Joy White and others, led the Wellness Revolution in the late 1970s, he turned to Bob Allen to help as a consultant. Bob helped us understand how to change our brand without altering what we fundamentally were, and how to communicate our new emphasis on healthy eating, cooperative games and a staff training that focused on the larger matters of "the whole child" in his or her generally unhealthy world. Well, the story of that huge change--it's a story that includes tales of resistance as well as triumph--is for another time.

Judd Allen and Peter Allen, Bob's sons, came to camp as the result of Bob's involvement. Both were counselors. I believe Peter recently had his own kids in camp, as recently as last year (perhaps in '07 as well).

Now Peter is a sculptor and painter and I'm pleased to provide this link to his site. "Over the past two decades," Peter writes, "I have cast aluminum and bronze and used natural fieldstone and locally harvested wood to create rather large sculptures. I also do welded sculpture requiring me to scour the bins of the steel salvage center in Dover, NJ and elsewhere to attempt to uncover treasures for my future works. I also add steel to the aluminum, wood or stone in order to weld together stones and wood limbs and disparate metals into an integrated whole. This work as a 'Hunter-gatherer' paves the way to the 'reader' of my work being invited to slow down their cerebral fast-pitched days and look for innovative combinations and dual uses of overlooked objects."

hike and talk at the same time

I love this. Just love it. We're hiking one cold early September Sunday morning, up Pigeon Brook. I enjoy taking old-time FV'ers up Pigeon. Eight out of ten times these veterans have rarely or even never hiked along this gorgeous, little, digressive, sometimes steep and always, around the next bend, a little surprising in its turns.

Such was true of Rick and Phyllis Kaskel. Been in and out of the valley since 1978 and yet had never walked more than a little bit up Pigeon.

It was such fun to be with them - and also Bill Abbott who joined us - that I just had to talk with Rick about his long association with our dialysis program, its meaning and impact on his otherwise straight-ahead ambitious professional medical career (he's a big-timer in pediatric nephrology nationally and internationally--in case you didn't know). That impact is huge, but let me have Rick say it for himself. Please listen by clicking here. If you don't know the history and rationale for our dialysis program, this recording is very much worth a listen.

Earlier I had something to say about Rick's visit during camp this summer.

On the way back we hiked back through Sequoia from above. It was quiet, empty, gorgeous. Just a few weeks earlier, in the heat of the late summer, the platform tents, the meetinghouse (a nicely decorated yurt), and the Sequoia barn (used as a showerhouse) were teeming with activity. The scene we saw: it was as if they had just left that morning. Everything was just as it was, only no counselors and campers.

Friday, October 5, 2007

happy 50th, Dave King

The photo shows Dave King and me leading "Deep & Wide" at the Labor Day 2006 reunion. Once again I long for such good moments achingly.

This very afternoon I spent a little more than an hour talking with Dave by phone, and we recorded the conversation. Click on this link and you will be able to play an hour-long mp3 sound file. If you right-click on that link, you can save the file to your computer and/or mp3 player; if you left-click you can play the recording. If you want to stream it, you can click on the right-facing triangle in the circle next to the link.

And here is a 6-minute excerpt about the summer of 1958.

During this interview, I learned a few things I had never ever heard or known before. I had never asked anyone about the details of using the swimming hole (muddy and awful) that had been dug in the field across from the Castle for the summer of 1958 - where the campers took swimming lessons before Lake Cole was built in '59. I also didn't know or didn't remember that in the first years the area across the bridge (Pigeon and Biscuit Lodges, Reflection Pond, and the Castle) was off limits to everyone, staff included. I didn't know that the Castle wasn't called "the Castle" until Jim Whyte was the executive director in the early 60s. I hadn't heard the story of the camper who drowned on one of the canoe trips in the early years. I hadn't realized that the staff were still finishing the new cabins during staff training just days before the campers arrived in June of '58.

Many folks know about the plane that crashed on Doubletop in 1966. But did you know that in 1968, during a holdover weekend, a small plane crash-landed in the Castle field? During our discussion, Dave talked about that one. And since posting this initially, I've heard from Ken Nathanson about that incident. Ken must have been 11 or 12 at the time, and he happened to be staying in the Castle that weekend and saw the crash. Here's Ken: I actually have my father’s old movies of the recovery of the plane. There is good footage of Dave, Halbe, Paul, Joe Chandler, Bud, John Paul, me and Peter Tilles, etc. I actually saw the plane come down into the field as I was walking up the steps to the patio of the castle. I ran up to the tower to see if I could find it and sure enough the tail was sticking up out of a small ditch. It took a bit of convincing to have the castle staff call for help. This was the summer holdover in ’68.

Well, in the summer of 2008 it will have been 50 years since Dave King, at 20 years old, came to Wawayanda at Frost Valley as the VC of Lenape. A few years later Dave was the Program Director and then began a long era as Boys' Camp Director. During all my years as a camper, Dave was my camp director. Later, when I was made a young Program Director (at 19 years old!), Dave came back for a half-summer as Camp Director and suddenly I found myself in the position of working as a co-director alongside the legendary King. I had been one of his kids, and now I was a colleague. Yikes. During the first summer or two working together as directors (we were Mutt & Jeff in height, that's for sure), he taught me a tremendous amount and we worked closely together for several years before he left Frost Valley to do full-year work as a superintendent of the Baltimore public schools. Between us as directors, we spanned 1963 to 1985 (to be sure, with others as well: Mike Ketcham, Bob Hettler, Jim Ewen and a few others) and more generally our involvement covers the whole 50 years to the present.

For a few years in the late 60s and 70s, Dave was a member of Frost Valley's Board of Trustees. But because he was in Baltimore, and the meetings were held on weeknights in Montclair, Dave could not attend often and he felt it necessary to resign his seat.

You can hear in this interview my repeated invitation to Dave to come visit us for a few days during the summer of '08. If he and Shirley do make the visit, we will be sure to sing Dave as well as Frost Valley a joyful rendition of "Happy Birthday" in honor of our 50th.

camper raises funds for camperships

In the Jewish tradition, the 13th year is the time the child becomes a member of the adult community – is asked to take on responsibilities, engage with the needs of the whole (beyond the self) and contemplate his or her personal attachments, commitments and values. There’s a lot of thinking entailed in all this but also an expectation that the young person will do something to express these beliefs.

As Hannah prepared for her “Mitzvah Project,” she thought about the several continuities in her life so far. Aside from family and school, there’s just one: Frost Valley. She was first bought to the valley as an infant just weeks old. She has grown up there and in 2008 will experience her sixth summer at camp. She’s a “lifer.” From September to May she goes to sleep at each night wishing the summer would come and she could again be at camp.

She especially loves her counselors. They are her big sisters, her friends, her confidantes about growing up, her goofy pals, her role models, her future.

How could these passions and commitments converge? She decided for her Mitzvah Project to make her friends, family and members of her immediate Jewish community (Kol Tzedek in West Philadelphia—the name means “Voice of Justice”) aware of Frost Valley, its core values, and the pressing need for “campership” funds to enable kids whose families can’t afford it to come to summer camp.

She made calls, visits, and wrote letters. Frost Valley’s Development office helped her with pledge envelopes, letterhead, brochures – and processed the contributions at they came in.

In the end Hannah’s project raised $2800, enough to send two kids to camp for two weeks each. Hannah feels that the project was good for her, good for her family and friends, good for Frost Valley and just great for the kids she helped send to camp. A win-win-win-win situation.

Hannah is a camper—just a kid herself—but she has begun to learn that kids too can take responsibility for others.

Oh, yes. As most readers of this blog know, Hannah is my daughter. Proud, am I?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

FV'er, now teacher, makes headlines

According to Karin Turer, Damion Frye at Frost Valley in the 90s "was a really cool and sensitive kid, usually a village behind me but always friends of friends. I can't remember if he became a counselor. Still, he's clearly doing some awesome things now!" Karin is referring to a major article in today's New York Times about Damion, who is now 30 years old and a 9th-grade teacher at Montclair High School. Jeff Daly does remember that Damion became a JC and counselor in the mid-90s and, according to Jeff, was "awesome."

Here is the whole article:

Spreading Homework Out So Even Parents Have Some

MONTCLAIR, N.J., Sept. 28 — The parents of Damion Frye’s ninth-grade students are spending their evenings this fall doing something they thought they had left behind long ago: homework.

So far, Mr. Frye, an English teacher at Montclair High School, has asked the parents to read and comment on a Franz Kafka story, Section 1 of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and a speech given by Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Their newest assignment is a poem by Saul Williams, a poet, musician and rapper who lives in Los Angeles. The ninth graders complete their assignments during class; the parents are supposed to write their responses on a blog Mr. Frye started online.

If the parents do not comply, Mr. Frye tells them, their child’s grade may suffer — a threat on which he has made good only once in the three years he has been making such assignments.

The point, he said, is to keep parents involved in their children’s ’ education well into high school. Studies have shown that parental involvement improves the quality of the education a student receives, but teenagers seldom invite that involvement. So, Mr. Frye said, he decided to help out.

“Parents complain about never getting to see their kids’ work,” he said. “Now they have to.”

Some parents, he added, seem happy to revisit their high school years.

“There was one parent last year who would write pages and pages of stuff. It was great, so good to read,” said Mr. Frye, who graduated from Montclair High in 1994.

Others are more resistant. “When my daughter told me about the homework, I looked at her and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I graduated. I’m done,’” said Lydia Bishop, a local real estate broker whose daughter Vanessa was in Mr. Frye’s class last year. “I did it very resentfully, but I did it.”

Sometimes, Ms. Bishop said, she got out of the homework assignment by logging on to the blog that Mr. Frye created for parents and writing, “I really don’t need this today, I have stuff to do.”

The excuse, she said, was enough to keep Vanessa from being penalized and, despite her reluctance to do homework, Ms. Bishop still thinks Mr. Frye is “one of the best teachers we’ve got.”

Some parents say they like the assignments because they can spark intellectual conversation with teenagers who are normally less than communicative. “Searching for meaning in literary works is like stretching brain-cell-taffy in this household of literal interpretations and men of few words,” one mother wrote on the blog.

Others refrain from complaining to Mr. Frye but figure out the most mature way to say, “The dog ate my homework,” or persuade their spouse to comment on the parent blog instead.

In three years, Mr. Frye said, the assignments have met with only one flat-out refusal. He has received strong support from his bosses — Peter Renwick, an assistant principal at Montclair High, called the approach “very innovative and creative” — and some cautious interest from national teaching experts.

“I think it’s great,” said Gerald N. Tirozzi, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. “It’s wonderful to involve parents in this way, very meaningfully, and directly related to the instruction the children are receiving in school.” Mr. Tirozzi said he had not heard of any other teachers making similar assignments, and added that he would be interested to know if the students were performing better.

Carol Jago, the incoming vice president of the National Council of Teachers of English, said, “This is one of those really good ideas that has the potential to do what we really want in society.

“It has to do with what we talk to our students about, and what kind of models we are for our children as readers,” she said, adding that in her 32 years of teaching, she has often asked parents to forgo hiring tutors and instead just read the books their children were reading.

“With 10th graders, the parents often really did tell me that it was the one place where they could talk with their student without fighting, without arguing about their hair,” Ms. Jago said.

But she also cautioned against penalizing students for something that their parents cannot or refuse to do.

“Common educational wisdom is that you don’t assign homework that kids can’t do on their own,” she said.

In fact, Mr. Frye has not penalized students whose parents have told him outright that they will not post responses. But in one case, when the parents neither did the homework nor explained why, a student did lose points — but not enough to lower the student’s overall grade, he said.

He said he got the idea for the homework assignments from a district kindergarten teacher he sat next to during teacher orientation one year, who asked parents to write about what their children had done over the weekend.

Experts say that while many elementary school teachers ask parents to write letters introducing their children at the beginning of the school year, few teachers subject parents to a weekly regimen of reading and writing.

Mr. Frye, 30, teaches 65 ninth graders, in three sections, in a classroom where student art and album covers from Stevie Wonder and John Coltrane decorate the walls. As part of the school district’s efforts to reduce the achievement gap between black and white students in this Essex County suburb — a topic Mr. Frye studied for his graduate thesis — every freshman, regardless of earlier performance in school, takes a world literature course, considered a high honors class, like his.

He said that all the students’ parents had computer access and that only two had told him that they were not fluent in English; one posts on the blog anyway, one sends her responses to him privately, by e-mail. Another parent phones responses in to him.

Tony Lopez, a corporate lawyer who posted a lengthy reaction to the Kennedy speech, given the day after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, said he was actually glad to do the weekly homework

“I take it as giving back to the teacher what he is apparently giving to our kids, a lot of attention and a lot of requirements,” Mr. Lopez said. He added that he had been impressed with Mr. Frye’s preparations for the class.

“As a family, we opted to meet him at least halfway,” he said.

Tracy Parsons, whose son Danny is the second of her two boys to be a student in Mr. Frye’s class, said that the weekly assignments had changed the way she approached homework with her children.

“In high school, to some degree you have to back off from homework, so they can gain independent learning skills,” Ms. Parsons said. But teenagers, she noted, “leave a lot out. You ask, ‘What’d you do in science?’ and they say, ‘It was fine.’”


Bidding on the five old cabins, lately called "the teens" and in earlier eras known as Lenape, ended on October 1. Four alumni and alumni families bid highest for the five and will now be enjoying the friendly confines of these old but sturdy beauties, in their backyards, on their country properties, for another 50 years. Thanks to all who participated in the silent bidding. This idea--which was received with much, much, much more passion and excitement than I ever dreamed--has shown how deeply we care about the symbols (and physical embodiments) of our FV experiences.

The total raised is $28,000! This really helps our annual goal for donations.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

somewhere over the...

This photograph of a rainbow over Lake Cole and Wildcat Mountain was taken this past Sunday - October 1 - by Alexandra Huncosky, from the director's home above the lake.

we place first in pork

Eric Blum, our famous Camp Schlep lo these many years, is a member of a competitive BBQ team. Last month his team - they call themselves "Pigs on the Run" - were taking part in the N.J. State Championship known as the "Bridgeton King Pig." Eric emailed several FV friends to ask for help at the event. Says Matt Buczek: "Of course, who could pass up such an opportunity?"

What Matt and the other FV'ers knew as BBQ'ing was in fact grilling, as they were soon to learn. Armed with meat that had been on the smoker for 18 hours, our team competed in these categories: Pork, Brisket, Ribs, and Chicken. After a hard day's toil, the team placed first in Pork, Brisket and Chicken (we came in 5th in ribs) and were crowned overall grand champions! Again here's Matt: "Yup, I am adding 'Champion BBQer' to my resume."

Present were Eric Blum, Bill Baker, Jim Gibbons, Jeff Daly, Brian Butler, Matt Buczek, Kelly Zingone.

You can see in one of the photos the champions' trophy, a four-foot tall carved wooden pig.

It was a great day for all of us, the master BBQ'er, Eric Blum, writes. It was so much fun getting together with FV alumni once again. Our pitmaster John Atkins was a little leary many months ago when he decided to do this competion and asked if I could get anyone to help. My first response was of course I can, so I made some quick phone calls to Bill Baker, Jeff Daly, and Bobby Eddings gave them the details and they took care of the rest. When I let John know that a bunch of people from Frost Valley would be coming on saturday to help, he again was a little nervous-however he was not suprised since he has been hearing about camp for many years from me while we work together in the O.R.. When the crew finally arrived on Saturday morning our team had been cooking all night long and they just jumped right in and helped with whatever scut work that needed to be done. Jeff, Matt. and Bill formed "the wedge" for each turn in. At the completion of the turn in's John our pitmaster spent sometime explaining to everyone what real BBQ was and how he cooks it-this of course was done while everyone was eating the "left overs", which the common theme from FVer's was "This is the best I've ever eaten".

And: During the awards ceremony Brian Butler was a bit upset that our ribs came in 5th-and he could be heard yelling "Pigs on the Run" through out the ceremony.

And best of all: John said that he is willing to bring the Rig up to the valley and do a BBQ cook out as a fund raiser. After more consultation between Jeff, John and myself this is something that we are going to be working on for the not to distant future-February maybe.