Thursday, December 18, 2008


Out of the blue today I received a nice note from Kelly Harford, whose Frost Valley years ran from 1986 through 1994. She sent the photos above and here, below, is her note:
Hi Al, my name is Kelly & I found your blog while looking on the web for Lourdes Montoro's email. She & I have kept in touch since I was a little girl in her cabin in Pokey. I'm now 32! How wonderful to read your blog after so many years away. I first came to FV in the TiPi village called "Lacota" in what was its last year, I believe ('86?). Then Pokey the next year when I met Lourdes...then in 1988 I was in Sequoia with Colin Hill---I found an old photo from the top of Mt. Wittenburg on that trip & I believe a young Jeff Daly is to the right! Colin was a huge influence on me & the next year I did an Adirondack hike & canoe out-trip with him. I came back and did CIT training, then a summer as JC with Sequoia and Tacoma, In 94 I did a session at Sequoia again which was my last at Frost Valley.

I spent a whole afternoon reading your blog while snowed in with my little daughter in WA state where I live now. Thank you for the opportunity to think about all the amazing people and experiences from Frost Valley again!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I've been afraid of changing

Last summer, at a closing campfire, six girls who've gotten to know each other at camp over the past five summers sang "Landslide" together. They're all now 14 years old, having met at 9. They're feelings for each other are very, very strong. Saying goodbye each summer is hard for them. They stay in touch all year but it's not the same. They count the days until next summer. They really are afraid of changing, because they know inevitably that while friendships last they cannot remain just what they were. Some of these girls will drift off summers--summer school, family trips, the early need of jobs and a little income to help out. They climbed a mountain and turned around. Can the child within their hearts rise above?

I happened to catch their singing of the song on my recorder and here it is.

I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love
Can the child within my heart rise above
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life

Well, Ive been afraid of changing
cause Ive built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
Im getting older too

Oh, take my love, take it down
Climb a mountain and turn around
If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide will bring it down

If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well maybe the landslide will bring it down

Saturday, December 13, 2008

archery and rhubarb

The Forstmann apple orchard and rhubarb patch, in the center of camp, served as the "Boys Archery Range" and then just generally "The Archery Range" for many years, from 1958 to (I would say) the mid-90s. At some point archery was moved to the northern edge of the Big Tree Field, just to the west of the tobaggan run and to the east of the old Deus property. (This new location for archery was where the BB Range was for years.) Anyway, in the old apple orchard we restored the apple trees as best we could (they still produce good sour apples, although the trees must be 100 years old by now), and we built some raised flower and vegetable beds, and moved the greenhouse up into camp. (It had been located next to the composting center down the road by the maintenance shop; this location made sense because students and campers could see the camp food waste turn into compost and add it directly to the soil where veggies and blossoms grew. But the problem was simply that the greenhouse was thus too far away, and didn't get enough traffic.)

In the past few summers I've spent some quite and meaningful time with campers and counselors in the orchard, spread out under the old trees in the quiet of the edge of the middle of camp, somewhat secluded, for some good talks.

I was reminded of all of this by the photo Jim Wilkes sent me this morning - a photo of some dads teaching some sons (this was an YMCA "Indian Guide" weekend, no doubt) to shoot with a bow and arrow back in the early sixties.

Note, once again, in the background, along the fence (the fence is still there!), the rhubarb growing. This was apparently Mrs. Forstmann's prize planting. She loved rhubarb pies, and maybe it's a fact that she loved to make rhubarb pies. When the camp came, long after the Forstmann's pie-baking days were done, the rhubarb was still growing somewhat wildly. I can remember as a young camper picking the rhubarb and (somewhere, somehow) participating in the making of pies. Does this memory make sense? When is the rhubarb season over? Surely by summer? I may be fantasizing this. If so, it's a worthy fantasy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

the muck-and-mire relay - and the winner is...

Late 1980s. That's Dave Gold (as Camp Director) standing on top of the boathouse. I'm guessing that it's the afternoon of Olympics - the "water games" and he's doing the amplified play-by-play announcing. I've been there myself....

Photo courtesy of Dari Litchman.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

kidney disease getting worse

Rick Kaskel - long associated with our dialysis program - was quoted in this week's Science Times. Here is a link to the article.

An analysis of federal health data published last November in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that 13 percent of American adults — about 26 million people — have chronic kidney disease, up from 10 percent, or about 20 million people, a decade earlier.

“We’ve had a marked increase in chronic kidney disease in the last 10 years, and that continues with the baby boomers coming into retirement age,” said Dr. Frederick J. Kaskel, director of pediatric nephrology at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx. “The burden on the health care system is enormous, and it’s going to get worse."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

one-room schoolhouses

Andy Hutner, staff alumnus, has been conducting studies and tours of the old one-room schoolhouses around Frost Valley. Below is a preliminary report he's made on his findings.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

mowing the Castle Hill

Doug Kerr, now of Lewis, NY, was a camper in '68 and '69, then CIT, LIT, Counselor and then joined the maintenance staff. Eventually he worked year-round on the maintenance staff. Doug writes: "Did you know I had the record time for mowing the Castle Hill with a hand mower solo? Carl [Hess] trained us well!"

In those days the Castle Hill was mown by hand. I suppose that's because tractor mowers in those days were not built flexibly enough to handle riding sideways at such a steep angle. For whatever reason it was done by hand - tiring, hard work, and terrible on the ankles! Andy Kremer, I recall, wore spikes (like soccer shoes, or baseball cletes) when mowing it, to keep himself from falling over and tumbling down the hill.
Doug is our source for the spectacular photograph below. Top row, left to right: Bill Van Zandt, Carl Hess, Morris Slater, John Kremer, Norm Gurfinkel; bottom row, left to right: Mike Schiffer, Dave McBride, Andrew Schiffer, Doug Kerr.

John Kremer writes: "This would have been my first summer on the Maintenance staff - Norm and I lived in one of the dorm rooms in Hayden - I think the younger Schiffer is actually John, who would have been my age. Andrew is the youngest and he did not join the staff until years later when Chuck had the crew."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

gloomy hill

Taken yesterday, this photo shows "the Hill" (cabins 41-45 and 46-50). The leaves are gone, gone, gone. Mucky misty rain added to the gloom. Along the road (but not in camp) there were signs of earlier snowfall. And snow was in the forecast again for tomorrow.

If you click on the photo and stare at the larger version, you'll see three cabins in the vertical middle of the shot and to the left of center: at the far left, 46 and barely visible behind it, 47; then to the right of 46 is 45 and 44. To the right of a clump of yellow-brown leaves is 43, and then I can barely make out 42 further to the right. Of course when the leaves are on the trees you can't see any cabins from where I took the shot (on the road up the hill).

finally, a real theater

Readers of this blog - even those who have not seen Frost Valley in several or more years - will already know plenty about the new Guenther Family Wellness Center. Remember that the upper floor is for the medical facilities. We took advantage of the building's site (on the edge of the second flat up from the valley bottom): architects and builder created a large lower floor the front of which looks out across the valley toward Wildcat. Okay. Inside that lower floor is the new Arts & Crafts room, which yesterday I saw in its current state - about 20% of the way toward being the new A&C it will be. But working and terrific.

Elsewhere on the lower floor is a toddler room/day care room. Other meeting rooms. A Life Sciences classroom/lab. We met Houdini the snake in there. A plenty of FV's old stuffed beavers. A few objects of old taxidermist's talents--including some figures, surely, that date back to the Forstmann era--are here.

For me the most exciting and beautiful space on the lower floor of the new building is...the theater. As of this weekend (photos taken last night - Saturday) it looks to be 97% finished. Take a look and imagine what great events and performances can be staged here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Who's Your Father - now available in mp3 audio

I have been asked 1,000 times at least to re-tell my 45-minute blockbuster comic epic, "Who's Your Father." Since I "retired" from Camp Director-ship in 1985, I've told the story exactly twice. Once was at a reunion in the early 90s, at the urging, I think, of Dave Gold, Eric Wechter and Adam Diamond. And once, spontaneously, just two summers ago, I told the story to Lenape Village one late rainy night in their lodge up the hill. I'm really not sure they knew what hit them. The story was always funniest when the listeners had heard the legend of the story. Then they were ready to persist against the story's deliberate narrative confusions. These Lenape boys, knowing nothing of all that, scratched their heads, conceded that this bearded guy apparently can tell a good story, but wondered really what it was all about.

Anyway, I can't imagine telling the story too many more times. It takes a lot out of me and really requires loosening up - a ready-familiarity with the story's complicated turns. Something like story-teller's RAM (ready-access memory). Let's just say that "Who's Your Father" requires a lot of RAM.

One of my dearest Frost Valley friends says: ""Who's Your Father" is, of course, part of the furniture of my mind." I like that. I like something I've made being in the structure of things. Nothing so fancy as the air we breathe, but more like the furniture we sit on.

The story was recorded twice that I know of. The last time I told it in 1985, billed as "the last time the story will ever be told," the VCs and program director (Sue Yennello) actually arranged to have my father drive up for the telling. He emerged at the end of the story, to my surprise and that of the campers. And they presented me with a beautiful painted three-legged stool, with a Frost Valley horizon in green and white and the words "Who's Your Father" scripted out nicely by the then Arts & Crafts director. Nice. The recording was a video tape. Not bad (I still have it) but it turns out that that was not a great telling of the story (for reasons I can't remember now).

The other recording was an audio cassette made in 1983. Someone was taping from the back of the room so the sound quality isn't the best. But this must have been one of the better tellings because by the end I was really getting into it.

This morning I found that old cassette here at my house, in a box of old Frost Valley things. And now I've converted it to digital recording, 1's and 0's that will last forever. So click here, if you dare, and listen to the story. Let me know what you think. It's a bit odd and seems to make light of vices like vandalism and gambling, but I'd argue otherwise.

Monday, November 3, 2008

goodnight, girls!

New Goodnight Song

We run along home
and jump into bed,
Say our prayers and cover our heads,
the very last thing
we sing onto you
is you dream of me
and I'll dream of you.

Someone make a recording of the song as sung and send it to me. I'll add it here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Giannotti, strong on the issues

John Giannotti and his granddaughter Grace "debate" national politics.

man with a cleaver

In this photo you'll see the camp food service staff, the Castle food service staff and the maintenance staff - for 1960. Vilja and Fritz Kohtz, Albert and Mrs. Fay, and Paul Cypert - they were the leaders of the group. Wanda Cypert still lives in the Cypert house a few miles down the road from Frost Valley's east end. What I personally remember about Albert Fay was that he was - or was said to be - legally blind, couldn't see very well. And yet when he got mad he'd come at you with a cleaver, all in jest, to be sure, but just imagine what it felt like to be mockingly chased around by a man with bad eyesight waving a cleaver. I remember Bill Van Zandt once telling me about being chased all the way around the kitchen by Albert. What I remember about eating meals prepared by Vilja and Fritz...was that they served, more frequently than I ever liked, Hungarian goulash, served in these large low flat brown bowls that didn't make the dish any more appetizing.

Photo courtesy of Jim Wilkes.

Monday, October 27, 2008

on Oran Giannotti

Kim Aronowitz O'Connell, thinking about Oran Giannotti:

As I walked to the infirmary in early July of 1970 I noticed a little boy sitting on the lawn in front of the building. I asked him his name and replied "Oran David Gianotti". He was barely three and I was 12, but I knew even then he was unique child (how many three years olds recite their entire name when asked?) He had a little beatle type haircut and was extremely precocious. Three years later I was assigned to the infirmary as a nurse's aide and lived in the infirmary with the Gianottis. Oran was six then and quite serious. He was blessed (or cursed) with two little sisters Keara and Danielle. As time went on Oran decided he wanted to leave camp with John (who I believe had to attend to some teaching issues). I realized that Oran was not afraid to express his needs, and his wish to go home was respected by both parents. He was an admirable person. I never saw Oran again and read with sadness in this blog that he had died. I work for a Hospice and have seen many young people, including young children die before their time. I have never forgotten Oran, or that time I spent with his family. I wish them all peace and hope they know that he is remembered even after all these years by someone who only knew him briefly, but was nevertheless deeply affected by him.

And here Kim reflects generally on her time at Frost Valley:

I first arrived at Frosy Valley in late June of 1970. I was 12 years old and had been to three other sleepaway camps before my Mom found this one. I was to be a camper in the Tent Village, a small enclave of two large tents on a little piece of land behind the Ad office. My two counselors were Anne-Marie Kremer and Susan Ambry (later Sue's sister Meg joined us as a third counselor). I was to be there for ten life changing weeks. We hiked and campred, climbed mountains and were taught how to survive in the woods on our own. Anne knew the area well and led us on dozens of bucolic and awesome adventures. All three counselors played the guitar and Anne had one of the most beautiful singing voices I have ever heard. I was a wild and wacky kid, the product of a "broken home". I learned how to be part of a team, was never judged, and was comfoted and praised by three caring people who incidently, were barely out of their teens themselves. I was there for three more summers but this particular one resonates for me. I learned to respect nature and in turn to respect my peers. Each of us was from a different backround and came to together for one magical summer. Thirty eight years later I drove into camp and stood outside the AD office listening to the sound of singing coming from the boys dining hall. I almost think I heard them singing the Titanic song or the first chorus of Blowing in the Wind. Frost Valley will forever signify a turning point in my life. The smell of campfires, the sound of singing, and the feeling of peace. It was what I had been craving for in my young life, and it was there that I found it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Castle tour to end all Castle tours

It was billed as the Castle tour to end all Castle tours. It might well have been the greatest Castle tour-giving talent assembled in the old mansion's living room at one time. The featured tellers were Dave King (not pictured here), Chuck White, Bill Devlin, Dave Haight, Dave Gold, and Bud Cox. This (again) was Labor Day 2001, the Wawayanda Centennial (1901-2001) reunion. In this picture you see Bill Devlin (white beard), Chuck White (wearing sweater), Dave Haight (next to Bill), and Dave Gold. Bud and Dave King were on the other side of the room.

three great FV talents re-unite

Stan Treadway, Lisa Ernst (center) and Nancy Brady Smith - saying hello to each other not long after arriving at the Labor Day 2001 reunion.

fall is time for fog & deer

This photo was taken from the living room window of Halbe & Jane Brown around 1999 or 2000. It was autumn. If that doe knew what was good for her, she'd have moved on, out of the main part of camp, for hunting season was just a few weeks away.

old patch, worn but cherished

Someone sent me a photograph of his beloved Wawayanda 1 (first year) patch. I'm sorry I can't remember who it is, but that's just as well because the symbolism is generic, universal. Many of us have one of these somewhere, in the attic, in the back of a drawer, sewn onto the sleeve of an old jacket or sweatshirt.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gene Orbaker honored

Gene Orbaker invented women's soccer at SUNY Brockport. Here's what a news release from the college says:

The College at Brockport Women’s Soccer team is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2008 and will have a special ceremony Saturday at halftime of the home opener against Buffalo State. The game is scheduled to start at 1 pm and the ceremony honoring the first head coach of Brockport Women’s Soccer, Eugene Orbaker, will take place at the end of the halftime intermission.

Orbaker led the Golden Eagles from 1983–1985, compiling 30 wins and just 12 losses. In 1983 –- the first season of Brockport Women’s Soccer -– Orbaker led the Golden Eagles to the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championship with a 12-1-1 record.

Orbaker coached the team for the first three seasons before Connie Werner took over for a two-season stint during the 1985 and 1986 seasons. Current head coach Joan Schockow took over the head coaching reins in 1987 and has been the head coach every season since. The 20-year coaching veteran won her 200th career game last year with an overtime victory over St. John Fisher and became the all-time winningest soccer coach (men or women) in Brockport history in 2003 with a 1-0 victory over SUNY Cortland in the first round of the SUNYAC Tournament. Under Schockow, the Golden Eagles won the SUNYAC championship in 2006 advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

In the 25 years of women’s soccer at Brockport, there have been 77 players named to All-SUNYAC squads, 40 players to All-State honors and seven named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas All-Region team for the Northeast Region.

From The Stylus, which I'm guessing is the student newspaper of SUNY at Brockport, comes this news story, which is in part about the honor conferred on Gene, who, with his wife Mary, and two sons, spent many summers at Frost Valley in the 70s and 80s. Gene did various jobs at camp, including, for many years, coaching our soccer programs. For a few years there was a two-week "soccer camp" (soccer village, really) during the first session, and Gene was the coach for those kids. Mark Gottdenker, who learned his soccer from Gene at FV, directed me to this article. You'll probably want to skip directly to the italicized parts.

By George Banko

Saturday, Sept. 20, The College at Brockport Golden Eagles women’s soccer team celebrated the 25th anniversary of their program. With the sidelines packed with fans and notable alumni, they did not disappoint. Brockport jumped out to an early 1-0 lead against SUNYAC rival Buffalo State, off a Jess VanAllen goal 11 minutes into the first half. From there, the Golden Eagles offense did not look back as Brockport scored two more goals by senior Ashley Broadhurst and sophomore Jessica Bush, which gave Brockport a 3-0 lead at halftime. In the second half, Brockport put their offense in neutral, but still maintained their strong defensive presence, shutting out the Bengals en route to their second win of the season. Brockport coach Joan Schockow, now in her 20th season, credited the team’s commitment to work ethic as the main reason for the win. “We had an amazing week in practice,” Schockow said. “We’re not used to losing the way we have been recently, and our girls showed a great amount of toughness all week long, and I think that carried over into the game.” The women’s soccer team has had their struggles early on in the season, dropping their last two games to opponents Nazareth and Walsh. “It’s a huge lift to get this win,” Schockow said. “On a day like today, against a division rival with so many people here, it’s a big positive for us.” Determination has always been a focal point in Schockow’s coaching philosophy. “I don’t like to talk about the things we do well and the things we don’t do well,” Schockow said. “The biggest thing is that we outwork the other team, if we can do that, then we feel that we can win any time.” Schockow’s statements have proven true. The Golden Eagles looked like the team from last year, out shooting their opponents 21-11 while committing few penalties and scoring with a variety of players.

The win for Brockport came on a special day. At halftime, there man by the name of Eugene Orbaker, who many consider the father of women’s soccer in Brockport.

“Eugene is a great man,” Schockow said. “When people say that he’s the biggest asset to the Brockport soccer program, it’s true. Eugene always supported the male soccer program here and with his support we were able to start the women’s program as well. I am glad we got to honor him today.”

Orbaker was a 1953 graduate of SUNY Brockport. He was named All American in soccer and served on the faculty from 1958 to 1995 in the department of physical education and sport.

The Brockport women’s soccer team will play two home games on Friday and Saturday against SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Plattsburgh. Game times are 4 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m on Saturday.

Mark Gottdenker says: "Gene is one of the classiest people I have had the privilege of knowing and working with at FV. His contributions to the Tokyo-FV sports program were amazing and should/need to be recognized."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Barry Glickman returns

I remember Barry Glickman from the summers when we were campers together in the mid-60s. Barry lives in the Northwest now and doesn't get back east much. But recently he and his wife were in the area, climbed Slide together and then sought to visit Frost Valley after all these years. Dan Weir showed them around. Here is part of Barry's happy response:

What impressed me was how friendly the staff was and how clean the camp was. The new cabins were really nice, but not as cozy as the old ones. The mess halls were huge and the new medical facilities were amazing. I like the new dock which made the lake look cleaner and the horse fields added a lot to the camp. I was also glad to see that the big tree is still around. My sisters asked me about the swimming pool which was supposed to have been built ages ago, but I don’t remember seeing a pool. Did I miss it or is it still on the drawing board? Personally, I think a lake is all you need for an outdoor camp.

From a business standpoint, I have to say again how impressed I was with what that camp has done to bring in extra income. I don’t know if it is working, but I was impressed when Dan was telling us what the camp has to offer. Oh! I was also impressed with the castle. I only got to see it from the road, but it looked great.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Joy White Nurse's Room formally dedicated

At the recent formal dedication and opening of the new Wellness Center, we also formally named the busy central nurse's room after the late Joy White. This is a promise we made--friends of Joy--years ago and what a pleasure it was finally to honor her in such a fabulous new facility. She would have loved it. We know already from the summer's experience how vital and lively that room is.

John Giannotti did a portrait of Joy in oil - based on a photo her daughters sent him - and this portrait hangs in the main hallway just outside the nurse's room. At the dedication, as visitors toured the building, they saw the portrait, newly hung, along with a one-page description. Here is the text of that page:

The Joy White Nurses Station

Dedicated in loving memory to Joy White, who served as Camp Nurse for nearly two decades.

Joy and her husband Chuck moved to Frost Valley in 1973, and lived in the grey house across from the maintenance buildings and the fly-fishing pond later named for Chuck. They and their four children – Liz, Rebecca, David and Sylvia – became one of a small group of resident families that were key to the rapid development of Frost Valley in the 1970s and 80s.

Joy’s unique contribution was to the emergence of the Wellness philosophy. She led the way in implementing activities that put an abstract concept into practice: sweetly yet insistently, she taught campers and staff the importance of eating well, relaxation, staying away from cigarettes and drugs, and overall healthful self-awareness. Known in every corner of camp for her boundless “TLC,” Joy White shared her love and concern with all those around her. With wit and great medical wisdom she cared for thousands of campers, school children, and staff for many years.

Hundreds of alumni – staff, families, schoolteachers, conference group leaders, and campers whom she cared for so well - have contributed to Frost Valley’s capital campaign in memory of Joy and of the true joy she brought to this place.

About the Artist: John Giannotti served as a staff member at Frost Valley in a variety of positions from the late '60s to the mid-80s. During that time he was Chair of the Department of Art at the Camden campus of Rutgers University. His paintings and sculptures have been exhibited throughout the US and in many countries around the world. His monumental bronze sculptures of Walt Whitman and Madame Curie stand in sculpture parks at Soka University in Japan. John is most grateful for the sense of community and integrity that Frost Valley instilled in his three children, Oran, Keara and Danielle, while they were "camp brats," campers, and later as staff members. Their love of Frost Valley became an integral part of how they have conducted their lives. John now lives in Haddonfield, NJ, with his wife Toni Vielehr and their son Delano.

I'll have more to say about the Wellness Center dedication in the coming days. I took some photos and made some audio recordings, so stay tuned.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Max, photographer

Max Flatow writes: "I'm a Frost Valley Alum, 93' - 05' (not 06'...I double checked), having been a camper in every male village but Iscusfa and Woodwise, and working as a counselor in Totem, Lenape and Pac. I've been thinking about FV a lot lately, and how I miss that distinct, pungent smell of cinnamon buns as I walk up the hill from flag raising to the dining hall, on the morning of the last day of each session - which is part of what brings me to this e-mail. I'm currently living in my hometown of Brooklyn, NY, where I am a professional photographer, shooting everything from weddings, corporate/celebrity events and portraits, to travel, editorial and real estate. As a token of my appreciation for all things 'Frost Valley' (or people, rather), I want to offer my services to any Frost Valley alumni (including family and friends) at a special 50% discounted rate. Most of my business is based out of NYC, but am always available for travel."

Here's a link to Max's web site:

The photo above and at right is of Max's Tacoma/Lenape staff, summer of 2002. Max is underneath the arrow, camera in hand.

Below is a sample of the fine photographic work Max does. His subject here happens to be a Frost Valley guy--Ethan Dropkin.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Begonia, we remember you

"Do you remember me?" she wrote.

Just last night I got a wonderful email note from Begonia Albertos from Spain. She and her daughter Lucia (who'd been hearing Frost Valley stories all her life but hadn't made contact even indirectly with us) found us on the web - found my blog, found Frost Valley's web site, etc., and the stories and then the old photo albums started to come out. Begonia was one of our internationals for one summer - 1981. In the coming weeks I'll put up some of her other photos but here's one to start. These are some (not all) of the international counselors that summer, '81. I can't sort out exactly who is who but here first is Begonia's text (names not in order):

Tom Franzkowiak (Germany), Martin Graf (Switzerland), Claude Giraud (France), Ulla Hojstrup, Neils Hybolt (Denmark), Johan Vershoor (Holland), Maggie Tang (Hong Kong), Ron Aggs (Australia), Lucy Arnett, Eric Cahill (England) and Elizabeth Bione (Senegal).

Tom F is standing at left. Eric Cahill next to him. Maggie kneeling at left. Johan is standing at right, his arm around Begonia. Niels kneeling at right, his hands on Elizabeth's shoulders. I believe that's Lucy between Eric and Begonia. And Claude from France bottom middle. Ulla to the left of Claude. Missing from this pic: Ron Aggs and Martin Graf. Both those guys were there in '81 and stayed for several years after. Tom Frankowiak had already been at camp several summers by '81. The others were all just one-summer folks, so far as I remember. And I seem to remember a lot!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

hanging out

From left to right: Frank Rutan, Ed Wong, Al Filreis, and Liz White. Check out my steel-colored aviator frames and my hush puppies. I wore those puppies for days on end. We're hanging out in front of Hayden Lodge here. I believe Frank and Liz were co-FCC Directors that summer (that would be the equivalent of today's CIT program - with its 8-day hiking trip. FCC = Future Camp Counselor. The year was 1976.

Ed Wong was a teacher in Ohio, friend of Ken and Sue Barton. Hilarious guy. He started off as a counselor in Forest and then I think led some bike trips.

vintage Wawayanda staff shirt

We found a vintage Wawayanda staff shirt in the archives - and John Butler was eager to try it on. Love that orange-and-white canoe-on-lake motif. Don't you?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

traffic light in Claryville (say what?)

A traffic light on the camp road? Yes, you are seeing correctly. But don't worry. It's gone by now. Just a temporary thing...while the bridge near the Claryville turn-off, the bridge that re-crosses the west branch of the Neversink River was being replaced.

Several years ago we heard the bad news from the county or the state (I think the state): the old bridge could not legally/safely handle the weight of the buses that go over there all year, carrying school groups and summer campers. Until it was replaced those buses would have to come to Frost Valley the other way - Kingston to Big Indian on route 28, and up the steep east side of the road over Slide Mountain. Fifteen miles on a back road rather than a much easier 7 miles coming from Claryville. Finally the new bridge at Claryville was built. But in the final weeks before the opening of the bridge, there was a makeshirt one-lane unpaved workaround road put in and thus a stop-light at each end of the little detour. So there you have it: traffic lights in Claryville! Take note, ye historians.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

we never want to leave

Tom Cometa (1980s guy) has been coming to Family Camp with his family the past few years. Tom took the photos below - one of Pigeon Brook at a particular nice spot along the trail; the other of his son Dylan in a kayak in Lake Cole.

Tom wants to urge other alumni to try the week of Family Camp.

Tom wrote: "I saw Filreis Field the other day while hunting for my son, Andrew's rocket. The flag/dragging mechanisim failed to deploy and we found it, cone deep in the middle of Olympic Circle. Once again, Frost Valley is the place we never want to leave. I spoke with Mike Gold last week. I pitched Family Camp to him. It would be so great to get more Summer Camp Alumni to come for this week. It is special."

Friday, August 22, 2008

look for me again

This will be my last blog entry from here--from Frost Valley--this summer. I've just been up into the villages: the staff is there, in every cabin and lodge, cleaning, packing, going through the summer's materials treating them already like treasured mementos, beginning to think about what they will wear to the staff banquet. Yet it's eerily quiet. The campers and their parents - the buses and the bus staff and bus campers - are all gone several hours. After lunch the staff could not resist: they cheered and chanted and did hoopla and together, all as one, went through every village cheer they could think of, and when they depleted that stock went into Olympic team cheers.

Last night at the Hird closing campfire I had a pleasure few former FV staffers get. My two children, Ben and Hannah, joined me and led everyone in "Old Wawayanda," arms around shoulders. I loved every minute of that. Before we started the song, I said: "Thank you, Frost Valley, for making a home for our family." I meant every word.

Time for me too to pack up things I've set up in the office. I have my fold-up bike here, my two computers, my digital camera, some sound equipment, camper lists, staff lists, files from the FV archive, some Netflix DVD's (I've been watching Weeds, The Wire and 24), the long green ethernet cable Todd (our IT guy) gave me 9 weeks ago, my guitar.

To get here from Tacoma by way of the dining hall, I crossed the Flagpole Field, no Margetts Field, no...err....Filreis Field. Yes. How about that? For my contribution to the recent capital campaign and for (Jerry Huncosky generously says) my overall contributions to the organization, I was asked which of the "naming options" I wanted to name. I didn't want a room. A field seemed apt and right and good, and so it was. Where in the 60s I stood as a camper each morning at flag raising, where as a counselor I organized softball games and taught gumbo soccer, where as a Director I stood with microphone on a little stage and directed Olympics teams to the opening ceremony and MC'd all-camp Challenge Nights and explained the rules of Goldrush Day and did play-by-play for Fun Runs, and where as a volunteer/Trustee in recent years I have led innumerable games of "Geronimo" and stood again at flag raisings...there would be the right place. And so it was. On the middle Saturday of session two this summer, all the campers of Hird, most of the administrative staff and a number of trustees (there for the trustee meeting) and Dave King (who was visiting then) gathered and unveiled the field's new name and read from the plaque on a stone on the Ad Office side of the field. It was sunny and the field was green, and after a few speeches (including a beautiful talk by Jerry Huncosky) my daughter and the Tacoma VC (Jess) and Melissa Pauls (volunteer coodinator and pal) and John Butler (Hird Director) and Bill Abbott all led the singing of "Old Wawayanda." This was a highlight of the summer. Maybe the one end of a bookend of great moments, the other being last night's arms-around-shoulders all-Filreis valediction at the campfire.

Goodbye stunningly good place, goodbye generous people. Well, we'll be back in a few weeks (for the decidation of the Wellness Center) but it'll by then be a different season and mode and this thing--what we've done these last months--will wait until next June. Some way or other, we'll be back. The breeze blows the beech leaves so that they shimmer. A few orange-shirted directors confer in front of Margetts. The laundry folks put out a bag of lost-and-found. The water flowing over Biscuit Falls makes its noise regardless. A trash truck picks up dust coming over the bridge. The Olympic stage is still there. The Family Camp welcome packets are ready to go and alphabetized. The business card of the dad of a very very happy 10-year-old boy is taped to a piece of paper with my note to myself to email him and ask him if there's anything we could have done better, anything at all. A single orange leaf floats down to the grass. The radio crackles with someone talking about checking to see if the Sacky cabins are clean. A framed photo of Charles R. Scott looks over my shoulder.

Filreis Field. It'll take some getting used to. But as Walt Whitman said, "If you want to find me again, look for me under your bootsoles."

When I die let my ashes
flow down Biscuit River.
Let 'em roll on in water
the color of sky.
I'll be halfway to heaven
at a new Wawayanda,
sayin, 'Wawayanda spirit
it never did die.'


All summer, at the end of each session, every camper received a patch - modeled very closely on the old "W" patches we got in the 60s and early 70s. As I reported with some excitement before the summer, the directors here (led by Dan Weir, I think) worked hard to revive this tradition, creating a "W" patch for the campers of Wawayanda and an "H" patch for the Hird kids. As before, a number of each indicates the numbers of years the camper or staff member has been here. A star indicates 10 or more summers. They're smaller than the old ones, but otherwise look the same: same nice felt, some design.

Well this didn't really hit me until this morning, when departing staff also received their patches. And I myself was given one. It's only been about 33 years since I got my last one. That's a lot of time passing between the same simple but powerful symbolic gesture. As I got mine I was standing next to Lee Griffin, a counselor (and son of a friend). This was Lee's 9th year so he got his H-9. Separated (in FV years) by a mere 36 years, we chatted and realized we felt the same way about all this.

friends for life

Ellen Rutan and Jim Ewen visited on Wednesday (8/20/08) and what a gorgeous day it was. Without really thinking about it, I found myself scheduled to give not one, not two, but three Castle tours. Fortunately Jim and Ellen love camp, fit in instantly, and are incredibly knowledgable about the Castle for our Forstmann history. So we did these three together. I'll admit that we got a little goofy by the very end of these sessions and we began telling some ridiculous and apparently believable semi-spooky stories about the Castle. (I generally do not tell such and am always a little sorry when I do. But we had fun and the kids absolutely loved it all.) At the bottom of this entry, you'll see a video clip of Jim telling one such tale.

We had some time to see the 2008 campers and staff do their amazingly loud and together thing in the dining hall after lunch, took a tour of the Wellness Center and saw the dialysis unit in action, and walked through Lakeview Lodge (J. and E. were amazed by this gorgeous building).

They stayed overnight at the Roxbury Inn in Roxbury, which is a few miles beyond Margaretville off Route 28. The manager at the Roxbury is our beloved Leslie Black. I drove over there yesterday morning (snapping the pics of early-turning leaves on trees in the previous entry on the steep hill after Slide Mountain) and met Jim, Ellen, and Leslie for breakfast at a cute little cafe on Roxbury's main street. Jim was first here at Frost Valley in 1959; I and Ellen in the early 60s and Leslie in the we have had many years together, a huge cast of camp characters to talk about, and enough affection for each other to exceed the size of the cute little Catskills town where we spent our sunny morning.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

hints of autumn

Lately at night it's gotten down to 38 degrees. Word came from the farm (in the East Neversink valley) that they had a bit of frost. Yesterday I snapped three photos showing the first hints of fall colors. Autumn now? End of summer? No way. No way. No way. No way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hirdstock '08

Since Hirdstock Field is hardly ever used for anything else but this annual late-August all-camp program, it's ...well ...called "Hirdstock Field". And there we gathered for the 2008 verison of this all-afternoon/all-evening event. It was a good one. Gorgeous weather (ample sunshine, oool temps, a breeze) and great in-camp talent as well as, in the evening, a local band. Here we are near the start of the proceedings.

Several of the male staff shaved and trimmed beards into Fu Manchus, Giles the program director borrowed a pair of women's bellbottoms and wore a hilarious colorful paisley matching top and hat. (If you click on the first image above and look at the guy standing of the stage, you'll get a sense of Giles' get up.) Flowered skirts flowed, and political slogans were scrawled on t-shirts. But most of all (and remember it's the end of a long summer for the staff and some of the campers) the mellow spirit abounds. The kids get it and everyone is relaxed. You might say, at peace.

There were 15 staff per- formances (I myself sang an old camp song), and a series of campers performed in the air-guitar contest - which, for the uninitiated, is like a lip synch contest only instead of singing it's all about movement.

One heard, here and there, strains of "Na an na na, na na na na, hey hey goodbye" and "All we are saying, is keep peace a chance."

Just to make sure this was a serious bein' outdoors experience, we barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers. We formed a circle of 6 or 8 grills and did the sweaty hot business of producing such grilled meat for 700. We did it, primarily because of the organizational skills and outdoor chefery of Kam Kobeissi and Eric Blum. Kam and Eric are shown here amid the smokiness that we all endured for several hours.

Here are a dozen more photos from Hirdstock '08.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

it's never too late to express thanks

A few days ago Kim O'Connell and a friend climbed up part of Slide Mountain, and this experience put Kim in mind of her days at Frost Valley, from 1970 through 1974. She was known then as Kim Aronowitz. (The image is reproduced from a photograph in the 1972 yearbook of Kim and the other CITs that summer. Kim is at the back right, behind Starr Hedrick who was the CIT Director.) After coming down from Slide, Kim went home and starting looking for traces of Frost Valley on the web...and found this blog. Kim now tells a moving story about reuniting with her counselors through the last weeks and days of their father. Here is that story:

As a social worker for Compassionate Care Hospice I have covered many territories in New Jersey. Currently I see patients in Bergen County but two years ago I was covering the Morris, Warren and Sussex areas. I was in our Parsipanny office one day and happened to glance up at our patient board. The board lists patients and their respective nurses. I saw a name that I knew from many years ago. It was Edward Ambry a longtime member of the Frost Valley Board of Trustees. But more importantly he was the father of my two camp counselors the first year I was at Wawayanda. Meg and Susan Ambry along with Anne Marie Kremer were the counselors for the Tent Village (or dirt village as we were lovingly called). Although I was not assigned to the nurse for Ed, I asked if I could be the Social Worker for he and his wife Marge. I spoke by phone to Karen Ambry, the eldest of the Ambry girls, and asked her to tell Susan that I would be following Ed on hospice and to remind her that I had be a camper of hers. I didn't think she'd remember me but to my surprise she did. I went to the Ambry home in Denville and met Marge and Ed. Ed was diagnosed with Alzheimers and Parkinson's disease and was quite ill. Marge stated that he had begun to decline after the death of his daughter Meg in 2000. I remembered Meg as a beautiful and almost ethereal presence. She was a gentle, brilliant soul. I remained the social worker and developed a relationship with Ed and Marge. As a matter of fact we were so taken with each other that Ed asked me to marry him several times. I advised him that he was already married but it not seem to phase him. Ed became more ill and during his illness I was able to meet with Susan again after 36 years. During that time I had the opportunity to tell Sue what it meant to have her as a counselor and a mentor. I was 12 years old and badly in need of nurturing and she provided that and more. Susan had no idea how she affected me and I was able to tell her. I could not have conceived of a time when I would ever have seen her again. Ed finally succumbed and his family was grieved and uplifted by his many accomplishments. I in turn was able to repay a kindness. Unfortunately I couldn't tell Meg Ambry how I was affected by her. Maybe someday I can tell Anne Marie Kremer as well.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tamara remembers Chuck

Tamara Stephenson (now Tamara Crocker) directed our dialysis unit for a number of years from the mid-80s through the early 90s. She worked closely with Chuck White in those years and - we are recently back in touch with her - she took a moment to remember him. If you haven't already read others' remembrances of Chuck, written after his passing this spring, I hope you'll look at those in addition to this from Tamara:

Chuck was such a central, though low-key, figure of Frost Valley life, and an unfailing supporter of the dialysis unit and the children treated there. During ‘my years’ he ushered out the temperamental old generator; and located, arranged purchase, supervised delivery and assumed operation of the new monster generator that replaced it. This was no small task and not without numerous problems (mechanical, logistical, political) as you might imagine, or perhaps, remember. Still, I never doubted Chuck’s abilities to successfully orchestrate the whole operation; and of course, he did!

Best of all, I remember an incident when camp/dialysis staff sent to pick up arriving out-of-state dialysis campers at La Guardia airport called shortly before the plane’s arrival time to say that they had taken a wrong turn at the highway - and were calling from Buffalo! I have no idea how Chuck first heard of this most recent dilemma; but he was the one who came to our rescue and truly saved the day. It turns out that he was able to contact an “old buddy” on the New York City police force who agreed to meet our kids at the plane and drive them and all their luggage out of the city toward Frost Valley. Chuck (of course) was the one to secure another camp vehicle (the first one was still in Buffalo), drive down to meet the children at some pre-designated roadside rest stop and bring them to camp. Amazingly the group arrived at camp on schedule with no real idea that a uniformed police escort was not part of the customary Frost Valley welcome! True to his nature, Chuck made light of the thanks and praise. He just shook his head and enjoyed a good chuckle at the ineptitude of our original efforts.

What a kind, caring and resourceful person and friend Chuck was; and how fortunate Frost Valley, and all of us, were to share a part of life’s journey with him! Thanks, Al, for the update and for the chance to share these old memories. Chuck still makes me smile.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Summit and Westfield, 1968

Here are some of the names of campers coming up to Wawayanda through the Summit YMCA and/or on the Summit NJ bus during the summer of 1968:

David Koury, Bruce Kessler, Joseph LaDuca, Elliott Lewis, Russell Lyles, Mike Marder (attended 3 sessions), David Nufrio, Jon Olesky, Richard Penwell, DAvid Quick, Karl Sackmann, Scott Sellers, Richard Spender, Jim Suurballe, Peter Wallburg, Thomas E. Ward, Gary Weskerna, Diane Pedersen, Cindy Rancke, Ellen Rickard, Holly Riegler, Joanne Schwartz, Virginia ("Ginny") Scott, Nancy Suurballe, Paula Thomas, Laurie Tobias, Laura Walcott, Betsy Wright, Beth Zisman.

And here are some names of campers coming through the Westfield Y and/or on the Westfield bus:

Jim Annese, Henry Blum, Mark Bodycombe, DAvid Brower, Mark Chodosh, Eric Edelson, Al Filreis (3 sessions), Dick and Donn Fishbein, Larry and Randy Fridkis, Norm Gurfinkel (lived in Fanwood), Donald Glass, Barry Glickman, Michael Green, Thomas Harms (3 sessions), Michael Hart, Kenneth Hoffman, Gary and Larry Kaplan, Ellen Alina, Nancy and Ruth Barnett, LIsa Blumental, Carol Bresky, Nancy Chodosh, Jody Davies (later Jody Davies Ketcham), Sue Ettelman, Liane Filreis, Pam Fish, Carol Glick, Jill and Lori Glickman, Jane Goldman, Elise Gottlieb, Cathy and Barbara Hale, Ellen Hart, Carol Hayes, Peggy Hope, and Martha Earl (all 4 sessions).

two camp generations on a Friday

Allye and Jesse Glicker had visitors yesterday and took part of the morning off to spend time with Aunt Dawn and Uncle Russ. Yes, these are the Helfands, who, with sister Robin (the Glickers' mom), were mainstays here in the 70s and early 80s. From left to right: Jim Huebner (Dawn's husband); Russ Helfand; Jesse Glicker, Susky counselor; Heidi Benoit, Russ' wife; Dawn Helfand Huebner; Allye Glicker, VC of Lakota.

barn on Olympic Circle

Behind this barn you can see a bit of Wildcat Mountain and the western edge of the old calf barn, later our Administration Office. Yes, you are looking from the vantage of Smith Lodge across the Olympic Circle but there's a big barn there! Right you are: until it was destroyed by a fire our "Olympic Circle" was the footprint of a barn.

It stands to reason. When I first came here the circle of grass was neatly outlined in stone; the thing was raised up above the unpaved farm road by about 6 inches. It has obviously been carefully designed and landscaped. No farmer, nor a Catskills landowner like Forstmann, would have put such effort into creating a mere rounded field of lawn, which is what our O Circle is now. When the barn burned perhaps there were plans to replace it but then the property was sold and the camp had good use for this little circular field. And so it is.

On check-in days in the 60s the Circle was decorated around with the flags of 30 or so countries. It was quite striking.

Forstmann family tree

There's so much well-intentioned but nonetheless loose talk about the Forstmann family and their summer home (our "Castle") that it seemed apt here in this blog to set at least the lineage straight.

Julius Forstmann, born 1871, died 1939, married Adolfine Lynen (1979-1953). The two had five children:

Reinhold 1908-1940
Carl 1904-1922
Curt 1907-1950
Julius G. 1911-1962
Louise 1915-1983

Louise married Kenneth Wilson and they had at least two children, Stephen (b. 1939) and Cecily.

Curt married Elizabeth Allen in 1931 and later was remarried to Seabury Marsh. Curt and Elizabeth had three children: Peter, Annie and Richard.

Julius the younger lived in Greenwich CT and married Dorothy and was later re-married to Mrs. Sammis. Julius had three children, Anthony, Theodore and Nicholas. Theodore is known as Ted or sometimes Teddy.

A few more words about Ted. Theodore J. Forstmann (born 1940) is one of the founding partners of Forstmann Little & Company, a private equity firm. He is unmarried and has no children. Forstmann is a graduate of Greenwich Country Day School, Phillips Academy, Yale University and Columbia Law School. At Yale he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He is usually known as "Ted" (occasionally "Teddy" to friends and family). Ted Forstmann, an attorney, founded Forstmann Little in 1978 with his brother Nicholas C. Forstmann, who later died of lung cancer, and William Brian Little. Ted Forstmann's second brother, J. Anthony Forstmann, founded ForstmannLeff. He was featured prominently in the book Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, as he and his company attempted to acquire RJR Nabisco. In the subsequent film adaptation, he was portrayed by actor David Rasche. The book portrayed Forstmann as a critic of KKR's Henry Kravis and his investment methods. Forstmann's criticism of Kravis (and much of the rest of the financial industry during the 1980s) centered around the use of junk bond (high-yield) investments to raise large amounts of capital. When the junk bond market later fell into disfavor as a result of scandal, Forstmann's criticism was seen as prescient, as his more conventional investment strategy had been able to maintain nearly the same level of profitability as companies such as KKR and Revlon that built their strategy around high-yield debt.

The photo above was probably taken in the 1910s, perhaps the mid-10s. Here is Adolfine and two of the Forstmann sons.

archiving with Windsong

One of the counselors in Windsong - Anna Armstrong, who herself has been here for years beginning as a young camper - organized a double-period session with me yesterday here in the Historical Room of the Ad Office. We gathered her and I described what was in the Frost Valley/Wawayanda archive, a deep closet now very very well organized with file drawers, archive boxes, deeds and meeting minutes and annual reports, photos, old issues of The Wawayanda Whirlwind and the Wawayanda Wasp and Frost Valley Life, staff lists and even camper lists for early years.

Carefully recording the files removed, we handed our archive folders to each of the girls who wanted to read them. Others sorted through old staff shirts dating back to the 1960s, others read through the 1979-1980 Staff Wellness Manual with the idea of comparing our ideas about health and wellness now with these revolutionary ideas of the late 70s, and still another group sat my computer and tried to Google the names of campers from the 1968 camper lists, seeing if we could locate any. (We did!)

Melanie Vargas took notes on wellness then and now. She wrote this, in part: "No TCS. No Too Cool Syndrome. No camper should be 'too cool' for any activity. This creates a stress-free environment. This makes FV the true melting pot America is supposed to be. The country itself may only be the ingredients but Frost Valley is the real melting pot where the flavors blend to become the tempting stew. From Building Wellness Lifestyle page 4, paragraph 1, line 2, I read: 'Learn more from what we do than from what we say.' Recently a counselor said to me, "Youdon't realize what an effect you have on us." Just yesterday I learned about Sunshine Village [a one-week village of kids undergoing drug rehab]. It's meant to show those just out of rehab what else there is, what opportunities they have. Having attended FV myself since 10 years old I've been exposed to those opportunities. I'd never have been so liberal, open-minded, or cultured without this place. Here we're away from the judgments and harsh cruelty of society. In a few short weeks here we lose our own judgments and gossip doesn't change our opinions. First impressions don't matter. All campers gain courage and confidence."

During our session our CEO Jerry Huncosky stopped in to talk with the girls. One of the girls was reading through a long-range planning document that called for the replacement of all cabins with lodges, one super-lodge for each existing village of five cabins. She asked Jerry his view of the cabins vs. the lodges. Before he describe his preference (strongly for the cabins) the girls discussed it with them. All but one preferred the cabins. Later Georgia Gleason wrote about this: "Campers at Frost Valley who have lived in lodges and cabins usually have an opinion about which they prefer.... It's cool in the cabins to look at all the names and dates carved in the walls. Thinking about all the different girls and boys who slept in the bunks long ago is interesting to dream about. Cabins provide 8 individuals the same age an opportunity to bond and grow very close to each other. Lodges on the other hand hold more people and allow everyone to be part of a bigger family. Lodges such as Kresge [where Windsong lives] are really great because they have a main room in the center where the girls meet to hang out and say goodnight. Wherever you stay at Frost Valley there will be fun things to do, great times to experience, and the most fun, cool and exciting people on earth."

Tammy Oruwariye became fascinated with a document dated 1966. The "Construction Engineers" (CE) program had not gone well the previous summer apparently. "Bad leadership" was the complaint and the situation was presented to the trustee-led "Wawayanda Committee," which recommended at one of its fall meetings that the CE Program be discontinued. Tammy asked me what the CE program was and why it was shut down and she wanted to imagine what overnight camping and hiking would be like today if the trails and lean-tos and overnight sites had been kept up by camper volunteers in CE all those summers. She first wrote about her own overnight experiences. Then: "Imagine if we had the CEs now. It would make hiking so much better and easier." The end of the CEs, she wrote, "remains a mystery in my mind." What did she mean by this, I asked her later. "It seems like such a good idea. Maybe we can do something like this again."

Sherley Wetherheld was another who read the Wellness Lifestyles manual and it got her to thinking about her own time here. "As a Windsong camper (the equivalent of Cherokee Village, for those of you who remember playing 45s of the Beatles and the Doors), my last days as a camper loom darkly and inevitable. I have done quite a big of thinking lately. What will I say at Vespers? How have I made my mark on Frost Valley? Will I make CIT? How will my life be changed? I can try to answer one question: What is the allure and magic of Frost Valley? It's the feel-goodness that surrounds us every time we set foot on Frost Valley property. While flipping through "Building Wellness Lifestyles" I realized that all of the ideals Frost Valley stood for in the 70s still hold true in the 21st century. Here's the conclusion of the old booklet: We hope all of us will agree that after spending the summer together that wellness was never intended to be boring coursework, putting people down, getting everyone to behave the same way, a program for super-jocks, or a drag. It is intended to be health enhancing, enlivening, inspiring, and to make us feel good inside. Which is exactly what Frost Valley does for me. It makes me feel good. The way we all share our secrets and keep them too, the way we become a family, but closer, and know that we will always be friends, and in our hearts, we'll always be campers, and know where to find some of that Frost Valley magic."

I had a centennial year staff T-shirt to give away to one of the Windsong kids at the end of the program but they were all so into this exploration into their camp's history it didn't seem appropriate to single out one kid, but everyone instantly agreed that Anna Armstrong, the counselor who came up with this idea, should have it. She was delighted and wore it the rest of the day. It turns out that today, the next day, she was leaving camp for the summer (needing to go back to college a bit early). So this was a fine farewell gathering, some reflection, some connecting to the larger community here, and a new shirt to prove it. The girls applauded her when she showed them her new FV possession.

1960 dining hall dedication ceremony

Above is the program for the dedication of the newly built main dining hall in the year 1960. (It was unnamed at the time; only later was it given the name Thomas Hall after Emerson Thomas.)

Ed Tomb spoke a few words here. Ed was instrumental in the move from NJ to Frost Valley in the late 50s and was a key figure in maintaining good relations between the new "Frost Valley Association Y" and the feeder Y branches in NJ who'd had a proprietary view of Wawayanda, deeming it "their" camp to which to send children in the summers. As Frost Valley became its own strong and vibrant organization, Ed was one of those who kept the peace among the Y parts. We named the Administration Building after Ed and there's a nice picture of Ed and his wife Elsie in the main room of the office.

Note too that Henry Hird himself - Floyd's father - spoke here too.

"Jimmy Ewen" is Jim Ewen - whose father Ed was a key Y guy (ran the Westfield Y for some years, I think). Jim must have been quite young when asked to speak at this program. When I got here as a camper Jim was a mainstay camper and then staff member, VC of Forest, trip leader, horsebarn director (hilarious) and eventually - in '73 - a camp director. He's a dear friend and I've written about him before. Have a look. Jim met the love of his life - Ellen Rutan - here (at the horsebarn in fact!) and I'm happy to report that Jim and Ellen will be visiting for a day next week.

Then Floyd Hird, Henry's son, spoke.

And then Walter Margetts - a strong but kindly and elegant man. Not a great speaker but a great effective person. He was the Forstmann's attorney and at the same time a long-time Wawayanda man and it was Walter who brought the two together. We really owe Walter's backing-and-forthing between the two, a truly unlikely match, to the move here and the extraordinary development of the camp into one of the nations' few great camping and conference facilities. Walter's son Tom was a member of our Board for many years until just a few years ago. The Margettses are still in contact, here and there, with members of the Forstmann Family.