Sunday, March 23, 2008

patches are back

Until the mid-1970s, every camper, at his or her final closing campfire of the summer, received a "Wawayanda patch." It was treasured. The number on your patch signified the number of summers. I remember holding my W5 during my Lenape summer (I was there six weeks), proud as all get-out, watching the embers of the fire, mesmerized by the last part of the patch-awarding sequence where people like Bud Cox, Digger Shortt, Dave King and others got their W12, W14.... (I got both of those later.)

For a summer or two in the mid-70s we experimented with "FV" patches - big colorful things - but they didn't seem to have the value of the old felt black-and-orange W's.

I remember strolling as a teenager in Manhattan, seeing some freaky long-haired guy sitting on a bench in Central Park. I took a second look and saw that he was wearing a jacket that had ten of these Wawayanda patches sewed onto it. Of course I approached him and we talked for an hour about camp.

In the earliest years, the patch was shaped as a W - with no number or shield.

Anyway, these patches were always merely symbolic and the system was administratively complex (you want to give each kid the right patch, at the right campfire), but it's one of those things that brings kids back the next summer.

There are many people who, upon reading this entry, will go to the closet and find their patches. There are several FV generations who will respond by wondering why we gave up the patches before their time.

Well, Dan Weir and others among the current directors are bringing back the patches - for the summer of 2008 and beyond. Campers this summer will get their new patch at the end of their stay, and apparently will receive (in the mail?) all their previous patches. Campers in Hird - for the older kids, Sacky and Hemlock and older - will receive, e.g., an "H4" if it's the fourth summer camp; but she also will have a W1 for her Pokey summer, a W2 for Susky, a W3 for Lakota, and the H4 for the first summer in Hird (Sacky). The directors will have to deal with the clamor among staff for their patches and figure out whether post-camper-years patches will be W's or H's. I'm Old School and would grab the W.

So here, below, are your sneak previews of...the return of the patches.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

FV shorts spotted in Winter Haven

How many reading this have ever experienced the following: you're off somewhere, far away, out of context, some outlying spot, and you look up and see a stranger wearing a Frost Valley hat, a Wawayanda felt patch, FV gym shorts, a CIT t-shirt, and you ask, "Do you know Frost Valley?" and the next thing you know you're talking about a dozen people who like in common.

Ken and Sue Barton (I've mentioned them here before - Ken was our Program Director in the early 70s and Sue ran Arts & Crafts) do a lot of traveling around these days. I'll let Ken take over from here (a recent email to me):

"So there we are having lunch in Winter Haven, Florida, on a recent trip to Grandma’s and Disney World, when my bride notices a guy wearing FV shorts. A conversation ensues and... from Grahamsville, New York, we meet Scott Nyhof. His Dad was the pastor in Grahamsville, and Halbe was one of the board Members. He knew many of the camp families kids going back as far as Jim Marion. He is a geologist now and lives in Lakeland, Florida."

I have Scott's email address and we will be in touch. He's interested in reading what's on this blog. He's got some catching up to do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

the smell of our cabins reaches Afganistan

Peter King, who writes for Sports Illustrated, is on a USO tour of Afganistan - or, rather, he's covering the tour of NFL players there. SI's web site today has a kind of journal of King's impressions of being there. Here is what he says when he arrives and sees his sleeping quarters:

"We check into our barracks at Bagram Air Base, a major staging area for allied forces in Afghanistan. We're in a classic, old seven-bunk bedroom that reminds me of Frost Valley in the New York Catskills on Indian Princess weekends with my daughters. Same musty smell."

Ah, that fantastic smell of our cabins. It hits his nose all the way around the world. Unforgettable sense.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Forstmann helps demo campfire

Julius himself could have taught you how to build a proper campfire. Yes.

There seems little doubt to me that this photograph was taken along Pigeon Brook.

This is a photograph found in the New York State Archives. It was probably taken in 1920, and forstmann is third from the left. Here's what the archive notes say: "View of seven men standing in a forest by a stream watching an eighth man start a campfire. The original caption for this photograph reads: 'Forstman party - not for CC fires.' Julius Forstmann owned a large estate in Denning, Ulster County in the Catskill Mountains, and the third man from the left appears to be Forstmann. The date is unknown, but may be ca.1920. This image was created to record the forest fire prevention activities of the New York State Conservation Commission."