Saturday, May 30, 2009

remember our newts?

Reid Bauer has written a short essay on Frost Valley's legendary newts. Click on the image at right for a larger view of the article.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Page one of the 1973 staff list.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Charles Kremer (1914-2009)

Charles Kremer died on May 21 at the age of 95. The photograph here was taken on his 90th birthday at the Kremer home in Claryville. Here is a statement made by Charles' son John:

It is with a sad heart that I must write to inform you and the rest of the FV community of the recent death of my father, Charles J. Kremer; patriarch of the Kremer family, who provided many years of service to Frost Valley, spanning three generations. As you know, both of my parents, me, and all six of my siblings have work at FV over the years. That association is also responsible for the addition of three in-laws to the family!

After his retirement from the corporate world, my father found distraction from his life of leisure by briefly working in the maintenance department. He participated in the winterization of the early cabins and the first expansion of the old Thomas Lodge dining hall when Hemlock lounge, rest rooms and an enlarged kitchen were added. Our family has lived full-time in Claryville since 1972, but has summered in the area since the 50’s.

My father was a gracious man, quiet by nature, kind in sprit, and loving to his family and community. He was an ordinary man shaped by extraordinary times, and I think my brother Andy summed it up best when he said he will always be remember as the soul of our family just as our mother is the heart.

He died on May 21 in Minnesota, comforted by my mother, Marie, his wife of 65 years, and surrounded by his children and so much love. At 95, he led a full and remarkable life for which we are all blessed.

--John Kremer

songs of the Hird '85

'84 was the year we started to refer to Camp Henry Hird as "the Hird." It was now the older of the two camps - co-ed gathering of the oldest villages. "The Hird" (as in a herd of loud spirited people) seemed apt. Above is a song-sheet I made for The Hird in '85. "Hey Look Us Over" was a traditional Girls' Camp (Camp Hird) song we decided to keep, with slight adjustment. It didn't catch on and I think is no longer sung by anyone. "You Ain't Goin Nowhere" (or "Ooo Wee") had been adapted by John Mumford and me in '74 and got revived big-time in '84 and '85 and is still sung lots. (There are more verses that you see here.) "That's the Way that the Hird Goes Round," based on a John Prine song, was great fun. We sang it as part of a kind of after-lunch dining hall skit. We wrote verses particular about individual staff and a few of the older campers.

find someone who was once your own secret sweetie

Click HERE and you'll have a PDF copy of the two-page "Human Scavenger Hunt" we did after breakfast on the first full day of the 2001 (Wawayanda Centennial) reunion at Frost Valley. Most readers of this blog will know how we play Human Scavenger Hunt, but just in case you've half-forgotten: you run around collecting signatures of anyone who can answer the question or can do the task asked. "Find someone who brought the 'Pygmy' stories to Frost Valley." There were at least two of those people in the room that morninng: Bob Hettler and Ken Barton (from Camp Fitch, where the Lake Erie-bound pygmies were first sighted). Or: "Find all the members of the Sacker family who are here at this reunion." Easy--there were two: David and Diane. "Find someone who can briefly explain what this was all about: George Gruner's boycott of Wonderbread." That was in '73, the time of the CIA overthrow of Allenda in Chile and the connection between ITT Bakeries (who made Wonderbread) and the CIA. Okay, get it? Now click on the PDF, download, and see how we'll you would have done.

Monday, May 25, 2009

we're twittering

Click here to follow us on twitter.

get out your handkerchiefs

I wish we had an accurate count of the number of couples who met while working at Frost Valley and later married. Dozens, surely.

FV alumnus Max Flatow, previously mentioned in this blog, is an excellent photographer. That's one thing. Another is: two Frost Valley couples (each met at Frost Valley and both couples are currently engaged to be wed) are looking for some wonderful Frost Valley-situated photographs to celebrate their engagements. Enter Max. Below are two of the many photos Max took of them. They are: Dan Weir and Alison (Ali) Ryczek, and Jeff Daly and Kelly Zingone. For more, go here and here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

July 4, 1959

This is a photo I've admired for years. One of the great shots of the early era. It's 1959, July 4. To kick off the celebration, three staff re-enacted the spirit of '76: Mike DeVita, Dave King, Tom Squires. They led everyone from flag raising to the dining hall. (To orient you: that's the old Forstmann garage, then the Arts & Crafts shop, now the bottom floor of Hayden Lodge, off to the right. So the three are actually going, for the moment, in the wrong direction; they must have looped around.)

first lifers

Hal Ressmeyer and Mike DeVita saying goodbye to campers at the end of fourth session. These boys were in Forest all 8 weeks. Frost Valley's first lifers. Where are they now? Does anyone recognize them by name? Notice the lanyard hanging from the belt of the boy in black.

Rick Sanborn, CIT

Rick Sanborn. He was a CIT in 1959, Wawayanda's second summer at Frost Valley. He spent as much time as he could that summer at the waterfront. (Photo courtesy Mike DeVita.)

Outpost '58

This is cabin 12 (now numbered 8 and called "Infinity" when the eight is turned sideways) in its very first summer. Brand new! Note the carefully tended rocks around the porch "foundation." This was Outpost Village that summer, and for many years later until the late 80s. For most of those years the VC of Outpost lived in 12 (it sits in the center of the uphill flat-ish semi-circle that used to be cabins 11 through 15). In '58 the VC was Bruce Bohrer and that's Bruce.

"Roman Celebration Day"

1959. It's an all-camp program, one of those thematic gigs: "Roman Celebration Days." Ralph Holt leads Ceaesar (Mike DeVita) to the dining hall during the Roman Celebration Days. Camp secretary Marian is at his side (one of the few women in camp). The campers from Mike's cabin in Forest Village hold the cape as his attendants. And below is another shot of DeVita and his attendants, looking fairly dramatic and authentic.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Geyer, Kellogg inducted into hall of fame

Sorry for the iPhone picture--low quality, no zoom. Dave Mager took some photos too with one of his super-fabulous cameras, so perhaps soon I'll have some better ones to post.

This was last night, at the Newark Club. Frost Valley's annual dinner. We inducted two new members into the now two-year-old Frost Valley Hall of Fame: Helen Geyer and Jim Kellogg. (The photo shows Helen at the podium responding to the honor.)

Among the alumni present: Mike Marder, Sue Ettelman Eisenhower, John Butler, Lauren LaMauro, Mark Showers, Bill Abbott (trustee), Roger Leon (who was also the keynote speaker), Lisa Ernst (also our Development Director), Nicky Rinklin.

Here's a profile of Helen Geyer:
She is widely known and admired for her work as a film and television actress and as a model, and for her innumerable appearances on magazine covers. She is also widely known and cherished for her many years of volunteer work and civic leadership in Montclair, New Jersey—with the Montclair Art Museum, the Garden Club, the Presby Memorial Iris Garden, and of course the Helen & Bill Geyer YMCA of Montclair Family Center. We honor Helen Geyer tonight for these and other achievements, but to members of her Frost Valley family she is and will always be known and respected first and foremost for her devoted service as the first-ever womanon the Frost Valley YMCA Board of Trustees. Helen had been introduced to Wawayanda by her late husband Bill at around the time of the breakthrough that has been said to have been the single most important factor in preventing the then-62-year-old camp’s financial failure and irrelevance: the long overdue admission of girls to a new “Camp Wawayanda for Girls,” the building of the cluster of lodges, cabins and dining hall that came to be known as Camp Henry Hird. Forty-five years later, when Frost Valley again faced a turning point, a campaign commenced to revitalize and create a new core around those same buildings, it was appropriate that Helen Geyer was the first to step up and show support. Her contribution to this effort culminated in the naming of the former Girls’ Dining Hall—once renovated, it became the centerpiece of the project—after one of Frost Valley’s true pioneers: Geyer Hall. When all is said and done, family is Helen Geyer’s primary motivation for her decade of service; Helen often says that she and Bill have always thought of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren together as “a YMCA family.” Tonight indeed we honor…a great YMCA family.
And here is a profile of Jim Kellogg:
In the era of priority-shifting, ceaselessly reorganizing, moving-target nonprofit boards, Jim Kellogg’s steadfastness, focused commitment, and deep sense of the volunteer’s honor shone like a beacon across the national landscape; and thus Frost Valley shone too. Jim served as a member of Frost Valley’s Board of Trustees for three decades and for fifteen of those years was our Board President, succeeding Woody English. The two together can be said without exaggeration to have provided a vision of continuity unparalleled in camping. Not coincidentally this was the period in which Frost Valley’s summer camp program solidified its roots and re-attained greatness, the environmental education program was created, the conference program rose to a level of size and prominence that just two or three other camps attained, financial aid was awarded to needy families, international partnerships were constituted, and disabled children were mainstreamed into the camp without hesitation or blink of an institutional eye. Jim provided leadership when Frost Valley had to effect an efficient, never-look-back recovery from disaster by fire. Always looking problems and challenges straight on, Jim saw obstacles as opportunities, adhering without fanfare but firmly to the two-word version of Frost Valley’s mission: “Build Strong.” His service to Frost Valley has been part of a larger context of volunteer leadership and civic engagement. He has been the President of the Community Foundation of New Jersey, a member of the Bloomfield College Board of Trustees, President of the Children’s Specialized Hospital of Mountainside, and President of the J. C. Kellogg Foundation. Jim Kellogg’s distinguished career demonstrates an unmatched generosity of commitment to public service, eloquently bespeaking this core tenet: we must invest in others, so that everyone, regardless of economic background or circumstances, has the resources necessary to maximize his or her potential. Jim Kellogg truly does build strong, and when we honor him tonight we honor our most basic reason for being as an organization.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

a glance at 1970

Here is page one of the 1970 Frost Valley summer staff list. Note that it's titled "Camp Wawayanda Staff" even though by that time we were referring to "Girls Camp" as "Camp Hird" or "Camp Henry Hird for Girls." Some habits died slowly. When people asked me around my hometown what I was doing for the summer, and I said, "I'm going to camp," and they asked where, I'd say "Wawayanda." Just that. They knew. If I'd said "Frost Valley," they wouldn't know.

Peter and Nancy Barnett were Westfield mainstays. Nancy must have been a very young staff member in '70. I believe it was only in '71 that she was a CIT. Jeff Bohn, an LIT here (that was the summer after CIT), eventually was a counselor in Totem: I remember him as slight-shouldered, thin, very long hair combed in a middle part, soft-spoken, mild-mannered, and peaceful (in a counter-cultural sort of way). Susan and Meg Ambry were the daughters of Ed Ambry, who later became very involved in the development of our Environmental Education program and served as a member of our Board. The Ambry sisters and Ed have been discussed in this blog, earlier.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Visiting Day, 1964

Isabel Banton Clowe (in the great glasses) is visited by her mother on Visiting Day at Camp Wawayanda in 1964. In those days: just park the old family station wagon alongside one of the camp paths, open 'er up and have yourself a picnic.

Monday, May 4, 2009

embrace nature

Today Frost Valley is featured in the New York Daily News. Click here for the article.