Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Windsong (the oldest girls) are leaving this afternoon for a two-nighter, starting at Pete's Pavilion. Here are some of them at lunch. They got their sunglasses, their hiking boots, their braided hair and t-shirts...and seem ready to go.

sister counselors

Never before in the history of Frost Valley have there been siblings serving as counselor and junior counselor assigned to the same cabin. Am I right? Please tell me if there is a precedent. In this instance, we have sisters - indeed, daughters of an alumnus, Peter Boyd - as C/JC in cabin 21 in Pokey. They are Sarah (JC) and Elizabeth (C) Boyd. And what a combo they are. I played Geronimo with Pokey, Totem and the youngest Mac kids (who are housed in two cabins) and loved seeing the kids' wonderfully positive response to the Boyd sisters.

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A note from John Butler asserts--correctly, to be sure--that I am wrong about the Boyd sisters being first. "Joel and Court Ambrosino were co-counselors in Outpost, Cabin Infinity [#8] in 2002 (I think this was the year) session 3 or 4. Court was a JC, and Joel was the HC. Their other brother Ben was the assistant Program Director then too (or maybe even Program Director...)." Ben did work full-year at FV and spent at least one summer as Program Director, yes.

Monday, June 29, 2009

opening day 2009

Terrific, successful opening day yesterday. Rain held off - and indeed, part of the afternoon was a blue-sky/puffy-clouds affair. Many parents volunteered (didn't need to be asked) about the efficiency of our system, which readers of this blog will know has been perfected over years, decades: since we can't have parents' cars climbing the hilly roads up through the villages, we have to have folks check luggage whereupon CIT's (they themselves just arrived) move and sort it, load it onto trucks, and trucks deliver. Usually the delivery has been made before the family is done checking in at the dining hall and has walked up to the village. Since I spent the afternoon escorting families from the dining hall to the villages--giving directions, smoothing the way, chatting them up about the glories of the place--I saw this rational system work at first hand. The counselors, bedecked with their nice collared green staff shirts and constant smiles, greeted them all happily. Jeff Daly (current master of the perfect check-in day) said at the end of the afternoon that we pitched a two hitter. Which is to say, we scattered two overall harmless snafus across the whole process. I have to say, though, that the pitching analogy breaks down since there are more than 27 possibilities for success, plus we have about 25 pitches in our range of approaches.

Alumni who were here: Lee Fleischer, dropping of his son and helping out at the Wellness Center; John Wellington, giving directions and being proud of Jack, a CIT and Kelsey, now a counselor; Peter Tilles, dad of Amanda and Olivia (both campers); Ken Nathanson (dad of Sam, a Pac boy); Sandy Bohn, here for her usual stint (two weeks) helping out as a driver, Challenge Night judge, etc., over the moon about daughter Shaina, a VC, and Mariah, a counselor in Mac Girls, and Braxton, a Pac boy; Sue Ettelman Eisenhower; John Butler, a many-year guy (15?), Hird Director in recent summers, who now works full-time in Newark but took the day to help out. John's cameo at opening campfire received a big applause from the campers and staff. Welcome home, John.

Above, left to right: Olivia Tilles, Hannah Filreis, Amanda Tilles, Braxton Bohn.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

FV guy on billboard

We were driving along through Philly a few weeks ago, when suddenly Hannah shouted, "Dad! Look! It's Eric Colton! On that billboard." Surely enough: it was. Eric is at Drexel and he's the perfect poster boy, so there you have it. Eric, alas, is in school this summer and will miss this go-round at FV, but his sister Lisa is a CIT coordinator and mom, a former camper, continues to sing camp songs on long drives and plans, with Eric, to visit.

nail your shoes to the kitchen floor

Here are the chords to a favorite camp song of Bud Cox. The other night Bud and I went out to dinner at a nice little place in Grahamsville, and on the drive back to camp, with the windows open (despite the rain), we sang this song together, loudly and happily. Tom Paxton's "Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound."

Monday, June 22, 2009

rest in peace

Sat shiva this afternoon (along with Jerry Huncosky and others) at the home of Eva Gottscho. It happened that we were there with members of the Gottscho Kidney Foundation Board, so it was a bit of a reunion. Al Wickens, long-time leader of the Gottscho Board, was there with his wife Pat. Eva's daughter Judy showed me a painting of her sister Ruth, who died of kidney failure many, many years ago and whose early death gave Eva the impetus to do everything that she has done for kids with renal disease. Here are photos of the painting of Ruth and another shot of the same painting near a photo of Eva.

gracious giver

First full day of staff training: Windsong staff, asked to lead the morning grace, starts off a spirited rendition of the ol' ditty: Gracious giver of all good, thee we thank for....

droppin' off the staff

Yesterday was busy. The main body of the staff arrived - counselors and junior counselors. That means in some cases parents driving them here, and so, for me, a series of mini-reunions. This gang took a long walk with me - for the purpose of showing the place to Alexander (guy with the long hair) who directs a YMCA in Macedonia and is creating various partnerships with the Y run by Bob Lamauro.

From left to right: Bud Cox, Bob Lamauro, Nick Lamauro, Alexander (sorry, I didn't catch his last name), Ben Connell, Ladd Connell.

Nick decided to work at camp somewhat at the last minute. He's a counselor, having JC'd in Totem two summers ago (in the most challenging little boys--cabin 24--I'd seen in a long while). Through the Totem fire and now into the easy light of Outpost. Ben Connell will be a counselor in Outpost too. Ladd, as I've mentioned in this blog before, was a CIT with me in 1971 and we've stayed in touch ever since. Ladd is one of the neighborly Connells we've known for a generation: the family has owned the land west of FV, between FV and Claryville along the Neversink. Ladd and his family now live in northern Virginia.

The very talented former VC Lauren Lamauro was here yesterday too, but managed to evade this photo moment.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

the surreal surprise of arrival

Something like 31 inter- national counselors (most of them new to FV, a few returners) arrived at around 10 pm last night. They'd endured a dozen or more hours of airports and flights and then the wiles of JFK, whereupon one energetic staff-shirted Frost Valley staffer met them with a smile and an enthusiasm not seemingly typical of other airport denizens, pushed into a camp mini-bus, and through the absolutely pouring rain driven 2-plus hours into the torrential darkness and into the mountains, bumping down the pot-holey camp road the final 7 miles, and brought to what we know as the bottom of Geyer Hall. There, super well-lit, awaited 40 or so VCs, adventure staff, program staff and directors. A double line formed, a happy welcoming gauntlet of rhythmically clapping folks, and as the bleary-eyed sleepy internationals entered their first Frost Valley space, they were greeted thus. Some brightened, some stared like deer in headlights, some actually shielded their eyes. There followed some music, lots of greetings (handshakes and even some hugs), and an announcement that they would now be escorted to various lodgings by way of wet dark unknown paths. This morning they were awakened at 7:45 in their new time zone, and led to the dining hall for breakfast. By now some are meeting with their VCs, while the program staff formed a circle in the drizzle and met their program directors, Mike Obremski (guy with beard, talking) and Megan Lawrence (blue shirt with back to us). One of the sleepy new ones, Kieran Murphy (guitar slung over shoulder) will teach music this summer; he's mainly a piano guy and surely one of his projects this week will be to look around camp to see what keyboards we have. Of course there's the one in the Castle, he'll be told. Imagine his surprise when he gets directed there, and wanders into that unexpectedly luxurious room and sees that the "camp piano" is a custom-made 1912 Steinway. Let's face it. For the new arrival, this is a beautifully strange place.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

another rainy June

How many of us remember torrentially rainy late Junes here at Frost Valley? I suppose '72 was the worst - literally a wash-out. Biscuit Creek overflowed its steep banks and ran a shortcut to the Neversink across Olympic Circle through Big Tree Field and joined the Neversink almost as far down as the lake! In 2007 it rained through staff training and most of the days during first session. Let's just hope that the current rain ceases when the campers arrive next weekend. Above is a photo taken yesterday of Biscuit Creek falls - from the bridge.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Eva Gottscho is dead at 96

For those of us whose time at Frost Valley overlapped with 1975 or postdated that year, we remember Eva Gottscho personally, one way or another. She was (with Halbe Brown and Ira Greifer) one of the three driving forces behind the creation of our dialysis program (for children with renal failure), and it was, to be sure, Eva's idea in the first place.

Now Eva has died at 96 years old.

Above & at right: Eva Gottscho, Halbe Brown, and Ira Greifer are shown cutting the ribbon at the dedication of the then-new dialysis center at Frost Valley in 1975. (At the far right is Dr. Bill Primack.)

Those who predate Eva's involvement with Frost Valley are surely not surprised to know (before this, I'm sure) that Wawayanda/Frost Valley was the one camp that took a chance at mainstreaming these children, whose medical needs scared off a lot of other camps before Eva found us and partnered with us.

Eva was stalwart and always sure that we were doing the right thing - even though she also never ever forgot the sadness associated with the illness and early death of her own daughter, Ruth Carole - after whom our dialysis center is named: The Ruth Carole Gottscho Kidney Dialysis Center at Frost Valley.

Funeral services are Friday (6/19/09) at Menorah Chapels at Millburn, 2950 Vauxhall Road, Vauxhall, NJ 07088 (908) 964-1500 (family will begin to receive friends at 10:45 am). The family will sit shiva at Eva's home, 7 West Beechcroft Road, Short Hills, NJ 07078, on Monday June 22 from 2 PM to 9 PM.

You can be SURE that Eva's family will greatly appreciate your cards and notes, sent to the Beechcroft Road address given just above. Please tell the family how much the dialysis program at Frost Valley means to you and to us, even if you yourself didn't know Eva personally.

You can listen to Eva's FV Hall of Fame acceptance speech by going

You can read a summary of Eva's final summer visit to the dialysis unit last summer here.

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Stuart Kaufer

A little later, Stuart Kaufer (who was the coordinator of our dialysis unit for some years) wrote this remembrance:

"Besides Al’s messages I came home tonight to a message from Eva’s daughter Judy who told me that her mom had been ill for past several weeks, was pretty unaware of what was going on and that Judy was with Eva when she died. Much will be said about Eva in the next days and many of us will have our own memories. Besides her toughness and ability to conduct business, . . . Eva had a huge heart and soul. Her life was immeasurably changed when she was able to start the dialysis program at FV. It helped her preserve her daughter’s memory but, it also had a huge impact on Eva. We made such a big production of her visits each summer, special lunches, tributes, letters from the kids…but her most important moments at camp were when she was just talking to the kids on dialysis. I often thought she was amazed she made it possible, that Ruth’s dream of going to camp came true for so many kids each summer. When some of the kids wanted to stay for another 2-4 weeks Eva never said no. She simply said, send the bill.... A force of nature for sure but a soft touch and a tender heart. For that more than anything, she will be sorely missed."

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Rick & Phyllis Kaskel

Rick & Phyllis Kaskel sent us this statement: "It is with great fondness and appreciation that we remember Eva Gottscho in her passing. She was a visionary who shared her dreams for a camp that children and families challenged with chronic condition could one day enjoy the beauty and freedom of place such as Frost Valley. Through her efforts well over 1500 such children experienced life-long confidence building and encouragement fostered by the Frost Valley YMCA Ruth Carole Gottscho Chidlren's Dialysis Unit. Her heart was and remains in all that we are today and will only enable us to Build Strong as we continue with her dreams." (Rick is the Medical Director of Frost Valley's Summer Kidney Camp Program.)

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Jerry Huncosky

And Jerry Huncosky, Frost Valley's CEO, has written this:

This morning we lost a great friend and true advocate for children with kidney disease.

We all know the history of Ruth and Eva, but many did not know Eva and the wonderful life she lived giving back to the community and especially the children. Besides the millions she has spent on our dialysis program she has donated millions to Rutgers as well as supporting transportation costs for any dialysis patient who could not afford it.

Eva was a warrior when it came to providing for children. She never hesitated to pick up the phone and use her influence to help anybody in need.

Eva and I spoke nearly monthly for the past six years and visited each other several times a year. She always had a hug and kiss for me and always told me she loved me. During our last conversation, she called to talk about life. We talked about our families about God and about the beauty of life. I felt during that conversation it would be our last and I was right. She became ill shortly after.

I will miss Eva terribly as will Frost Valley. Mostly I will regret that so many children in coming years will not feel her powerful hugs and be warmed by her beautiful smile.

Heaven gained a wonderful person today. I imagine she is there now clinging to Ruth the way she would cling to all of her Frost Valley children.

God Bless you Eva and thank you.

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Peter Swain

I am so saddened to hear of Eva’s death. I felt many things about Eva over my years: at times she acted like my mother, at times a peer in camping, at times a shrewd business women. But she was always a humanitarian wanting to help kids with kidney failure.

When I was at FV, all of the remarkable efforts to help kids seemed practically routine. Now that I have left for other camping pastures, I realize with great clarity that the courageous giants that made it all happen were truly remarkable and unique, and Eva was one of this group.

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Lee Fleischer

I was sad to hear about Eva's passing, but grateful that I had the opportunity to finally meet her last fall at the dedication of the Wellness Center. I am glad that she had the opportunity to see the new dialysis center, and share her still very sharp wit with those of us there. In a public sense it was a lot like Philly's Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas getting to see and broadcast on the radio the Phillies world series win (in 1980 local radio broadcasts weren't allowed) 6 months prior to his death this spring. On a personal level, though, it is much deeper for me. As a 16 year-old L.I.T. in the summer of '75, I was fascinated by the 'new' dialysis unit at camp, and for the next five summers found my passion for a career in medicine as I had the opportunity to see first hand the impact of the science and art of healing, transforming lives in a very profound way in the wonderful setting that is Frost Valley. I will never forget the day, when as a counselor in Forest Village, we got the call that a matching kidney was found for one of my campers. It is not a stretch to say that I may not have had a stethoscope dangling around my neck a few hours ago today, had it not been for the vision and persistence of Eva Gottscho 34 years ago. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to tell her that, and give her my thanks a few moments before the ribbon-cutting ceremony last September. (Above: Lee and Eva chat during the September 2008 dedication of the new dialysis center.)

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Obituary published in the Newark Star Ledger.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


We were once graced by three Bells - Avery, Jon and Jordy (eldest to youngest). Sons of Sue Bell, stepsons of Tom Fitzpatrick who for a while was our camp doctor. Avery was VC of Sequoia, among other things, in his time. They had a house north of Philly. One day I drove by right after camp ended and snapped this shot of Jon and Jordy who, I think, had just returned home from school. This was around 25 years ago. Amazing.

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Later: News has reached us that Jordan Bell and his wife Emily have welcomed a son, Finn. We too welcome you, Finn - to the large and getting-larger Frost Valley family.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pokey '69

A village in Girls Camp (Susky?), fourth session, 1969. Later: no, no, it's not Susky, but Pokey. Here's what Sandy Bohn, then Sandy Shapiro, says: "I am in that Susky pictue on your blog from 69 it had to be Pokey since I was in it. I'm the one with the pig tails on the bottom right, can't believe I didn't notice before!" And that's Karen Krop two kids over from Sandy, with short hair.

Family Camp, 1964

The families who spent a week at Wawayanda at the end of the summer of 1964 gathered in front of the dining hall porch for a group shot. Jim White was the Director. The Hamiltons were, as usual, part of the gang. They lived in Oradell, NJ, at the time. Later they moved to a home very near Frost Valley, and Bill was a member of the Board of Trustees. Their kids were campers and staff members. You can see Ann Hamilton (now Ann Dupry) in the very front, near the far left, wearing sunglasses and a hat. Brother David is to her left, on the end. Dad (Bill) is in the last row, second from left, wearing glasses.

The Hamiltons had been Family Campers since 1962. They were still Family Campers when I was the Family Camp Director in 1977.

Forstmann innocent

During World War I, Julius Forstmann was incorrectly suspected of "German taint" and was compelled to face a legal hearing on the matter. The whole thing was part of an anti-German prejudice, and Mr. Forstmann's name was cleared. His attorney was Robert H. McCarter.

Here is a PDF copy of the New York Times article about the situation.

Robert Harris McCarter (April 28, 1859 – May 30, 1941) was an American lawyer who served as the Attorney General of New Jersey from 1903 until 1908, succeeding his brother Thomas N. McCarter. After his tenure as Attorney General he returned to his Newark law practice, which became known as McCarter & English in 1906 after the death of Edwin B. Williamson and the promotion of Conover English to partner. Conover English Hall was the name given to the lower level of the then-new Girls' Dining Hall in 1966 (now Geyer Hall). Woodruff (Woody) English served for many years as the president of Frost Valley's board of trustees.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

cabin 13 when first built

This is almost certainly cabin 13 in Outpost - a photo taken very soon after the cabin was built in '58. Cabins 11 and 13 stood (and stand--but they are numbered differently and it's no longer Outpost there) along the left side of the field in the flat two flats up from the main level of camp. Between 11 and 13 was and is a path through the woods that leads up to the new cluster of five cabins, originally Lenape (16-20). Behind the cabin you see a tall tree. It's gone and what's located there now is Quirk Lodge, the super-est of the SuperLodges of the 90s.

Ken Nathanson thinks this might be cabin 6. But the slope seems too steep to me, and the woods too near. Hmmmm. Kenny writes: "Yea, from memory I thought the slope was too steep too, but after seeing the photo of yours that I linked to I see that cabin seemed to have a good slope to it. I don’t see how that could be cabin 14. Cabin 13’s front faced the trail as you walked up and cabin 14 would be to the right. Plus looking carefully at photo there is a lot of open space to the left of that cabin." Here's the view of cabin 6, from further back, in the mid-60s.

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Geoff Hazel is sure this is cabin 13. He was a camper there in 1961 and remembers that as a cabin project the campers painted the then-raw wood cabin with creosote.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

weddings, yes

Frost Valley couples...have you considered having your wedding at Frost Valley? FV is now really set up to make this possible. Click on this PDF and see the details.

sis visits at holdover

Dave Scherer and his sister Amy during holdover weekend after 2nd session, 1985. The totem pole at the spot where the camp road turns in from the county road (main entrance) was made by John Giannotti just a year or two earlier.

Monday, June 8, 2009

dining hall

The dining hall, a photo taken by Mike DeVita, not longer after its construction was completed (I'm guessing it's late spring/early summer 1959). The shot is taken from the east of the building. Mike was standing at the top of the wide path that came up from the lower flat - the path that now runs behind Margetts Lodge.

Forest Village, 1958

Forest Village in its first summer at Frost Valley, 1958. First row, left to right: Dick Nice (cabin 7), assistant village chief; "Hutch" Hutchinson, J.C.; Mike DeVita, Village Chief; Row 2, left to right: Dave Andresen, cabin 8; Larry Kaufmann, 6; Chet McLemore, cabin 10; Bill Bedall, 9.

Behind and to the left you see the "Rec Hall," the Forstmann cow barn which then, in '58, served as the dining hall and indoor activity building. Just above McLemore's head: Doubletop Mountain.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Photo taken during a recent (Memorial Day weekend) early staff training for Junior Counselors who will miss part or most of the regular training week because of late-ending public school.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

hoopla 1978

The scene is the Boys' Dining Hall, August 25, 1978. The last full day of camp for that summer, lunchtime. Time for what later become known as "hoopla." I think in '78 we still called this rollicking session "cheers." But it entailed cheering and loud singing (and sometimes a skit). Jean-Louis Lalanne had been an ICCP (international) counselor in the summer of '76, and missed all this. He asked me if I could make a recording of hoopla and I did. I recently rediscovered this old cassette and I'm glad it hasn't deteriorated too much. The recording is fifteen minutes long. At first you hear the villages cheering - Totem, Forest, Outpost, Lenape and Hemlock. Sequoia was with us usually in that dining hall, but they were out that day. And Cherokee, a village older than Tacoma (they lived in Biscuit and Pigeon Lodges and ate in the Boys' Dining Hall), wasn't happening in session 4 that summer (they'd been there 1, 2 and 3). Among the cheers you hear are two versions of "The Gridiron" (Lenape's: "The Gridiron's cold, you can't beat Lenape 'cause we're too old") and a classic Lenape "triple locomotive" left over from the Bud Cox Lenape days ("L L L - E E E - N N N - A A A - P P P P P P P - E E E... LenapeLenapeLenape"). And a Forest cheer that had been introduced and perfected by J.C. Pony in the mid-60s: "Has Forest got the spirit?" "Yeah, man!" Then "Announcements" and then two songs: Father Abraham and Green Grass.

Here's that recording - an mp3 audio file you can download.

"Old Wawayanda" at closing campfire, 1985

At my final closing campfire as director, at the end of the 2nd session in '85, Adam Diamond (then a camper) and I led everyone in a sweet-quiet last go-around at "Old Wawayanda." Eric Wechter made a cassette recording of this and other songs sung around my retirement from active FV staff duty and recently mailed me the old tape. I've digitized and reminisced while listening. Wooh. Here's the mp3 version of "Old Wawayanda." You can download, of course, or also just listen. Stay tuned to this channel for some more songs converted into mp3s from that old cassette. And thanks, Eric, for stirring up the memories.

Here's a 2007 version of the song.

first Wawayanda staff at Frost Valley

Here's the very first staff list at Frost Valley, 1958.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

winter camp

Winter Camp (summer camp-style happenings over three or four days usually between Christmas and New Year's) really got into gear in the winter of 1973-74. It's gone in and out but in the past few winters has really flourished. Above is the flyer for the 1985 Winter Camp.