Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ted Forstmann signs philantropic pledge

more about dialysis

Many Frost Valley friends are aware of our innovative program enabling children with renal disease to attend camp--a mainstreaming program we began in 1975 in partnership with the Gottscho Kidney Foundation of NJ and the Albert Einstein Medical College Hospital in the Bronx (the partnership there has since shifted to Montefiore Hospital). But many of us don't know much about pediatric kidney failure or about dialysis (the first treatment for those afflicted with the disease). Here, below, is a recent story about dialysis.

- - -

Dialysis: An Experiment In Universal Health Care
November 9, 2010
National Public Radio
by Robin Fields

Every year, more than 100,000 Americans start dialysis treatment, a form of chronic care given to people with failing kidneys. And for many, the cost is completely free. Since 1972, when Congress granted comprehensive coverage under Medicare to any patient diagnosed with kidney failure, both dialysis and kidney transplants have been covered for all renal patients.

But a new joint investigation between The Atlantic and ProPublica found many problems with dialysis in the U.S.: The cost of treatment is among the world's highest, while the U.S. mortality rate for dialysis patients is one of the world's worst. One in four patients will die within 12 months of starting treatment.

Investigative reporter Robin Fields, who spent the past year reviewing thousands of documents and interviewing more than 100 patients, doctors, policymakers and experts, found systematic failures in the way dialysis centers are set up in the United States.

"At clinics from coast to coast, patients commonly receive treatment in settings that are unsanitary and prone to perilous lapses in care," she writes in a piece that will be published in the December issue of The Atlantic. "Regulators have few tools and little will to enforce quality standards. Industry consolidation has left patients with fewer choices of provider. [And] the government withholds critical data about clinics' performance from patients, the very people who need it most."

A Growing Industry

The kidney dialysis industry, Fields tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, is now "hugely larger than anyone could have imagined."

"There are far more patients. There are far more complicated patients. And the expense of this is wildly beyond the expectations of the architects of the program," she says.

The program that initially cost the taxpayers $135 million a year is now a multibillion-dollar industry. The two chains that dominate the dialysis industry, DaVita and Fresenius, make about $2 billion combined in operating costs per year, she explains. And the industry is expected to grow: Every year, the pool of patients increases by 3 percent.

"When the program started, the original estimates thought there could be perhaps 35,000 patients," she says. "Then as that became clear that that wasn't going to be true, they thought maybe 50,000 patients -- then 90,000. But what's really happened is the patient community has continued to grow because of conditions like diabetes and obesity becoming so much more common in the larger health care system."

Six percent of all Medicare money, Fields writes, goes toward treating people with kidney failure. But Medicare doesn't set staffing ratios for dialysis clinics. Fields explains that clinics are required to have a medically licensed physician, but the physician is not always present for all dialysis treatments. Some nurses and licensed technicians juggle far more patients than what standards recommend. And some clinics turn over three to four shifts of patients a day.

"What we found in examining inspection reports as broadly and deeply as we could is that many of the same patterns cropped up time and time again: unsafe and unsanitary conditions; prescription and medical errors; issues in infection control; issues that dealt with the amount of staffing, the training of staff and the supervision of staff," Fields says. "I should emphasize, this isn't all clinics. Some clinics do a great job. But what we found, not only looking at inspections but at interviewing people broadly, was that some clinics are operating in a way that seems to ratchet up risks and that reflected some of the frustrations voiced by patients and doctors and other practitioners alike about one-size-fits-all care that didn't really give patients the best of the medicine that's available or the best of the treatment options available."

Transitioning To Private Care

Today more than 80 percent of the 5,000 dialysis centers operating in the United States are private, a major change from the mainly hospital-based care patients received in the 1970s and 1980s. Fields says the transition happened because the payment policies for dialysis treatment helped create financial incentives that allowed corporations to enter the market.

"The payment policies at the beginning were said to be quite generous and to draw providers in to create the desperately needed access that the [dialysis] program was based on," she says. "And the people who float in to create that access were mostly for-profit providers. ... Ultimately, as the payment policies evolved to somewhat suppress the price of each treatment, what you found happening was that that sort of favored providers who had economies of scale and could have purchasing power that lowered their cost. And the product of that has been a vast changeover in who provides the care."

She says that some reforms are in the works to improve patient care, including Medicare's plan to offer a set payment for patients' combined treatments and drugs, instead of paying for each separately. The combined payment, says Fields, removes the incentive for clinics to overuse drugs to generate profits.

"I think that mostly people in the dialysis world view these things as incremental improvements and not the things that could vault us forward in a major way," she says. "And they're hoping for further changes that lead to ... different definitions of quality and performance."

Robin Fields is a senior editor at ProPublica. She has received a National Journalism Award for her investigative reporting, as well as the Associated Press Managing Editors Public Service Award. [Copyright 2010 National Public Radio]

Thursday, December 23, 2010

let's send kids to camp next summer!

This holiday season I have been raising money to send kids with kidney failure to camp next summer. My goal is $13,000 and I'm now at $11,770. I invite readers of my blog to go here ( and consider--please--making a donation. The gift you make for this kids is fully tax deductible, and the online system is good and secure, I promise.

I've been associated with Frost Valley since I was 8 years old. I was a camper, then a counselor, then a director for many summers and now proudly serve as a member of the Board of Trustees.

In 1975, Frost Valley partnered with the Ruth Gottscho Kidney Foundation to become the first camp in the world to offer children with kidney disease a chance to experience summer camp ("mainstreamed" with healthy kids) while also receiving their dialysis treatments. These children have experienced sleepaway camp while gaining confidence and independence in what is typically their first time away from family and home. Most learn new skills for managing and coping with their medical condition. I've seen this program succeed miraculously for 30 years.

The cost of sending one child on dialysis to camp for a two-week session is $1,500. Will you join me and please make a donation today?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Halbe Brown drives a hayride

August 1999.

at the reunion

From left to right: Lillian Rountree Lippincott, Lisa Ernst and Eileen Bradley at the recent reunion.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

CIT long ago

David Sacker with his old CIT shirt--at the recent reunion.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gorm Fosdal returns

Gorm Fosdal was an international counselor in 1982 and visited briefly in '85. He and his family (his wife and two kids, 19 and 22) visited Frost Valley recently. Gorm hadn't been back in 25 years. He was a counselor in Hemlock which in those days was housed in cabins 21-25. His was 25. The photo here shows Gorm sitting in front of cabin 25 once again. Below is what Gorm wrote about this trip and he asks us to forgive his imperfect English:
I had a very nice return to New York and Frost Valley with all my family, and youngsters aged 18 and 22 were ready to stay in the City. They just loved it. We were lucky to be blessed with very nice weather in The Big Apple, and though nice sunny weather very cold and some dazzle in the Catskills.

It was very nice to be back at Frost Valley, but also strange as it was the first time being there without the many children in the summer. I was counselor in 1982 and visited FV twice in the summer of 85, after touring US for 5 weeks. It was great being there and we, because of the weather, drove more than walked around, which was a big change from the time being a counselor, where the shoes were much in use.

My wife Anne Marie was a cuonselor also in the Catskills in 1981, close to Parksville near Elko Lake at a camp run by The Presbyterian Church. We found the surroundings the next day, but it has not been a camp for years, and now private property.

Being there again is just like it was yesterday though it is 25 years ago, but thats how wonderful memories are for your life. In Liberty we met some other people also on a memory lane tour, who thought we were from Canada with our strange language, and were very surprised that Europeans found this small place in the US of all places.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

starry night over Big Tree

Surely this is the most beautiful photograph I've seen of Big Tree. It was taken last spring on an especially starry night.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

you can have a "lifer brick"

Click here to get yourself a "lifer brick"!

Friday, November 19, 2010

alumni benches, lifer bricks

At various spots around camp now there are alumni benches, built on the "lifer bricks" many of us received through several projects. Some of us got them at the 2006 reunion. In an earlier period lifer bricks were given to campers as they "graduated" from their final summer as camper, just before the CIT summer. For a few years these were stacked somewhere while we figured out the best way to display them. These benches have gotten very positive reviews so far.

You can get your own lifer brick. Go here, click on the link to the form, make a gift to Frost Valley (send a kid to camp!) and the brick will be imprinted with your name and built into one of the new benches.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

grim November

Both these photos were taken yesterday. Temps in the 40s and 30s. A few flurries in the morning. Dim all around.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

stopping with a sugar high after a stint at Katz's Bakery in Liberty

Coming back from Katz's bakery in Liberty. From left to right: Kenny Nathanson, Bill Walton, Bob Davis, Kevin Hanlon. I'm not 100% certain the fellow on the right is Kevin Hanlon, but I'm pretty certain. Can someone help? Anyway, whether or not this is Kevin, I should note, sadly, that Kevin died in an accident not more than a few years after his one or two summers at FV.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Forest village in the late 60s

Forest Village, late 60s. Mark Kramer was a JC here. Mark is one of those standing on the porch right in front of the door, t-shirt, blond hair, standing tall and looking straight at the camera. According to Sven Grotrian (this is Sven's photo) Mark was promoted to counselor that same summer. Sven is kneeling toward the front: two or three rows from the front, depending how you count, and he's 4th in from the left, blond hair, mustache, wearing a wool cap, two to the right of the camper wearing #82. Standing to the far right, the furthest right, is a camper--Steve Ernst. Steve's sister Lisa has long been actively involved with FV and is on the staff now as the director of major gifts in our development office. I believe I also see Steve Glade, white shirted, blonde hair combed down over his eyes, furthest to the right of those standing on the porch/stairs. Click on the photo for a larger view.

Friday, October 15, 2010

MAC lights up our world

John Paul Thomas

John Paul Thomas in the summer of 1972 - at the Wawayanda Chapel one Sunday morning. I'll be he was singing "If I Had a Hammer." At other occasions - especially in later years - he sang a gorgeous version of "Rambling Boy." JPT started in around 1967 and in either '67 or '68 was our Archery Director. I think he was also, at least one summer, the Totam VC. In the early 70s he was a CIT Director, the LIT Director, and the did perhaps two summers as half-summer (July) Program Director. Some years later he came back and did stints as FV's Conference Director, living at camp all year. Last I heard, he was in North Carolina.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

when Sequoia first started

Here's a photo of Sequoia - during its first-ever summer. (Was it 1971 or '72?) The barn out there had been known as the "Trailblazers Barn" at first, home base for our Canada-bound canoe program. At some point in the 1960s it was also the home of the "CE's" - "construction engineers." Then it was "the CIT Barn" for a few years before the Crafts Shop barn was renovated into Hayden Lodge ('70). Once CITs moved into Hayden, Sequoia was created as the Adventure Village and that's--again--when this shot was taken (by Sven Grotrian). The guy you seeing wandering into "the lair" was Pat Ricciardi, one of the early and most avid Sequoia guys.

Ken Nathanson says the first Sequoia summer was '73: "I was in Sequoia the first year it was formed. The year was 1973. In addition to Pat and Sven, Rick Cobb was also a staff member that year. Perhaps in time another name or two will come to mind. It was perhaps one of my favorite years as a camper."

four musketeers on check-out day

From left to right, standing: Sven Grotrian, Doug Tompkins, Pat Ricciardi; below, Al Filreis. This is almost certainly 1973. I'm going to guess that Sven was LIT Director, Doug was CIT Director and Pat was VC of Sequoia, but that's an off-handed guess. Doug is wearing that summer's popular shirt: a three-quarters sleeved baseball jersey with the "73" on it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Big Tree Field, flooded

This morning there was a lake in the Big Tree Field. Big Tree Field Lake is I suppose what it needs to be called. Last night and this morning the region was buffeted by high winds and sheets of hard rain. One could hear boulders rumbling down Biscuit Creek. The road from Claryville was washed out.

lake in early autumn

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

the origin of Mount Hayden

Stan Treadway tells of the origin of Mount Hayden:

- - -

Maybe I can fill in a few of the 'blanks' concerning the origins of Mt. Hayden:

In the Fall of 1976 Don Freed and Chuck White put together the permanent anchor cable on the chimney and positioned the belay rock that later became Mt. Hayden. (I helped just a little bit!) Don's background in adventure education was influenced by stints at the Lorado Taft Field Campus/NIU, Oregon, Illinois, and the Clear Lake facility affiliated with the Battle Creek Public School system. By the time he and I ran into one another at Frost Valley we both realized how ripe the environmental program was to evolve into 'challenge' activities. With Jim Marion's blessings, and a solid plan grounded in Project Adventure models, Mt. Hayden became, as I recall, the first permanent element in a trust-building/group dynamics emphasis that school groups could take advantage of while in residence.

We enjoyed Don's influence for only one environmental season and then he embarked on a journey that would eventually lead to his doctorate in education and a tenured position in Traverse City, Michigan. Don's influence on my life was three fold: I attended a week-long Project Adventure summit and became certified in all things relating to 'group dynamics'; I too attended Northern Illinois University's Taft Campus and completed a master's in outdoor teacher education, and finally thanks to Don's urging, I graduated from a three+week Outdoor Educator's Course through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Lander Wyoming. Little does Don realize how many people have benefited from his vision in 1976 and the tracks he has left behind, especially in my life. I plan to share this Mt. Hayden update with him. He left Frost Valley a long time ago, and knowing Don, he never looked back, only forward to HIS next horizon. He is now a family man living smack dab in the middle of orchards for as far as the eye can see, and a front yard complete with a putting green. He and I have paddled in several down-river canoe races in central Wisconsin, but the last I saw of him was Spring 2001 while traveling with my mother on the return leg of a Canadian vacation. I am soooo grateful Frost Valley brought our two wandering lives together, however briefly.

The photo above and at right shows Dave Nalven and Stevie Bell moments after Stevie successfully climbed Mount Hayden in 1984.

Friday, September 24, 2010

White Pond this morning

This photo was taken by Sara Alexander of Chuck White Pond this morning.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Morrie Hubbard was 101 years old

G. Morrison Hubbard , Jr., died peacefully, Aug. 21, 2010, at his home in Summit, N.J. He was 101. Born in 1909, he resided in Summit, all of his life.

Mr. Hubbard was the oldest camper from one of the oldest camps in the country, Camp Keewadyn in Salisbury, Vermont. Before he was 15, he had built up a writing paper business in eight surrounding towns and had about 200 customers. At 17, he had crossed the country with three other boys, in a second-hand Buick, returning home by working on a cargo freighter, the day before school started. It stopped at three Mexican ports and went through the Panama Canal.

Although his favorite camp was elsewhere, Morrie Hubbard was a good friend of Frost Valley. He came to us through Woody English, long-time chairman of FV's Board of Trustees. Morrie also sat on the Board of the Hyde and Watson Foundation for many years; Hyde & Watson has been very generous with Frost Valley--their many grants to Frost Valley have been honored in the naming of one of our large lodges. Back in early 2001, Morrie made a donation of $10,000 to our then-just-emergent farm program.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

hiking boots are cool

A former camper from the 60s/70s remembers me this way:

"I remember you there at Wawayanda. Mom sent me off one year wearing these shoes with large, thick, waffle type soles on them. When I objected, Mom told me they were hiking shoes and everyone at camp would be wearing them too. Everyone else had sneakers. My hiking shoes were "out of place" it seemed until I spotted a counselor wearing them. YUP - it was you!! Hiking shoes are much "cooler" and even a wanted item if counselors wear them."

I love this story!

Monday, September 20, 2010

daughter of Audrey Griffin Jones needs your help

Here is a sad note posted to Facebook by Jen Antinoro Storey on behalf of her friend, and our friend, Audrey Griffin Jones:

- - -

I apologize for the mass email but I am reaching out to my entire Teaneck & Frost Valley community. As some of you may already know, my oldest friend Audrey (Griffin) Jones’ daughter was recently diagnosed with DIPG, a rare and inoperable tumor on the brain stem and one of the most devastating pediatric malignancies. Shannon will be 7 years old next month. Audrey and I grew up together in Teaneck and spent every summer together at Frost Valley sleep away camp (1980 until early 90’s). A website is being set up so that Audrey can provide updates on Shannon. I will be sure to send that link once I have it.

A fundraiser has been planned for Sat. Oct. 9 in New Jersey to help the Jones family provide the care that Shannon needs. (Details below on how to lend support if you are unable to attend)

When: Saturday, October 9th (3pm-?)
Where: General Poors Tavern; 45 Main Street; Hackensack, NJ 07601
$20 per person suggested minimum donation at the door (Cash only please)
Food, drinks, live music , raffles, and 50/50
Bring the whole family!

If you are unable to attend and you wish to contribute support, you may send checks (made out to Audrey Jones), Shoprite or Trader Joe’s Gift-cards to:

Certified Financial Services
Attn: Pamela Mellor
52 Forest Ave
Paramus, NJ 07652

Thank you!
Jen (Antinoro) Storey

autumn bikes rank Frost Valley road high

Frost Valley Road is featured on a web site written by motorcyclists who search for the best weekend rides. Click here and either scroll down until you see Frost Valley or use "find" and search for "Frost Valley."

Friday, September 17, 2010

the longest hike he took in six summers at FV

Bill Madden was sorry he missed the recent reunion. But it got him thinking about influential leadership and in particular about Bob Whirty when Bob was Bill's fellow camper in Sequoia (Adventure Village). I'll let Bill himself tell the story:
I have been visiting your alumni blog and saw the picture of Bob Whirty and his daughter. Seeing the picture reminded me of something remarkable Bob did as a camper. Here is my memory of what Bob did:

It was the longest hike I ever recall making in six summers at Frost Valley. The counselors leading us were a fellow we called “ Beefo” and another named Charlie. As it often happened on hikes, there was a somewhat overweight camper who could not keep up with the group. We frequently had to stop and wait for this slow fat kid to catch up. When he would finally arrive, at least one, and usually several of the campers would harshly ridicule him about holding us up. With head down, the poor, thoroughly exhausted camper would ashamedly offer a typical excuse of “my back pack is broken” or something along those lines. A counselor would make the obligatory check of the backpack, on occasion maybe even repack it and give a few items to others to carry. It was customary on camp hikes for one counselor to bring up the rear. But on this hike, even the counselor bringing up the rear grew weary of pushing the slow camper and took to calling over his shoulder to hurry and catch up.

Late in the day, we had walked so far ahead; this camper was no longer even in sight. Eventually a small dot appeared and as the dot grew closer we could see Bob Whirty walking with him. Bob was a regular on hiking trips and we all knew Bob had no trouble keeping up. When they finally arrived, we were well rested and would have already resumed our hike but for waiting. The counselor’s tone reflected the feeling of many of us when he impatiently told them to take only a short break as the rest of us were ready to go and it was getting late in the day.

Bob Whirty replied “no, you guys keep resting, we are going on”. The slow poke, although soaked in sweat, was no longer ashamed and echoed Bob. “Yes, we’re going to keep on going”. Bob never said the obvious. He did not try to deflect criticism from himself by pointing out that he was making sure the fat kid kept up.

NO. Bob said WE!! And we all could see Bob’s new friend believed it. The young camper’s face clearly showed he no longer considered himself a burden to the group. Now, he was a hiking companion of Bob Whirty and they were accomplishing a rewarding and challenging hike together. The rest of us were so impressed we remained where we were and allowed them to build a good lead. All of us, campers and counselors alike, were now anxious to do our part to follow Bob’s example and make him feel an equal and not an outcast. Bob gave us the opportunity to be part of one of those “Hallmark Moments” that happen at summer camp.

Monday, September 13, 2010

assorted favorites reunited (video & audio)

At the reunion Vespers - the theme was friendship - Lexi Cariello, Chris Harper and Chrissy Mohle reunited as a group known in recent years as "Assorted Favorites" to sing an absolutely beautiful and apt song for the occasion. There's no way to say here--not without the need of filling too many screens of text--exactly why this song is apt. You'll have to trust me, if you weren't there, that it was. They (as it is said) had their audience, had us, held us, holding our breaths. And then it was over.

Here is both a video (YouTube - click on the dark image above) and also audio-only (downloadable MP3). I'd go for the MP3 if I were you: download it and stick it on your iPod. Then when someone asks you to explain the magic of Frost Valley, pull out your tunes and play them this one. (To stream the audio, click on the sideways triangle in the link above. To download, right-click on "MP3.")

then Chuck White came with the world's largest shovel

At the beginning of the "in memoriam" service at Reflection Pond (during the recent big Labor Day reunion), I sang "Old Wawayanda." (Video shot by Mike Marder.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

in hunker hawser, Dave Mager still champ

Reunion-style Challenge Night. The 1980s won again! (Actually there's some dispute as to whether the 90s or 80s won at the 2006 reunion.) The second-to-last challenge was of course Hunker Hawser - decade vs. decade. Dave Mager (80s) - the world champ - was challenged by Dave Scherer ("Radio Dave") in the final. Mager won. The other photo here was merely a demonstration round - John Giannotti vs. me (John won). Mager's tactic is legendary: he calmly sets himself on the very corners of the milk crate and waits until his opponent tires of tugging and feinting. For a while, Dave played skip-rope with the rope, but Mager was unflappable.

Connor's friends

A great photograph (taken by Max Flatow) of Connor Donohue's sister Caroline and some of his friends who gathered at the recent FV reunion in part to honor and remember him.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

why Andy paid so much for the Mt. Hayden sign

Here you see Andy Wiener and family not long after Andy outbid others (including me) and took home the fabled "Mt. Hayden" sign which had for so many years graced the top of the Hayden Lodge chimney. (For those who don't know: we used to climb up that stone chimney with ropes and harnesses - rock-climbing. The sign was at the top. When you climbed up successfully you touched the sign before coming down.) Now we have the huge "Y"-shaped climbing tower and zipline set-up in another part of camp, so it seemed time to remove the Mt. Hayden sign. We auctioned it during the reunion and fetched the highest price: $1,150!

Here's Andy on why he did what he did:

I spoke truthfully while I was present in that moment. I wanted that sign because while dropping Geffen [younger daughter--at right in photo] off this season I noticed it was gone and anticipated that it would turn up. A prize to be won at auction. However I knew it must mean so much more than that to me. Really – why want it?

I’m big on symbols. Symbols, talismans, idols, icons; if it’s a graphic depiction, poem or tangible article that represents something else, I’m interested. I’m also a very sentimental guy. I couldn’t always identify it, and I wasn’t always mature enough to admit it, but I’m a grown man now so I can own it. I’m a sentimental guy.

That Mt. Hayden sign is a priceless piece that has been the signpost for all of the challenges overcome at summer camp every day for generations. What camper didn’t at some point in his stay overcome a personal challenge? Or set and achieve a personal goal? And what staff member didn’t navigate his own set of similar experiences? Ending 4th session with the same selfless enthusiasm with which you began 1st session is real challenge in itself. Barb Bartis taught me that one and I was one of her many challenges that summer I’m sure.

Campers continually need to overcome the real challenges of homesickness, learning to self-monitor their own behavior and learning to get along with – and perhaps even grow to love – people who are so very different than the people they are accustomed to spending their time with. And whether the goal is completing the low ropes course, participating in a trust fall or – wait for it – climbing Mt. Hayden, the act of setting that specific and measurable goal and working to achieve it is a valuable life lesson learned at Frost Valley but employed for an entire life’s journey .

That’s why I want this sign. And during next reunion’s auction I want a shot at taking home a cable bridge. It is, perhaps, the only worthy competitor to the symbol that is Mt. Hayden.

Monday, September 6, 2010

gathering of Wawayanda directors

Most or perhaps all of the Wawayanda Directors who were in attendance at the reunion, from left to right: Bob Eddings, Dave Haight, Deb Singer Hanna, Al Filreis (that's me), Eileen Barnes Hahn, Helen Cornman, Dan Weir, and (tall guy in the back) Dave King.

Roe, Mark, Jen

From left to right: Roe Balchunas, Mark Gottdenker, and Jen Antinoro. Jen came to FV this past weekend all the way from the San Francisco area.

DeMelle & Zabriskie

Todd DeMelle and John ("Lance") Zabriskie. I think Lance told me that he hadn't been back to FV in several decades at least. Click on the image for a larger view.

Jake Kerr talks about his grandpa, Chuck White

Apologies: the audio at the end of this video is marred by the gusts of wind that messed with my iPhone.
At the Morning Reflection/In Memoriam service held Sunday morning at Reflection Pond, we remembered and honored seven people who have passed away since the last reunion. The service was organized beautifully by Helen Cornman (who did the same in 2001 and again in 2006). Jerry Huncosky spoke evocatively about Eva Gottscho and also a former camper and staffer--a young woman who'd had a kidney and heart transplant--both of whom died in the past year or so. Dave King remembered our second nurse at FV, Gerry Lester. Lisa Ernst and I remembered Marie and Charles Kremer. Jeff Daly spoke eloquently and movingly about Connor Donohue, many (many) of whose friends came to the reunion to devote themselves to celebrating Connor's life and impact on FV. "Jeff," Connor said at the end of session 3 one summer (he would be missing session 4), "I'm not finished yet," and the phrase became an apt theme. John Giannotti implicitly remembered his son Oran as he sang a slow soulful version of Donovan's "Catch the Wind." And speaking of wind, it blew briskly as Capt. Jacob (Jake) Kerr rose to tell us of his memories of Chuck White. Yes, as readers of this blog know, Chuck passed away not too long ago. A huge loss, felt no more keenly by anyone than by Jake, who was (not by blood but by every other measure) Chuck's grandson.

what would you pay to have the old FV entrance sign at your house?

Brian Butler "donated" this sign to be auctioned off at the alumni auction, which was held Sunday afternoon at the reunion. I put "donated" in quotation marks because, well, Brian seems to have been around years ago when this sign--which graced the main FV entrance for many, many years--was being replaced by the current sign, and, well, "put it in a safe place" until such time as it could be used to benefit others. (How's that for a sweet version of a possibly sordid tale of absconding.) Anyway, all's well that end's well. In an auction that was by far the best of these we've done, and which raised a total of $5,500 for camperships (yes, $5,500), this was the second-most sentimentally valued item. I'll tell you later about the most valued item - and will tell that tale along with a photo of the highest bidders for that.

parent watches her children grow up

A Frost Valley parent (and herself a long-time FV family camp camper) reflects in her blog on her children's growing up at FV. Check it out.

just back from the reunion

I'm just back from the big reunion at Frost Valley. It's hard to get an accurate count--what with people coming and going, and many showing up for the day on Sunday--but I think we must have reached 350 at some point. Lots of FV lifers all in the same place at the same time. As I gather my photos and videos I'll put some of them up there. You can be sure, too, that our FV Facebook friends will be posted hundreds of additional images. I'll try to collect a few of these for this blog as well. Meantime, having just arrived home and begun to sort through 350 emails awaiting me from the past three days, I found a nice one from Lorraine Devlin Welch: a photo taken by her of Bill Devlin (her dad--at left), myself and Dave King (you can see Eva Devlin partially in the corner). We had a long talk before Sunday evening's dinner...about the old (old) days. More soon. Keep checking back.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

the cheer that was supposed to be tamped down

This link here should take you to a Facebook video that will truly tickle you. It's based on an audio recording made in 1993. You'll hear the voices of Forest counselors griping hilariously about having been told by directors to stop chanting a certain village cheer: "Twenty-Three." Just watch and you'll get it. Charming video made by Dave Scherer. I'm not certain that non-Facebook users can use the link, but perhaps so. I'm not up on video-sharing protocols and whatnot. Give it a try and let me know.

Here is what Dave wrote when he uploaded this to Facebook about a year ago: "In 1993 I was a camp counselor at the Frost Valley summer camp. Last week I started listening to some of the tapes I made that summer in my car. This video is actually a 2 minute sound sample with text. It tells the epic ongoing story of Frost Valley and similar places worldwide. / Credits: Forest VC Fred Biggs, Apolllo Bey, Jon Lockwood, Leon Greene, me and countless campers."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bud sunset

One more great shot of Bud leading "Lion Hunt" at CIT Point in July.

Gottscho's new web site

We're pleased that the Ruth Carole Gottscho Kidney Foundation now has a new web site. Click here and have a long look. And here is contact info:

The Ruth Gottscho Kidney Foundation
515 Warwick Avenue
Teaneck, NJ 07666

Judy welcomes your reminiscences and your feedback on the site!

Monday, August 30, 2010

the other side of the mountain

Jane and I hiked 4 miles up and down a trail along Dry Creek near the township of Hardenburgh. We drove up from Margaretville NY along Mill Brook Road, back into the Catskills State Forest. We reached the trailhead for an area called Kelly's Hollow. The trail goes up to a little lake called Beaver Pond. Here are two overhead views. In the Google Earth view you can see the road and Beaver Pond. The Google Maps view is pulled back for larger perspective. From this you can see that it's not very far from Mill Brook Road to the Frost Valley Road, even though I think of these two roads as far away from each other. It's an hour-plus drive from Frost Valley to the place where we began this hike and yet look how close they are - maybe 15 miles?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

when I die I want to be buried here

At right: Christine Monahan along with the Tokyo Camp campers whom she taught English during session 4, just ended. Christine is a former FV camper from way back who recently came back to help out with the Tokyo program at the end of the summer--when they switch it up a bit and have some campers who want to learn some English (usually it's the opposite: campers' parents hope the kids will brush up on Japanese language and culture). Below is Christine's lovely statement about her experience, which she titles "A Perpetual Moment of Euphoria."

I never used to connect with such statements as "when I die, I want to be buried at..." or, "I'd like to die doing...," or "If I died right now, I'd be happy!" When you're dead, who cares where you are!? You won't know about it--you'll be dead!--and only a miserable curmudgeon would dwell on thoughts of death while enjoying a beautiful setting, or experience. I came to realize, though, that for some of us, those statements actually can have very little to do with dying, and everything to do with how alive we feel at that moment. There seems to be an innate feeling that if we could extinguish ourselves at a place or during a sensation that everything we value is felt without interference and perfectly synthesized, we can preserve that sensation infinitely--a perpetual moment of euphoria.

Is there a place you can go that blows the emotional cholesterol out of your system? Is there a place you can go to where you feel purged? Emotional clogants seem to clear out of the arteries of your soul, and you seem to hear the wind whistling though the sinuses of your spirit? For me, that wind smells like the nutty-sweet aroma of the ferns at Frost Valley. I have had moments there where even the very barrier of my body seems to dissolve. The need for self protection is replaced by an environment that is teeming with wellness--velvet-skinned raspberries grow wild, and taste the same as the way they did when, as a child, when I picked them walking barefoot on biscuit-shaped rocks from the lake to the "Girl's Dining Hall;" cool air that pushes against my skin, makes me buoyant like the waters of Lake Cole. Hummingbirds hang over wildflowers like chips of jade--they are green place markers on a page of blue sky. The mountains all around hold worlds of their own that I have been made to know I can hike to, and live in, like one of their native creatures.

Then there's the architecture--the rare, rich woods of "The Castle" rooms whisper to me about exotic forests far away. The lodges and "Ad Office" (as we use to call it--I still do) rise up off the earth on piles of river stone almost as though they formed there, part of the Catskill landscape itself.

Of course there is the work--that they are paying me to teach English as a Second Language here is a small miracle in itself-- a job I discovered four years ago, oddly, on Craigslist, a few weeks after returning from a year teaching in Mexico, jobless and hungry for work. As a teacher at my YMCA camp I can combine the "core values" of honesty, caring, respect and responsibility with my own creativity, and draw from years and years of Wawayanda tradition, too. When this culminates, for me, inhibitions dissolve, and I really do want it to go on forever!

best athlete in Totem cabin

In the 60s and into 1970 and maybe '71, Frost Valley's summer camp gave out lots of awards. There were riflery awards (issued by the NRA) and archery awards (this lasted into the mid-70s). There were physical fitness tests and score sheets - tallies kept of push-ups and pull-ups and broad jump, etc. Campers received a scored sheet to be brought or mailed home. Attached to the sheet was a mimeographed retyping of a speech by JFK who had made "physical fitness" a big deal for youth in the early 60s, the time of Cold War competitiveness. Here, below, is an example of one of these certificates. It was given to camper Glenn Kreismer, who was then among our youngest campers - in Cabin 1 of Totem Village. He "pass[ed] all requirements for recognition" as "BEST ATHLETE IN CABIN #1"! Who knows how that was determined. Nor does one know how the sight-impaired, geeky, uncoordinated or indeed formally disabled boy in the cabin felt about all this. But there you go. The sketch at left, mostly obscured by creasing and the age of the document, depicts a young boy, tent in background, efficiently preparing a meal over a campfire. Bottom right is the Y in YMCA and below that "Camp Wawyanda" - spelled wrong.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


This summer's Hemlock and Lenape VCs: Mike Taylor and Jackson Patterson, respectively.

Friday, August 20, 2010

final night

Another summer comes to an end. In an hour the campers depart - every single one. Then the CITs. Then the staff will convene for a quick lunch, a final meeting, then to villages and cabins and lodges for a thorough cleaning (Family Camp starts tomorrow!). This evening, the staff banquet - good food (rumors are: very good), a few emotional speeches and farewells, and that's it. Some staff will leave for home or college or jobs from there; some will spend the night in camp. All will depart tomorrow morning (as will I). Too much happened last night for most folks to take notice: after rain, the sky cleared. It was still too damp to build final-night CQ fires. At 11:30/midnight, the directors delivered four boxes of pizza to each of the village staffs. By that time the pizza was cold, but no matter: this morning at breakfast they were still talking about how good it tasted, how good it was to see their directors show up with semi-illicit bounty at that unexpected time.

Earlier in the evening, as I walked around, bringing equipment back to where it belongs, stopping to say hello to a few folks I especially admire, I noticed that the sky had cleared in the area near Doubletop as one faces it from the area in front of the Administration Office. I took a grainy shot with my iPhone (not good with night shots). I like it. You can see the lights of Margetts Lodge, and, to the right, of Hayden Lodge. At the right edge a bright light attached to Smith Lodge. Atop, and somewhat to the right, is the front peak of Doubletop Mountain, the one you can see from here (the round hump under the row of clouds).

Tonight it's going to be 46 degrees. Three blankets. Hints of autumn.

Being able to see Doubletop at sunset has always been, to me, a good omen. Time to put this baby to bed. Sleep well, dear one.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Zen deer

You can't much closer to a deer than this. (Ben and Hannah call me the deer whisperer.)

Whirty and Sunshine

The daughter of Bob Whirty and the daughter of Barbara Sunshine are here this session, together in Windsong.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Carly's blog

In the photo at right, Carly Einstein (at left, with the backpack) talks to several of the inter- nationals.

Carly is a FV alumna. She was at camp from 1991 to 2003, remaining on the staff until she was 23. She worked in Tacoma throughout all but her last FV summer (Windsong counselor that year) and for two of those years (99 and 00) she was the Tacoma VC.

She is currently a Program Coordinator at New York University, where she's also getting her MPA degree in Non-Profit Management. For four years before that she was Education Supervisor in the NYC Department of Homeless Services.

Carly writes to her blog pretty much every weekday. Today's entry is about camp, and here it is:
Summer camp brings an indescribable sense of self, gratitude, acceptance, and joy understood only by other camp people. And we'll incessantly attempt to explain the unexplainable, to our loved ones / friends / anyone-willing-to-look-at-or-listen-to-hours-of: camp photo albums filled with sentimentality; lyrics of cheers sung in dining halls during, oh, just lunchtime because that's what camp people do; trips to the infirmary in which being sick is just as fun as the missed cabin-activity; and stories of the moments in between where unexpected friendships are forged, secrets are shared, first kisses are had, people fall in love, mohawks are shaved, shirts are tie-dyed, swim tests are avoided, camp fires are burned, scavengers are hunted, and penpalships are maintained out of obligation because, let's face it, who has time to write letters? There are few milestones in the lives of us camp people that mirror the anticipation felt on the drive towards camp at the start of the summer before our newest memories are forged, or the heartache shared during the inevitable tearful goodbyes, weeks or months later, in which lifelong promises of friendship and love are exchanged and, even if they don't work out, the sentiments are the most sincere and honest as any other promise to come. Enjoy!
Here's a link to Carly's blog.

Below: flag-raising led by Matt Buczek in 2000 - presumably this is during VC training. Carly is at the far left. Click on the image for a larger view. Others here: Dale Whittaker, Megan Hurley, Sindy Subance, Brian Dougan, Mikia Eatman, Jeanna Moyer, Carrie Jacobson, Joe Elliott, Mike Harrowfield, Matt Buczek, Katie Kelly, Rick McKay, Amanda Harrowfield.

Monday, August 16, 2010

boathouse fixed

Oh, did we forget to tell you? The boathouse has been totally refurbished. Fantastic. Now there's a real deck, from which one can either keep an eye on the boats out on the lake or just while away the hour watching the clouds pass slowly over the water.