Wednesday, June 30, 2010

adventurous welcome

Took a walk out to Sequoia this morning. As I was crossing the old bridge out there I noticed that the Adventure Village staff have created a lovely welcome sign.

7 AM on a gorgeous day

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

cool cap

Jim Vaughan, President-elect of the Frost Valley Board of Trustees, was here on Sunday to help out during the first session's check-in. He saw Kam Kobeissi's Wawayanda-patch cap and fell for it completely. Kam went in search for a new hat that fit Jim, and there ya go. Happy Jim poses with Kam, our fabulous Hird Director.

Monday, June 28, 2010

say hello to the 2010 summer camp staff

3 alumni kids preparing for CIT trip

The CITs leave on their weeklong backpacking trip tomorrow morning. Here they are, packing at Out-trip. It happens that in this group there are three children of former FV staffers: Ken Nathanson's son Sam (standing, leaning into his pack, dark blue shirt, dark hair), Sandy Shapiro Bohn's son Braxton (blonde guy, sitting just in front of where the white-shirted CIT Coordinator, Anna, is walking), and my daughter Hannah (at the far right). How proud we are!

opening campfire

Last night's Camp Wawayanda opening campfire at CIT Point.

Giannotti tells of Hirdstock origins

Yesterday, John Giannotti was here to drop of his son Del for a 2-week session. He met up with Allye Glicker in the dining hall. Allye is a Hirdstock fanatic and, I believe, will be helping to plan the 2010 Hirdstock festival during 4th session. John, one of the two co-founders of Hirdstock at Frost Valley (with Jack Starmer), describes its origins. Allye found a Hirstock t-shirt and presented it to John. And so another connection has been made.

Lillian's back

Lillian Rountree Lippincott was here (all the way from Pittsburgh) yesterday to drop off her two kids for camp. I remember her as a camper, moving all the way up through the villages, ending with a bunch of sessions (maybe all 4 that summer) in Windsong as a kid with tremendous prospective talent to become a counselor. That was '84 or '85 and now, a mere 25 years later, she's back with her own kids.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

cabin 8

Cabin 8 has been renovated. Of course this is by no means the first of the old cabins to undergo renovation. But unlike the others this job retains all the original windows - meaning great ventilation especially in the summer. The old cabins cooled down very quickly at night if its occupants cranked open those windows. Of course you'll also notice the fabulous porch. In the wide-angled photo you can see the newly fixed cabin next to one that's still in original condition.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stan Treadway on the total commitment required

Stan Treadway (from Missouri) worked as a VC and trip leader several summers, and then stayed on as a full-year environmental education staff member. We've been exchanging emails lately and here's a portion of a recent note:

You know Al, I was only at the Valley for two solid years, but the caliber of exceptional individuals that I met while there boggles the mind! That place brings out the best in all of us. I swore when I left, that I would never work as hard, ever again, (and of course I lied to myself). I remember the Spring of '78: went five weeks without a day off. 6:00am-12:00 midnight every day. A wake-up call in the middle of the night once or twice per week to run a guest into the hospital for one thing or another, and never get back to sleep, was typical. Thank goodness for Jim Marion's even-tempered demeanor! He always gave me enough rope to hang myself with as environmental program coordinator. He rounded up the business, implemented the program, and I orchestrated the on-site activities with a very capable and hard-working staff. We made an awesome team.

Shirley King remembers

As Dave and Shirley King prepare to celebrate (in July) their 50th wedding anniversary, Shirley took a few minutes to remember her experience as one of the few spouses at camp in the pre-Girls' Camp days. This is partly in response to Bill Hawkins' recollections (recently posted here).

I guess Dave [King] was one who had the first shot of bringing a wife to camp. He was Village Chief of Lenape in l958 and '59, and had talked to Dick Carey about my coming along when we married in April of l960., and what job Dave might have. (I always teased that he brought me along in l960 as "excess Baggage") There were few women at camp at that time: Dottie, wife of Ray Grant, Mrs. Cole, Jean, wife of Dick Carey, and Marian Schreck, Secretary, Gerry Lester, Camp Nurse, and Dottie Parsons, Al's wife.

Dave became Program director, and I was hired as a "Castle Hostess" ( with Joan Grant) in l960, and in '6l, ( for awhile with Dorie Masemore, who had married Jerry) and In l96l, I also did some of the cooking at the Castle during the week, toted luggage for guests, etc.

Living quarters: In the early years, staff Living in the Castle would not have been considered; the Castle was strictly off limits to staff from l958 on, and crossing the bridge from the Office was considered grounds for dismissal, so that staff never even went into Pidgeon and Biscuit Creek lodges. In '60 and '6l the Grants were bringing people to the Castle who might contribute to the "Y", and the Castle was used as a Guest House.

When Dave and I married in l960, we had one rm. in the top of Biscuit Lodge ( with the old garage underneath.) Dottie and Al had 2 children at the time, and they had a couple of rooms beside us in Biscuit. In l962, [our daughter] Kathy was born in March, and renovations to Biscuit had begun. We had 1 rm. at the top front of Pigeon, with a windowed closet, and it was there that we put a bassinette for Kathy. Another staff member with a child had a rm. in Pigeon, and in the top back of Pidgeon were 2 rms. for the cooks: Dottie and Bill Van Zandt, Vilja Kohtz [cook], and the next year, the cook and his wife, Albert Fey and Inga. (It was their daughter Inga, who later met and married Bill Van Zandt Jr., the son of Dottie and Bill.)

I spent many evenings visiting the cooks with Kathy, watching Vilja braid a rug, and those were special times, lovely people. During these 2 yrs. at Pidgeon, during the day, I did Staff Laundry at the little Fisherman's shack beside the Infirmary, and in the evening I served snacks in the Staff Lounge at Pigeon Brook Lodge (during Staff time-off, for those did not have CQ.)

We think we lived 3 summers in the old house across from the old horse barn. It had a washing machine, so "Hambone" ... Ken Hamlin...would come down sometimes to wash his clothes, and play with Kathy and Dave, and then he would babysit once in a while, and Dave and I would go into Liberty to a movie. What a great guy.

The Parsons family lived in the old house behind what was Devlin's home and then Chuck and Joy White's home (now called "the group home"), and l year our family lived there in the old house.

In l967 and 68, Halbe Brown had asked me to run the Castle, do reservations, etc. and we lived in the 2 rooms on the 3rd floor overlooking the circular drive. These were the rooms which had originally been used as a Forstmann nursery and a room for the Nanny. When the children were in camp, Dave and I lived for a short period 2 yrs. in Rm. 32, and once, for a short period we lived in Rm. 22. We went where we were directed, and tried to do the jobs asked of us.

Wonderful memories of beautiful Frost Valley, and of all the special people we have lived and worked with over the years!!!! We always enjoy coming back to see the valley, and meet again all of those wonderful people.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jake is married!

Jake Kerr (middle name is "Carl" - named for Carl Hess) married Tricia in the Cadet Chapel at West Point this past Saturday, June 19, 2010. Jake, born at Frost Valley, is the son of Leslie Black and Doug Kerr. Above you see Leslie and her grandson, as well as Chuck and Joy White's daughter Elizabeth (Liz) with John Ross, son of Rebecca Bordonado, also a daughter of the Whites. Also in attendance, among other Frost Valley'ers: Marie Hess and her daughter Bonnie; Laurie Cobb, Michele Palamidy, Leslie's brother Jeff (10 FV summers), Jon (12 summers) and Chris Briggs, Pam Kerr-McPhee (Doug's sister), Gil Kerr (Doug's brother), and others.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

dialysis memory (3)

Phyllis Gherardi Caputo:

I remember feeling good about the dialysis program in general, and how helpful and caring the campers were to kids less fortunate than themselves. I also was very emotional when we went to the dedication of the wellness center and heard Eva Gottscho speak. What an incredible woman, and to see she did was responsible for from a tragedy in her life was inspiring.

dialysis memory (2)

And here's Harry McCormack:

I always thought that dialysis campers were some of the happiest campers in general and their attitude towards camp, life and their illness was always amazing.

The first memory I thought of was of a dialysis camper called Justin (18 years old) who turned up two days late due to him being ill. He was clearly very fragile but so excited to be at Frost Valley. He joined up with the rest of Pac during our evening activity, Iron Chef, and you could tell he was nervous and shy. I asked him where he was from and he said Verona, New Jersey. On my last holdover weekend I had gone to an amazing restaurant called Original House of Pancakes - OHOP (not IHOP!!) so I asked him about it and his face lit up and he started telling me all about it. Two other Pac campers had overheard this and joined in all singing OHOP's praises. Before I even had a chance to put Justin in one of the groups, these two Pac campers asked him to join up with their group. It wasn't much but suddenly Justin's whole demeanour changed and he just went and started chopping some carrots and chatting to the guys in his group. It was great that something so simple as mutual love for pancakes could make someone feel at home so easily.

I also always loved doing the night meds run. Windsong were always lazy and took the golf cart so we would hide on the side of the road and jump out at the opportune moment generating some very loud screams which was always hilarious. Don't think I'll ever get old enough where I don't find that funny.

dialysis/renal disease program - stories (1)

I'm gathering stories from the years of experiences we've had since the advent of our dialysis unit/renal disease program back in 1975. Dave Bieler was the first to respond and here's what he wants to say:

As gosh knows how many FVers know, Eric is a model of fortitude and determination. I was always kind of stunned by how much energy and enthusiasm he was able generate, seemingly at will, despite being tethered to a machine for four hours every other day having his blood cleaned out for him...however, it was one night, in 1986, on an absolute nightmare of an overnight with Forest/Susky kids, that he completely and totally outdid himself. We were caught in a storm, the kids were miserable, and we had to make a call on what to do -- spend the night out in the storm, struggling to keep both ourselves and the kids dry and safe, or attempt to hike through the rain (and over a rope bridge) back to camp. The storm just kept getting worse, the kids were scared, cold, and tired -- so we made the call to go back.

Myself, I was feeling extremely miserable at this point -- which was only compounded by the driving rain. And well, after he and I and our Susky counselor compatriots guided all the kids over the rope bridge through the dark by flashlight, I basically collapsed. Eric saw me, leapfrogged across the river, and essentially hauled me/propped me up for the walk back to camp. After a few nights in the nurse's office, I was back in business, but were it not for Eric -- who knows how things would've turned out? He was absolutely, positively, indubitably - awesome.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bill Hawkins, 1959

Bill Hawkins was a counselor at Frost Valley in 1959, just one summer. But he's a Y lifer and later did 30-plus years after his Wawayanda summer. I've been in touch with him for years, but recently we had this exchange:

Al: Have you made plans to come to the big Frost Valley reunion over Labor Day?

Bill: No, unfortunately. Give my best wishes to anyone who attends from the summer of 1959!

Al: By the way, Dave & Shirley King will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in July.

Bill: We celebrated our 50th last December 26th ... being married kept me from returning to FV in 1960 - so went to YMCA Camp Bernie with Merrill Oleson.

Al: Wawayanda didn't permit married couples on the staff in that era?

Bill: Yes, they did permit it .. but had limited accommodations for married staff ... all the available positions were filled by others ... I didn't have any seniority!

Al: What was the position you would have been going for in '60?

Bill: In 1959 I was the cabin counselor in #25 ... since I got married the following December I really never thought about a position except I was interested in the trip program for older boys ... I went to Camp Bernie as the Program Director ... it was, of course, a much smaller camp ... but I needed a job for a pregnant wife as well ... so she became the secretary for the director of Camp Bernie ... we returned to Bernie in '61 at the end of the summer I joined the Ridewood Y staff and the rest is history ... 34 years as a Y Professional before my retirement in 1995.

Al: I find this all so interesting. Do you remember what the accommodations for you would have been at Frost Valley if you and your wife had worked there? Castle? Pigeon Lodge? So you went from cabin counselor at Wawayanda in '59 to Program Director at Bernie in '60!

Bill: I have no idea about accommodations as the possibility didn't exist. My early YMCA "career" was from cabin counselor at YMCA Camp Abe Lincoln (Davenport, Iowa) in 1958, to cabin counselor at YMCA Camp Wawayanda in 1959, to program director at YMCA Camp Bernie in 1960 and 1961 ... then into a full-time Y job ... I returned to Camp Bernie in 1965 to become the first resident director ... left in 1969 to join the staff of the Westfield YMCA ... where I led the purchase of property and the development of the YMCA Four Seasons Outdoor Center in Hunterdon County ... but it was later sold by the YMCA and it became the Hunterdon Learning Center.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

flies in the dining hall

Bill Madden found us recently because he's been urging his nieces to attend summer camp at FV. A nice phone conversation with folks at camp led him to this blog and then to reminisce about his years there. He was a camper in the late 60s and early 70s. In the photo above: Counselor on porch - Sam Pack; campers left to right: Robert Kishpaugh, Bill Madden (the fly smasher), Mark, Eddie, Gordon Trinkler, Stephen, Leroy, David, Robert Roux; Junior Counselor at foot of the stairs - Gil.

(Later: David Magid writes to suggest that the JC on the stairs was indeed Gil...Gil Short. David writes: "I'm pretty sure Gil was a CIT with me in '69. I also believe Gil was related to Digger Shortt - a nephew?")

Bill saw the photo of the old dining hall in a recent entry here, and remembered a story that seems in part to involve me. Here's Bill:

The dining facility had a large main area where campers and counselors ate and a much smaller dining room in the back where staff ate. Sometimes campers who skipped their assigned activity periods could be found playing board games kept in a small cabinet in the staff dining room.

One afternoon, I skipped an activity period and went there to play, and found it empty. Well almost empty. You see, someone must have left a window or door open and I found myself in the room with many, many, many flies. Strangely, on this particular afternoon, the tables had already been set. Fortuitously, for no reason I can think of, someone had left behind a cake spatula. It is one of those utensils with a wooden handle and a flexible rubber head. Most importantly, this item makes a fantastic fly swatter. I decided I certainly wouldn’t enjoy eating with all of those flies in there, so with all good intentions, I set myself upon the task of smashing the flies. And a BIG task it was, I’m not talkin’ just a few flies here. Well, the best I can describe the activity is as follows: flies landing on table tops and large flat dinner plates were easy kills. Almost as easy as plates, were the flies landing on napkin holders and sugar jars. Much trickier were salt and pepper shakers and utensil handles. Those locations required a special flick of the wrist. Cup rims were impossible, and after a few failed attempts those flies were ignored until they landed in a better location. I stayed at the job until I had smashed them all. I remember my great sense of accomplishment and, hoping for a few accolades, I went searching for someone in the dining facility to tell them what I had done.

Well, I found no one, and camp being the busy place it is, I soon forgot all about the flies.

The evening meal for campers always began with someone coming to the microphone and announcing the food was ready. The announcement would trigger a rush of campers (one server per table) heading to pick up the food. The rules required them to walk, and I have often thought the sport of speed walking may have started there.

On the evening of my good deed this routine varied just slightly. The person, not sure who (maybe Al Filreis), coming to the mike did not immediately announce the food was ready. Instead he started off saying “whoever smashed the flies”. I don’t recall the remainder of what was said, but vividly remember feeling tremendously surprised by the immense disapproval in his tone, followed by a great sense of relief that I had told no one as of yet, and firmly resolving not too. In fact, I have not said a word about it these thirty-some odd years. But now, finally, I confess it is I who smashed the flies.