Monday, December 31, 2012
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Please help give a Wawayanda Welcome with lots of hoopla to baby Ariana Juno (aka "Roo") Geller who was born on Thursday December 6 at 11:34 pm , 7 lbs,19 1/2 inches.
I was in the delivery room with the birth mom and it was amazing! Because of the legalities of interstate adoption, we have to stay in RI for the first ~10 days. Lucky for us we found a great place to "camp out", at Camp Fuller by the Sea, courtesy of Peter and Claudia Swain! I love that she left the hospital to go straight to camp !!
Friday, December 14, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Monday, October 15, 2012
Just after the memorial service for Halbe Brown in the FV dining hall yesterday: from left to right, Mike Cobb, Mark Kramer, Peggy Hope, Barbara Hale, Barbara Brower, Mark Showers.
Friday, September 28, 2012
This summer while working in step we had the privilege of getting to participate in Mike and Stuart's LAST gumbo olympics of 2012. it was actually a funny story -- we weren't sure if we were going to be able to even do them at all! we only had 7 campers in step, which isn't enough to do them with, and were supposed to have done them with windsong, but we had a bit of a scheduling mishap and ended up scheduling the olympics for different days. the other group i had asked to participate with us ended up backing out the period before we were going...so i was extremely nervous! i knew that a bunch of windsong girls this particular session were PHENOMENAL mainstreamers, and truly just loved hanging out with the campers in the mac program. our olympics was scheduled during hird waterfront, so i found them before it and nervously asked if they wanted to participate. i wasn't sure if they were going to say yes, because most of them didn't swim and just hung out which i thought they loved. it turned out they couldn't have been happier or more HONORED to have been asked to hang out with us! even though they had just done the gumbo olympics the day before, they were SO excited.
Mike McNamee and Stuart Duff got to know my campers very well from living in lakeview with us...but it truly went beyond that. they came to our devotions, hung out with us whenever they could...and really just put in true time and effort to get to know our village, which a lot of people don't necessarily do. i feel as though step sometimes gets overlooked at camp, since our guys are much older than most campers at Frost Valley. Nevertheless, mike and stuart completely disregarded those stereotypes and truly became a part of our village. over the course of the session my kids really grew fond of them, so needless to say i was EXTREMELY nervous to possibly have to cancel the olympics on them- something they were looking forward to all week. It was also the very last activity scheduled, and I had cancelled the activity right before it so they could finish packing their belongings.
We (STEP, the PHENOMENAL Windsong ladies, and Mike and Stewart) all met up in front of Margetts for what turned out to be the absolute best activity period of the entire session, and maybe the entire summer in STEP. My campers that didn't typically like to participate were screaming at the top of their lungs, and smiles were just plastered on everyone's face for an hour and a half. This period truly embodied the Frost Valley spirit, and the mission of not only camp, but also the goal of the MAC partnership. I had never been prouder or more excited about any activity I've ever taken part in as a counselor.
I took videos of each groups final performances.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Friday, September 14, 2012
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Last night, my last night here this summer, was a stunner. As you see, clear skies, and a moon. I walked by the lake on my way to tell a story to Susky and Lakota (together) and saw this and stopped for a long while just to ponder the scene, and what it means to me. Which is to say: a great deal.
I had gone out for pizza at dinnertime and brought back two fabulous toppings-filled slices, along with a giant cakey brownie. I'd checked in on a village evening program in progress, and saw two counselors (one was crying - about the coming end of summer - and the other was comforting her) who seemed to need the treat, and invited them to go to my car, parked nearby, and partake. A few minutes later, I went to get a flashlight from my car, and they were sitting in the back seat, the one no longer crying and the other no longer consoling, munching happily on the slices.
I walked up the hill, past the old cabins of the 40s and 30s (girls 1-20 in the old days) and around the "high road" past Tacoma and toward Sacky. A fairly large black bear, who'd been messing with some garbage bins, ambled across the road about 15 feet in front of me.
Eventually I walked back to Geyer Hall where the two villages of girls awaited my story. Susky had been swimming in the lake for evening program, and they were cold - although they'd changed into dry clothes in their cabins. So indoors on this cold night made sense, though I missed telling my final story of the summer around a fire and under the stars. Some campers fell soundly and happily asleep during the story, but most were bolt upright and enjoyed being "scared" by the (mildly) scary parts.
Then, at the end, I said goodnight to them and they in unison with soft tired voices said goodnight to me. And as I left a number of them came to me for goodnight hugs. It's all I needed for a final evening. I walked down the hill, no flashlight, now in pitch darkness. I could have done one of those late nights around, had another Outpost-burger (delicious a few nights ago!) but figured my Susky/Lakota hugs were a good finale.
From home I will doubtless post a few more entries, using some photos and videos I've taken throughout the summer. But I will be doing that not from here. Here where I want to be. Funny how this place goes so easily, too easily, from presence to absence. But I have to say it's about the most present absence I can imagine.
Goodnight, Susky and Lakota.
Tell us another story.
Not tonight. But certainly next summer. Will you be back?
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Monday, August 20, 2012
Today I caught up with Mike McNamee again and we recorded our chat. You'll want to listen to the 12-minute audio.
During our discussion, McNamee and I realized that our daughters - Hannah the counselor of cabin 44 and Fionn, a camper in the same cabin - would be performing at Hirdstock that afternoon. Below are two photos and a video of that splendid performance! You should have seen us then - a couple of heart-filled and proud dads.
Lincoln McClain, our fabulous new Adventure Director, instructs the campers of Adventure Village in the basic art of canoe strokes before the kids and their counselors head out for a 3-day canoe trip.
Fenn was brought onto the Board in 1972 by Jim Kellogg, who recruited him for his business acumen and because he offered representation from Morris County, NJ., a key region for our campers and families but then underrepresented among the trustee membership. By his account – although no one else’s – he languished on various committees and felt his participation to be “less than stellar.” But there is no
During his many summertime visits, Jerry was a regular visitor to – and impromptu white-glove inspector of – our Health Center, and was for years the strongest and often lone voice advocating a new and improved health facility. He stood strongly behind the Wellness “revolution” brought about by Halbe Brown and others in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He pushed for the building of a fitness trail around Lake Cole and elsewhere, and covered the costs of its construction with his own donations. In 1991, when the Frost Valley board sought a trustee who could act as legal advisor, he recruited Bob Haines, who currently serves, in his 22nd year of membership, as the Senior Vice President – another key aspect of the Wolff legacy. After Jerry passed away, we learned that, through a planned bequest, some 80% of his assets were to be given to Frost Valley, an endowment fund that will support us annually forever.
Neversink Lodge was renamed Wolff Lodge in his honor. In the summertime, children with special health requirements are housed there – a fitting tribute to a volunteer leader of Frost Valley who always felt that all children, regardless of health and ability, should have a chance to be at camp. Today we include in our Hall of Fame a generous person of persistent values and a practical sense of what was needed of him. As Bob Haines has simply put it, “Jerry Wolff put his money where his mouth was.”
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Ladd visited recently), and Patti Candelari.
Above from left: Dave Gansler, Lauren Solatar, Robin Wachenfeld. Dave was a camper, then counselor, then VC of Lacota (Native American village) in the 70s and early 80s. Lauren is Dave's wife. Robin was an Adventure Trip leader in the early 70s and is now an active member of the Board of Trustees. More on Gansler here.
Above: Fenn Putman accepts his induction into the FV Hall of Fame, after an introduction by new Board President Jim Vaughan.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
A little while ago I mentioned the passing of our remarkable friend, Kirk Fleischauer. Before you read this update, please read that blog post. As promised, Kirk's brother Mark visited with his family - his wife, Kristen (herself a camp person at a Northwest U.S. camp), his daughter Kerry, and his son Mason. When Mark and Kristen looked for a camp for their eldest, Kerry, they found that Mike Ketcham was running a camp near Tacoma, Washington, and sent Kerry to Camp Seymour there. (This morning Kerry and I talked about the huge BUILD STRONG sign that Mike added to the dining hall at Seymour. There's a lot of Frost Valley/Wawayanda there.)
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Wawayanda Camp Director: Hi, [name]! I see you are having a nice breakfast. Are you going to have cereal with that?
Totemite: I don't like cereal!
Director (tone of friendly teasing): You don't like cereal? Why, it's almost unAmerican not to like cereal.
Totemite: I'm not from America. I'm from Brooklyn.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Scott Ernst, one of the fabulous Frost Valley Ernsts, here with his family, including his daughter Kathryn (Katie) who spent her second summer here last session. Katie was in Susky cabin 47 this time - and loved it! And the Ernsts' Frost Valley tradition continues.
What the two wanted to say amounted to almost precisely the same thing.
Gail had spent some time recently at home with some friends. She listened to them complain about their jobs, the people for whom they work, etc. And she realized that she currently works for an organization in which everyone knows fully well what the goals and vision are, where the ultimate reason for the organization is transparent and always openly discussed. That she'd never otherwise worked in an organization where this was true, and could always use it to measure other projects and companies and workplaces. And that this was a rare privilege. When she told me this, eyes actually misty from the power of the realization, I urged her to share this sentiment with the VCs and directors and program people gathered at the VC meeting. She did. They understood, and I hope counted themselves lucky to have (and so early in their careers) a work experience with such an organization.
As for Gansler. I sat down with Jeremy to share my history and feelings about working with his father Dave in the late 70s and early 80s. I mentioned that I was glad that Dave had reconnected with FV just when his son was coming of age and might have a shot at a few summers here. And Jeremy went on to describe his reaction to the job and the place. I just had this conversation a few minutes ago. This is not a direct quote but it's a pretty close paraphrase: "I was frankly surprised. I knew Frost Valley talked a lot about values, but usually such talk is just talk. But the extent to which these values are openly discussed at every level, and to see how these young people don't scoff at them but take them really seriously - is amazing. It's like a paradise. Everyone is seriously committed to reaching these abstract goals - like caring and respect - but they make them happen in their day-to-day work. It's real. And because we're so separated, we can do all this without much interference or diluting from the outside. This place is really what my father said it was - an experience that changed his life and which he wanted to share with me."
Monday, August 13, 2012
It's wonderful that they are both here. They've already been very busy making arrangements with VCs to run a mini-Olympics ("Gumbo Games") for a village each in a single activity period. They've got 6 or 7 villages already signed up. Now that's volunteering!
Glenn Horton (who still lives around here) was kind enough to stop by this morning and lend these fellows his car while he's away. Duff will take McNamee to the train station along the Hudson River so McNamee can spend a few days away from FV to attend some kind of professional meeting in Montreal. But already I can tell that Mike doesn't want to leave. He's completely into it. It's like those nearly 30 years never passed.
Here we are this morning. Gray a little but not diminished.