Saturday, June 30, 2012

staff dedication

Tonight the summer 2012 staff wound it up - with a dedication banquet, followed by four moving talks by various counselors; they were asked to speak about why they do this - why give up a summer to work this hard, so continuously, for so little pay. Then, after a break, everyone gathered at CIT Point for a candle ceremony. The theme for the summer was set - "be present" - and then everyone silently walked around the lake, lit their candles, and produced an amazing effect. Okay, then: the thing is truly begun.

And now: a final full night's sleep. For tomorrow 701 campers arrive.

Friday, June 29, 2012

talking camperships

it's different up here

Well, certainly different from the city I've spent almost every day of the last 9 months in. I love that city - and all cities - but, ah, to wake up in late June and feel the 58 degrees, hear the stream (High Falls Brook in my case), make coffee, sit on the porch at 6 am, and just stare at this scene....? What could be more therapeutic? I'm here. Okay, so: I'm here.

staff training 2012 & Jenna Ostrow is here

Day 4 of summer staff training 2012 and it happens that alumna Jena Ostrow is here with a small group on a retreat. Not a very good pic of us in the dining at lunch yesterday, but at least you get a sense she is here. Not sure she realized that her retreat would coincide with staff training but she says that it has made her return to FV all the sweeter: watching these young people go through training brings back very specific memories (for her as for me).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

'Should I Be Sending My Children to Camp?'

In a recent article, Michael Thompson writes:

I know that many young people do not really know how strong they are, how competent they are or even who they are until they get away from their parents and test themselves in a new and challenging environment. Many children told me the best thing about camp was, "I can really be myself here." What do they mean by that? I am pretty sure I know the answer. When children are away from their parents, they do not have to view their own life and achievements through the lens of my-athlete-father-standing-on-the-sidelines-watching-me or my-mother-is-worried-that-I'll fail. When a child is on his own, the experience is his alone, the satisfaction belongs only to him and he does not have to filter it through what his parents think and feel.

For the whole article: LINK.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

your 2012 staff!

The summer camp staff arrived yesterday! They're not all at FV quite yet, and not everyone is in this picture, but you get a sense of the size - and even, though from this distance, the enthusiasm and rarin'-to-go-ness - of your 2012 FV staff!

Monday, June 11, 2012

lax stars got their start at Frost Valley

Rick Cobb writes: "I was in Montclair this weekend for hte 50th anniversary of the lacrosse program (1962-2012), and saw a couple of alumni who I taught to play lacrosse at FV.  On the left is John Dudley, who went on to play lax at Navy, and now coaches a scholastic lax team in Newark.  On the right is Ross Wimer, oldest of four brothers who all ended up playing lax at Montclair (or Cherry Creek HS in CO after they moved), and all played at Yale.  Just goes to show you never know how the seeds planted at FV will grow."

Saturday, June 2, 2012

last chance to have your name inscribed in the Alumni Cabin in our new CIT Lodge

Dear Frost Valley alumni friends:

Our new home for the CITs is nearly finished. In less than a month, our 2012 CITs will arrive and move in and start their life-changing adventure at Frost Valley.

Very soon (within days) we will be shifting our focus as alumni back to helping FV fund "camperships" (financial aid scholarships for kids to attend camp whose families can't otherwise afford it) - an annual campaign known in recent years as "Project 332" (because our goal is sending 332 campership kids to camp).

But now I'm writing to say that this is your last opportunity to join many, many former CITs and others to have your name (and CIT summer, if you want) included in the "Alumni Cabin," one of the cabins that form the new Leadership Lodge.

If you go here

and make a donation of any size, we will add your name to the walls of Alumni Cabin. In a few weeks a new generation of CITs will join our community - they'll see your name and will know they follow a special tradition.

See below for a copy of the message I (with Jeff Daly and Dan Weir) sent to you at the beginning of this project. We're coming all the way back from the devastation of Hurricane Irene, and now we'll be better than ever.

Click on this link and you'll see the list of alumni whose names will be on the wall, as of a few days ago:

- Al

Al Filreis

- - -

Dear Frost Valley alumni, one & all:

We are writing to many, many former Frost Valley campers, trip leaders, directors, program staff, counselors, environmental ed instructors, support staff, Family Campers, lifeguards, Village Chiefs, nurses and doctors, and CITs. When you’re done reading this letter, we hope you will fire up your computer’s or smartphone’s web browser and will go immediately to these two pages:

This email message will explain why. So please read on!

Hurricane Irene’s disastrous flooding took its toll on our beloved valley. Most receiving this letter will know what happened on the day after our final session’s summer campers left. Since then we have made a continuous effort to rebuild our community as quickly as possible. Thousands of dollars and hours of staff and volunteer labor later, we have removed debris, cleared camp roads, re-set hiking trails, and restored horse pastures.

Now we face our greatest post-Irene challenge: we must replace Pigeon Lodge, which Irene utterly (and horribly) destroyed. We must raise the money for the new building and we must complete its construction before the start of summer camp 2012.

It’s called Leadership Lodge, and without it our CITs, LITs and other “in-training” (“iT”) future camp leaders will have no home; or, we’d have to turn away 160 campers.

Yes, you read that correctly! The new building, replacing Pigeon, will be the home of our CITs. The first permanent home for our CITs in Frost Valley’s history. Many reading this letter will remember their own exciting CIT (or “LIT” or “FCC” or…) summer as if it were yesterday. Others are the parents, siblings, spouses, and dear friends of former CITs and will want, we hope, to honor them. What a time of life that was! We learned how to be leaders; we learned how important reliable, open-hearted leadership is to our own lives and to our world.

From the outside, Leadership Lodge will look like Pigeon Lodge did and Biscuit Lodge still does – wood framing on the second floor, with Forstmann-style dormers, and Neversink River stone masonwork gracing the exterior of the bottom floor. But inside, Leadership Lodge will consist of four cabin-style rooms.

Now, we together—people spread across the generations but with a life-changing experience in common—have a project to undertake. One of those four cabins, we hope, will always been known as “Alumni Cabin” in honor of our own—or our sons’ and daugthers’, or beloved friend’s or spouse’s—coming-of-age as Frost Valley leaders. If Frost Valley’s alumni and their loved ones are able to reach the goal of raising $75,000, every alumna or alumnus who makes a donation (or for whom a donation is made on their behalf) will be honored with her or his name on the walls of our cabin, along with the year of your CIT experience (if apt).

The building of Leadership Lodge so soon after Irene took away our beloved Pigeon Lodge is a characteristically creative response to setbacks by the people of Frost Valley. By rebuilding in this way, we are furthering our commitment to leadership development and reminding ourselves of the importance of our own personal decision to learn how to lead.

We hope you’ll help. Here’s how. First, go to the online Leadership Lodge Alumni Donation page at and make a donation. Or call 845-985-2291 and ask to speak with Jess or Liane. Second, go to, log in to this social media site we’ve built for Frost Valley people, and join the community there.

This second step is nearly as important as the first. There are many thousands whose heartfelt experiences at Frost Valley changed their lives. But we are in touch with only around 2,500 of them. Our goal is to relocate some of those who have gotten out of touch—your fellow campers, members of your CIT cohort, and co-counselors. Help us find them and reunite them with the FV magic!

Thank you for whatever you can do to help.

Al Filreis
Jeff Daly
Dan Weir