Monday, July 30, 2012
Below is a 1961 newspaper article reporting that the first three camp sessions at Wawayanda were full and that there were a few openings for fourth session. It was Al Chrone who announced this from his position at the Westfield Y. (For a slightly better image of the article, click on the image below.)
Al Chrone was beloved by the people at Speers-Eljabar and here is the text of the announcement made by them:
I am deeply saddened to inform you of the passing of a beloved member of the Camp Family, Al Chrone. Al was a young YMCA program director who in 1947-8 helped recruit the first group of campers to participate in what was at the time the first racially integrated YMCA Camp in the Y system. In subsequent years, Al became the Camp Director of Camp Speers. He and his family lived in the rustic cabin that sat above the lake each summer. Campers of that era often recall Al fishing during the evenings off the dock below the Director's Cabin. As "Taps" was played by the Camp Bugler, he would reel in his fishing line and go make his nightly rounds of the camp. Al later became the CEO of the Madison (NJ) YMCA where he continued to promote Camp Speers-Eljabar YMCA and summer camp experience for kids.
Al and his wife, Rae have been lifelong supports of Camp Speers-Eljabar YMCA. The Chrone Cabin now stands at the location of the old Director's Cabin and our annual award for program excellence is named in his honor. The Al Chrone Program Service Award is given to the group or individual who have supported, enhanced, and enriched our programs through their participation and leadership. The most recent recipient of the Al Chrone Program Service Award is Bob Lomauro, CEO of the Somerset Hills YMCA.
I was blessed to work with Al at the Madison YMCA during my college years as a part time sports instructor and then as an intern. At one point during my Junior year of college internship at the Madison Y, Al encouraged me to work at a sleep away camp as a way to really understand the depth and breadth of YMCA work. Of course, he pointed me to Camp Speers-Eljabar YMCA. I'm happy to give Al all the credit for helping me to connect with Camp Speers-Eljabar YMCA - a connection that has lasted all of my adult life and enriched my life beyond description.
There will be no funeral service. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations in Al's name to any YMCA of your choice or to Bayshore Home Keystyle Living at 512 Bayshore Rd. Nokomis FL 34275. Cards and letters of sympathy may be sent to Rae Chrone 324 Dolphin Shores Circle Nokomis, FL 34275.
Attached is the photo of your "68" - "75" alumnus [Glenn himself, that is] pointing to his signed oar and wood log in your administration building, with his three kids that are going to session number three. My daughters Ava and Sophia are on their third year and this is my sons first year of many to come.Yes, a few years ago and he came with memorabilia, which we now display in the "historical room" of the main office.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Pigeon has always been my favorite stream here, and it has some serious competitors.
There's the stateliness and historical significance of the main river flowing through our land - the Neversink, a mecca for flyfishermen starting with the Dutch in probably the 17th century - a classic.
High Falls Brook above the falls itself is a lot like Pigeon, actually, but below it it's slower, wider, more "obvious" than Pigeon. And it has a reason for going: High Falls. Forgive me for putting it this way, but it's like a tourist-destination stream. Not for me when I want the real thing. I've climbed up all the way along High Falls Brook to its source, up a ridge of Doubletop and is probably the best way these days to get up Doubletop. So H.F.B. is special to me but still there's that hike-a-little get-big-payoff thing that seems facile. Hemlock Brook aka Trickle Creek isn't really much and it runs right through the middle of camp, so it hardly counts, and it's dry a lot of the year. It does, when it's been raining a lot, go through the middle of Big Tree Field and that's a nice feature.I don't know if the stream that once flowed through the meadow that is now Lake Cole ever had a name. I suspect not. Two or three streams feed the man-made lake. Anyway, that can't count, can it?
The East Branch of the Neversink flows down the back side of slide, picks up real stream status through the Tison preserve (Frost Valley land), then passes right next to the old Straus estate (now East Valley Ranch, also FV), passes across the road from our Farm Camp (where the kids actually have their "waterfront" period in one of its deep-ish holes) and flows all the way to Claryville, where, just at the famed turn-off to county road 47 and the 7 miles to Frost Valley's main property, the two branches of the early Neversink converge. I love the East Branch and it's getting to be one of those rivers I can drive next to and feel lots of feelings. For one thing, as I drive alongside it toward and at the Tison property, near the head of the Denning trail, I can fool myself into believing that I'm existing in 1870 or 1890.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Last night there were threats of a major thunderstorm - and warnings of hail and even tornados - but the Big One never materialized. I was at the Castle at 6:30 PM for a special dinner we'd arranged with a few camper parents who were picking up their kids the next day (today). I walked out to the newly renovated large porch of the Castle and shot this video of the threatening sky over Wildcat Mountain. Take a look at the new deck. It's very excited. It had been around 10 years since the Castle porch was safe at all. Now not only is it safe; it provides a spectacular view whether the day is sunny or cloudy.
A few days ago I mentioned that Katie Kelly, Tacoma VC in the mid-1990s, had shared with the current Tacoma staff some of her old weekly program schedules and was teaching them a song Tacoma used to sing a lot. It's "Stars in the Sky" and - guess what? - the Tacoma staff sang it as Hird's closing campfire last night! Unfortunately, Katie was sitting in a hospital waiting room at the time, having driven a camper to see a doctor. So she missed this reprise. I was quick enough to catch the second half of the song, and here it is.
Eric Blum provides some context:
Just watched the video of "Stars in the Sky" by Tacoma Village at closing campfire and I just thought I would give you a little history of this song. Of course this is my memory and it may be a little foggy but this is how I remember the arrival of this song at Frost Valley. "Stars in the Sky" was first sung at the second closing campfire in the summer of 1986. It was brought to the Valley by Rob Sherman and Dave Bieler (both Forest staff) that year, it was Dave's and mine first summer. We were sitting around the CQ fire one night and Dave and Rob were discussing this song that they had learned while in the Mitzvah Corp, they both thought that it would be perfect for the Forest staff to perform this at closing campfire, our VC Frank Degraw agreed, so the entire Forest staff sang this song for the closing campfire. This song became a staple of Wawayanda closing campfires throughout the mid to late 80's. "Stars in the Sky" almost replaced "Four Strong Winds". It was generally sung in 3 part harmony by Dave Bieler, Susie Sunshine and Rob SHerman with Rob playing the guitar. It's good to see this song once again being sung. Thanks KT for bringing it back.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Judy Eichinger (Eva Gottscho's daughter) and husband Bob visited again today, and chose wisely. Beautiful day, lots going on (Olympics) and they had an opportunity to meet for an hour with Dr. Rick Kaskel, who of course is on FV's Board of Trustees and who is our lead contact at Montefiore Hospital, which hosts our dialysis/kidney unit. The meeting is important. The triangular relationship among Frost Valley and Montefiore and the Gottscho Kidney Foundation needs to work very well if we want to continue being able to sponsor this remarkable program offering summer camp experiences to children with renal disease. We're in a time of transition: Eva of course passed away a few years ago; Maureen, who led/coordinated the project from the nursing standpoint here at camp for many summers, now feels it's time to transition out of that lead role; Frost Valley people feel we need someone designated by FV to coordinate it. Everyone's in agreement so the future of this program, begun in 1975, is bright. Above you see Judy, at lunch, meeting with the campers who are here this session in connection with the Gottscho kidney unit.
The Wawayanda Mile is the oldest continuing event in the Frost Valley Olympics. Here's the start of one of the heats of this perennially favorite event. The course runs in front of Margetts Lodge, in front of the laundry, turns left on the dining hall road on the eastern edge of Big Tree Field, turns at the Turrell Way rock, continues to the Ad Office/Welcome Center, cuts in front of the Olympic Circle, in front of Smith and then Hayden, and turns left for the last few feet to the area in front of the front doors to Margetts. You'll hear a reference to "the green team." This is not an Olympic team; these are still countries represented by international counselors we have here. No, it's an age designation. Blue, for instance, is for the oldest campers on all teams. So when "blue" campers can compete in an event, the participants are all roughly the same age and size. So this was the green group's running of the Mile. The Wawayanda Mile, by the way, is about 1/3rd of a mile.
Dave King writes: This picture is of the Boy's camp kitchen staff of 1962 and '63. In front left is Fritz and Vilja Kohtz. The chief cook, Albert Fey, and his wife are center and right. They lived in the 2 back rooms at Pigeon Lodge, second floor. We [Dave and Shirley King] and Kathy [then a baby] were in the front room and closet over the stairwell. The male staff members are familiar, but I can't remember the names. Back left, is the incredible Calvin Brown who also worked in the kitchen. It should be noted that Shirley, along with Sal Senatore, and a Mrs. King from Pennsylvania and her sister cooked at the Castle from 1958 through 1968.
I am working at McDonogh, a day camp in Baltimore. I run a cooking program where I use what I have learned from "Incredible Edlible" at Frost Valley. In each session cookbook, I enclose a dedication page where I give Frost Valley credit for starting the program. McDonogh isn't Frost Valley, but I have each of the kids involved in something. Dave, now 16, works with the "Outdoor Games" program. Megan, at 15, is my Assistant in the Cooking program. Dylan, my 12 year old, is a camper in Senior Camp. At the end of the day we are tired, often sunburned, but we love it. I guess summer camp never really leaves the blood.....And here is the text of the dedication:
Incredible Edible… Incredible Edible at McDonogh is based on a program started in the 1980s at Frost Valley YMCA in the Catskill Mountains of New York. The philosophy behind Incredible Edible is that if children learn to make healthy food choices early, they will be healthy eaters throughout their lives. In the program we started examining foods for sodium content, sugars, calories, etc. You might find your children examining labels, looking at nutrition facts, etc. as a result of the program. I encourage you to try some of these Incredible Edible recipes at home with your children. Feel free to modify them to suit the needs of your own healthy eaters! -- Miss Kathy and Megan
He's a CIT (as mentioned in previous posts this summer) and today is from Wales but for the current week his "in cabin" assignment is Forest, and he's loving that. Last night he gave a devotion! Let's face it - everyone associated with FV who loves the Giannottis (there are many of us) is just plain proud that another Giannotti talent is let loose on this valley.
The evening had started with a special combo Challenge Night (a first, in my memory): Outpost and Pac. They worked and played really well together. I assembled a terrific roster of guest judges and that added to the creative flavor of the evening. In one of the two photos below you can see all of them, from left to right: Shawn Blagmon, Katie Kelly, Matt Buzcek, Doug Kallin, Peter Owen, and Sandy Shapiro Bohn.
I have to say something about Katie Kelly here, because I don't think I've mentioned her yet in my posts. She was a camper in Susky in 1985, my last summer as director. She grew up through the ranks and became a VC of Tacoma and then for several summers an assistant Hird director, and later she worked full-time for Frost Valley as our alumni
Vince O'Donnell, a talented Pac counselor who had led his village at Challenge Night in the absence of his VC (VC night out), had been so ill during the evening program that he kept taking breaks. When we got to the Wellness Center later, there was Vince, waiting to talk to one of the six or seven medical staff there about what might be done to get him ready for Olympics the next morning. (Five minutes before I sat down to write this entry, the next morning, I saw Vince, a head coach of South Africa, out there in the sunny field, banging a drum and leading a brilliant S.A. cheer that required tremendous feats of dancing and drumming. I asked him how he felt, and he looked at me with a funny ironic smile and shouted not to me but to the blue sky above: "I feel GREEEEEAAATTT!" Ah, camp.)
It was so busy that Tammey McCloud, our amazing Wellness Center director, came in just to keep the traffic moving along. What amazed me was that no one was complaining about the quality of attention they were receiving and - this really makes me happy - the medical people completely accepted the presence and talky help of various staff including directors and one bearded trustee and one very happy-to-be-back former Director of Camping. At one point I sat with Aidyn Gold as he was treated for a sprained wrist (which was eventually splinted and off he went into the night back to the cabin). Aidyn was a little upset about his injury and I reminded him of all the times his father, Adam, then a young camper, was injured and how much he complained at such moments. Aidyn thought that was great and smiled a big smile at participating in the family tradition.
I looked at my watch and, as much as I was enjoying this extra evening program being played by a village-sized gathering of slightly injured and ill people, I realized it was time to walk up to Tacoma for the devotion. I joined them at the fire-ring. Claire and Shannon were the counselors (I've known them both - and Shannon is in fact the daughter of my neighbors at home in Philadelphia) and the kids were really ready for a sentimental story. And I surely did give them that. I told them about the most important summer of my life - Lenape, 1968. I won't tell that story here, but suffice to say: it really did change me. I met someone that summer who made me realize I should take none of this - these stars, this breeze, the sound of this river heard far off in the silent dark night - for granted. And then the counselors and girls spoke and we held hands (really! - twice!) and said goodnight and promised we'd all really try to experience this fully.
Then Matt and I began walking around. It was 11:45 PM. We walked and talked along the paths between and among the villages under the stars. Matt, who had lived here year-round for several years, talked about the brilliance of the stars as if seeing them for the first time - in awe. I was in awe of his being in awe. We joined the Outpost CQ fire. They were going to grill some burgers on a make-shift grill (an aluminum pan that had carried some chocolate brownies) but we left before it was time to eat. Then we went back to Tacoma, and by now the same fire that had lit my emotional conversation with that Tacoma cabin was now fueling the conversation and late-night snack of the Tacoma staff. They were grilling flat pita-like rounds of bread and melting spicy jack cheese on them. They offered Matt and me one of these grilled-cheesy confections each, and though I wasn't hungry I had one and loved it. The bread was crunchy and one could taste the taste of firewood and hot stone. As I munched, I took in the conversation and I overheard them talking about how much fun it was learning about old Tacoma from Katie Kelly and much they were getting from seeing her old weekly schedules. Naturally they wanted to know more about the previous generations and Matt and I were happy to oblige. At a few minutes after 1 am I drove home slowly and kept looking out and up through my front windshield. All the stars were up there, leading me in a certain direction.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
From left to right above: cough and sniffles; two tiny spider bites on hand; keeping them company.
Now back outside, I chat with a staff member who's possibly got a hairline fracture, will probably visit an orthopedist at home and come back (because she can't keep away) and get around as best she can. When you love what you're doing - be it baseball or summer camp counseling - you play with pain if you can.
Dusk, last night, 8:30 PM. I walked alone across the field on my way to catch the second half of "Wawa's Got Talent" in the main room of Margetts Lodge. It had rained hard much of the day and then cleared and the sky was gorgeous, the whole feel of the place was damp and now cooler than in days. So here you see Hayden Lodge (at left) and Smith Lodge (at right); in between then the greenhouse and garden (where the Archery range used to be many years ago) and Banks Hill visible behind that.
Monday, July 23, 2012
A few things about the building remain exactly the same as they were when it was first built for Girls' Camp in the mid-1960s. One of these is the huge deck/porch just off the main dining room. Because the building was built on a fairly steep slope coming up off the lake, one gets a fabulous view from the porch - quite high up. The trees there are very tall, so one looks through the tall trunks of the birches and beeches growing there, and can see the lake.
During the summers of '83, '84, and '85 I spent a lot of time out there, during meals especially. It was where I held "meetings" with campers and staff. It was where the VCs and I had our morning breakfast-time meetings.
Feeling very nostalgic about all the days and evenings I spent looking out from that enormous porch, I decided to take photos of all views. Several of these will be exactly as they were 40 years ago. But off to the right, now, you see Lakeview Lodge. That view is obviously different.
A fabulous footnote comes by way of Kate Schonmeyer, whose last summer at Wawayanda/Frost Valley was 1965. And that was indeed the year the building was built. But - and I didn't know this or didn't remember it - that first summer it was NOT used as a dining hall for the girls. They continued to eat in the "boys" dining hall for one more summer (1962-65), presumably in the "back" room of that building - called (then I suppose - but certainly later) "Hemlock Lounge." Anywhere, here is Kate's rather remarkable version of the story:
It was built in '65, the last year I came to Wawayanda. We didn't use it as a dining hall, though, we still ate in the old hall with the boys. I was the girls' program director that year and it was my home, along with the waterfront director, Joyce Slater, the camp director (I think Carol DaVita) and a few other folks. We used the big room as an activity center. I remember we practiced our dances for Olympics' opening ceremonies in there. We had some sewing machines and sewed our costumes there. Since we were so far away from everyone else we could play Cousin Brucie pretty loud and no one could hear the radio unless we put it up to the loudspeaker system - which we occasionally did after reveille, to get the girls in a good mood.
I stopped by cabin 22 to see the girls there during Rest Hour. And here they are!
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Here's an audio recording of my four-minute visit with a spirited Japan team: MP3. The head coach of Japan this year is someone named Hannah Filreis. The kid's got some leathery lungs.
By the way, the reference to Colombia refers to the host country.
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Later: here is an audio recording of Japan's presentation at the Opening Ceremonies.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
The folks you see at the start of the video: John and Irma O'Brien, parents of two great FV people (one a camper, the other a CIT); and John is a member of Frost Valley's Board of Trustees.