Saturday, December 7, 2013


The Castle is a place with many odd views. Here's one that has always fascinated me.

Monday, December 2, 2013

make a gift this holiday season to help us help kids have 2 weeks at camp next summer

My five decades of experiences at Frost Valley have taught me pretty much everything I know how to do – to be a patient parent, to be an attentive citizen, to be a teacher who cares personally about his students, and indeed to do whatever is in my power to preserve what Frost Valley does for kids.

I’ve seen Frost Valley make the lives of kids better in just two weeks. Seriously. I’ve seen it. Many times. Probably you’ve heard me tell these stories. No space for those stories here, but click on this video 


and take a good look at these kids’ expressions – and you’ll easily be able to imagine – or, from your own experience, remind yourself of - the impact of this place on children and families. I’m totally committed to it.

To kids whose families cannot afford two weeks at camp in the summer, we at Frost Valley make $650,000 available annually. It’s our goal never to say no to a family who wants to send their child to camp – no matter the family’s economic status, nor the child’s ability or disability.

We need to raise the funds to make this financial aid – “camperships” – possible. My goal is to raise $10,000 before December 31, 2013. Will you please help me help these kids? Thank you so much for considering it. Just click this link

and you'll see my Frost Valley web page, my goal, etc. Click on "GIVE NOW" and make a donation.  Thank you so much!

I'm personally very grateful for your help. Please help me help these kids whose families cannot afford to send their children to camp. This kind of support has been no less than life-changing and indeed life-saving for some.

- Al

Cobb returns

Rick Cobb returned in 1982 to work for four weeks as a super-counselor in Lenape.

the flags are up on the O Circle

A few beautiful mid-July day. 1981, Olympic Day coming soon. We had set up the flags around the Olympic Circle a few days before the craziness began.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tison in winter

Here is a shot of the Tison Estate house seen through the Japanese garden sculpture in front of the house - wintertime in the late 1970s.

cross-country skiing in 1974

Our "ski barn" in the early 1970s was the "Old Rec Hall," which was named Margetts Lodge after complete renovation. It was cold in there, and we had several propane heaters working full blast during the early-70s snowy frigid winters. People put on their skis in front of the Rec Hall, on the rise just north of the flagpole. My father took this picture in January 1974. I was working that weekend as a "ski instructor." I believe the woman in the white cap is Marsha Murphy, one of the full-year staff that year, along with Jack McCue and others. (Marsha and Jack ended up marrying and changed the surnames to McMuphy.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

main Frost Valley entrance, August day in the late 1970s

the greatest gift... video series beginning now

If you click here you will be able to watch a video in which Jerry Huncosky talks about the greatest gift Frost Valley has given him. This is the first in a series of "Greatest Gift" videos and I hope everyone will watch them and, of course, ponder their own greatest gift.

And we encourage you to share, on our Facebook page, a simple video or story of the greatest gift Frost Valley has given you or your family! 

Here is the link to the FV FB page:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mary and Gun

Mary Fleischauer and an international counselor from Denmark named "Gun." I think Gun's last name was Meldron. She was a nurse's aid. The year was 1978 or so.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

the blue stake truck, sans door

Here I am, driving the old blue stake truck, which seems to be missing the driver's side door! I'm the Program Director here (I'm guessing it's 1977) and was setting up for an all-camp program. Lenny Aberman is sitting in the back (he was one of my perennial camper assistants).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rick Kaskel writes a blog entry

When I was a child growing up in Brooklyn, I looked forward to every summer when I could escape the city, be with friends in the country, play sports, have counselors as heroes and come of age as a teenager.  After a long lapse, this opportunity returned in a unique manner — I was asked to represent The Children's Hospital at Montefiore at its summer kidney camp program at the Frost Valley YMCA, which is run in partnership with the Ruth Gottshco Foundation.

This pioneer initiative began in 1974 with the desire of Ruth's mother, Eva, to have a summer camp experience for children stricken with kidney disease requiring dialysis.  Although Ruth, unfortunately, was not alive at the start of this program during the summer of 1974, history was made when 60 children and teenagers from around the United States ventured to Claryville, New York, and the Frost Valley YMCA to experience the beauty of being a mainstreamed camper while receiving hemodialysis in a small renovated facility in the middle of the Catskill mountains.  Indeed, this was the first-of-its-kind program that became a model for others to simulate worldwide.

What I remember vividly and experience every time I go there (and this year will be the thirty-fifth year) is the wonderfully rewarding feeling of seeing children, that we often encounter in the hospital setting while on dialysis or after receiving a transplant, engaging in the wonders of camping with its attendant challenges and milestones. Almost equally important is the mutual appreciation by their fellow campers and counselors who are fortunate enough to have shared their camp experiences with them.

It is difficult to quantify this mutual growth and understanding but I can recall many examples where it has changed lives. I remember the kidney campers who were amazed that they could ride a horse, backpack into the woods for overnight stays, and sing to their hearts content in the dining hall along with hundreds of other campers. More importantly, I remember those who used their newfound confidence to move forward with their lives; finish high school, go to college and still return every summer to Frost Valley, not as a camper, but instead as a counselor either on dialysis or with a kidney transplant, now with tremendous responsibilities for others.

I also remember the young visiting international counselor who at age 17 first saw children on dialysis at camp. He returned year after year while in college and is now a leading transplant surgeon at a major medical center. His children also started at Frost Valley as soon as they were old enough and became counselors in the true "Lifer Spirit" of this unique camp.

So why do I love to go to camp?  Because I get fueled by the energy and belief that anyone — if given the opportunity — can overcome even the most difficult obstacles and strive to grow and reach their potential. Around this time of the year I again begin thinking about camp, but these days it's more often thoughts of our Children's Kidney Center at Frost Valley, rather than memories of my own childhood camp experiences.  Come join us sometime and see why thousands of campers and staff also have these memories in their minds and hearts.

Frederick J. Kaskel, MD, PhD, is chief of the Division of Pediatric Nephrology at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore and Professor and Vice Chair of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

view from above in the late 1980s

How was this photo taken? From atop Mount Hayden (Hayden Lodge chimney)? I don't think so. The point of view is too far to the west of Hayden. I can't figure it out. It's not taken from room 1 of Margetts Lodge - too high up for that.  If you know, please tell me.

I posted the above photo to Facebook and it led to a lively discussion - from where was this photo taken. See below.

Rose Senatore has passed away

The latest information about the memorial for Rose:

The funeral will be 10 am at the funeral home on Saturday, than on to Church and cemetery.


Rose Senatore worked as an assistant in Frost Valley's Montclair, NJ, office for many, many years. Before that she worked at the Newark office (on Bleeker Street) for Wawayanda during the early years at Frost Valley. She and Josephine Giannetti were Halbe Brown's right-hand folks for a long time.

When I was a young staffer, and would spend a lot of time myself helping out in the Montclair office, Rose was always generous and kind to me, watching out for me, giving me advice, etc. She loved everyone and always had time to catch up, asking you about your parents, your school.

And she loved Frost Valley, and would do anything for the organization.

Lourdes Montoro was another one taken in by Rose. Lourdes writes: "ROSE SENATORE was more than a faithful FV worker, a devoted assistant to Halbe in the Montclair office and my first American mom - since my 1st summer (since Internationals could use the office on the holdover wekeends)."

Rose passed away very recently. We will miss her.

The wake for Rose is at Ippolito-Stellato, 7 Two Bridges Road, Fairfield, NJ 07004 on Friday from 3 to 9 pm, and the funeral will take place on Saturday.

Marion Nicholson

Marion Nicholson passed away recently. She and her husband (through their foundation) were very supportive of Frost Valley over the years. Here is a link to her obituary.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A note from Kate Landis - gathering in NYC this weekend

A few of us are organizing an all-are-welcome Family FV Reunion in NYC this weekend, and would love to make sure everyone knows about it. The idea is to get our families and friends together and have a picnic lunch, enjoy the sunshine and catch up. Wondering if you could help us promote it through the blog? I have posted on the FV alumni page and we are all teaching out to old friends.
Here are the details:

People can email me at if they are not on Facebook or need help finding us!

Eileen Bradley and her director, 1984

Eileen Bradley, counselor; me, camp director. 1984. I was no doubt attempting to get Eileen to do something she didn't want to do.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Monday, October 7, 2013

Blum's beautiful photo of Memorial Island

Eric Blum's sister sent me a thumb drive full of photos taken by Eric over the years at Frost Valley.  A number of them were taken during his first summer, 1986. I will post a selection from time to time. For now, I post this one. It was taken a few years ago - of Memorial Island in Reflection Pond. It's a beautiful photo, but beyond that - it's of course where Eric's ashes are buried now.

Friday, October 4, 2013

chapel/morning reflection at Reflection Pond, late '70s

Forstmann's old bullpen

The old Forstmann-era bullpen is now history. For years it served as a laundry, and it really didn't serve well in that capacity. It would have taken too much time and expense to make it right, so yesterday it went down, and a new facility - which will have the old Catskill farm-style look of most of our buildings - will be up in its place, on the same site, in a month. For some years the upstairs was the ski shop. For several summers the downstairs was the Out-trip building. Upstairs there was sewing in the late 70s. Etc. Now gone. Dan Weir took these before and after photos.

Frost Valley people who knew that building from the late 60s until the mid-80s will hardly imagine it in the summertime without Marie Hess just inside the door or sitting in a chaise chair just in front.


My own favorite view of the building is from this angle - across the field, near the main road, looking at it from far away and just to the west - an angle that makes it look like a nice little old mountain cabin. The photo below was taken in 1972.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Blum memorial weekend

During a beautiful autumnal Frost Valley weekend, friends and family of the late Eric Blum gathered in the valley to remember this remarkable guy. On Saturday at 4 PM we began to celebrate in Blum style: beer, meat of all sort grilling on the grills, and, later, cigars. The cigar band was specially designed with a photo of Eric on it. The meat started at 4 and was still coming (ribs prepared by Eric's BBQ partner John, who had come from Virginia for the occasion) at 9:30 PM. If Eric had been there, he would have insisted on "nothing green on anyone's plate," but, well, we caved and there was salad too and even veggie burgers. On Sunday morning we gathered in the Ketcham Chapel for the part that Eric would not have enjoyed: sentiment, affection, serious expressions of love, in addition to some hilarious Blum stories. Scroll down for the videos of Matt's and Mark's testimonials and you'll see what I mean.

Dave Bieler & Joe Elliot (right).

Sue Geller and Matt Buczek.

Dave Bieler with Nina Braun.

Brian Sense (who flew in from Colorado) with current Adventure Director Lincoln McLain.

Kam, Jackson, Jeff, Dan and Joe.

Three Adventure Directors across the years.

Dan Goldman with Katie Kelly.

A letter Eric wrote to his FV staff colleagues one summer.

Rick Kaskel, Claudia Swain, Phyllis Kaskel and Bud Cox hang out with Sue Geller's adorable daughter.

Just some of the annual "Camp Schlep" T-shirts Eric had made each summer. If you were up (or down!) to the standards of real Frost Valley schlepping, you got one of these.

One summer Eric made his own weekly schedule - Schlep Village! Notice the activities.

Eric volunteered for many, many summers. In the late 90s Peter Swain drew up a mock contract. Here's one of them.

Jerry Huncosky (who coordinated the entire weekend of events) with Melissa Pauls.

Peter Swain with Lincoln.

On Sunday morning family and friends began gathering around the site on Memorial Island in Reflection Pond before the service began in the chapel. Eric's ashes are buried here, and there is a plaque (see below) along with a miniature of the log bench Eric loved to sit on as he gazed at camp's activities from his spot in from of Margetts Lodge.

Lillian Rountree traveled from Pittsburgh. Here she is with Peter Swain, once her camp director.