Friday, June 28, 2013

practicing the art of the overnight

Yes, during staff training there's a night when all the villages go out on an overnight. They do precisely what they are going to do when taking their campers on overnights each session, four times at least, this summer. I went to visit the Lakota/Outpost overnight (at Sawmill). They'd seen three bears and were a little anxious, but had a fire going, and were eating fajitas. I spent an hour with them, helped them gather wood, watched them get started on s'mores, and begin to settle in for the night. It was cooling down fast, the stars were out, and if you turned all the flashlights off and looked toward the Neversink River, you'd see an entire near horizon of fireflies. Thousands of them, blinking near and far in the dark. Spectacular.

Above: three happy Lakota staffers after a round of s'mores; some of the Lakota counselors and JCs as they packed for the trip.

Helen Cornman is back

Many of us were glad to see Helen Cornman enter the dining hall at lunch yesterday. She is working with Jerry Huncosky and others to help us assess as specifically as is possible what children learn and gain from camp. I don't know the details but I'll try to learn more as the summer goes on. Meantime, it was just good to see her - here, standing with Jerry as they watch dining hall antics get resurrected after the usual September-to-May dormancy.

Staff training - prepping for hoopla

Staff training week for the summer 2013 Frost Valley staff is heading toward its conclusion. Today is a day off, much deserved for these several hundred young people who've been through an intense morning-'til-night series of training sessions - talks, seminars, lessons in hard and soft skills, practice overnight camping, etc. They even practiced for hoopla. You can tell by the enthusiasm of the guys here that they waited all year to do this again.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lourdes Montoro's tribute to Eric Blum

Bravo, bravo, Bravissimo for our Frost Valley Diamond!

Felicitations, blessings and Peace for our, once more, Volunteer of the Year!: our Eric Blum! And for the delegation that made it possible and lent him the most meaningful hand to his heaven!
3 hoorays for our Scout and Ranger at heart and Dr. in Life, my true companion and friend since our counseling days in the 80s, my most devoted and faithful visitor at the summer camp office, who has so generously patrolled and cared for us all every every summer, who I have been very fortunate to reunite with year after year, who I have gone on adventures, matured with, enjoyed, laughed with, and who I have loved so much.

Nevada man (as I called him) simply wrote to Barcelona woman (as he called me) on 11.1.07 what follows:

“Camp will be fast approaching; we have Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Year´s, then I will start to countdown to camp.”

As in one of Jeff Daly´s facebook status, I subscribe to Camp Friends. Love them. Always. And with the licence that this cold summer of 2013 (being also my 30th since I first went to Frost Valley), I humbly beg to give me, I would like to add: And with infinite gratitude, lots of lessons to learn and, once more, tons of Barcelonian hugs and kisses. Last week, I decided to formally enroll in the Course of Life, with my favorite most brilliant professor ever: Blum. I am in the first row, with a new pencil case, paying attention, being as obedient as usual, attentive to his unique Nevadian ways, honoring his love, genius, wisdom, sense of humor and life.

I also look forward to the playground. I wonder what was first: Him? The playground? ☺ As he always reminded me to, and lectures me on now, I will keep the magic, now his endless life-time magic, smile that Wawayanda smile, that he liked so much, and BUILD STRONG! I can´t fail him. I´ll apply myself and go for it all!!

My sincere love and support to his family, his buddy Mark Gottdenker, who Eric so wisely chose, and who so impeccably and sweetly, has taken me under his wing, and who I want to take my hat off for, publicly, the grumpy old men, and to all of you, for being there, and here with me, just an ocean apart.

Thank you. Love you all.

Lourdes Montoro
(aka Barcelona woman)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Blum obit

Here is the obiturary that appeared in Charlottesville newspapers:

* * 

Eric Paul Blum, RN, BSN, CNOR
Resident of Charlottesville, VA

1964 - 2013

Eric passed away June 9, 2013 at the University of Virginia Medical Center. He was 48. Eric was a proud native of Walnut Creek, California. He graduated from Northgate High School class of 1982. He received an AA degree in Agriculture and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Orvis School at the University of Nevada in Reno.

He spent his entire professional life as a Registered Nurse at the University of Virginia Medical Center, most of the time as an operating room nurse. He lost a brief battle with cancer, but won a 32 year long war with kidney disease.

He was an Eagle Scout and a long time staffer, director and volunteer at Frost Valley YMCA camp in the Catskill Mountains in New York State. He was presented with the Frost Valley Volunteer of 2012 award on June 8 by a delegation from Frost Valley.

His father Geoffrey predeceased him. His mother June, brother Stephen, sister Gayle, his Aunt Stephanie & Uncle David Jones, many cousins, and friends survive him.

There will be a memorial service on June 19, from 8-9am at McLeod Hall Auditorium in the School of Nursing building to honor Eric’s life and contributions.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions are suggested to Frost Valley YMCA, 2000 Frost Valley Road, Claryville, N.Y. 12725 or the University of Virginia School of Nursing Alumni & Development Office, P.O. Box 801015, Charlottesville, VA 22908. Checks can be made out to the UVA, School of Nursing. Gifts to The School of Nursing will be used to set up a scholarship fund in Eric’s memory

Friday, June 14, 2013

500 reasons (to help kids before the summer begins)

Watch the video, please, and see 500 reasons to help kids before our summer begins. Here is link for making a donation. And here is a letter that was sent out today by Jerry Huncosky:


The Summer season is a magical time for everyone, but for the 3,900 children who will experience Frost Valley YMCA this summer it can be life-changing. Over an eight-week period these campers will have a myriad of experiences that will play a role in shaping the rest of their lives. They will make new friends, find confidence, explore nature, gain independence, build self-esteem, and so much more. For 500 campers, the experiences you saw in the video above are made possible through support to our Annual Giving Campaign and Project 332. From now through June 30th, two Frost Valley YMCA trustees, Bill Baker (Alumnus '82-'94) and John O'Brien (Camper/CiT Parent), have each offered to match up to $10,000 in contributions made to our Annual Giving Campaign. Matching this $20,000 challenge with another $20,000 in pledges will go a long way in bringing these 500 children to camp this summer and providing them with these life-altering experiences.

Jerry Huncosky CEO

P.S. Help us give these same experiences to 500 more campers this summer. And, remember, you can double the impact if you give by June 30th.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

we've lost Eric Blum

The following terribly sad announcement has been sent to Frost Valley's friends from FV's CEO Jerry Huncosky:


This morning our long time friend, alum, donor and volunteer, Eric Blum, passed away. Eric had been ill for several months and although this was expected, it came earlier than anyone would have guessed.

If you recall, we had recently agreed to select Eric as our Volunteer of the Year for 2012. A beautiful crystal engraved piece along with a photo of Frost Valley, signed with congratulations by dozens of staff. was presented to Eric by Bob Eddings yesterday. I am told, Eric, swelled with pride and carefully read each of the comments of congratulations.

It was our hope, along with Eric's and his families hope, that Eric could visit Frost Valley one more time. While that is no longer possible, it will be impossible to walk by Margetts and not imagine him sitting on the log waiting to be placed into action.

He was our friend and will be missed by thousands. May he rest in peace.

There are no arrangements at this time.


Jerry Huncosky
Frost Valley YMCA
2000 Frost Valley Rd.
Claryville, NY 12725


I urge all readers of this blog to look back at Eric's diary of his month-long volunteering at camp in the summer of 2009:

Update: Here is a note Jerry Huncosky posted to Facebook - "For my friends who are also friends of Eric's. I have worked with the family to resolve some details regarding Eric's passing. We will hold a memorial service here at Frost Valley on Sunday, September 22 at 11:00 a.m. Eric's ashes will be buried at Frost Valley on Memorial Island. Please feel free to share this post. More details will come later on the Frost Valley page."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dave King to be inducted into the Frost Valley Hall of Fame on August 17

At an August 17, 2013, gathering at Frost Valley, three beloved members of the Frost Valley community - Paul Guenther, the late Howard Quirk, and Dave King - will be inducted into our Hall of Fame.

Today I am writing in particular about Dave King, whom former campers and former staff who spent time at Wawayanda/Frost Valley between the years 1958 and 1977 - and beyond - will remember well. He was the first Village Chief of Lenape when Wawayanda moved to Frost Valley. Soon he was the Program Director, and then, for many summers, the Camp Director.

His gripping stories, his ability to know everyone in camp and be on top of seemingly everything, his complete devotion to the values, his powerful devotions, his hilarious antics at all-camp programs, his talent for mentorship - these are all legendary for many FV people across the generations.

Dave was also a member of Frost Valley's board of trustees, and, with his (and our) beloved Shirley, has attended almost every one of the alumni reunions we've held since 1987.

You can read a long blog entry from 2007, the time of Dave's 50th FV anniversary. And you can watch the video of Dave's moving talk at Morning Reflection in the Wawayanda Chapel in 2008.

Dave and Shirley and members of the family will be at camp for the August 17 celebration, along with family and friends of Paul Guenther and Howard Quirk.

If you would like to join us at Frost Valley on Saturday, August 17, please contact Lianne McElhone at 845-985-2291 or at  We hope that a number of those whom Dave mentored and guided as camp director will return to help us celebrate him.

More about Paul Guenther and Howard Quirk soon.