Monday, June 30, 2014

opening campfires

Shelle Edge took some nice photos at both opening campfires last night. I was really pleased to see these shots of me doing my thing at each - leading the Camp Wawayanda campers and staff in the making of a big echo down the Valley first, and then, at the Camp Hird campfire (on the Castle field) leading the Hird people in "The Hird Song" (aka "Ooo wee" and "Easy Chair").

Sunday, June 29, 2014

...aaaand we have a SUNNY check-in for session 1

Yes, finally, a sunny check-in. It was marvelous. As of this writing there are only TWO pieces of missing luggage - surely a record. Jess Gonzalez showed up and will stay a few days. Here she is with Shelle Edge (who is our media specialist in the Marketing department this summer).

And check out these happy hungry dessert eaters from Totem tonight: at left is Jon Turer's son Henry, and next to him (in the middle) is Matty Tucker, son of Josh Tucker and Ellie Gordon. Jon, Josh and Ellie were of course campers and counselors here in their time. Josh and Ellie met during Josh's final summer here, and told me today that he was glad he did something really odd and counterintuitive at the end of his first year of graduate school - told his academic advisor that he'd really like to spend one more summer at camp. That the advisor said okay is amazing - and the rest is history - and a family! I first met Josh when he was ten years old, a Forest camper, and I was his camp director. And now he and Ellie have both their kids here - Matty in this photo, and Sasha too (in Susky).

And here we are, smiling and swapping Frost Valley stories after the kids were settled in their cabins.

And then, wouldn't you know it, in walks John (Lance) Zabriskie. His son Zach will be here for two weeks and already Zach seems completely at home. Lance is doing woodworking near Woodstock and apparently has many clients in NYC. It was great to see him. When I was camp director in the mid-80s, "John" was one of my favorite counselors.

The grandchildren of Tatsuo and Emiko Honma are here again. Kazumi is a talented JC in Lakota this summer, and Keiko is in Pac, the oldest boys village. Their mom is Kyoko, who was my camper in 1979! (Am I old or what?) The Honmas have a new book coming out soon - Tatsu's memoirs of his many years' work in the Y movement.

And then, as if all these reunions were not enough, in walks Fabrizio Spademan. I only had a minute to chat with him but I'm hoping we can persuade him to take a few days off from work and volunteer a bit.

It was quite a good first day of camp. Both Opening Campfires were spirited and fun and at the same time respectful - and not too long! Tomorrow for me: many hours of "Geronimo," a first-full-day staple.

Friday, June 27, 2014

staff training scenes

Our memories of staff training is that we spent a lot of time listening to our leaders and colleagues describe for us what great things are about to happen, itching more than a little to get out and just do it. But actually there is a lot of down time (or maybe it's better termed "up time") talking with old friends and getting to know the new folks. Here's an impromptu gathering of Outpost people from recent years.

The staff training overnight was a bust, because of the tremendous storm that hit us on Wednesday night. But was it a bust? I saw great things happening as people cooked out under shelter (see previous entry) and slept on floors in the various buildings, including one (Margetts Lodge) that sprung quite a leak. After all that, here's a scene of what remained the next day as folks got back to the business of prepping for the arrival of the children on Sunday.

And the talk sessions are pretty good, as it turns out. Here's Lincoln McLain talking about characteristics of our various selves.

Session 1 will bring with it a two-week visit of Dr. Rick Kaskel, who would normally do a week as our dialysis doc. The physician he'd arranged to be on hand for one of the the weeks of first session couldn't make it in the end, so Rick is covering the whole session (voluntarily, I should add). A bonus for me since I'll have lots of time to hang out with Rick, whom I see often as a fellow Trustee but not in this particularly fabulous setting. I'll induce him to judge a Challenge Night or two. Rick has an extra incentive to join us for the session, as his daughter Erica, herself a FV lifer, is back this summer working full-time in the development department. Sandy Bohn, another longtime volunteer, arrived last night. Her son Braxton is a Lenape counselor this summer.

your 2014 summer staff

Not all of them, but a good many!


Anna Lieberman, after many years as camper and staffer, was away from Frost Valley last summer. That was hard for her. Her availability is limited again this summer, but she just had to get some Valley time. So she'll be working at camp for session 4 in 2014, and attended staff training this week. Jeff Daly, whom most reading this blog will know as lifer camper, counselor, VC, director and for his multi-year run as our Director of Camping Services - and who met his wife Kelly at Frost Valley when they worked together as directors! - and whose daughter Mary, upon hearing that Jeff would be visiting camp this week, said, "I want to go with daddy to Frost Valley!" - that very Jeff, came to FV twice during training to help describe the central importance of our campership project. Anyway, here they are, these two who will spend much of their otherwise busy summers wishing they were running the fields and roasting the mellows.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"your year" at Frost Valley - still together

I suppose we often think of ourselves as having a "year." I myself was a CIT in 1971 and I think of that group of people as "my year." Among them - Leslie Black, Norm Gurfinkel, Danny Shapiro, Roy Scheinbaum, Barbara Spitz - are people I'm still in touch with, and these are people, most of them, with whom I grew up as campers. Our year.

The two photos below are "a year" too. Most of them were campers together for years, and they were all CITs together four years ago, and now they are counselors and village chiefs. There are others around camp not in the photo, but these just happened to be trapped in the storm in Geyer Hall. Such good friends.

a "chef-off" on a night that was supposed to be a washout

Rain drove all the village staffs under cover tonight, but Lincoln McLain (Adventure Director) and his staff, including Zach (Adventure Coordinator), were keen to teach how to lead a good overnight hike and campout anyway. So all around camp there were sessions being conducted on setting up tarps, devising activities for the campsite, and (of course) cooking. I was invited to join this three-team gang: Adventure Village staff, Adventure Trip leaders, and CIT coordinators. So these are the folks who will be doing this kind of camping and cooking a whole lot in the coming two months. Zach "gamified" the cooking plan. He announced a chef-off. Each group was giving a bunch of ingredients, plus oil and a stove, a pot, and a pan, and some utensils. Then, "go!" - they had an hour exactly to present a three-course meal - appetizer, entree, dessert. Bud Cox and I were dubbed judges. Below you have a video of Zach describing the rules, and below that some of the photos of the action and the results.

Once Bud and I judged the results, everyone dug in, happily. I had the distinct feeling that this summer the kids going on hiking and canoeing trips with these adventure leaders will be eating very well. Lincoln and Zach proved to them that cooking out on the trail can produce really tasty--and even spicy (we had a macaroni curry!)--meals.

Then it got dark and the rain came down in sheets. It pounded on the metal roof of the Halbe & Jane Brown Pavilion, and it was time for a re-naming ceremony. Those who were being inducted into these groups (I can't tell who were were - but let's just say we were deemed "new" to the adventure units) were to be given "knuck names." We had four-letter words drawn just above the knuckle of four fingers on each hand, and could not look at these two words. Held our hands behind our backs as every formed a circle around us. They we loudly announced, each in turn, "I used to be called such-and-such, and now my name is such-and-such." Parker Van Nostrand was now "Luck Shak." I am "Lucy Star" (very nice). It was a hilarious and actually, in a bizarre way, very beautiful thing to be told you are a friend of the adventure team in this whacky adventure-ish mode.

what happens during the afternoon of the day the village staffs are supposed to go on their staff training overnights?

a village mission statement & a few staff training thoughts

I was passing through Margetts Lodge an hour ago when I saw this poster: a village has written a mission statement.

Yes, it's staff training week. Going very well, it seems. There's a very strong and experienced director team, and VCs who seem not just organized and experienced but seem to like each other quite a lot already. And our fabulous new Program Director (or Activities Director), Lindsay, who came over from the Farm, where last summer she was one of the directors there - and she seems just terrific, with associate directors who are all themselves very experienced. And lots of returning counselors and energetic bright-eyed JCs from among last year's CITs. All in all, they strike me as...well....ready to go.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

found comfort in the absolute magnificent stars

Jeff Daly has been visiting camp during the first part of staff training and writes the following:

Many nights up at camp I found comfort in the absolute magnificent stars that lit up the sky. I remember vividly laying out under the stars for the first time at camp (way back in 1988) and how mesmerized I was by this site. There's just something so awesome about a clear, crisp starry night at camp in the mountains. After catching up with friends, I strolled through camp this evening, admiring these same stars and bumped into a group of camp staff. I can't tell you how great it is to know camp is in good hands with so many positive role models, many of whom I had the pleasure of watching them develop years ago as campers and/or staff. In a matter of days this place will be filled with kids who will have their own opportunity to discover the magic of camp and maybe gaze out under those same stars. It's no surprise, but I'll say it again: I Love Camp.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Gottscho Foundation video and new site - and 40th anniversary concert

As we celebrate FORTY YEARS of our ground-breaking program to help children with kidney disease, we are pleased to see that our friends at the Ruth Gottscho Kidney Foundation have created a new web site and have arranged for a celebration event in October.

On the site

is a wonderful video. You really must watch that video!

The site also includes information about our 40th anniversary concert which will be held on Sunday, October 19th, 2014, at 2 pm at Congregation B’nai Israel in Millburn, NJ. The admission charge will be waived for Frost Valley and Montefiore staff and trustees and kidney campers and their families. We will begin to take reservations on August 1st.

Monday, June 16, 2014

UFO over the lake?

William B. was a Wawayanda camper from 1965-1969 - 5 summers. He was one of the first campers on Bud Cox's "Catskills Explorers" trips. Here's a memory that is vague but still haunts him:

My memory is that one very dark night I'm guessing in mid-August people started moving to the lake and there were lights hovering above and adjacent to the lake. They moved very rapidly several times back and forth in patterns and speeds that airplanes or helicopters could not physically do. We thought they were UFO's. In my memory the lights moved across the horizon as defined by the trees and the hills, as you stood facing the lake with your back towards the main building. Then at one point they were behind us. I googled news accounts of those summers in the late 60's or perhaps 1970 and there were numerous accounts of supposed UFO sightings in the New York region. I'm curious to know if others have talked about this experience. I recall quite a number of people gathering at the lake. If no one else has ever talked about that, I guess it was a dream. I also googled Bud Cox  and saw that he was referred to as UFO man -- I'm not sure if he was there at that time, or if that name had anything to do with this puzzling "memory".

what an international counselor from Germany gave me in 1980

Tom Franzkowiak, a 3-summer international counselor from Germany, gave me this "certificate" at the end of the summer of 1980. I was his camp director. I've saved it all these years. (Click on the image for a larger view. Tom used that summer's standard certificate. Pretty basic, huh? But charming.)

Fenn Putman

Fenn Putman died recently, and this sad news has devastated so many of us who love Frost Valley. Fenn was the longest-serving member of FV's Board of Trustees. No one was more generous. No one gave more time and passion to the place. During the year-long transition to our current CEO - Jerry Huncosky - Fenn chaired a committee of staff and trustees who kept the organization going; during that time he made weekly visits to the camp. We had the honor and pleasure of inducting him into the Frost Valley Hall of Fame two summers ago. He fought us on that all the way - his modesty was a quality second only to generosity.

Memorial Service: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 2:30 PM - at St. John on the Mountain, 379 Mt. Harmony Road, Bernardsville, NJ.

Here is the obituary published in the Star Ledger:

Memorial service
Thursday, Jun. 19, 2014
2:30 PM
St. John on the Mountain
379 Mt. Harmony Road
Bernardsville, NJ
- See more at:
Memorial service
Thursday, Jun. 19, 2014
2:30 PM
St. John on the Mountain
379 Mt. Harmony Road
Bernardsville, NJ
- See more at:
Memorial service
Thursday, Jun. 19, 2014
2:30 PM
St. John on the Mountain
379 Mt. Harmony Road
Bernardsville, NJ
- See more at: