Thursday, August 28, 2014

German counselor gives me a certificate, 1980

Recently I found this simple "certificate of recognition" given to me on August 21, 1980 (the night before the last day of camp that summer - at closing campfire) by Tom Franzkowiak, an unforgettably good counselor from Germany. Tom was a counselor in Forest for three sessions and then, for two weeks during session 4, he was the VC of a one-time-only village of kids who were there to learn the German language (a collaboration between Frost Valley and the Steuben Society). How about that? I was the Camp Director and told Tom he could invent the name of the village. He chose "Winnetou." Winnetou was the fictional Native American hero of a very famous novel in Germany by Karl May. So it's one of the few Native American names Germans would know. Perfect choice. The village had just one cheer, as I recall: "VINN-a-too, VINN-a-too! Ja, ja, ja!"

That summer we had these home-made cheap-o certificates. We made many copies of the blanks and used them for everything - honor camper certificates, archery awards, etc. Tom grabbed one and used it to thank me, and I've kept to this very day.

By the way, I'm still in touch with Tom. He has been involved with special education students in Germany since his two summers at FV, where he specialized in taking remarkably good care of kids on hemodialysis. He was an heroic counselor of one particular kid, who had all kinds of physical problems but maintained a great good cheer: Richie Perez of the Bronx. I'll never forget Tom's coaxing of Richie up to Banks Hill for an overnight. Amazing.