|Liz Tolmach during the "waterfront games" on the afternoon of Olympic Day in 1975 or 1976. Liz was from California and I believe was related to the Oeschle family.|
Friday, July 31, 2015
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Jennifer Brown - Halbe and Jane's daughter - was in the second row, sixth from the left.
|The other day Bill Brown (one of Halbe and Jane Brown's children) stopped by to say hello and take care of some family business. He went looking for Bud and found him in the staff kitchen, and they ended up having dinner together and a long talk.|
Monday, July 27, 2015
Saturday, July 25, 2015
In the background you see a big barn. That was "the Rec Hall." It was pretty much our only rainy-day space. It was where all-camp evening programs were held, such as Challenge Night and Kangaroo Court and Beat the Clock. On the "second floor" was a hayloft. For some years the LITs lived there, and the kitchen stewards. By the time I came of age to be a CIT and LIT, Halbe Brown with help from the Hayden Foundation and the Knudson Family had renovated the garage into Hayden Lodge, and the CITs and LITs lived there. So I never got to live in the Rec Hall hayloft. Too bad. That would have been something.
Of course the Rec Hall, which served many many uses, eventually gave way to Margetts Lodge. "Got a little bit older / and so did that Rec Hall. / All them pies in the face / They made me a man. / Then Chuck White came / with the world's largest shovel / And knocked it all down / For the "progress" of camp."
I got up early yesterday - check-out day for session 2. Another perfect Catskills day. The temp dipped to the low 50s overnight, the dawn came and it shot into the 60s, on its way to the 70s. I came to the office before 7 to get some work done. At maybe 7:15 I heard some voices outside the window. This group of CITs had gathered, waiting for one of them to be picked up by parents for an early departure. The sun slanted perfectly on them. I came out and talked with them about their experience briefly - nothing deep - but I could tell they were in a state of intense hushed pre-nostalgia. They would always remember this 4-week experience, day by day. Somehow the photo captures that good sad stupor. The sun on them is almost a halo.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Are all the memories good ones? Of course not. We've all had our wonderful moments at Frost Valley, but every one of us has experienced difficult times. You can't work and live in a community without encountering the tribulations and hardships found in every other community on the planet. I know I've had mine. Some of them still hurt. So when Al asked me if I would consider a volunteer stint this summer I was a bit taken aback. Oh, let's be honest, I was scared to death! Hell, I'm going to turn 70 in December. Most of the work I did at Frost Valley took place when I was in my Twenties, and I hadn't worked at camp in thirty years! I didn't know if I still "had it". And I certainly didn't know if my LEGS still had it. (They seem to have doubled the number of steps between Lake Cole and Margetts and increased the slope of the paths to the upper villages!) More importantly, I wondered how someone from the distant past could add anything significant to the operation. Truth is, I thought I'd just be in the way. But here's the good news. It was a great week! My son Del, a former camper, CIT and JC, came with me to do his own volunteering. At Opening Campfire all of my apprehension disappeared. How can you not be happy after Opening Campfire. (Actually, two of them, one for Hird and one for Wawayanda.)
On the first day, we made ourselves available for Specialty Programs. Del signed up for various activities and I made myself available to take campers out on sketching trips and to help them start a mural in the Pottery studio. I fell into it without losing a beat. It all seemed so natural. But the greatest revelation of the week was not that I could still do my thing, it was the way in which the staff welcomed me and made me fit into it all so easily. What a staff! I don't know about you, but I kinda remember us doing most of what we did by the seat of our pants. We were good because we cared so much about the kids but I, for one, didn't have much real training. The staff I witnessed last week was incredibly well organized yet still had that same spirit I remember from our crazy days. I ended the week "leaving it on the field" as Al described it, visiting CQs, listening to ghost stories, gazing up at the Milky Way. You know what I mean. Hey, I know you all have jobs and kids and maybe grandkids and little or no extra time, but if you ever have the opportunity to volunteer for a session PLEASE consider it. Do it for Frost Valley. Do it for yourself. You can go home again. I'm glad I did.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
And benefits: the counselors saw how beautiful the Line Shack campsite is, and saw how well the campers did the walk, and got some ideas for next session and beyond. Secondly, the campers, who had heard me tell "The Doubletop Plane Crash Mystery," now have a feeling for the kinds of trails that lead 30% of the way up Doubletop Mountain, they could imagine doing the whole hike up the mountain some day.
|Here's the group posing in front of the Line Shack.|
|Here are the hikers in the center of the village before we left at 9:30. We returned at 11:30. Two hours, 4 miles.|
David Sacker's daughter, in Susky this session, entered the dining hall for lunch yesterday with a friend, heard the music playing, and felt the happy urge just to dance. She had no idea I was filming until about halfway through. This is total camp unselfconsciouness, at its best. The kids are feeling free.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Yes, 1975. It's 2015 now. That's FORTY years ago.
Bill Primack was there and making sure the crazy experiment worked. It did. Bill was amazing back then (and, as it turns out, still is). He was involved for several years - maybe five(?). He was in Massachusetts back then and for the last bunch of years in North Carolina, at UNC (wearing his Tar Hell blue hats). He has just retired and is, for the moment, staying in Chapel Hill. One of Bill's children, Dana Russell, was also a Frost Valley person in her day - becoming a staff member. Dana lives in L.A. and a few years back came to a small alumni gathering we hosted there.
Lew Reisman started doing 2-week stints as doctor at camp in the late 70s - maybe '78? He was immediately beloved: a man with an old-style sense of humor, impeccable political ethics, ready always with a ready laugh (at himself, usually). Lew continued to do his session at camp until 1985 or '86. It's been 30 years since he did his session in the dialysis unit.
Well, get this.
Because Rick Kaskel (also a long-time doc in the program and for the past many years our Medical Director) re-connected with Bill and Lew last summer, he pestered them all year to return this summer. And, lo and behold, each of them said yes. Bill came up from North Carolina to be the doc for the first week of session 2. And Lew came all the way from Israel (he lives most of the year in Jerusalem) to be at FV for the second week of session 2 (the current week).
There must always be a kidney MD in camp, so Bill waited for Lew to arrive, before briefing him on the kids' status - and then took off for New Jersey where he was to meet with the Gottscho Foundation folks about an idea he has for measuring wellness and health of kids at camp. So there was a moment when these two founders were back at camp. I was having lunch with Bill when Lew showed up. Lew grabbed a plate and amid the dining hall we had a little reunion. I snapped this photo. Click on the image for a larger view.
Bill and Lew! Back together at FV! After all these years.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Starting from age 10 through my Junior year in High School, I went to summer camp, camp Wawayanda in the Catskill mountains. It was a YMCA camp, back when the C meant Christian. We had other religions there, too, of course -- it was the Catskills! But I mention this because there was a Christian emphasis at the camp, however small. I was a camper for four years, and then a Trailblazer for two more. The Trailblazer program took a dozen or so young men of high school age up to Canada for four weeks. Three of those were camping and canoeing around the lakes of Quebec, the fourth was for preparation and travel time.
Adam has married Andrea and they live in Westchester with two boys Aidyn and Ross who are 13 and 8. Adam works for a trade organization supporting Fortune 500 brands with their Mobile Marketing efforts, Mobile Marketing Association or MMA. Aidyn has been a camper at FV in recent years and this summer is in Adventure Village and doing Adventure Trips.
Michael and his wife Jen live in Brooklyn with their two boys Zach and Simon, who are 7 and 3. Michael is still entertaining us with his Ballooniac show and parties. Jen is a teacher and they are moving to Las Vegas.
Steven married Connie - and they live in Manhattan with their two boys Dylan and Tyler who are 3 and 1. Steven leads ad operations for a mobile marketing company called Opera Media Works and Connie works for a tiny little digital company called Google.
Barry and Linda, the parents who loved Frost Valley and sent their three sons to us throughout the 70s, are now retired and living in Delray Beach, Florida and loving the weather. According to Adam, they "spend their days debating with the other retirees in the clubhouse about everything."
Above from left to right: Steven, Adam, Linda, Barry and Michael.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
When I was a JC in Forest, I didn't mind pulling QC duty vs. going down to the staff lounge; I wasn't that social of a person. One Wednesday we had extra hamburgers and had a fire right along the path through Forest that everyone from Outpost and Lenape used. As people came down the hill, we were able to offer a hamburger and at least half of the people passing took us up on it.