In the long history of our summer camp, surely no member of the seasonal staff has served longer or offered a greater sense of continuity than did David Guthrie King between the late 1950s and the late 1970s. King-sized in every possible way – tremendously energetic; ubiquitously checking on his staff at night with his huge flashlight; leading songs at every meal in the dining hall like a beanpole maestro; aware of every camper by name and background; always reminding us of the largeness of our mission and the transformative power of our values – Dave had an impact on every single aspect of the Wawayanda camping experience. Many of the innovations and customs he introduced into daily summer life here are in use to this day, fifty-five years after his arrival for Wawayanda’s first year at Frost Valley. That summer, 1958, he served as the first Village Chief of Lenape Village. Soon he was the Program Director, and then, for many years, the Director of Camp Wawayanda. His wife Shirley joined him – and herself performed every possible task and job, from directing Arts & Crafts to managing the Castle when it functioned as an inn – and soon their children Kathy and Dave Jr. became Frost Valley lifers themselves. With the Browns, the Kings were the first Frost Valley family. When Halbe Brown assumed the executive directorship in 1966, his inaugural move was to ask Dave King to stay and help him. They became an inseparable team, dear friends and co-advisors. After a while Dave was appointed to the membership of Frost Valley’s Board of Trustees. But soon his responsibilities in the public school district of Baltimore Country, Maryland – where he rose to the position of Assistant Superintendent of Schools – forced him to cut back to half summers at camp, and later to resign his trusteeship because of his extraordinary professional commitments. Yet even during Dave’s half-summer stints in the mid and late 1970s, Halbe Brown induced his friend to lead in innovative ways. One summer Dave’s job was to be the Village Chief of Seneca, a new village for children with disabilities – a forerunner, ten years before its time, of the successful program we now call MAC.
Soon Dave’s work in Baltimore precluded any summer break, whereupon generations of “his kids,” as he called them – almost all of the camp leadership by then comprised of his former campers now grown up – gathered to say a sad goodbye. Yet the sadness of farewell was short-lived, quickly transformed into happy legacy, for what Dave King gave to this place in its early years was and is still here: a constant reminder of the values of respect, honesty and responsibility; the crucial importance of nurturing every single child as a future leader, and, when the moment comes, of giving him or her the actual chance to lead; the fundamental pleasures of story-telling – of narrating our values as a way of passing them on to children – and, crucially, the unforgettable communitarianism of singing songs together. The songs we sang for years with Dave can still be heard. The pure sounds of Wawayanda singing echo down the valley – and among them, surely, the soft-hearted big man’s favorite: “All night, all day, angels watching over you….”