Two people whose perfect combination of complete calm and strenuous effort astonished everyone they met; Bill and Eva Devlin could do anything they put their hands to. “When you needed to know how to do something,” remembers their daughter Lorraine, “you asked them.”
In 1967 Bill Devlin, then working with the Girls Scouts in Pennsylvania, put an ad in the American Camping Association magazine announcing his availability for work at a camp, and got a response from then Frost Valley Executive Director Halbe Brown, who hired Bill Devlin as his first full-time staff member. The Browns themselves didn’t yet live all year at Frost Valley, so from September to June on most days, it would be just the Devlins.
Luckily, given the demands, Bill and Eva felt a keen desire to fix whatever was broken and, what’s more, they were the ones to do it! For years Eva almost single-handedly worked to improve the image of Frost Valley by voluntarily restoring the Frost Valley Castle (now in its 100th year), re-painting the old totem pole at the camp entrance, planting gardens, scraping and painting Biscuit Lodge, etc.
Bill did more than his share of fixing broken machines, deciphering an arcane key system for the camp; keeping track of handwritten registrations of family groups, church groups, youth groups, athletic teams, and family campers; and managing meals at the dining hall in his articulate and charming manner. The high-school-aged people who helped out by doing dishes and running activities on weekends soon learned Bill was always willing to stop and teach. These men and women, now in their late 50s and 60s— quite an accomplished group in their own right—recall Bill as the first and fairest boss they ever had.
“We knew exactly what Bill expected of us,” said one of these former staff members. “And when we ‘screwed up,’ to use his phrase, he mentored us and gave us another chance.”
Bill founded and developed Frost Valley’s Environmental Education Program, a historic achievement.Back then, he single-handedly coordinated and led every visit by a school (typically Monday-through-Friday visits) greeting and orienting the groups, presenting announcements in the dining hall, and teaching field math, stream ecology, and astronomy. The program has expanded greatly but its mission and mode of teaching are precisely those that Bill established back in 1969.
That Frost Valley has managed to serve as many families and children as it has over the years, and maintained the commitment to personalizing each and every relationship, is owing to the marvelous decency of these two people, Bill and Eva Devlin. The Frost Valley YMCA Board of Trustees gratefully and unanimously voted to induct into our Hall of Fame.