Below you will see photos taken during this past weekend—a weekend of inductions into our Hall of Fame, the awarding of our Volunteer of the Year Award, reunions of various former campers and staff, a luncheon in which participants in our summer camp program had a chance to speak about their experiences, and of course the annual summertime meeting of the Board. We inducted Charles & Marie Kremer into the Hall of Fame, and gave Judy Gottscho Eichinger our Eric Blum Volunteer of the Year award. Again, below this text you will see photos. Just below are the program notes written in honor of the Kremers and of Judy.

CHARLES AND MARIE KREMER, Hall of Fame induction

As we posthumously induct Charles and Marie Kremer into the Frost Valley Hall of Fame, we are lovingly surrounded by the Kremer family. This family, this legacy-minded community of generous, hard-working people, learned such qualities from a tough, realistic, self-starting, independent couple. Let’s face it: their seven children, who had been moved to Claryville, had essentially no choice but to grow up at Frost Valley’s camp. Yet predictably, in each case, Frost Valley soon became their own. There are as many Kremer experiences of adventure, challenge, and service to others at Frost Valley as there are individual Kremers. And it was always, all along, about family—a family that over the decades would create a vital, ongoing generational legacy, that would work with and help children at Frost Valley’s camps, that would spend time when possible in their beloved Claryville, putting roots down here, befriending neighbors, responding to the community in good times and bad.

Charles and Marie themselves of course worked at Frost Valley, famously—Charles on the maintenance crew, Marie first as a chef in the dining hall (mostly in Girls’ Camp) and then for many years as office manager—but it was never meant to stop there: each of their seven children also grew up at camp and worked at camp. Ray, starting in the early 1960s, was a Castle Boy, led Adventure trips, was a counselor, worked non-summer weekends; Michael was a “bus boy” weekends and became a camp counselor; Margaret invented and led the Catskill Explorers for Girls and eventually became the Camp Director of Camp Hird; Anne was a babysitter for Halbe & Jane Brown’s kids, was a CIT, JC, counselor, and (with Ray’s wife Meg) led the first-ever Adventure trip for girls; Charlie was a CIT, LIT, a Totem counselor, led trips, and became the Out-Trip Director; Andy went up through the villages as camper, became a counselor, led trips, worked weekends and on the maintenance crew; and, John, the youngest, joined the kitchen staff and also worked maintenance. As the Kremer children met loved ones and partners, these folks were drawn into the Frost Valley community too: Meg led trips; Joe was an Outpost VC; Will helped with the Tokyo Partnership camp; Karen worked at Arts & Crafts; and John met Jacqueline Dundorf, his future wife, at camp (serving as Sacky VC) during her six summers here. And then came the grandchildren: at last count five of Charles & Marie’s grandkids have been on the staff, including, this very summer, Garrett (a Forest counselor) and Ben (Adventure trips leader). To explain the origin of his son Garrett’s passion for being a counselor, Andy uses a classic Marie Kremer syllogism: “Garrett loved my mom. My mom loved camp. So he was going to love camp.”

The Kremer family, including the patriarch and matriarch whom we honor today, have collectively committed 112 years of time, energy, skill, dedication, and most of all honest hard work to further Frost Valley’s mission. Marie and Charles would not have had us honor them alone, for they brought a family to Claryville and they sent a family down the road to camp, and had they known of this induction would have insisted that they all be honored as one.

Marie’s family found Red Hill in Denning as, in a sense, a refuge from a hectic and difficult immigrant life in New York City. There’s a family rumor that her parents acquired fifty acres by trading for alcohol. Marie spent summers here, would make visits to the homes of country women, attended the one-room schoolhouse. She used to tell us that sometimes they had to say prayers just to get the old car up Red Hill. Later she learned secretarial skills and then worked at Bendix Corporation, where, standing in the lunch line, she met a handsome, modest  guy, Charles. Their courtship was happy and quick. The world war came. Charles had deferments but soon felt the need to serve. He fought in the 6th armored division, which landed in Normandy just after D-Day. With Patton’s army, he fought in the horrific Battle of the Bulge, was in the first group to cross the Rhine, and saw the horrors of genocide at Buchenwald. Marie joined the service, too, stationed in California, flew in a bomber plane, rode a motorcycle, and rose to the rank of corporal (outranking Charles).

Back in New Jersey, this “greatest generation” couple, not of course deeming themselves as great, started a family with Ray’s birth in 1946. Marie inherited the 50 acres in Denning. Charles fell in love with the spot. They rented a cabin from Harry Cole, and in 1954 they purchased 48 acres from Harry, right at the T where the Frost Valley Road ends. Wawayanda moved to Frost Valley in 1958 and it was obvious to Marie and Charles what to do with all these kids during the summer. Anne recently summarized what her parents thinking must have been: “Frost Valley was there, down the road. You’ve got this big family, so what are you going to do. So they shipped us to camp and they came too. Only later did they realize how really significant it was that they and we all got to have this beautiful experience.” Andy says: “It was a pragmatic solution that turned out to be a great idea.” “Let’s be honest,” Andy adds, “I learned more at Frost Valley than I learned at business school. I learned how to balance personalities and understand people’s motivations. And I learned about life. I learned what it’s like to love the work you do.”

Charles and Marie Kremer taught us all to love the work we do—not only their own children, children-in-law, and grandchildren, but all of those who worked with them. They lived through the worst of times in a crazy century and despite it all made a family and moved them to a spot in the world they considered paradise, which turned out to be seven miles from a valley where they could put their practicality and their generosity to work miraculously for the benefit of others. They always did good work in their time, and when we do the same good work today we honor them in exactly the way they would have wanted.

JUDY GOTTSCHO EICHINGER, Volunteer of the Year

As Judy Gottscho Eichinger receives the Eric Blum Volunteer of the Year Award for 2019, we feel a very special convergence: the late Eric Blum, in whose memory this annual tribute has been named, was himself supported by the program Judy now leads. Eric’s decades of Frost Valley experience was made entirely possible by the Ruth Carole Gottscho Kidney Center here; and of course this is true of hundreds of young people who have been able to enjoy camp—and in Eric’s and other cases, to be of service to others as counselors and even as camp directors—notwithstanding the significant limitations imposed on them by their chronic kidney disease.

After Judy’s young sister Ruth died of renal failure in 1960, her parents, Eva and Ira Gottscho, created a foundation to support the needs and costs incurred by families dealing with kidney disease.  At the time, dialysis was a new technique and very expensive.  The foundation literally saved more than two hundred lives by providing home dialysis machines to those who otherwise couldn’t afford the expensive treatment.  In 1973, Medicare began covering most of the cost of dialysis, so the foundation decided it wanted to help children with chronic kidney disease attend summer camp. “My sister always wanted to go to camp,” Judy recalls, “and she couldn’t go. She had to stay home. She was inconsolable when I left for camp. And we really were a camp family. We believed in camps and in camping—in the transformation that happens at camp.”

Eva approached six or seven camps to find one that would be willing to enable children suffering from this disease to have a camp experience while receiving dialysis treatments. This was an unbelievable concept in the early 1970s, and, what’s more, her non-negotiable stipulation was that the children be completely mainstreamed with healthy campers. “Can’t be done,” said the leaders of those half dozen camps. “Then Halbe Brown at Frost Valley said ‘Why not?’” as Judy recalls. In a partnership with Montefiore Hospital, the Gottscho Foundation, and Frost Valley, a hemodialysis center at Frost Valley was built as an extension of Smith Lodge and kids began attending camp in the summer of 1975.

The program thrived and expanded. Young lives were changed. Treatment options continued to develop, and the Gottscho Center at camp aptly evolved, serving more kids and attracting a world-class medical staff. Research began to indicate that two weeks at camp contributed to better overall health, better compliance with medical regimes, and much better skills at forming social relationships with peers. For decades the program was an utterly remarkable success, and in itself a model of how something that had been deemed impossible could work. (In this sense it was a model for the MAC Program which came a decade later.) Not long after the new Ruth Gottscho Dialysis Center opened in the new Guenther Wellness Center—at the opening celebration of which Eva Gottscho made a memorably moving speech—Eva died, just four days short of her 96th birthday.

What would happen to this renowned program without Eva? “It was very challenging after her death,” Judy recalls. “How could I ever fill my mother’s shoes? She had been such a big presence. I felt a huge responsibility. I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to be my mother and I was going to have to find my own way into this. I was going to have to lead with my heart. I really do fall in love with these kids. After two or three years of difficult, unsure efforts, I realized—and really felt—that my mother had given me a gift. I’m proud to continue what she started.”

This year we mark the tenth anniversary of Judy’s leadership of the foundation, and in 2020 it will have been sixty years since her sister Ruth’s death and the formation of the foundation. Judy sees Ruth in some of the kids. She died when dialysis was still experimental. These children can live the life her sister couldn’t. “I see these kids now being able to do what Ruth was not able to do. I’m thrilled,” Judy says. So she describes the camp program as a form of familial redemption: “It feels to me like a kind of personal healing when we help prevent other families from suffering the deep sense of loss that afflicted my family.”

With this award, we formally honor Judy Gottscho Eichinger for being brave enough to turn a dreaded responsibility into a lovely, generous gift. We honor her for ten years of intense voluntary service in support of children with renal disease, who each summer realize their dreams of running across fields, seeing all the stars, making friends like every other child. We honor the selflessness she brings to a strong and remarkable vision: No child should be denied an experience at summer camp just because they suffer from a chronic illness.

On the Saturday in the middle of camp session 4, Frost Valley’s trustees, alumni, donors and other friends joined together for our annual meeting/get-together/celebration. We hear presentations by campers and staff. We award the annual Eric Blum Volunteer of the Year. And we induct people crucial to the history of Frost Valley into our Hall of Fame. Here are some photos taken during that weekend. So many good friends! So many people who have been good to Frost Valley—generous, loyal, focused on what kids and families need.

Beth shows off some fabulous veggies brought over from the farm.

Beverly Gross Sutton and her former camper Jody Davies Ketcham, the night before Bev’s induction into the Hall of Fame.

A crew of FV people from the early 1960s through the mid-1980s.

Bev Gross was a staff member in Susky village for seven of her eight FV summers. She wanted to meet the Susky people of 2018 and here they are.

Some of FV’s trustees immediately after a brief meeting held before the celebration.

Jaqueline Dundorf Kremer and John Kremer. They met at camp and have been married for decades now.

Cheryl Marion and Carolyn Shelburne. Cheryl’s late husband Jim Marion was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Sandy Shapiro Bohn, volunteer of the year, with her family and extended FV family.

Jamette, a VC and counselor this summer, gave a beautiful talk on what Frost Valley has meant to her.

Jim Marion’s daughter Renee accepts the Hall of Fame plaque on behalf of the Marion family and her late father.

Jim Vaughan introduces Ted Hilton, who was also inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Claudia and Peter Swain remember JIm Marion.

Dear old friends the moment upon seeing each other again.

These four early Camp Wawayanda for Girls people led us in “This Little Light of Mine.”

Beverly Gross Sutton (aka Bev Gross) was inducted into the Frost Valley Hall of Fame this past weekend. She had been back to Frost Valley just once in recent decades. In the 1960s, she spent eight summers on the Wawayanda staff. Six of them she worked in Susquehanna Village—always her favorite group. Well, naturally, when she came to breakfast on the day of her induction, she went straight for Susky and had a wonderful time talking with the current Susky people. And here they are:

By inducting Beverly Gross Sutton into Frost Valley’s Hall of Fame, we honor a legendary leader among the community of girls and women who in the early 1960s, after eight decades of camping exclusively for boys, pioneered the culture and values of “Camp Wawayanda for Girls” (as it was first called) and then “Camp Henry Hird.” She was admired and known by everyone, across boys’ and girls’ camps both, as “Bev Gross”—or just “Bev,” a counselor quickly famed for her enormous store of empathy, a colleague whose passion for and faith in people’s deep goodness could be counted on to get everyone through the rough times and to celebrate the glory of the happy ones. Bev did as much as anyone in those crucial early years to shape the spirit and sensibility of camping for girls at Frost Valley, and by her very manner of daily being persistently conveyed to all of us the idea—then new to this oldest camp in the U.S.—that girls not only had the basic equal right to the summer camp experience but would learn and thrive and “rough it” in this remote valley as well as, and perhaps sometimes better than, the boys.

In eight influential summers at Frost Valley (1962-68), Beverly held the roles of Junior Counselor, Counselor-in-Training (CIT) Director, and Village Chief. Whenever she worked in one of the original four girls’ villages, hers was always—devotedly—Susquehanna (or “Susky”). She was a J.C. during the very first Susky summer and so they had to improvise their cheering and chants, and she recalls, screamed their presence everywhere they went around camp: The sun comes up on Susquehanna / The moon goes down on 6 through 10 / ‘Cause we’re the best and we’re the greatest / Sing hallelujah, shout Amen!

One rainy afternoon she led Susky cabins on a hike to an campsite for a night of camping. The downpour intensified. Should they remain under their hastily arranged tarps, or quit and return to camp? She recalled the assumption on the part of some of the Boys’ Camp staff that girls might not have the grit to do overnight camping the Wawayanda way. They decided to stay. In the morning, they hiked back into camp, soaking wet but proud, and walked directly through where the boys were gathered for their Flag Raising—the girls now chanting The sun comes up on Susquehanna… As it turned out, all the boys’ overnights had returned. The response at Flag Raising to the presence of these soaked, persistent girls was…a loud, sustained applause. “My campers were very proud,” she recently recalled, “I never felt condescended to by the guys, and we felt accepted. But, still, it took real work to prove that girls were here at camp, and here to stay, and that we could do anything that the boys could do.”

So the famed Bev Gross was loud, and helped make the presence of girls and women at Frost Valley known. Yet she also helped establish the idea of the importance of silence and quiet at such an otherwise noisy, boisterous place—the idea of counseling as a matter, often, of just listening. Everyone from that era can recall a moment when Bev made this point, and its effect on later decades of Camp Hird is incalculable. She had been honored to be invited to give a talk at one mid-session Sunday Morning Reflection (“Chapel”). She chose as her theme the idea that even in the midst of difficult circumstances one “can always return to a place of gratitude.” She meant place as a stance or disposition about living, yes, but she also meant geographically, naturally, this place—the sheer beauty of Frost Valley, so often taken for granted in the high-speed intensity of summer camp. As she concluded her talk, to the entire camp as they were gathered, sitting on logs set in a small clearing among the tall beech and birch trees, she uttered these words: “Now listen to the birds. They are not singing because they have an answer. They are singing because they have a song.” And then she just stopped talking. There was a little confusion but everyone remained silent. Then after a moment birds began to sing, and everyone remained in that place for the longest time, just listening. (Later several Susky campers asked her, “How ever did you get the birds to sing at that moment?!” and she told them: “At Wawayanda,” she told them, “the birds are always singing.”)

Bev had always had the idea of becoming a teacher, but she came from a socially and economically homogenous community and assumed she would find a job teaching in a segregated school. It was at Frost Valley in 1967 and 1968—her final summers and the first summers in which financial aid, or “camperships,” were awarded to children from nearby New Jersey cities she didn’t know—that she decided to devote herself to a career of inclusive teaching. A camper she met and loved—this child could not read or write—inspired her to see her world of collegiate teacher training and her Frost Valley world as merged. She would become a classroom teacher who behaved more like a counselor at Camp Wawayanda for Girls.

Eight years in the course of a long life might seem a small phase, with its memories here and there. But for Beverly Gross Sutton—as for many others who have come of age in this valley where caring is a core value and where empathetic listening is a way of life—those summers were utterly transformative.  “My lasting memory,” she says now, “was the consciousness of joy.”

 

Here is the program note marking Bob Haines’s induction into the Frost Valley Hall of Fame:

When recently asked about his experience as a Frost Valley trustee, Bob Haines characteristically avoided talking about himself and his own work, saying that what most impressed him was the high ethical and intellectual quality of the other board members. Yet, paradoxically, this is precisely why his colleagues this year unanimously voted to induct Bob into our Hall of Fame: it is because his selfless spirit of giving, combined with his rigorous sense of good self-governance and of balances and procedural checks; his belief in carefully written standards and regular order; his strenuous stance on conflicts of interest; his very high standard of the trustee’s obligation and responsibility; and his notion that he personally succeeds as a board member only inasmuch as the entire group collaboratively succeeds—have been fundamental drivers toward the remarkable success of Frost Valley YMCA as a duly constituted, values-driven organization.

Jerome Wolf, an original trustee of Frost Valley and a legendary Y leader, knew Bob Haines would be a great addition to the community. In the midst of a successful, busy legal career as a partner at Herold & Haines in Warren, New Jersey, Bob joined the Frost Valley Board in 1997. Since that time he has contributed thousands of hours of legal and other counsel. He has opined on the wisdom or foolishness of land sales, proposals for annexations, rights deals, outsourcing, loan partners, and investments in new programs. He has laid his exacting semantics- and logic-sensitive eyes on nearly every document drawn up. “Bob’s sage wisdom,” Jerry Huncosky recently said, “is called upon often—to affirm that our plans are logical, legal, and sustainable. In fifteen years, he has never disappointed me with his intellect.”

Bob also led the initiative to modernize the trustees’ bylaws. And for years he led the Committee on Trustees, with its chief mission of positive self-governance—a special hallmark of Bob’s interest and talent. He has served on the committee that annually reviews the CEO and has often offered the persuasive case for why that conversation is so crucial to Frost Valley, even (perhaps especially) in years when all is going perfectly well and such talk might seem to be pro forma—for, to Bob, trustees simply must be called upon regularly to articulate their ultimate responsibility for the organization even when that responsibility might seem superfluous. Bob prepares us for the moments when we must lead—and when we do lead it must be through transparent processes and good order. Bob Haines, in short, has made us conscious stewards of Frost Valley.

From the moment he became a trustee, Bob advocated for the centrality of endowment and planned giving. The success of the Neversink Society—its members have made planned gifts through wills, annuities, and estates—is largely owing to Bob’s efforts. There is no more effective way of assuring Frost Valley’s future, Bob contends, than the building of a substantive endowment and the engagement of significant numbers of donors willing remember Frost Valley in their wills. He led the board’s endowment subcommittee and saw that fund pass the $10 million mark a few years ago. The appeal for further endowment gifts goes out under his name.

For his decades of leadership as a trustee of Frost Valley; for his selfless contribution of hours upon hours of wise counsel, in calm and in crisis; for his consistent modeling of ethical action, due diligence, and self-aware planning for the future stability of our service to children and families; for his unwavering belief in the power of endowment and planned giving as means for guaranteeing that future; for his gentle, persuasive reasoning & his always ready smile—we today induct Bob Haines into The Frost Valley YMCA Hall of Fame.