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Since 1887…

Once a Life Camper, a camper for life. Once a Trail Blazer, always a Trail Blazer. Whether it’s been one year or fifty since you last visited camp, we want to keep in touch! And keep your eyes peeled for information about our annual events: Operation Muscle (volunteer day to set up Mashipacong Estate in May), Friends of Trail Blazers Day, and Labor Day Weekend Camp Out!

Welcome Fellow LC/TBC Alumni,

The Alumni Engagement Committee (AEC) was established by the TBC Board of Trustees to help promote camper and staff alumni engagement with Camp and foster a sense of unity and continuity across generations of TBC alumni.  Like you, AEC members have been campers and/or staff at Trail Blazers and fondly remember their Camp experiences and the people who impacted their lives in so many ways. 

This page celebrates the rich legacy that we inherited from those who came before us. A legacy which became a part of, and was left to, those who followed. As importantly, we hope that it will serve as a way for alumni to learn about current programs and events and find meaningful  ways to stay involved with Trail Blazers and support its continuing efforts to provide children and young adults the opportunity to “Go Outside, and Grow Within.”  

AEC Status and Purpose: The Alumni Engagement Committee is a standing committee of Trail Blazer Camps established by the Board of Trustees to increase camper and staff alumni engagement with Camp and foster a sense of unity and continuity across generations of TBC alumni.

 

AEC Organizational Structure and Membership:
1. The AEC shall include at least 5 camper or staff alumni who are committed to serving a term of at least one year. Additional alumni may be added as needed to ensure a diverse representation of generations and program experiences, but should normally not exceed a total of 11 alumni members.
2. All camper and staff alumni are eligible to serve as members.
3. The founding alumni membership shall be established by the TBC Executive Director in consultation with alumni who participated in initial conversations relating to the AEC.
4. Future alumni member appointments shall be made by the TBC Executive Director (ED) in consultation with continuing members of the AEC.
5. The TBC ED shall designate at least one TBC Staff member to serve as a liaison to the AEC (this may be the ED).
6. The Chair of the AEC shall be an alumnus/alumna elected by the alumni members of the AEC for a term of one year.
7. The committee shall function quasi-independently under the leadership of its chair to develop and implement projects in consultation with TBC staff and with limited staff support to the extent that it can be afforded and is consistent with advancing TBC priorities.
8. The AEC may establish ad hoc project subcommittees to develop and carry out specific projects and recruiting Alumni to participate in the subcommittees.
9. In light of the geographic diaspora of TBC alumni, the AEC shall adopt electronic mechanisms for holding “meetings,” communications, sharing documents, assigning tasks, and monitoring progress toward achieving project goals.

 

AEC Charge:

The AEC is charged to develop projects and recruit alumni participation in projects directed towards the advancement of the following goals:
1. Documenting, preserving, and making Trail Blazers history, traditions, institutional knowledge, and program evolution accessible and transmissible;
2. Promoting engagement of the larger community of Alumni in Trail Blazers and Trail Blazers engagement with Alumni;
3. Promoting a shared sense of TBC culture and values across generations of Alumni, along with an understanding of and appreciation for traditions and program elements that inevitably change over time;
4. Creating and maintaining connections within and across the generations of Alumni through communications (e.g., an Alumni newsletter) and events (e.g., a re-envisioned Alumni day);
5. Creating connections between Alumni and new/current campers and staff through Camp visits, participation in staff training, working together on projects, transmitting information/advice from alumni to current staff/campers.

Current Alumni Engagement Committee (AEC) Members

Juanita Barrena

Kathy Riecks

Minjung Park

Els Thijs

Aloyae Tisor

Louis Milea

Wim Rutten

Vijay Patel

Brittany Lowe

Diane Schafer

Libby Mithcell

Frances Panchok

Matthew Hommez

The overall goals of the history project are to document and preserve Trail Blazer’s
cultural and social history in forms that are readily accessible and can be shared with past, present and future generations of Trail Blazers to create connections across generations and promote a shared sense of community across generations.

 

History Project Committee members:

Juanita Barrena (chair)

Diane Schaefer

Els Thijs

Aloaye Tisor

Louis Milea

Wim Rutten

Frances Panchok

The task assigned to this group is to develop and help implement meaningful
ways for alumni to participate in staff training, to make connections with new staff, and ensure
the passing on of institutional knowledge and skills. Although it would be helpful to have project
members who live close to Camp, there are ways to participate that don’t require being at Camp.

 

Training Project Committee members:

Kathy Riecks (Chair)
Juanita Barrena
Minjung Park
Els Thijs
Aloaye Tisor
Diane Schaefer
Vijay Patel
Libby Mitchell

A Message from the Executive Director  (October 12, 2020)

When we released our Strategic Plan this past winter, we made DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) and Transparency two of the four lenses through which we will be examining all our practices as we work to be a ”Best in Class” organization.

In June, after George Floyd’s murder, we released a statement (re-read it here) in which we recommitted to ensuring our practices facilitated our beliefs. Since then, we have brought DEI to the forefront and made it our primary lens, ensuring that we do the work required to become a truly anti-racist organization. Guided by our newly engaged DEI Committee, we have been reviewing our future plans as well as our previous practices for blind spots and areas for correction. It is in the vein of Transparency that we share today’s update on our DEI practices.

Today, on Indigenous People’s Day, we are publicly recognizing the ways in which our camp practices have appropriated the traditions, names, and practices of Indigenous Peoples, from the names of some of our smallcamp groups, to the use of the name “powwow” for our end of day debrief, to the design of our Value Catcher.

We recognize the need to address and correct this and have already done some of the initial work of retiring some of these practices. We are also examining other restorative actions, guided by the DEI Committee. This includes a Land Acknowledgement, a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories. Learn more about Land Acknowledgements here. More work is needed and we will continue to share updates.

We are committed to continually learning and rectifying in order to help create a truly equitable and just world. Also, we ask you to join us and to continue to hold us accountable to this promise.

On behalf of our Board of Trustees and our staff, thanks for being a part of our Trail Blazers family and doing this work with us.

Riel Peerbooms, MSW
Executive Director

AEC Communication #1 (October 16, 2020)

Dear TBC Alumni and Friends

Thank you for visiting the TBC Alumni Website and for signing up to receive Website updates and other news from the TBC Alumni Engagement Committee (AEC).  As you have probably noticed, it has taken us a while to figure out a communication system, but we think we’ve got it down now.  So, here is our first update, and it is coming to you from alumni@trailblazers.org, our very own e-mail address.

Our most recent addition to the Alumni Website is a collection of hundreds of photographs that have been organized in a way that we hope will make it fun and easy for you to explore.  To get to the collection, go to trailblazers.org/alumni/, then scroll down to the green banner titled “historical archives.” then click on “videos and photos” in the menu, then click on “Photo Albums” in the sub-menu.  This step will open an instruction page asking you to click on the “photo album” link inside the green box.  This last step gets you to a dedicated photo album page that shows you a menu of categories; and under each category, there is a sub-menu of albums.  So, for example, under the menu category “People and Critters,” there are several albums.  To get to an album (e.g., “The 4 Great Trail Blazers, which includes photos of Lois Goodrich, Betty Faust, Nita Baumgardner, and Rowland Warren), click on the title of the album, then hover your cursor over or click on the photo that is shown, then click on the yellow box that includes the title of the album.  This last step gets you to a display of all the photos in this album.  You can enlarge a specific photo by clicking on it.  When the enlarged photo appears, you will also see information that was added to identify the photo.  If the note is unclear, you can click on the “I” symbol that appears in a circle on the page. However, don’t pay much attention to the information provided in the “Details” section since the actual date of the photo is likely to be different from the date shown in this section.

Yeah, we know that this seems like a lot of work to get to the photos;  but really, it takes way less time to do it than it takes to read it.  Perhaps, down up the road, we can figure out a quicker way to access the photos; but, in the meantime, kudos to Christopher Thomasson for figuring this one out and getting the platform set up.  Also, a special thank you to Louis Milea who scanned thousands of TBC archival photos and slides from which many of the photos were selected for this project, Kathy Riechs for coming up with the overall organizational plan, and members of the committee who searched through thousands of archival photos to select photos for inclusion in the albums, contributed photos from their personal collections, and added descriptions to the photos.

So, now it’s YOUR turn to help out with the photo project.  Although the framework has been set up and the collection covers about 100 years of Trail Blazers history (1920’s to the present) and a wide range of programs and activities, the collection is by no means complete.   For example, in many cases, committee members could not identify the approximate year the photo was taken, who is in the photo, or even what activity or the place it was taken (e.g., a specific small camp or vagabond spot).  More importantly, there are some periods, most notably the 1930’s – 1959 and 2000-present, groups of alumni (e.g., early LL’s and Boys’ Camp staff and campers from 1960-1979) that are not well represented in the collection.  Therefore, if you can help with photo information or have photos to contribute in any category, please let us know by sending an e-mail to alumni@trailblazers.org and we will work with you to make this happen.

Depending on when you last visited the Alumni site, there may be other exciting things for you to check out.  These include a songbook titled “Rooftree Revisited” which is a collection of LC/TBC original songs and a few additional songs that have played a significant role in LC/TBC’s history and traditions.  The songs are accompanied by a narrative that explains the origin of the songs and their historical context.  To get to a pdf of the book, again scroll down to the “historical archives” green banner, and click on “Camp Songs.”

While you’re at the site, you might also want to check out the new Alumni Profiles that have been added.  To do this, go to the green banner titled “Alumni Profiles,” and click on a time period.  There are currently five “profiles” posted (Kay Smorto, Rowland Warren, Martha Grace Price Lawrence, Juanita Barrena, and Jean Lynch), they are posted under the period they first came to TBC, so you might not find them where you might think you would.  Again, as in the case of the photo project, we are hoping that YOU help make this a fabulous site by writing a profile either on yourself or someone you greatly admired at Camp.  There is no set format, but we think that the ones that are posted serve as good models.  And, again, if you would like to make a contribution to this project, please contact us at alumni@trailblazers.org .  Actually, please contact us with any comments or suggestions you may have about the Website or about what kinds of projects and activities you would like the AEC to undertake to promote Alumni interactions and engagement.

Best to everyone.  Please stay safe and well.

Your TBC Alumni Engagement Committee

These scrolls were prepared by staff and camper alumni in 2019 and read at a pre-camp council fire . . .

Alumni Profiles

(For more information on how to submit your alumni profile, email

 alumni@trailblazers.org)

I was a camper at Life Girls’ Camp in Branchville CT from 1935-1938, a Camper Leader at Life Girls’ Camp at Mashipacong from 1939- 41, returned to Alumni Camp as an LL (Life Lifer) with my husband Charles and my children for many years, and served as a member of the TBC Board of Trustees for several years.

 

Although I have so many fond memories (including dishwashing), I suppose the most meaningful one took place in November 1938 when I was in the group of Life campers who came to Mashipacong to dedicate the site for a new Life Camp.  On that day, we buried a time capsule with scrolls near the lodge where a new foundation was being laid and watched the workmen mark the spot where the Dining Hall would be built.

In the excitement of consolidating the summer youth camps to the Mashipacong property in 1953, little did anyone know that there was a bonus to be discovered. Rowland Warren, from Millsboro, Delaware, wandered into an early morning bird walk during staff pre-camp training. He had arrived in search of a job and, as they say, the rest was history.  It was a 50+ year history of unwavering dedication, hard work and service to Trail Blazer Camps: the campers, the staff, and the property.

 

Rowland began as a swim instructor. He was tall, strong, and demonstrated perfect form in the water. But what made him a great teacher was his warmth and kindness, and his gentle encouragement. Every aspiring swimmer could tell that Rowland knew they would overcome their fears of swimming in the lake and would master their strokes. Countless numbers of kids (and some staff) learned to swim because of him.

 

But his service to camp expanded way beyond the waterfront. He worked much of each year on the maintenance crew, a real lumberjack. When it was too cold to work outside, he repaired canvas and blankets and linens with his sewing machines and his endless patience. Rowland was there for most weekend trips during the school year as small camp groups came out for the winter version of TBC camping. His willingness to get out of his cozy sleeping bag in the middle of the night to throw more huge logs on the fires allowed everyone else to sleep warmly. And he convinced more than a few campers that being a dishwasher after dinner was a good way to stay a little warmer on a winter’s night.

 

What most campers and staff remember, however, was that Rowland was always at camp and was always glad to see each of us. He remembered every person and the peculiar stories about us that others would have forgotten. He taught us about the lake and the trees and the birds and the beavers and the lily pads and the stars. He tended the gardens with us. He cooked with us. He chopped wood with us. He helped us deal with donkey temperaments. And always, though we often did not realize it, he shared his knowledge and love of our surroundings and of camp itself.

 

What a great example! We learned that a big, rugged man also had a gentle and nurturing soul. We learned that the youngest and the newest of us were as important as the long-time veterans. We learned that just being together was a gift of love. Rowland, more than anything, loved being with people.

 

There are thousands of TBC alumni who could add memories of Rowland that would extend this story beyond anyone’s attention to read. Each is a testament to the impact of this man and of the camp experience. For no one was ever the same after spending time at Trail Blazers with Rowland Warren.

I attended Trail Blazers Camps during July and August from 1954 through 1961,  except for summer 1956 (when I worked as a waitress to earn money for college.)

 

When I was growing up, my two older brothers were very active in the Boy Scouts and my father was a volunteer Scout Master.  I greatly envied their hiking and camping adventures. Thus when I was given the opportunity ( through Hilde Wohl Adler) to attend TBC, I was thrilled. In July and August 1954, I was a camper in Timber Ridge.  Camp was all that I could have wished for and much more. Not only did I enjoy the outdoor living and educational experiences but also the warm comradeship of my fellow campers.  In 1955, I returned to TBC as a camper-leader in Homestead in July and Awanasa in August.  In 1957,  I returned as a counselor for five years until I married:  1957 in Pioneers; 1958 and 1959 in Unami then as Counselor-at-Large, in 1960 and 1961, residing in Unami.

 

No one experience in my seven summers at TBC stands above all the other very happy memories.  What I most treasure are the friendships that I made. The TBC ethos of respect for and enjoyment of the varieties of people and the variety of the natural world, under the leadership of Lois Goodrich and her staff, especially Betty Faust and Nita Baumgardner, inspired me and was the reason for my return as camper and counselor. Now, past eighty years of age, I still enjoy hiking, kayaking in the mountains and traveling, exploring with family and friends.

In 1957, during a particularly stressful time for my family, I was “sent” to Trail Blazer Camps by a social worker who thought I would benefit from being away from the situation.  I was nine years old, and had never been out of the City.  And, yes, that is me in the photo in the upper left hand corner, which appeared on the cover of the 1958-59 TBC Annual Report.  And, what an exciting adventure it was.  Not only did I get to sleep in my very own bed in a canvas shelter (farm sled) in the forest, but I got to see and learn about all kinds of plants and animals (hmm, like, not all mammals are rats, and not all insects are roaches).  And, more importantly, I got to live with a group of seven other girls my age and two or three caring adult counselors.  As a kid, I loved everything about Camp, even cleaning the latrine.  It was MY Camp, my very own home in the woods, and it was FUN (all caps)!  Needless to say, I returned as a camper for many summers into the early 1960’s.

 

Little did I know that my Camp experiences were having such a great impact on my development.  Certainly, in retrospect, I can point to some things that were noteworthy.  So, like how splitting my first log and lighting a one-match fire made me feel proud and confident in my abilities and willing to take on new challenges; how having a task to perform each day for the group and having a say in making decisions about what the group’s program and menus would be made me feel important and valued; how learning a common table etiquette, Camp songs and other “routines” at Camp made me feel safe and created a sense of belonging to the entire Camp community;  and, certainly, how living in and learning about the magical land of Mashipacong inspired a sense of wonder and my life-long interest in the natural world.  And, of course, there was the individual attention I received from my counselors (some who have maintained contact with me to the present time).  Counselors who not only cultivated my interests and developed new ones, but who also set limits and applied appropriate discipline when my ‘enthusiasm” got a little out of control.  So, like, I had quite a few “time outs” during my day, which was probably more effective in redirecting my behavior than a smack across the head or a wooden spoon across the rear.  But, it was not until I became a counselor, myself, that I fully understood the transformative impact that Trail Blazers had on me as a child and that it had on campers under my care.

 

I returned as a counselor in 1966 and served in that role into the early seventies, then continued as a staff trainer for most of the 1980’s and early 90’s, and have continued to maintain connection with Trail Blazers to the present.  And, I think it important to emphasize that Trail Blazers’ impact on my life was not limited to my time as camper.  As a young adult, my goals were poorly defined and my leadership skills were far from fully developed.  And, each year as a counselor was a growing experience for me.  Although I spent many years in college and graduate school to acquire the subject knowledge and credentials to become a college professor of Biology, my philosophy of education, how I conducted my classes, how I interacted with students and colleagues, and the successful programs I developed to improve the success of students from disadvantaged groups, can be directly attributed to my training and experience as a counselor at Trail Blazers and the mentorship of Lois Goodrich, Trail Blazers’ legendary Executive Director, who over her 50 year tenure inspired thousands to embrace her values and make a positive difference in our world.  And, although there were certainly other factors that enabled my success in life (so like I was a pretty smart kid and my Mother was the wisest, most selfless and resourceful person I have ever known), I doubt that this kid from Brooklyn would have become not just the first in her family to graduate from high school, but also have gone on to earn a Ph.D. in Zoology and a productive and rewarding career as a University faculty member in sunny California.

From 1992 to 2004, Jean served in multiple roles at camp and on the year-round staff. Roles included Lifeguard, Waterfront Director, Assistant Director, and Girls Side Director. And, like all good directors, Jean was a part-time cook!

 

Jean’s favorite activities at camp were the final council fires, where all campers and staff came together for a final all-camp experience. The fire, the songs, and the scrolls were a highlight.

 

Jean has lots of great memories from Trail Blazers, and there are many campers – and little moments – who stand out. One summer, there was a Homestead camper who was terribly homesick. Jean spent time with her regularly, engaging in camp activities. On the second to last day of the session, the little girl came running up to Jean “I’m having fun today!”

 

Another moment that stands out for Jean shows us how we never know the moments that make an impression on the campers. A group of boys was coming back from a hike, walking through Girls’ Side. One camper threw a stone, hitting and breaking a window in the Dining Hall. The consequence, in Trail Blazers fashion, was a natural one; the boy worked with Property Manager Steve Bates to repair the window. Later, Jean had a conversation with the boy and asked him, “What’s your favorite thing about camp?” “That was. Fixing the window with Steve.”

 

The impact of Trail Blazers on Jean is lifelong. That first summer, when Jean was 26, she came to Trail Blazers as part of her goal to visit multiple countries; she had just gone to Canada and this was her opportunity to visit the United States. But the fun, the challenges, the kids, the friendships kept Jean coming back, summer after summer, until she just “sort of settled there.” Trail Blazers became a home and Jean took the lessons and friendships of Trail Blazers to every job in her life.

Historical Archives

(For more information on how to submit your alumni profile, email

 alumni@trailblazers.org)

More coming soon!

Have you ever wondered what was at Mashipacong before LC/TBC?  This article published in 1904 talks about the Mashipacong Estate’s use as the Mashipacong Club.

This NY Times article from 1938 talks about the sale of the Mashipacong Estate. The 150 year old caretaker’s house referenced in the article is now the Lodge, and one of the three other cabins was the original Fisherman’s Cabin.

This video created by Juanita Barrena (former TBC camper and counselor) is a tribute to Lois Goodrich, Betty Faust, Nita Baumgarder and Rowland Warren.  Through photographs and songs, the video honors their essential roles in the history of Trail Blazer Camps and their extraordinary personal impact on the lives of thousands of children and young adults.  Photographs were collected from various sources.  Most of the songs are original TBC songs sung by TBC Alumni.  Special thanks to Chris Fletcher for her solo recording “Burrito’s Lullaby” in Nita’s segment.

Click on the green Photo Album link to see hundreds of photos of TBC people, flora and fauna, places, small camp living and other Camp programs and activities. The photos are organized into albums by topics or time periods. If you would like to submit photos to add to the albums or can help to identify people or activities in the photos, please contact us at alumni@trailblazers.org.

A list of camp recipes from yesterday and today, as well as Trail Blazers cooking techniques from days gone by. If you have camp recipes to share, please send them to alumni@trailblazers.org.

Chef Julia’s Baked Oatmeal

Makes four servings or one TBC breakfast serving

 

Ingredients:

Quick-cook oats – 3 cups

Brown sugar, packed – 1 cup 

Baking powder – 2 teaspoons

Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

Salt – 1 teaspoon 

Eggs – 2 large

Milk, whole – 1 cup

Butter, melted – ½ cup (one stick)

Adds: dried fruit (¼ cup), nuts (¼ cup)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Spoon oatmeal mix into greased 9” square baking pan.
  4. Bake 35-45 minutes based on your oven

 

Serve with warm spiced applesauce and brown sugar-vanilla syrup.

Provided by Julia Enerson

Lemon Honey Butter

¼ cup butter

1 cup lemon juice

1 cup honey

Melt butter and stir in honey and lemon juice. (Perfect to go with Rowland’s pancakes.)

 

Provided by Chris Elmes

No-Bake Cookies

2 cups sugar

¼ cup cocoa

¼ cup butter

½ cup milk

½ cup peanut butter

3 cups quick oats

1 tsp. vanilla

Boil sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir until peanut butter is melted. Add oats and vanilla. Increase recipe 5x to spread on a large cookie sheet. Refrigerate and cut into squares.

 

Provided by Chris Elmes

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