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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!

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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.”  

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(For more information on how to submit your photos, stories, and memories, email alumni@trailblazers.org)

More coming soon!

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

The 150 year old caretaker’s house referenced in the article is now the Lodge, and that one of the three other cabins was the original Fisherman’s Cabin.

Coming Soon!

 

Photo Album Links

Click on the button below 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 topic 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.

If you would like to submit a favorite recipe, please send it 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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(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.

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.

I was a counselor at Trail Blazer Camps through most of the fifties. And because I lived in New York City at the time, I was heavily involved with  Lois, Betty, Jo Cormack, Mary Dell Morrison, and others, in the effort to preserve the camps (financially) when Life Magazine decided they could no longer support them. We spent every weekend, in Lois and Betty’s little apartment on Christopher Street, scheming about ways to keep the camps financially solvent. When the name had to be changed, it was this group that came up with “why don’t we name the camp after one of the small camps?” Hence Trailblazer Camps. The effort bonded us all for life.

 

I started as a counselor in Brae Tarn (with Mary Dell Morrison and Betty Faust) for two years and then was moved to Timber (over the years with Naomi Diederich (who had a most amazing voice!), Jean Lewis, Lesley Tarleton, and Jo Cormack. During two summers I directed the waterfront and lived in Timber.

 

I had been involved in scouting for a lot of my life, and somehow, just after college graduation, stumbled into this job at Life Camps. I had no idea what I was getting into, how much it would influence me, how much I would love it, and what  deep lasting friendships would come out of it

 

A few specific memories (in no particular order and of no particular importance): Lois, appearing at Timber, in yellow raincoat and hat, in the middle of a major hurricane, “to make sure we were OK!”;  singing endlessly in the dining hall;  how to pass a cup (I still do that!);  aims,  objectives, and reports; Cap’n Bill Vinal’s 5 am bird walks;  balancing around the bog in our underwear;  Betty and Candy;  “Where my Caravan has Rested”;  checking for headlice (this skill was extremely useful when we had had an outbreak of head lice in my kids’ elementary school several years later);  freezing in the showers;  ignoring the dieticians and having nothing but ice-cream for supper;  banging on the triangle;  “Life has Loveliness to Sell”;  “All the Flowers of Love and Memory”……………

 

I got married after that and moved to Madison Wisconsin and never went back to camp to work.  I visited camp with my family, and went to Lois’s big retirement party and then, sadly, to her funeral. My children grew up with the Trail Blazer songs. Luckily, Naomi Diederich (of the wonderful voice) lived in Madison. The lessons learned and the friends were (are) forever.

 

Hilde Wohl Adler

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.

Four Great Trail Blazers

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.

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.

Claire Rose Kircher

August 21, 1955 – March 31, 2020

TBC years beginning in 1975 and ending in 1988

Compiled by Pam Gregory and Diane Schaefer

 

Claire Rose Kircher grew up the eldest of six children and came to Trail Blazers from West Bend, WI. The Girl Scouts played a huge role in Claire’s life.  It was “a refuge, a place of infinite possibilities to explore, and a place of loving female friendships and bonds,” many of the same things she later valued about Trail Blazers.

 

In 1975, at the age of 19, Claire left Wisconsin to be a counselor at Trail Blazers, following in the footsteps of her sister Patty.  Diane Schaeffer met and worked with Claire in 1975, her second year at TBC.  They co-worked in Unami with girls about 11 and 12 years of age.

 

Diane described their summer working together saying, “It was a dream to work with Claire.  She was down to earth, hard-working, and funny.”  We started out the summer in July with our first group by dismantling the kitchen.  We spent the first week lashing and building our tipi home.  What a sense of accomplishment we shared with our girls.  I trusted Claire’s ability to notice what needed to be done and take care of it.   She was kind and caring with the girls but also tough.  She had a great sense of humor and I can still hear her low, throaty chuckle, and that spark in her eyes.   She also had a sense of impatience when things went awry which I loved.  We shared that as well.   She was a no-nonsense kind of person!!!   I felt so supported by her as we worked  through that wonderful summer.”

 

Through both Girl Scouts and TBC, Claire realized that she thrived in leadership positions, enjoying the decision-making process and logistical planning.

 

She returned to Trail Blazers twelve years later in 1987 and 1988. In 1987, when Claire returned to Trail Blazers, she had completed her training and education and was a practicing RN. She returned to be the Waterfront Director for Deb Willis, the Girls Camp Director.  Her maturity and training made her an incredible asset to lead this high-risk area at Trail Blazers.  The following year, she returned once again as an Enabler and Acting Director when the Director was away, and she recruited her sister Mary Ellen Kircher to take her place as the Girls Waterfront Director.

 

Pam Gregory, Girls Camp Director in 1988 described their summer together saying, “I was fortunate that Claire, Jill Borrelli, and Lisa Todd served as Enablers during my first summer as the Girls Camp Director, where I learned so much about TBC and life from each of them.  It was a really difficult summer for me personally.  I knew so little about Trail Blazers’ culture and history. Claire was a bright light, a patient and non-judgmental teacher, and strong support for me and many others that summer. She was calm, empathetic, confident, full of passion for Trail Blazers and the young people we served.  She was a great role model who understood and embraced Trail Blazers’ values.

 

We also bonded for life because we both had Girl Scout backgrounds and loved to sing. She kept us all entertained with puns and started many a round in the Great Hall during meals at the staff table.  She organized countless Community Days and Concerts on the front steps with her boundless energy.”

 

Claire went back home to Wisconsin after that summer to continue her nursing career, eventually, marry her partner, and give birth to her beautiful daughter, Hallie.  She taught Hallie many of the songs, games, and customs she learned at Trail Blazers and became a regular donor to the place that meant so much to her.

 

Claire’s daughter, Hallie, perfectly described Claire as “a sister, explorer, risk-taker, nurse, mother, and loving friend”.

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 Mission:

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

Aloaye Tisor

Louis Milea

Wim Rutten

Vijay Patel

Brittany Lowe

Diane Schafer

Libby Mithcell

Frances Panchok

Matthew Hommez

Coming Soon!

AEC Communication – 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 https://trailblazers.org/alumni/.  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 gets you to a page of all the photo albums.  You can click the individual boxes to open each album and see the photos.  

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 Riecks 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 the 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 . . .

Coming Soon!

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