For generations, summer after summer, scouts have been making memories at Camp Read. In 2020, the pandemic may have forced regular activities to pause, but campers from years gone by are sharing their stories here in an effort to fill in the gap. Read on to get your fix of Camp Read hijinks until we can safely fill a parade ground once more!
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Eager Beaver Work Weekends Recap
Curtis S. Read Scout Reservation, B.S.A.
The Camp don’t run without a good Ranger.
He’s the one who has to see that everything from the kitchen to the latrines is in good working order and can meet the needs of the scouts and scouters who come to live the great Camp Read experience.
Our Camp Read Ranger & Reservation Manager, Kris O’Connor, had the foresight to know that the Camp, being closed for 14 months (1), needed extra help to get ready for the upcoming summer season. He organized and recruited personnel for a preliminary work weekend in May to set-up and get started on several major projects. This was followed by a second work weekend in early June that was coordinated with Kris by the Order of the Arrow Ktemaque Lodge, and the Camp Read Association (CRA).
The following is a recap of both Eager Beaver Weekends. Those who attended witnessed history in the making and helped create it as well! There were numerous “firsts” and even a “seventy”.
Weekend 1 (May 21 – 23, 2021):
Kris had an extensive laundry list of projects and asked the CRA if they could form a team with the skills he needed. Bill Brucker, VP Activities worked with Kris to help organize the teams for both weekends.
The main project was to convert the Newton Hall front porch from outside space to inside space. This meant building new exterior walls and moving the windows and doors to their new locations. This was quite a feat of engineering mastery and good olde Camp Read teamwork! The objective was to move the windows without anyone getting hurt and without breaking the glass.
The windows were six individual units in 2 columns of three spanning approximately 6’ wide by 6’ high. The units were cross braced, and all the team was given a job to do. It took ten people to move the windows: Three people on each side to lift and stabilize, tallest guys were in the middle, one person on each end to hold a 2 x 4 x 8’ under the windows and lift, one guy to move the staging bench from inside to outside, and one director. With flawless teamwork, our objective was met.
Post 2. L to R: Bill Brucker, Dick Trier, Rich Lutomski, Bob Neely.
Newton Hall in Process. L to R: Bill Daley, Kris O'Connor, Tom Dietz, Dave Morris, Tim Haag.
Newton Hall Complete!
The Team included: Bill Brucker, Bill Daley, Tim Haag, Tom Dietz, Dick Trier, Rich Lutomski, Ron Green, Bob Neely, Bill Langham, Keith Wiggers, Sandy Owens, John Courtney, Mark Costanza and Ryan Lyke.
Outside sheathing was nailed up, and the doors were re-installed. It took 2 ½ days to complete that phase of the project.
Other projects were done during the weekend as well. These included troop site clean-up in preparation for the tent set-up scheduled for the next weekend. Bob Neely was commissioned to use the new leaf blower to clear the tent platforms in Buckskin. By mid-afternoon Saturday, Bob came back to Newton Hall, placed the blower down on the side porch and plopped down on a chair where the front porch team was working. Bob was given a bottle of water and asked how it went. He said: “good but ran out of gas”. We didn’t know if he meant the blower or himself, but we determined that it was both. Thanks, Bob, for helping to “clear the way” for the tents!
Ron Green and Rich Lutomski trimmed low hanging branches to make paths and walkways more passable. They also cleared fallen branches from trails and campsites making them safer and “cleaner”. The benefit from this job is that they got to hike around and enjoy the Camp, and get their “steps” in.
On Friday Evening, CRA members from the Sixties and Seventies era gathered for dinner at O. P. Fredericks, located on Rte. 8 at the tip of Loon Lake. Back in the day, the restaurant was known as the Alp Horn complete with a “Pub” in the basement and the owner's dog, a huge St. Bernard, went well with the Swiss Alps motif. The senior staff would gather there for a few libations on nights off and would bring their guitars to play and sing. The owner loved it because it brought in more business with free entertainment.
As luck would have it, the new owner had just renovated the basement and we were the first ones to use it. It was like old times again minus the peanut shells on the floor. When the new owner was told the tales from the past, he asked: “where are the guitars?” We’ll save that adventure for the next time.
Four of those “sixties” guys were from Post 2 in Elmsford, NY. The ringleader, Bill “Mustang” Brucker, had shirts made up especially for the weekend. They were inscribed: “Post 2, Were Baaack!” Brucker was joined by Dick Trier, Rich Lutomski and Bob Neely.
After dinner on Saturday night, dessert was a birthday cake complete with candles for Dick Trier who was very happy to celebrate his special day with some of his lifelong friends from Camp. During the celebration that followed, a conference call was made to Jim Smith in Florida so that he could be included in the festivities. Jim was Camp Tomahawk Director in the sixties era whom most of us had worked for. As you can imagine a lot of old stories and (tall) tales of adventures past were recounted with lots of laughs! It was as if we never left Camp.
Weekend 2 (June 4 - 6, 2021)
In addition to these two weekends being the first “official” events at Camp Read since 2019 pandemic, the history making continued.
Over 40 + helpers joined with CRA members for the second weekend. As has been tradition for decades, Jerry Wiggers was doing his mechanical magic on camp vehicles. His son Keith was doing his “tree trimming” during the first weekend. Jerry’s daughter Sandy Owens from the Council Staff worked both weekends, and her Uncle Kevin (Jerry’s brother) and Cousin Justine participated in the second. So the Wiggers clan was well represented and their contributions much appreciated!
It was also the first joint event at Camp for the Order of the Arrow Ktemaque Lodge and the Camp Read Association. Lou Alagno, OA Adviser and Bill Daley, CRA President together with Bill Brucker, did an excellent job of coordinating the event! The “brotherhood of cheerful service” came through once again!
This event marked the first time that members of the recently merged Hudson Valley Council came to Read to check out the new Greater Hudson Valley Council Camp. This group included a contingent of ten or so from Marlboro, NY Troop 72 who will attend Camp Read during 2nd period in Buckskin. This group of adults and boys were part of the crew that set up all the tents in Camp Waubeeka and then started on Camp Buckskin. If this is any indication of the work ethic and contribution from the GHV scouts and scouters, our Council will be stronger than ever!
Our new Chef, Bill Hagen, had his first experience at Camp Read and did an outstanding job with the meals. All gave Bill a warm welcome to the Camp Staff and wished him well with feeding 300 hungry campers each week.
This was the 70th year, yes seven oh, anniversary of Peter Scott Oberdorf coming to Camp Read. He attended camp as a camper in 1951, ‘52 & ‘53. Worked on Staff in 1954, ’57 & ‘58. Was Scoutmaster of his home Troop, Dobbs Ferry 24, in 1965 & ’66. And served as Assistant Reservation Director in 1998 & ‘99.
Peter recounts (for historical preservation purposes) that in 1951, there were seven troop sites with eight 4-scout tents (thirty-two boys) supervised by three staff per site. Fred Smith was the Reservation Director, Peter was in “Troop 6” in Pawnee field (Troop Sites were designated by number in those days), and Mickey Boylan was his Scoutmaster.
And how did Peter celebrate his anniversary? He ran the newly repaired dish washer all Saturday morning to give it a test workout and to wash everything in the kitchen that wasn’t nailed down! Kudos to Peter for his hard work and for keeping Bill Hagen company. Kudos are also in order for Peter for he has been at Camp Read every year since 1951! That’s seventy years and counting, (on many more)!
The Newton Hall project continued. Trim and siding was installed on the exterior and insulation was stuffed into the interior bays. On occasion, siding nails would mysteriously reappear. Dave Morris, who was part of the “outside crew” would say “hey you missed a nail”. We’ll after the second or third protruding nail, the outside crew (Bill Daley, Tim Haag & Tom Dietz), in addition to Dave realized that the “inside crew” doing the insulation installation were the culprits behind the nail “push outs”. We won’t give any names, but their initials are John Hradsky and Greg Pitonza. They thought they could disguise themselves by wearing masks, but we weren’t fooled. The outside and insulation projects were completed.
Bill Langham, who also participated in both weekends, was given the job of cutting the grass in the Buckskin retreat field and parking lot, and surrounding areas including the rifle and Archery ranges and the Buckin Office’s front yard. As he watched for rocks, holes and other debris that could play havoc with the blades and mower deck on Ranger Kris’ cherished John Deer, he started to compose a song. “Sitting on the tractor, riding along, cutting the lawn and writing this song.” That’s as far as he got so he’ll have to return next year to ride once again and write another verse.
Shower house ventilation stacks was another big project needing completion in time for camp to open. These stacks were ripped off the roofs by the heavy winds and snows of last winter and needed to be re-installed. A crew who was not afraid of heights and that could navigate tin roofs without sliding off nimbly tackled this job.
So as a result of the two work weekends, history on many fronts was made, numerous projects were completed, and Ranger Kris was very happy! Most importantly, the Curtis S. Read Scout Reservation was closer to being ready to open for the 2021 summer season. Many thanks to all who participated! They not only helped get camp ready but had a lot of fun creating history.
Next year hopefully you can join us! We get a lot done “for the good of the Camp” and have a lot of fun.
Yours in Scouting,
CRA Eager Beavers
(1.) Camp Read was closed from March 2020 ‘till May 2021 due to health restrictions caused by the COVID 19 Pandemic.
Having a few at the former Alp Horn! From left around the table: Rich Lutomski, Tom Dietz, Bob Neely, Bill Langham, Bill Daley, Ron Green, Bill Brucker, Dick Trier, Tim Haag.