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Recap - Fall Hike Weekend 2023

20 years ago, the Fall Hike Weekend started as a Back to Camp retreat for about a half dozen guys who had remained friends through the Camp Read Association. Hiking and fellowship provided a temporary reprieve from the real world and opportunity to rejuvenate ourselves before returning to the reality of daily life. Over time the group of attendees has grown in number, adventures, and fond memories. The Adirondacks in the Fall are perfect for hiking (and fishing) with cool yet mild weather, and colorful vistas of the lakes and mountains.  Besides, there aren’t any black flies, no-see-ums, or mosquitos.

The 2023 Fall Hike Weekend included recognition of the newly installed Fishing Docks, dedication of the Buckskin Fishing Dock to Mike McCabe, a huge thank you to Peter Scott Oberdorf for funding the Hermitage Stonewall restoration, and a salute to Jim Smith for developing Camp Staff and Professional Scouters.

This year’s group numbered 44, including 13 from the McCabe family and felt more like a mini reunion than a Fall Hike Weekend.  The McCabe family joined us for the dedication of the new Buckskin Fishing Dock to Michael J. McCabe, Sr., long time friend to Camp Read, Scoutmaster and Eagle Dad to his sons, Ed, Bill, John, James, and Mike. This scouting family of five sons and granddaughter Chrissy all served on the Camp Staff. The McCabes fit right in with the rest of us, which was not surprising given their tenures at camp.  A lot of stories and laughs filled the weekend and made for a very enjoyable time.  Thanks to the McCabes for adding to the camaraderie and fun!  And to daughter “Apple Pie Patti” and granddaughter Alex for helping with the pie and this recap.

Bill (Will) Langham, VP of Membership, has recapped the start of the weekend, the Friday dinner and Saturday visit to the docks, and dedication of the McCabe dock on Rogers Lake in Camp Buckskin.

Lace up your boots and read on about this year’s adventures!

Camp Read Association Fall Hike & McCabe Fishing Dock Dedication
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A handsome fish points the way to the dock.

Several Camp Read Association members (CRA) arrived on Thursday to take full advantage of a weekend at camp. Those staying at camp were bivouacked in the Pearlman Lodge (Buckskin’s summertime office) and the Health Lodge. Friday was mostly cloudy but not chilly and the early arrivals split into groups for hiking, sightseeing, and the quest for an apple corer and postcards that began in Chestertown and included a stop at Oscar’s Smokehouse in Warrensburg. Upon returning to the Reservation all the hikers and travelers were welcomed with open arms and refreshments courtesy of Dick Trier, CRA Social Director.

On Friday night, the McCabe family hosted a lively dinner with lots of good cheer at the Odd Duck in Chestertown, celebrating the life of Mike McCabe, long-time Scoutmaster and Friend of Camp Read, in whose honor one of the new Fishing Docks would be dedicated. Guests were asked to donate the cost of their meal to Phase II of the Fishing Program. (Read on for more info on the program).

Traditional Camp Grace (“Tireless Guardian…”) was sung and Bill Daley welcomed all.  Among other announcements, he congratulated James Morgan, this years’ Staff Member of the Year for the Reservation; and gave kudos to Mo and Kris O’Connor for their 4th wedding anniversary and 25 years together.  He thanked Mike and the McCabe family for joining us this weekend and for their most generous contributions to the Fishing Dock Program and the Friday Evening “Kick-off” Dinner.

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Friday Dinner at the Odd Duck


Following dinner Mrs. Eileen McCabe spoke eloquently of her husband and the impact he had on the family, the camp, and many others who had the privilege of knowing him. Among the stories Eileen told was that Mike grew up on a farm on Lough Sillan outside a small town in County Cavan Ireland. He emigrated to the US in 1950 at age 19. He served in the US Army combat infantry in Korea. He had fished as a boy and got a fishing license each year in New York. He liked the quiet of fishing; it gave him space to think. Another story told of a visit to Camp to see Mike and her boys. Mother & daughter Patti were put up in the Health Lodge – when Mike checked to see how they fared the next day, Eileen complained that a field mouse scampering about made it difficult for them to sleep. Mike responded, “Well, you should have been in my tent – I had a raccoon!”

Saturday Breakfast

A hearty breakfast was offered to all who stayed at camp, in Newton Hall. Kudos to Bill Daley, a man of many talents, who led the “kitchen crew” of Association members in preparing and serving the meal.

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Ron P., Jon, Richie, Charlie, Peter, Barney, & Ed enjoying breakfast

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Denis P. and Jim S. dine in foreground; Mark Costanza sits at back table.

Following breakfast all gathered at the Lake Waubeeka Fishing Dock.  This dock was funded by donations from numerous Association Members.  Tom Liberati, Chairman of the GHV Council Fishing Committee, sent his “Thank You” to the McCabe family and the Association for funding the Docks and for seeing that the docks were installed for use during the 2023 Summer Camp season.  Unfortunately, Tom couldn’t attend because he was running the annual Fishing Derby that raises funds to stock the Camp Read lakes with fish each year.  And thanks to Tom for what he and the Committee does for Camp Read and the Council.


Thirty-five of the most and least spry Camp Read Association members, guests and lots of McCabes crowded onto the fully handicapped accessible and as-yet unnamed fishing dock at Lake Waubeeka for photos and speeches. CRA is looking for the right person to honor with a dedication of this beautiful dock.

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35 Attendees testing dock capacity. 

13 of those wearing light-colored 100th Anniversary ball caps are the McCabes.

Photo: Ed D’Apice (who managed to get in the picture) 

During the group photo, the fishing dock took on a little water which prompted all to move to the center, and Dick Trier to start a sing-a-long of “Titanic”. An eager fisherman put the new platform to immediate use, fishing during the ceremony and nearly landing a Largemouth Bass estimated to weigh 4 or 5 pounds. All fishing at Camp Read is ‘catch & release.’ The 28-inch conveniently “self-released” itself as the ceremonies concluded.

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Paul Knudsvig reeling one in!

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At the dock dedication: Simon, Jon, Charley, Richie, Bob

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Smiles all around! L to R: Tim, Kris, Ron G., Bill D., Ron P.


The party then moved by the camp vans up to Rogers Lake at Buckskin. Three trolling motor-equipped rowboats ferried Eileen McCabe and several others across the lake to the site where the second dock is installed. The balance of the party, including three dogs, hiked out of the Buckskin Waterfront and made their way on the John R. Farley Memorial Trail through the woods and arrived at the Porcupine Lodge ruins above the dock. The dock easily handled the 30 or so supporters who ventured down the steep slope to the gangway to board the 12 x 16-foot dock. The Buckskin Fishing Program Area and dock were dedicated to Scoutmaster Michael J McCabe with more speeches and good cheer. Mike loved to fish here and at Pharaoh Lake when he brought Yonkers Troop 19 to Camp Read.

A restoration of the Porcupine Lodge, including steps leading down to the dock, is also under consideration. A renewed Porcupine pavilion will expand Camp Read’s program area and add 4-season activities such as mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and of course, fishing from the new McCabe Fishing Dock.

For more information about the Porcupine Lodge Program Area Project, download the proposal here.

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Michael J. McCabe Plaque

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Langham - Porcupine Lodge Ruins

Left: Path down to dock. Right: remnants of Porcupine Lodge Chimney.

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Boats with the dignitaries arriving at the Michael J. McCabe Fishing Dock on Rogers Lake in Camp Buckskin.

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Mike McCabe and crew disconnecting the ramp for Winter.

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It took many hands (even more than pictured) but we got the ramp detached, thanks to the McCabe family talent for engineering!

During the break between the dock dedications and lunch, a Slab Apple Pie Team composed of Jonathan Hall, Alex and Patti McCabe, and Charlie Strohman and led by Will Langham peeled, cored and chopped 15 pounds of Jonogold Columbia County apples, dessert for the Saturday night BBQ.  The apples, picked by Paul Knudsvig, Will and Simon Riker on the way up to camp, were expertly peeled by Jon Hall, chopped by Will and spiced with cinnamon, sugar, and fresh lemon juice. Enough dough to make three large pies had been prepared by Will at home in Rye and brought up to camp to chill for 48 hours resulting in easy roll-out by Alex, Master of the Rolling Pin. Filled, crimped and brushed with heavy cream by the team, the pies were placed in the walk-in to chill before being baked in the afternoon to be served with Maple Bourbon Caramel Sauce with vanilla ice cream at the BBQ.

Riker - Apple Picking.HEIC
Langham - Apple Pie Brigade

Left: Bill "Will" Langham picking apples for the pies at an orchard on the way upstate.
Right: Patti
and Alex McCabe preparing the pie crust

After Lunch in Newton Hall, we took time to learn/practice a new song: “Take Me Home Camp Read Road” by the “Read Brothers,” in preparation for the Saturday evening campfire.  The afternoon was free time.

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Fishermen at work.

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Fishermen included: Bill “Mustang” Brucker, Barney Fyffe, Ron Phillips, Paul Knudsvig, Dick Trier, Bob Neely.

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Friday's program included a ten-mile hike out to Pharaoh Lake and around the surrrounding wilderness. 

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Hikers struck a silly pose: Bill Daley, Tim Haag, Simon Riker, Jon Hall, Charlie Strohman, Ron Green

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Signs uncovered, unknown vintage, pointing to Read, April Falls, and Crab Pond

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The Pharaoh Crew stopped at a lean-to for lunch. L to R: Tim Haag, Simon Riker, Jon Hall, Bill Daley, Ron Green

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Saturday afternoon view from Mt. Stevens summit.

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Mt. Stevens hikers included Charlie Strohman, Ron Green, Bill Daley, Jon Hall, and Reid Reynolds. Simon Riker bushwhacked independently but caught the group on their way down from the summit.

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Mt. Stevens as seen from the old logging road that ran behind the old barn located at the end of the old camp property line.

Stonewall Preservation

At 5:30, all gathered at the Ranger’s Shop to recognize Peter Scott Oberdorf for initiating and funding the restoration of the Hermitage Gates (stone walls adjacent to the shop).

Peter kept his own remarks modestly brief, but several CRA members (including Tom Dietz, Reid T. Reynolds, and Ron Green) enthusiastically shared words in honor of Peter and his tremendous positive impact over 72(!) years of involvement with Camp Read, and 34 years with the Camp Read Association, a founding father.

You can read everyone's full remarks honoring Peter here.

The gates are marked with a beautiful plaque pictured below, which reads:



~ circa 1890 ~


Restoration Funded in 2022 by Peter Scott Oberdorf

[from 1951: camper, staff, Eagle Scout, co-founder CRA, staff-parent, director]

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Peter Scott Oberdorf and Ron Green at the 2nd set of Hermitage Gates.

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Original set of Hermitage Gates located on former road closer to the Brant Lake shore line. 

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Tom Dietz addresses the crowd in honor of Peter's contribution.

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Peter with Sister Ann and Tim Haag

BBQ Dinner on the Buckskin Trading Post Patio was next on the agenda. All gathered with stomachs growling in anticipation of eating after a full day of activities at camp.

To add to the adventure, and to challenge us in the usual Camp Read fashion, there was always something that didn’t go just right. All the prep work for dinner was done and set up on the patio. However, the grill was not cooperating and took a while to heat up. The burgers, hot dogs and chicken were cooking very slowly. Thank goodness the chicken was pre-cooked and just had to be browned. 

What to do with 44 hungry “campers”?

What else, we switched the program to do our song fest first to buy time for the slow grill.  We lit the campfire and did the Camp Read Road song again. Our talented “go-to guy” when it comes to songs, Rich Lutomski, led a medley of all the old camp songs having one lead into another. Dave Miller then led John Brown’s Flivver, and Simon Riker taught us a new song: a sea shanty called "Bully in the Alley".  Thanks to all the singers for their help!

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Rich Lutomski leading the pre-dinner song fest.

By this time the food was ready, we sang evening grace and ate.

Many thanks to Alban Plotkin, Professional Chef and Read Staff Member for his help with prepping lunch and cooking dinner.  Also, thanks to Mark Costanza and Greg Pitonza for their assistance with dinner and the weekend!

Thanks to Will and the Slab Apple Pie Team!  We really enjoyed the “fruits” of your labor.  As everyone enjoyed dessert, we moved on with the post dinner program.

The first order of business was to recognize Jim Smith, whose influence on his Camp Staff was profound and long-lasting.

Tom Dietz proudly stood in for John V. "Doc" Aliberto, who unfortunately could not attend. John had sent in remarks to be read, and a historical scout blanket to be presented.

Read all of the tributes to Jim Smith (by John Aliberto, Dick Trier, Bill Brucker, and Ron Green) here.

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Wool Blanket from John Aliberto to Jim Smith.

Tom then called all those that worked with Jim up to join me and read the plaque and presented it to him, in a meaningful show of appreciation.

James J. Smith

Creator of Camp Read Culture of 

Quality Program and Camaraderie


In Grateful Appreciation for your Leadership,

Mentorship, Influence and Impact in Developing

Professional Scouters and Camp Staff Members


Presented by the

Camp Read Association

September 30, 2023

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Ron Green presents Jim Smith's plaque, with Jim's staff standing side-by-side

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Jim facing his devoted staff

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Jim stands to receive his award

Jim thanked everyone for the kind words. He really appreciated the plaque and remembrances of the many good days he spent with, as Bill Brucker said, “the band of brothers”. He was very proud of the fact that we all stayed together as friends and of what we continue to do for Camp Read.


He ended by saying: “no matter what these guys were asked to do, they didn’t question it, they just did it”. True, loyal Camp Read Staff Members all!


Since we were talking about Professional Scouters, Bill Langham took the opportunity to announce that Liam Montgomery, Read Staff Member, had joined the ranks of the B.S.A. as a Professional Scouter.  Congratulations to Liam and best wishes for a successful career.  Including Jim, you have 6 role models to follow.


Sunday Breakfast

“Gracious giver of all good, thee we thank for rest and food...”.


Thanks once again to Bill Daley and all the preparation and clean-up crew who helped make another delicious breakfast.


Also, thanks to Ranger Kris O’Connor and all the Association Members for help with the weekend activities, and for welcoming the McCabe’s and making them feel at home at camp!


And last but by far not least, thanks to Mike McCabe and the entire McCabe family for your most generous contributions, your stories, singing & laughter, and for coming back to enjoy Camp Read once again. Do they get it? And How!


But before we go, one more story, and then a few messages from attendees:


It was after breakfast at the first reunion in 1979 (we think), Jim Smith asked those sitting at his table if anyone remembered the words to “Happy Trails”, the song that was sung at the end of the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans show from the 1960’s.  We went around the table and one by one we remembered the words and put the song together.  Another example of Camp Read spontaneity and teamwork. With that, Jim stood up and led the song and sent all on their way.  Singing this song at the end of an Association event has become a tradition.

Happy Trails to you

Until we meet again,

Happy Trails to you

Keep smiling until then,

Happy Trails to you

‘Till we meet again!


Thanks to all for joining us and for helping to make a great weekend at Camp Read!


The Hike Weekend Committee,

Brucker, Daley & Dietz

Notes from Attendees

Reid T. Reynolds and Bob Neely wrote in with their reflections on the weekend. Read their notes below:

Pawnee Staff Reunion, 65 Years!

It has been sixty-five years, but we – Scoutmaster, Peter Oberdorf, Assistant Scout Master Mickey Venuti, and Senior Patrol Leader, Reid Reynolds -- have kept in touch.  More accurately, Peter has kept us in touch (no surprise for those who know Peter). 

A few days before this year’s Annual Fall Hike Weekend the three of us had a leisurely lunch at Peter’s beach house on Schroon Lake. Mickey drove over from his home in Burlington, VT; recently relocated from Denver to Philadelphia, Reid was on a week-long tour of old haunts in the Adirondacks preceding the Fall Hike Weekend. We were joined by the legendary Jim Smith, Art Boland’s sidekick for numerous fourth period games and campfire skits. 

In addition to catching up on a few of the high (and not so high) lights of our post-Camp Read lives, we reminisced about camp life in the 1950s, marveled at the changes at the Curtis S. Read Scout Reservation and pondered what the future holds for Scouting and Camp Read.

As founding members of the alumni association, Peter and Jimmie deserve credit for the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of Camp Read re-connections over the years. But we think this might be a first, the first sixty-fifth reunion of a complete provisional troop leadership team. Any challengers?

- Reid T. Reynolds

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"The Pawnee Three"

L to R: Peter Scott Oberdorf, Reid T. Reynolds, Mickey Venuti



A note to all from Robert F. Neely


There is something I’d like to add about this past Hike Weekend.  I’ve read a lot of books this past year or more, one being Lord of the Rings.  I enjoyed it so much that it led me to read a biography of J. R. R. Tolkien, the author (as I’m sure you know).  Tolkien served in WWI and fought in the battle of the Somme.  Just prior to it he wrote a poem (which is not part of the ring trilogy).  It reads:


There is a sound of faint guitars

And distant echoes of a song,

For there men gather into rings

Round their red fires while one voice sings –

And all about is night.


This so makes me think of us at Camp.  We truly have a Fellowship there.



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!


Have a story of your own? Please submit to!

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