9th Camp Read Summer Reunion &
100th Anniversary Platinum Jubilee
June 28th, 29th & 30th 2019
It was a century in the making, from the rolling hills of the Hudson Valley in Mahopac, NY to picturesque Brant Lake in the rugged but beautiful Adirondack Mountains. There is a magic and electromagnetism that draws us all back to Camp Read to reminisce about adventures past, to see camp friends once again, and to create new adventures and make new friends.
It seems like it took a century to do this reunion with the organizing and recruiting and Monday night planning meetings. All the time and effort spent by a reunion team that rivaled the staffs of the sixties (you can replace with your era), was well worth it when you see the smiles on everyone’s faces, young, old, and all in between. We added a theme of “Welcome Home” to all the friends of Camp Read for many hadn’t been to camp in quite a while. They came from as close as Brant & Schroon Lakes to as far away as California and China.
Friday June 28:
Friday check-in was quite exciting with the stories and bantering starting before folks even got into the Buckskin office. Many lent a hand with the check-in and souvenir distribution including: Bill & Kathy Brucker; Mike McCabe & his daughter, Chrissy; Tim & Barb Haag; Rich Lutomski and Bill our President. It was the perfect opportunity to meet people and welcome them home. 134 friends came home for the reunion including 14 children.
A food truck was set-up Friday evening by Newton Hall where all could order up their favorite cuisine and relax over dinner with friends. Thanks to the Hot Biscuit Diner of Ticonderoga for providing the food truck and for the Saturday night barbeque dinner. By all accounts the food was very good.
Half the attendees stayed at Camp Buckskin in Ranger, Blackfoot, Teheco and Wilderness troop sites. The other half chose civilization and were scattered about the surrounding area in hotels, bungalows, cabins, boathouses, and rental houses. Those who stayed in camp for the “full experience” got to enjoy the pitter patter of the Friday and Saturday nights rain showers on their tent. And oh yes, the haunting howl and screech of the great horned (or some other kind of big) owl. It sounded fierce enough to make you think that it would swoop down into your tent and carry you away for a mid-night snack.
Saturday June 29:
Saturday morning started with the Flag Raising conducted by the 2019 Camp Staff. All proceeded into Newton Hall and were greeted by the reunion committee leading “We Welcome You to Old Camp Read” followed by Morning Grace. Will Shanahan, Executive Camp Read Chef, and his fantastic kitchen crew did an outstanding job with the breakfast and lunch meals. Many commented that Saturdays’ lunch was especially good.
Full from breakfast, Bill Daley gave his Presidential welcome. Then Ed D’Apice who talked about the 2019 100th Anniversary Edition of the Historical Guidebook and historical tour that would start after breakfast. Ed and Bill worked diligently thru the winter and into the spring to bring the book up-to-date. They even created a contest based on the historical dedications. The contest winner would be announced after Sunday breakfast.
Kris O’Connor, Reservation Manager (Ranger) and his fiancé Monique Wicks were then called up to receive an award present by the Camp Read Association, it read: “For Their Tireless Dedication, Love and Passion for Camp Read”. Combined they have over 50 years of service to Camp Read and are responsible for the fantastic condition that camp is in today. Dave Miller wanted to know “if there are two people receiving the award, how come there is only one plaque?” Glad you asked that question. There is only one plaque because they will be joined as one when they get married on September 28th at Camp. Loud Applause! Kris welcomed us all and off we went on our morning program.
Many proceeded to Summit to start the Historical Guidebook hike in “olde” Camp Tomahawk, where Camp Read started developing in 1949. Vans, buses and 4 wheelers were used to shuttle us from the more distant locations. Thanks to the 2019 staff for providing the drivers and cheerful service to us all.
Some adventurous and flexible “scouts” attempted the climbing tower and did very well. Others went to the rifle and archery ranges. Some even ventured to climb Mt. Stevens just for old times’ sake. As one group reached the summit, the clouds drifted off to leave a sunny full view of Brant Lake. Many sat about camp and chatted about old times and friends and just took in the beauty that camp provides.
Lunch was quite delicious as previously reported. Denis Pisanello presented the prestigious Frederick Woodrow Smith award to: Gerald Wiggers, Properties Committee member; and John Clear, Health Lodge officer. Loud Applause! Donal Walsh and John Tripodi were two other recipient’s this year who unfortunately couldn’t be with us. After a few announcements, Dick Trier came up to lead one of the all-time favorite songs, "The Cat Came Back".
Following another corny dismissal about oats, all gathered at the top of the retreat field and formed into rows to pose for the traditional reunion picture using Newton Hall as the back drop. Moans and groans came from the group as it seemed like all 134 wanted a shot taken with their cell phones (was really only a few).
Following our photo shoot, all the children were summoned to the front lawn of the Buckskin office. There they received marching instructions, a kazoo and one practice session of Yankee Doodle. All parents and grandparents were also given a kazoo and asked to join in the parade. Tom Dietz gave 4 beats on the bass drum, Rich Lutomski played a syncopated, rhythmic marching beat, all the children and adults started to mark time (starting with the left as taught during the instructions). FORWARD MARCH and the kazoo parade, featuring the Platinum Jubilee Camp Read Band, was underway. As the band reached the road, the order to sound-off was given and Yankee Doodle was played with a lot of spit and vigor! The band did so well that they had to play it again as they entered the retreat field. Upon the order to halt, (1, 2), the entire band raised their hands and yelled “LET”S PLAY GAMES” and the Kids Carnival began.
Rich Okrasinski, once again using his Cub Leader skills, organized a number of fun games for all ages. He was assisted by his wife, Linda, son Mark; Barb, Tim, Helene & Ben Haag; Mark & Stephanie Sikora and other enthusiastic parents and grandparents. Mark Sikora loved the water balloon games almost as much as the Kazoo Band. Matt, as he is sometimes called, was a great sport and lots of fun was had by all!
Meanwhile, the Brucker’s and others were off boating and fishing, and I’m sure there were a few swimmers, and hikers as well.
Afternoon activities concluded with the opening of the time capsule up in the Summit Bird Cage (Gazebo). The Association donated Reunion & 100th Anniversary Patches to be added to the memorabilia that goes back over 40 years.
The crowd quickly moved over to the Heaving Bar Contest where Tom Hunter, Ron Green, Mark Okrasinski, Ben Haag, Bill Daley and Nick Greenfield competed for the coveted Heaving Bar Trophy. Jim Smith served as official of the day and Mark Sikora as timer. Congratulations to Nick Greenfield who won with a time of 13.44 seconds. Ben Haag had a faster time of 13.19 seconds but was disqualified for a bad hitch. However, winning has one big caveat. Nick must return in 5 years to the 2024 reunion to defend his title and of course bring back the trophy. Sounds like a rematch in 5 years!
The sounds of drums meant retreat in Buckskin followed by dinner, prepared by the Caterer, in Newton Hall. After dinner, our Council President, Paxton Louis addressed the group and thanked the Association for all its help with Camp Read. Next, our Scout Executive and Reservation Director, Rich Stockton, thanked all for attending and for the help we give camp. He also thanked us for the contribution to the James E. West Award Program. The Association donated $3,000. to the program, $1,000. each in the name of Jim Smith, Peter Oberdorf and the Association. The campaign’s goal is to raise $100,000. with 100 contributions for the 100th Anniversary of Camp Read. All the money raised goes to support Camp Read. Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund can visit the council’s website at wpcbsa.org.
Saturday June 29 (continued):
Tim Haag introduced Robby Hill who is Ranger Bob and Gert Newton’s great grandson. Robby just moved up to Boy Scouts this spring and ran a bottle drive to raise money to send a boy from the Warren County area to Read for a week. He has since set-up a campership in the name of his great grandfather and is continuing the bottle drive but will gladly accept donations.
The Camp Read Association presented a check for $500. to Robby for the campership. Checks can be made out to: Camp Read with “Newton Campership” in the memo line; and sent to: Camp Read, c/o Kris O’Connor, 1377 Palisades Rd., Brant Lake, NY 12815.
All gathered at 8:15 at the Reservation (Central) Office where the dedication of the office was made to Steve Hammonds, former director of Support Services, W-PC, by Ron Green and Peter Ciacci. Steve was very instrumental in developing Camp Read into what the Reservation is today with new lean-tos, shower houses, latrines, climbing tower, cope courses, just to name a few.
Everyone proceeded down the Scout Law Trail to the Buckskin Council Fire Area. Opening the campfire, Jim Smith addressed the crowd with tales of when he first came to camp and what camp meant to him. He also said, in so many words, how although we come to camp for its Adirondack beauty, it’s the people that make camp come alive and make camp what it is. Indian representatives of the Order of the Arrow Ktemaque Lodge 15 lit the fires and we were underway. There were songs (Hear, Hear Us Cheering), Forever and Ever, and skits (Little Nell) and a new song: Take Me Home Camp Read Road by the Read Brothers.
Ron Green gave the closing message to all, the older staff, younger staff and all in between. He told us how camp changed his life forever thanks to the greatest role models a person could ask for, some of whom were there that night. Ron also referenced Jim’s words in the opening about how we love the land and program, but it’s the people that make Camp Read. For the past hundred years and into the next hundred, all passing through this camp will carry on the traditions of Camp Read and set a fine example for the staff and leaders of tomorrow. This will help ensure that Camp Read remains the best Scout Camp in America. Loud Applause! The camp fire closed with the traditional Scout Vespers and Taps.
All proceeded to the Buckskin flag pole where the Curtis S. Read Memorial Ceremony was conducted. We’ve included a copy of the ceremony here and encourage all Scoutmasters to continue to conduct this ceremony on their last night of camp to carry on the tradition and the story of Curtis S. Read. All convened to Newton Hall for a cracker barrel and song fest.
Sunday June 30:
Sunday morning brought a stop to the rain and a wonderful Catholic Mass by the Most Reverend Dominick Lagonegro. We had a lot to be thankful for. The reunion went well, we were enjoying new and old friends, and the weather cooperated by only raining on “off hours”.
After the flag raising all filed into the dining hall, said the morning grace and enjoyed another delicious breakfast. It was hard to believe that soon we’d be breaking camp. But there was more program and Association business to conduct.
First and foremost we thanked the 2019 staff for all there help and participation. They were dismissed first so that they could continue preparations for this year’s summer camp season. Loud Applause!!
Next we called out the chef and kitchen crew. Loud applause for Will and his crew.
Bill Daley announced the Historical Guidebook Contest winner, Chris Hamilton and presented him with a prize.
Denis Pisanello and Bill Daley then called the Association’s Board of Directors up one by one to thank them for their contributions to Bill’s first term as President. Before we installed Bill for his second term, we had one more award to deliver, probably the most important award to the Camp Read Association.
Rich Stockton introduced the West Award on Saturday evening and mentioned that two of our board members, Jim Smith and Peter Oberdorf were honored with the award. This award went along with a plaque given to each that read:
Lifetime Contribution Award
For Dedicated Service to Camp Read, Scouting,
and the Camp Read Association.
June 30, 2019
It was Jim and Peter, with Joe Cooke looking over their shoulders, who picked up the telephone and started calling former staff people and scoutmasters to drum up interest in holding a reunion. It was under their leadership that committees were formed; program, menu, and activities drafted; flyers and more reach out calls were made, (remember email and texting hadn’t gotten here yet), and the first reunion was held in 1979. The rest is history which is recounted in the For Joys We’ll Ne’er Forget book.
If it were not for Jim and Peter, there would probably not have been another reunion in ’84, ’89 and every five years after that. There would not have been a Camp Read Association, and we would probably not be here today celebrating the Association’s 30th Anniversary and the Camp’s 100th. Thank you Jim and Peter for all you’ve done and continue to do! Very Loud Applause!
The installation ceremony for the President also started with Joe Cooke. In early July of 1994 after the first 5 years of the “formal” Association and the 4th reunion, Joe gave the outgoing President, Tom Dietz, a coin that was inscribed “Do a Good Turn Daily”. You were supposed to transfer the coin from one front pocket to the other when you did your good turn for the day. Tom passed the coin to Tom Hunter who passed it to Peter Oberdorf, then Denis Pisanello, then Tim Haag, and then Bill Daley’s right hand who moved it to his left hand for the second term. So each President has been touched by Joe’s influence as symbolized by the coin.
Congratulations to Bill and best wishes for a successful second term. Very Loud Applause!!
It has become tradition to sing “Happy Trails to You” to close out our reunions. So Rich Lutomski was asked to lead us in the song that closes the reunion, but only the reunion. Our love and dedication for Camp Read continues on and on …….. Be safe until we see you at the next event!
Photos from the 2019 Reunion
Curtis S. Read Memorial Ceremony
By Robert “Bob” Johnson
‘40’s Era Chairman
This brief ceremony was conducted on the last night of each two week period at camp. It can be modified to fit existing conditions and circumstances. It was instituted as a memorial to Curtis S. Read, for whom the camp is named, and to perpetuate the story of how the camp was created.
In the dark, assembly sounds. Scouts, pajama clad and ready for bed, line-up in formation. A staff member relates the story:
"Curtis S. Read was very active in the beginning years of the Boy Scouts of America. He became an Assistant Scoutmaster in the rapidly growing new organization. As world events were leading up to World War I, Read entered the United States Navy. He was commissioned as an Ensign and became a Navy Aviator. He lost his life on February 27th, 1918, and was the first U.S. casualty in World War I.
Because of his dedication to the Boy Scouts, his mother, Mrs. William A. Read, donated thirty acres on Long Pond in Mahopac, New York, for a camp in memory of her son.
Camp Curtis S. Read opened in 1920 on that site and served scouts there for twenty six years. For the next two or so years, Camp Read had no home but found temporary quarters at Camp Waubeeka and at Camp Siwanoy.
In 1949 Camp Curtis S. Read was re-established near Brant Lake in the Adirondacks starting with four troop sites. It grew and flourished in its new location to become the Curtis S. Read Scout Reservation, serving hundreds of scouts each year.
Tonight we are here to honor Curtis S. Read, Assistant Scoutmaster and Naval Officer, in whose memory this camp was founded."
A lighted lantern is raised to the top of the flag pole. As the bugler sounds Taps, it is lowered to half-staff where it will remain through the night. Upon dismissal, you will return to your quarters and, on your Scout’s Honor, you will maintain silence until morning.