The Extraordinary Summer
of 1955 at TMR
Despite the passage of more than half a century
since my camp and staff experiences, TMR memories remain vivid. To this
day, I chuckle about mess hall food and instinctively flee from any
drink resembling bug juice.
In 1953 there was excitement and anxiety when
this thirteen year old rookie, albeit part of my home troop full of
other rookies, was plunged into the culture of the Lakeside Division of
Camp Man. This initial stay was limited to one camping period, but
those two weeks were sufficient introduction to a new world...one
replete with rubber pancakes, apple butter, and bread pudding covered
in a mysterious purple sauce which some claimed moved of its own accord.
The month long 1954 stay at the re-designated
Camp Lakeside was accompanied by a high comfort level. After all, no
longer a rookie, I was sanctioned by TMR tradition to roll up the
bottoms of my uniform's shorts.
Serving as a staff member at Camp Lakeside
(1956) and Camp Chappegat (1957, 1958), proved a source of great
satisfaction and pride. Our Happy Chappy camp director, Samuel King,
with his Smokey-the-Bear hat and his ever present bottle of hot sauce,
exhibited extraordinary leadership skills at a camp where racial
harmony worked seamlessly. After all, we were all the same...we were
Truth be told, the happiest and most profound
TMR memories are rooted in Summer 1955 when, for the first three
camping periods, I was a proud crew member of the LS (Landship) Amochol
at Camp Lakeside. Our unit was colloquially referred to as
than a scoutmaster, we were lead by a skipper, one Arthur P. O'Leary, a
resident of Hingham, Massachusetts. In subsequent years, Arthur
Lakeside Camp Director. Our first mate, Jack Ringelberg, was
subsequently elected Chief of Suanhacky Lodge. Years later, rumor
it that Jack had joined the U.S. Navy...not surprising for a man with
roots on the LS Amochol.
Assignment to Ship meant having living
quarters aboard the most prestigious unit at Camp Lakeside. The
benefits were apparent. For one, we actually had electricity
the ship, something no lean-to or tent or even leaders' cabin at
Lakeside's conventional campsites could boast of, short of the posh
living conditions at Staff Camp.
The men of Amochol wore sailor hats and
sported a blue bandana attached to a side belt loop, along with the
conventional khaki scout or green explorer garb. We were not Sea
Scouts...we were Explorer Scouts.
Our unit's boundaries were defined by a thick
rope mounted on posts, the hawser, which prominently displayed the
cautioning sign, "3 Mile Limit". That is, Ship property was officially
off-limits to all but members and their invited guests.
Ship had a game room onboard. Of course, in
accordance with nautical parlance, this was the forecastle. It
site of nightly Nok-Hockey tournaments which were the talk of the ship.
When each Lakeside unit was scheduled to
hold a unit campfire, Amochol's "campfire" was held on the aft deck.
This venue was much more comfortable than sitting on the cold ground of
a conventional campsite and breathing in wood smoke.
At all times, a crew member was on station in
the wheelhouse where the ship's bell was positioned, whereby the time
of day was sounded. Only those privy to the nautical system of
telling could fully appreciate this feature.
Throughout Camp Lakeside, each latrine was
assigned to scouts from multiple campsites. Ship had its exclusive
state-of- the-art latrine which was located at the Lakeside
Quadrangle. Such convenience...such luxury!
The LS Amochol served many diverse
Its primary goal--unbeknown to us because we were too busy having fun
to analyze anything--was to retain older scouts who sought something
more than the conventional campsite's culture. We had all happily
experienced customary campsite settings and now, at age fourteen or
fifteen, we craved something new. It is worth noting that many
alumni, interested in staying in Scouting, transitioned to positions as
TMR staff members when they came of age, which was sixteen. This,
despite the agony of obtaining "working papers" from the New York State
Department of Labor. We were proud of our ship for a myriad of
We were at our happiest when showing off
the Amochol to parents on visiting days and to young ladies from
various girls' camps who came for "the tour". We always displayed
signal flags on such occasions, spelling out "WELCOME" and, it was
rumored among the crew, some less conventional messages.
Moreover, we were the only unit
participating in dances, for which we traveled to girls' camps by
flatbed truck. This was the very same truck which, by day, was
transport garbage barrels from the mess hall to the dump. Being
fourteen or fifteen years old, we were ecstatic to receive letters
doused in perfume from the young ladies we met at these soirees.
In a camp known for its dining hall and
campfire songfests, the Amochol crew members were in the
even had our own fight song, much to the chagrin of the rest of the
campers. It went something like this: "Oh, we have no keel or
and we've never been to sea, "But we can take the gravy from the
bloomin infantry,"We have no time to worry, 'cause we're itching for a
fight, And victory will be for Amochol tonight!"
Without fail, each camping period Ship
achieved the honor of having earned more merit badges than any other
campsite at Lakeside. Because Ship was, appropriately, located on
lakefront, many crew members earned all four aquatic merit
Swimming, Lifesaving, Canoeing, Rowing. My own experience with
Merit Badge involved a mandatory several days canoe trip on the
Delaware River. Many Ship men served as lifeguards, manning the
bamboo pole at the Lakeside waterfront during camp-wide swim sessions.
During the first camping period of 1955
I undertook the ordeal for membership in Suanhacky Lodge of the Order
of the Arrow. Little did I suspect that four years later I would
elected lodge chief. A good percentage of Ship members had
inducted and it was no surprise that our skipper served as leader of
the OA ritual team.
At Friday evening retreat, when Lakeside,
Central and Kernochan scouts assembled at the Central parade grounds,
it fell to hand picked crew members from Amochol to be responsible for
firing the cannon and lowering and folding the American Flag. I
chosen to participate on two occasions. To this day I am
achieved this status by deliberately sporting a freshly cleaned uniform
at the time I knew the skipper was selecting participants.
Because Amochol scouts usually stayed at camp
for two, three or four camping periods, we were able to take advantage
of the bus trips to Monticello, New York, which were arranged for
"change day". This outing provided an opportunity for a much
haircut, a movie and a deli sandwich. However, the deli owner did
applaud our presence because, immediately upon taking a table, we would
devour all the pickles in sight. Oh, yes, the owner's daughter
about our age and gorgeous and, true to the red blooded tradition of
Amochol, we were all madly in love with her.
One of the strongest memories was of leaving
camp for home at the end of the third camping period. At that
unfortunately, what the Amachol men had in common with the rest of the
camp population was illness. The weather at camp had turned
wet and unusually raw for August. Most of us, including the
were running low grade fevers and visiting the latrine on an ongoing
basis. Being of an analytical bent, we diagnosed our malady as
"creeping crud". To this day, on those rare occasions when I
similar symptoms, I label the malady in the same scientific fashion.
Being assigned to Ship provided the very best
of times for this TMR camper. For reasons I am not privy to, the good
ship Amochol was dismantled in the early 1960s, but the terrific
memories Ship provided can never be dismantled.
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From Camp Man
Last Updated: July 24, 2014
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