Saturday, February 14, 2009

Camp Wel-Met 1961-65

It’s time for another trip back to the summers of 1961-65 when I went to Camp Wel-Met, a Jewish camp with locations at Barry, Narrowsburg and Silver Lake which were in the Catskills northwest of NYC near the Delaware River. It hard to remember details of what happened over 40 years ago, so here goes:

1961 – I went to the 3-week session at the Barryville location since it was my first time living away from home at age 12. My counselors were Eddie Fisher (same name as the entertainer) and Bob Kipness, a student at Cooper Union. I remember that I had a tough time adjusting since I was a very picky eater.

1962 – I went to the 6-week session at Narrowsburg. My counselor was Ira Levinson who was a medical student. The only campers that I remember from Unit 5 Bunk 92 were Perry Stuart, Joey Heumann, Alan Metzger, and Kenny. The last two were classmates of mine at Russell Sage. I went with Alan Metzger to my first game at Shea Stadium in April 1964. I fondly remember the Wel-Met cocoa that they gave us every morning for breakfast. A couple of times we would go out and sleep in the woods in our sleeping bags. I remember parents visiting day when all the kids, including me, got care packages of junk food from their parents.

1963 – I went back to the same 6-week session and was in Unit 5 Bunk 97 while my counselor was Marty Wasserman. The only camper I remember is Lee Cannon who lived in Coney Island. There was a counselor named Indira who taught the entire unit to sing Blowin’ in the Wind. At that time I was not familiar with the writer of that song. Toward the end of that session I was bitten by an insect on the back of my neck and developed a boil that had to be opened surgically after I came home in August.

1964 – I went to Pioneer Camp at Narrowsburg where we lived in an open tent. My counselor was a tall man named Steve who looked like Abe Lincoln. Lloyd Setlis was the director of the entire unit. The only two campers that I remember are Douglas Kaye, Dave Karp, and Howard Levine. I remember we took a day trip to Scranton, PA to observe poverty.

1965 – I went to the Western Trip. We started out in Narrowsburg where we had an orientation. One of the campers was Phyllis Silverman whose parents were friends of mine from Forest Hills. In 1998 I met her at a Forest Hill High School in Tenafly, NJ. She brought a scrap book of photos and even saved a diary of that trip. Some of the other campers were Mitch, Steve, Mark Solloway, Dick Seltzer, Mark Cohen, and Nancy Yellen. The director of the tour was Jarard while some of the counselors were Bernie, Louise, and Marge. One early morning we left Narrowsburg and drove out to Columbus, Ohio where we changed drivers. We then continued on to St. Louis where we stayed by a Jewish Community Center. The highlight of the trip was the Grand Canyon. Some of the other stops were the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, Mesa Verde National Monument, the Jensby farm in Kansas, the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan and Niagara Falls.

I’m sure that as time goes by more details will come to me, but I’ll close at this point. There is a site for alumni of Camp Wel-Met at http://www.wel-metcamps.com/mainpage.html . Most of the posters are some years younger than I. I found a few familiar names, but I really didn’t want to reconnect. There have been some camp reunions of the years, but thousands of kids over the years went to Wel-Met so it would be unlikely for me to meet someone I knew.


14 comments:

Adrienne said...

Hi Bruce

I just Googled Jensby Farm, Kansas because I wanted to see if anyone out there from WelMet remembered the town it was in. Any recollection of that?

Adrienne Gusoff
Western Trip 5, 1969

Bruce S said...

Andrienne - I remember the Jensby Farm was in North Kansas near the Nebraska border. I don't remember the town. The town just over the Nebraska line had a big festival and were thrilled to have over 40 New Yorkers there. I remember eating barbeque beef.

Bruce S said...

Andrienne - I remember the Jensby Farm was in North Kansas near the Nebraska border. I don't remember the town. The town just over the Nebraska line had a big festival and were thrilled to have over 40 New Yorkers there. I remember eating barbeque beef.

Darcy said...

My name is Darcy Lichter, my brother is Doug Lichter. We both went to Wel-Met, both Barryville and Narrowsburg in the mid '60s. My beloved counselor was Tex. She was quite the hippie who had a house right outside of Narrowsburg, I think. I remember one summer of Pioneer Camp. Does anyone remember us?

wazing said...

I was on the other Wel-Met page and found this submitted by Michael Ohlstein, I thought it would be interesting for us former Wel-Met people:

********************************************************************************

Mike, you must be one of the "New Yorkers" that came out each year on a bus and stayed with Uncle Clarence and Aunt Florence. Clarence and my Grandfather were brothers and my Grandpa lived just down the road from where you stayed, I grew up on a farm about 8 miles north just into Nebraska and my folks, each summer, would take us to visit when the "New Yorkers" were back, we would get a kick out of watching all of you play in the corn bin and paddle boat & fish in the ponds, or just do or be a part of things "we as farm kids" did every day.

Here's a little bit of our family history for you, all Jensby's in the United States are from one family which started with my Great Grandfather, Anton Jensby. Anton came from Denmark in the middle 1800's with another brother who died in his late teens and a sister who married but never had children. Anton's parents sent them on one ship with intensions of coming on the next ship, unfortunatly they were killed when the ship they were on sank. Anton was the oldest at only 15 years old, he ended up settling in this area about the time of Nebraska's statehood and became a large farmer and cattle feeder. The land he settled on has never been in any name outside the Jensby family and is still in the Jensby family. I am in the process buying it because I have a son (now 19 years old) to pass it on to, now I can only hope he too has a son someday in order to keep the name alive. Where there are so few of us the birth of a Jensby boy to carry on the name is cause for a family celebration! Anton married and raised 5 sons and 2 daughters. Two of those sons were uncle Clarence and my Grandpa Leslie, all but one son stayed in this area and became farmers. I don't farm however several members of the Jensby family are still in the area and continue to farm & ranch. Clerance has a son Jim Jensby he and his wife June live in the area of Belleville Kansas.

I hope this was helpful information, if I can answer any spacific questions you might have please feel free to contact me.

Thanks,
Kent Jensby
Alexander Truck Sales
402-879-1260
www.alexandertrucksales.com
255 W. Third
Suprior, NE 68978
Jensby's outside their local mart.

me said...

Doug and his gf Mona were counselors on my western trip and when i went to Barryville

mitchell w said...

I recently found the wel-met site and saw a post from you which led to your blog. I think I may have been on the same western trip you went on. I had red hair and wore glasses. On my trip we got washed away by a flash hail storm in window rock arizona. Can't really remember too many details.

Steve Kelner said...

Attended Wel-Met Narrowsburg for 6 weeks each summer from '60 - '62 and then Camp Mahopac for one summer in '63. Johnny Chasen, Gary Krugman, Neil Eisele are names I remember from Wel-Met. Anybody still around from those days ? Is Bruce Slutsky related to Slutsky who was mostly responsible for STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN? Loved the Wel-Met days after I became acclimated to living in the "country." Remember (sadly) when we rec'd news that Marilyn Monroe died. We were on the upper ball fields near the parking area, near the entrance.

Bruce S said...

Steve - I was in Unit 5 Bunk 92 in 1992 when Marilyn Monroe died. I am not related to Alan Slutsky who was involved with Standing in the Shadows of Motown. I enjoyed that film very much

jane nickelsberg said...

I went to Wel-Met Narrowsburg for two summers (six week session) '61 and '62, Unit 4 and Unit 5 respectively. Many happy memories. My husband and I were in the Catskills this past weekend; experiencing the familiar landscape made me google Camp Wel-Met once we were home. Yes, I, too, remember hearing about Marilyn Monroe's death in the field near the parking area. We were either getting ready for an Oneg Shabbat or the Olympics (which was known as Color War in any other camp, as Wel-Met didn't like the term "war" - hence we had the Olympics). I was on Team India and can still hum the song we were taught. Wondering if there is a site to find bunkmates, Leslie and Barbara. Jane Messing

jane nickelsberg said...

I went to Wel-Met Narrowsburg (six week session) for two summers, '61 and '62 - Units 4 and 5 respectively. I, too, remember hearing about Marilyn Monroe's death on the field near the parking area. I believe we were either preparing for an Oneg Shabbat skit or the Olympics, the Color Wars equivalent in every other camp. Wel-Met understandably didn't like the term "war" so we competed in Olympics. My team was India and I can still hum the song we were taught. In '61,our counselor was Roz. Yale Levy was the boys' counselor for our matching boys' bunk. Can't recall '62 conselors. My two best bunkmates were Leslie and Barbara.
Jane Messing

Martha said...

Bruce, I think I was on the same western trip you were. My name was Martha Winicur.. I remember the trip leader was Jarard. I was friends with a girl named Shari. I loved wel-Met!

AC said...

I was at Barryville in 1961. Can't recall my bunk or counselors' names, but I do recall a lot of overnights in the woods, when it invariably rained. I was 11, and it was my second and last summer at Wel-Met. A special place.

foodfitter said...

Do you remember the Indian ceremonies and teachings? I'm wondering what tribe that was?

 
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