Joint Land Use Committee/Camper meeting
July 21, 2007

The Public Lands Advisory Committee expressed a willingness to have a Saturday meeting devoted to CRC issues, if that would allow a larger number of ex-campers to attend. This meeting took place on July 21, 2007. Former campers met at 1:00 P.M. behind the Sturbridge Town Hall, and the meeting took place in the parking lot.

The meeting itself was brief (there's a business technique of having meetings without chairs, to keep them short). It was attended by representatives of various Town committees, who welcomed the participation of ex-campers in the process. The ex-campers present at this meeting were Ditte (Frederiksen) McNeil, Judy (Schapiro) Yogman, Phyllis (Krakauer) Jeswald, and myself (Larry Krakauer).

The demolition of the buildings is going out to bid shortly, and there no longer seem to be any thoughts of retaining any of the structures (probably inevitable, given their poor condition). Demolition will have to start with hazardous waste removal (some asphalt shingles, pipe insulation, an old gasoline tank, etc.). It's expected that the buildings will be knocked down and removed by November.

Photos of the meeting

July 21, 2007 Meeting attendees
L-R: Bob Sartini (camper Judith Schapiro Yogman's husband)
Dick LaFranchise (Co-chairman, Sturbridge Park Advisory Committee)
Dale Favreau (Chairman, Park Advisory Committee)

July 21, 2007 Meeting attendees
Left to Right:
Barbara Palmer (Step-mother of Ward Palmer, and a lifelong resident of Sturbridge)
Ward Palmer (Member, Sturbridge Public Lands Advisory Committee)
Jim Cunniff (Sturbridge resident)
David Barnicle (Chairman, Sturbridge Conservation Commission)
Tom Chamberland (Tree Warden and member, Public Lands Advisory Committee)
Diane Chamberland (Tom Chamberland's wife)

July 21, 2007 Meeting attendees
L-R: Ditte (Frederiksen) McNeil, and husband Stan McNeil
Ditte, now living in Tennessee, is the daughter of Nils and Nancy Frederiksen
Nancy was Josh Lieberman's daughter, and Bob Hill's sister
In the background: the rear entrance of the Sturbridge Town Hall

July 21, 2007 Meeting attendees
L-R: Bob Briere (background, president, Sturbridge Historical Society)
Dale Favreau (Chairman, Park Advisory Committee)
Camper Judith Schapiro Yogman
Note Judy's Robinson Crusoe T-shirt, from the 1999 reunion

Ditte (Frederiksen) McNeil, seen below, is the daughter of camp director Nils Frederiksen, and essentially grew up at the camp. For much of the time, she lived in the main house (generally off-limits to us campers). Her grandfather, camp founder and director Josh Lieberman, lived with Ditte in Tennessee towards the end of his life. Ditte has a prodigious knowledge of camp history, and also is the keeper of a very large number of letters from Josh, in which he outlines the history the camp (and other events in his life), and his philosophy in general.

Ditte (Frederiksen) McNeil

After the brief meeting in the parking lot, we adjourned to the former Camp Robinson Crusoe for a walk-through. Most of the photos I took mirror those from our July 6, 2006 visit, with one additional year producing little change in the state of the structures. One change in a single year was the collapse of a corner of the Rec Hall:

The Rec Hall in July, 2006
The Rec Hall in July, 2006
The Rec Hall in July, 2007
The Rec Hall in July, 2007

Some of the buildings have already been removed, although it's not clear to me when this was done (not during the last year). Here's all that remains of the infirmary:

The site of the infirmary

The Maltese cross atop Bunk 2 has now been removed for preservation:

The Maltese cross in July, 2006
The Maltese cross in July, 2006
The Maltese cross in July, 2007
The Maltese cross in July, 2007

The boating lake seemed to contain a good deal more algae, but on the other hand, it's been a dry summer, and water levels are low:

The boating lake

Some beavers have moved in and built a lodge on the boating lake:

A beaver lodge on the boating lake

On this visit, we were able to walk out onto the dam at the northern end of the boating lake, where the shop building was located. We could see the tool storage closet, and, through the doors, the outlines showing where various tools were hung:

The shop tool closet

This is the valve on the dam that controls the spillway:

Near the canteen, a local resident tries to look inconspicuous among the fallen leaves:

A frog spotted near the canteen

Some of us tried, without success, to find any remnants of the Primitive units. Unlike the last visit, this time we walked around the west side of the Prim lake, where there's a large open field that has clearly been used for horses (there are remnants of an electric fence, a gate, and a jumping fence). We walked up the end of the first ridge looking for remains of Trout Pond primitive, without success. I'm sorry to say that we didn't get far enough around the lake to look for remnants of the Prim Rec hall.

Back around to the east side of the lake, I plowed into the woods ("Damn the ticks, full speed ahead") to try to find any remains of squantum Primitive, but found nothing. In retrospect, I think I was too close to the old concrete overflow dip in the road which now serves as the lake's outlet. I think Squantum was probably a bit farther to the east, and was destroyed when Old Sturbridge Village Road was relocated to make room for Route 84.

During our July 6, 2006 visit to the camp, I thought I was seeing the buildings for the last time. It was nice to have one more chance to walk around, but they are not slated to last much longer.

Go back to the CRC Starting page
This page was first posted July 23, 2007
It was updated with additional photos August 1, 2007