The Keylog Archives

Keylog Fall 2016

The Chance Issue

“In an infinite universe, anything can happen.” – Douglas Adams

(Be seated and read)

Chance Encounters

An Oral History of Nebaga-coincidences far from 54849

John Montag (Atlanta, 78-83, 86):

Several years ago, I shook hands with a Georgia Tech professor, and in the course of the conversation we began to discuss one another’s backgrounds. At the time, he was perhaps 55 or 60, and he mentioned that prior to Georgia Tech he had been at Illinois. I wondered if he was from Chicago, thinking of the abundance of folks from camp. He said, “No. I’m actually from a small town in Missouri. I doubt you’ve ever heard of it.” And then he added, “It’s a small town called Joplin.”

I smiled upon hearing this. In Atlanta, you don’t really meet too many folks from Joplin. I replied, “Oh, I know that town. I went to a camp in northern Wisconsin, and we knew of Joplin,” thinking this might satisfy the situation. Without missing a beat, he looked at me he said, “I know that camp, I went to that camp and I am NOT that kid.” His name is Charles Eckert, now living in Florida. Great guy.

Jon Scharff (Memphis, 73-76, 80-82, 85-88):

I was in Rome in the summer of 1983. I was walking from the Trevi Fountain to the Colosseum, and as I walked I heard someone singing the Pure Prairie League song “Amie,” which Howard Handler had sung a number of times during GTC’s. Anyone from that era will remember it. I thought, No way. Couldn’t be. But sure enough, it was Howard Handler.

Bearman and Handler, 1980

David Bearman and Howard Handler, 1980

On the same trip I was with three buddies from college. We were biking through Europe. I then met my grandfather for a week, and we went to Chartres Cathedral outside of Paris. I turned to my left, and right next to me was Andy Kaplan of Memphis—with his girlfriend (to be wife) Natalie! We wound up hanging out with them the rest of the day and for dinner.

Howard Handler (Detroit/New York City, 72-74, 78-80):

A couple years after the opening of Disney World in Orlando (yup, I know, that’s a loooong time ago), my Nana took my older sister Missy and me on a trip to experience the park. I’m still dizzy from the Tea Cup ride and have “Its A Small World…” repeating in my head as I think about it. After we got off one of our Monorail rides, I walked right into Jim Harris, my bunkmate and cabin mate from Highland Park. We had plenty of fun catching up and hanging out in the game room for the rest of the trip. Fast forward to freshman year 1979 at the University of Michigan, and Jim Harris turns up in the same dorm, five doors down from me and my roommate Harlan Kahn. We’ve all remained close friends ever since.

Jim Harris (Chicago, 72-75):

He left out the best part. Howard got off the Tea Cups, spun around a little bit, and puked all over a Disney flower bed. It was an outcome I would see repeated about a decade later in our dorm.

Ron Borod (Memphis/Boston 51-59):

In 1963, when I graduated from college, my parents as a graduation gift paid for a trip to Europe. I went there on my own—although later that summer I ran into Jerry Seessel and traveled with him for a while. While I was in Paris, not knowing a soul there, I ran into a Princeton classmate on the street, and he invited me to join him under the Pont Neuf. In those days, that’s where young wanderers from all parts of the world (including Vietnam escapees) hung out at night sharing stories and bottles of wine. I was standing there along the Seine, taking it all in, listening to a cacophony of languages from all parts of the world, when a young guy with a backpack wandered up to me and asked: “Aren’t you Ronnie Borod, and didn’t you go to Camp Nebagamon?” We spoke for only a minute or so, and he wandered off. I never even got his name. But I knew then that I was not alone.

Jonathan Ringel (Memphis/Atlanta 78-83, 85):

Jonathan Ringel and Phil Samelson, 1978

In June 1990, I crashed at a friend’s apartment for two weeks while I looked for a place to live in the Washington area before starting my first job out of college. This was before the Internet, so looking for an apartment and a roommate meant scanning the Washington Post’s classified ads under “rooms for rent.” It was a bit daunting to consider living with a complete stranger without being able to check Google to find out if he was an ax murderer. One hot, muggy afternoon I found myself in a guy’s apartment in Arlington, Virginia. As I examined the room that was available, one of us mentioned spending summers in more pleasant climates. The other said he wished for weather like he experienced on canoe trips in an unheard of place near the Minnesota border with Canada. His name: Jon Eisen. We quickly realized he had been a couple of years ahead of me at Nebagamon. Although we’d never known each other there, I immediately checked off the ax-murderer concern, knowing that he was CNOC-approved in the proper use of the tool. We shared an apartment for two fun years and have remained friends for more than a quarter-century.

David Semel (Highland Park, IL/Los Angeles, 73-77, 80):

One summer, I think I must have been a Lumberjack, I was on a canoe trip in the BWCA. I think we were on Knife Lake when we stopped at Dorothy’s for root beer. I’m sure most will remember that Dorothy was the sweet nonagenarian who lived by herself on an island in the middle of the lake. We only saw her during the summers, but stories had her living out there in the dead of winter cutting her ice blocks from the lake. (Why she needed ice in the winter, I’m not quite sure.) She also had built a small fence around her house made of canoe paddles.  Dorothy sold root beer to all comers (probably mostly to the kids from the summer camps who would stop by for a visit and thirst quench.) On this one trip, I went to add my name to the sign-in book when, lo and behold, I saw my brother Drew’s name on the page for only the day before! My brother was not at Camp Nebagamon that year. This was his “off year,” and he was with a traveling camp that was traveling all over the United States. As this was obviously well before the days of the Internet and cell phones, and I had no idea on a day-to-day basis where my brother was, I was pretty shocked. The coincidence was mind-blowing.

Sally Stein:

In the 1990s, we took a hiking trip in Turkey, led by a knowledgeable young Turkish man, Mahmut Turhanouglu. Toward the end of the trip, we and nine fellow hikers sailed and lived on a gulet, landing on islands and shoreline communities and hiking inland to see ruins.  One morning, as we were breakfasting on deck, Nardie brought the Nebagamon Alumni Directory to the table, in order to look up some addresses.

Mahmut: “What’s that?” Nardie explained about camp and the directory.

Sally: “I bet you find someone you know in that directory” (thinking that a Nebagamon alumnus might choose to go hiking in Turkey)

Momentarily, Mahmut exclaimed “Andrew Semel?”

Nardie: “You mean Drew Semel?”

Mahmut: “I know Drew Semel; he’s a friend of mine, and he is in Turkey right now!”  Mahmut whipped out a phone, called a hotel in Istanbul and asked for Drew, who just happened to be at the reception desk of the hotel. Mahmud said hello to him and handed me the phone.

Sally: “Hi, Drew!”

Drew: “Wait a minute……”

Sally: “How are you, Drew?”

Drew: “Sally?  What are you doing there?”

And I explained.  Quite coincidentally, our guide Mahmud had been a translator for Drew when he filmed a documentary for classroom use about the Great Silk Road. They became good friends, visiting back and forth between their home countries. We happened to take a trip in Turkey, and there we were, sailing on the Mediterranean Sea, and discovering that Mahmud’s good friend was Drew Semel. We’ve had a myriad of Nebaga-coincidences in our long lives, but this one seemed especially random.

Charlie Barrows (Oak Park, IL/Seattle, 99-04, 06-09, 11):

In February 2015, my brothers (Sam and Ted) and I were hiking down one of Hawaii’s more grueling trails, the Waihee Ridge Trail, with a friend of mine (Wilson) from grad school. Wilson also happened to be on vacation in Hawaii at the same time as our family. Now, of course, you can’t get three former trip staff to hike together without talking about camp at least 70 percent of the time, including stories of running in to others at airports, bars, and Mardi Gras, so Wilson was starting to become a little incredulous that we are actually part of some crazy network like this. Minutes from the end of the hike, however, who did we see sauntering up the trail, fully bearded, and with a walking staff fashioned out of a downed branch? None other than Bob Chukerman: The Man, The Myth, The Legend. Leave it to Bob to pick the same off-the-beaten-track, non-tourist-friendly hike in Hawaii in the middle of February as another generation of Nebagamon alumni. By the way, my family used to also play the game of betting on who we’d see first at an airport: a Nebagamon person or one of my dad’s patients. Sometimes that was the same person, so we’d both win.

left to right, Charlie, Sam, Bob and Ted

left to right, Charlie, Sam, Bob and Ted

Ricardo Phillips (Mexico City, Mexico, 76, 78, 80, 84, 86):

On his second day after camp, my son Ricardo and myself were strolling near the cliffs that give off to the Pacific in La Jolla (California). An older couple stood next to us, and we started talking about seals and beaches. We introduced ourselves, where we came from, and what we were doing there. Ricardo stated he had just come back from a canoe trip in the border lakes (BWCA), and the older man said he had been there when he was younger. Right then it popped out: the word Nebagamon.

And so we met Punky Chapman from Omaha. He and his brothers all went to camp when it was just getting off the ground. I had never met anybody from the early days (it is harder, considering my brother and I were the first Mexicans), and Punky had never met a non U.S. citizen who went to camp. Our conversation soon turned to traditions and events that still took place and how camp had expanded internationally. We were excited to have met each other and discover how large the camp community had grown. Punky sent me a letter the day after we met (see “From the Mailbag”), and we have continued to mail each other to talk about traditions in camp.

Jessie Stein Diamond:

I was 23 at the time, en route home after spending much of a year backpacking and working my way mostly through New Zealand (also Australia). A friend from college met me in Hawaii, a stopover point on my flights home. We were at a grocery store in Honolulu buying supplies for our backpacking trip at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. As I was placing an item in my grocery cart, I suddenly heard a booming voice call out, “Hey, Jess—what are you doing here?” Standing there in flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt was Tony Coletta, a friend and neighbor from Lake Nebagamon, who years later returned home from many years of work and adventure in Hawaii and became a waterfront director for camp.

Justin Karbel (Detroit, Stamford, CT, 79-83):

Ted Stein and I were never at camp together for any period of time long enough to become very close, and our interaction outside of Nebagamon in the intervening years since I was a camper (1979-83) was nil. That being said, we’ve been superficially “friends” on Facebook for a number of years. I’d relocated to Stamford, Connecticut in 1999. Unbeknownst to me, Ted lived in the adjoining town of Rye, NY. I’ve worked part time at the local bicycle shop on weekends for many years. Ted stopped by one day looking for me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there at the time but when I heard about it, not knowing Ted lived nearby all this time, I was pleasantly surprised.  We got together for a reunion/bike ride through the New York and Connecticut countryside shortly after.

Ted Stein, cyclist, 1966

Ted Stein, cyclist, 1966

Last summer I received a note from Ted with a link to a bicycle for sale on Craigslist.  Being a good lawyer, Ted did his due diligence and checked out the owner’s background. He noticed that she and I were friends on Facebook.  Of course, he asked what I knew about the bike. I did a double take. It was one of my bikes that I had sold some years before to the seller. He bought it from her and rode it in a big event in Massachusetts, where we met up last summer.

Ed Altman (Fort Smith, AK/Los Angeles, 58-60):

In 1967, during the summer between my sophomore and junior years in Ann Arbor, I was with my girlfriend attending a concert in Ravinia Park just north of Chicago. I’m waiting in line for the men’s room and who do I see but Bud Herzog. I’m a rather friendly sort, so I call Bud by his name, and he nicely comes over and talks to me. I explained that I didn’t expect him to know me since I was one of hundreds of campers, and he was several years older. We talked a minute or two and that was that.

After graduating, I moved to Los Angeles where the aerospace industry is headquartered. I love to play tennis (and where did I learn? Camp Nebagamon), and every weekend I would play at a park in Cheviot Hills near the Century Plaza Hotel, just next to Beverly Hills. One day, let’s say 1972, I’m getting into my car to go home and I see this gentleman walking from the tennis court; so I rolled down my window and said “Hey – can I give you a ride”? He said sure, and he got in. I look over at him, and I say, “You’re Bud Herzog.” And he looks at me in utter disbelief.

Danny Slosburg (Kansas City/Omaha, 64-69, 71):

Many years ago, Patti and I were at the Atlanta airport waiting for our flight. I got up, and Patti asked me where I was going. I said I’m just going to go look in the concourse and see if there’s anybody from camp that I know. She was happy to point out that I was full of crap. About five minutes into me studying the passersby, Chuck Cahn walked past. Needless to say, Patti was shocked by the event. I, on the other hand, had full faith and confidence that I would see a Nebagamon boy. We have spare name tags that camp sent for luggage. I keep one on my pack just in case the situation happens again.

Chad Millman (Highland Park, IL/New York City, 80-83):

Years ago, I wrote a book about guys who bet on college basketball for a living, called The Odds. The publisher sent copies of it to media outlets all over the country, including Minnesota Public Radio, since the Final Four was going to be in Minneapolis that year. Shortly after the book arrived at MPR, I got a wonderful note from someone who worked there: My Swamper 1 counselor, Euan Kerr, aka Jane Stein’s husband.

Mike Bronner and Chad Millman, 1981

Mike Bronner and Chad Millman, 1981

Years later, in 2015, a buddy of mine at ESPN, who is from Minneapolis, went back home for his daughter’s wedding. She got married on the University of Minnesota campus, and the event coordinator there asked him if he and I were friends, since we both worked at ESPN. He said yes, and when he returned to work a few days later he passed along a wonderful note to me, signed by the event coordinator, Jane Stein Kerr. Clearly, the Kerr family learned how to write a letter during all those summers at camp.

Sally Stein:

This story is about a camper and counselor who had a miraculous encounter sometime during WWII.  The camper, whose name has been lost to history (I’ll call him “Bob), was assigned to be airlifted into China via “The Hump,” the name given by Allied pilots to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains. This particular flight, known to be the most dangerous in the world, was a 500-mile route from India to China. Due to the vicissitudes of the winds and weather, the lack of visibility and/or reliable charts, nearly 1,000 men and 600 Air Transport Command planes were lost flying the Hump between 1941-1945. Bob’s white- knuckle flight over “The Hump,” with its poor visibility over the hazardous mountain peaks, the plane shuddering from the countervailing winds, had Bob and his fellow passengers gripping their seats in fear, and it seemed to last forever. But miraculously, the pilot landed the plane in China and the passengers burst into applause. When Bob recovered his land legs he walked forward to the cockpit. He wanted to thank and congratulate the pilot. Quite unbelievably, the pilot was his first counselor at Camp Nebagamon, Harry “Bus” Yedor. We can only guess what emotions surged through those men when they experienced this coincidence thousands of miles and many years from that first summer at camp.




Deconstructing the Horse ‘n’ Goggle

by Mason Wright

Who doesn’t love a horse ‘n’ goggle?

Whether campers are hoping for a spot in the MOCA kitchen or an extra dollop of brownie glop, the system of selection known as the horse ‘n’ goggle has become a Camp Nebagamon constant. In fact, look it up on Wikipedia. First, you’ll find a description: “To use the system, all participants stand in a circle. An arbitrary member of the group is selected by the leader as a starting point. All participants simultaneously throw between zero and five fingers. The leader counts the total number of fingers thrown, then counts that many people around the circle. The selected person is the winner.”horsengoggle2001

But scan the footnotes, and you’ll discover this: “Camp Nebagamon, Camp Horseshoe, and North Star Camp, all located in Wisconsin, have references to this game on their websites.”

In Keeping the Fires Burning, Nardie and Sally Stein describe the horse ‘n’ goggle as “a way of ‘throwing fingers’ to decide who gets chosen for an extra dessert—or perhaps an extra job. It is usually (unless the counselor conducting it is a skilled mathematician) a game of chance.”

Anyone who has visited Nebagamon during recent summers may have witnessed a horse ‘n’ goggle renaissance. These days, the campers shout—ein, zwei, drei, horse ‘n’ goggle!—with gusto. Loud. Really loud. And the counselor horse ‘n’ goggle tournament, started in 1986, has evolved into the king of counselor competitions, with the two finalists often arriving for the championship throw like heavyweight prizefighters entering the ring. It is all pomp and circumstance.tourney-plaque

And randomness, right?

Well, actually, it turns out that the horse ‘n’ goggle is not necessarily the fair and responsible way of allocating resources that the MOCA staff would have you believe.

I own a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Michigan, and I am currently a PhD candidate in computer science and engineering in Ann Arbor. I’ve studied artificial intelligence, machine learning, and computational complexity. I’ve worked in data analysis for Microsoft. I have co-authored studies with names like “An Investigation of the Effect of Competition on the Way Students Engage in Game-Based Deliberate Practice.” So numbers and predictors are my game.

Inspired by four summers as a Nebagamon camper (1997-2000) and two as a counselor (2006 and 2007), I decided to delve into the mysteries of the horse ‘n’ goggle. And here’s what I discovered: There is a way—a small way, and not a sure thing by any means, but a way—to beat the system, sort of. The secret: Position yourself halfway around the circle.

With more than six players, a standard horse ‘n’ goggle game is actually biased against Player One, the first person to be counted. The person directly across from Player One—halfway around the circle—has better odds of being picked, and this only becomes more probable if there are lots of players.

How can this be? In a game with six players, each player controls his own destiny—in the sense that whatever number the others throw, there is some number (0 to 5) that he can throw that will prove to make him the winner. With more than six players, however, there is the possibility that no matter what he throws, the count may not land on him. He is the mercy of the odds.horsengoggle1997

On a popular MOCA night with lots of hands in the horse ‘n’ goggle, the “law of large numbers” says the average throw will be almost exactly 2.5. That’s because (0 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5) / 6 = 2.5. This means that the count will often pass around the circle 2.5 times and finish across from Player One.

In fact, a computer simulation finds that with 50 players in the horse ‘n’ goggle, Player One is over four times less likely to win than the player halfway around the circle. And with even more players—imagine, say, a camp-wide horse ‘n’ goggle—the odds are even better that the count will finish halfway around the circle.

It is the same concept as flipping a coin. Flip in ten times, and it might land on heads eight times. Flip it 1,000 times, and it’ll be close to 50-50.

So now you know the dark secret of the horse ‘n’ goggle. If you find yourself in a particularly big circle, position yourself about halfway around it—directly across from where they start counting. Unless, of course, someone decides to randomize the spot where the counting begins. Because there’s one thing of which we can be certain: In a horse ‘n’ goggle, nothing is certain.

Reflections of One Lucky Guy

by Nardie Stein

This remembrance has been excerpted from Chapter 29 of Keeping the Fires Burning: A History of Camp Nebagamon, which can be purchased here.

On the occasion of my seventieth birthday, I was honored at a wonderful party given by Sally and the kids. My entire family and a number of friends gathered, including some really unexpected dear friends from out of town. After the skits, roasts, and toasts had died down, I finally got the floor, thanked everyone, and showcased the award I had just bestowed upon myself: the World’s Luckiest Guy medal. This simple three-by-five-inch piece of fiberboard, which I had made and inscribed with the letters “WLG,” was hanging inside my shirt, waiting for this moment!

In reflecting on my life, I feel many of the truly wonderful events came about as a matter of pure luck rather than by design. I grew up in a happy, wonderful family in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and lived a comfortable middle-class life. I can recall taking hikes with my mom in wooded areas and parks in Fort Smith, and occasionally our family would “go up the mountains” north of Fort Smith because my dad’s only recreational interest was fishing in the streams of the Boston Mountain Range. While he tried to interest me in fishing, I was too restless, always wanting to go hiking and exploring in the abundant beauty of those areas.

My first real taste of camping came at age twelve at the Boy Scout Camp near Rudy, Arkansas. I was a member of Troop 15 of the First Methodist Church along with my older cousins, Benno Friedman and Fred Braht. We swam, hiked, passed merit badges, and had the challenge of sweeping our tents daily to remove the many tarantulas that enjoyed visiting our sleeping quarters.

I was also aware that two families who lived down our street sent their sons away to some fancy camp up north for eight weeks. And, yes, Buddy Rogers and Randy and Jerry Ney were indeed at Camp Nebagamon. I didn’t know them well because they were not my age.

The rest of my summers were spent at my father’s business, Stein Wholesale Dry Goods Company, where I worked from age ten on through my college summers. I stocked shelves, packed outgoing orders, swept the floors, and drove packages to the post office. I was happy, learning how to work with some fine people and earning a minimum wage (forty cents an hour) salary. In high school I was active in many organizations and was an officer in most of them.

Looking back on my high school years in Arkansas, I realized also that I was unaware of the realities of living in the segregated South. As part of the small Jewish minority in Fort Smith (sixty families), my parents were not motivated to work for social change. In fact they were wary of “rocking the boat,” being fearful of the Klan, anti-Semitism, and social rejection. I regret my own inaction in those days and my parents’ lack of involvement in social justice issues, but I partially understand their lack of involvement—this was the South in the 1930s and 1940s.

Another great chapter of my early years was getting to go with Boy Scout Troop 15 to the National Boy Scout base, Philmont, near Taos, New Mexico, for two weeks in the summers of 1945 and 1946. We hiked, climbed mountains, and had rugged adventures in the desert and mountains of the Southwest.

As high school days were ending I felt confident that my good grades, numerous extracurricular activities, and leadership records, plus where I lived, would give me a leg up in the college application process. Yale, Washington University, and Vanderbilt, in that order, were my choices. I was confident that all three would want me, so it came as a shock when Yale turned me down, but the other two sent acceptance letters.

nardie-1985So there was a tipping point in my life: had I gone to Yale, I think I would have hated it, and I would never have met Sally Lorber or Camp Nebagamon. Need I say more?

Washington University in St. Louis was a fine choice, and I enjoyed my new friends in college and in Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. My mother’s family, who all lived nearby, were hospitable, providing free meals and loaner cars for weekend dates. My social life was never better. My fraternity brothers were friendly, helpful, and marvelous at fixing us “out of town” guys with dates. Bud Pollak, one of the older guys in the frat house and a Nebagamon counselor, suggested I call Sally Lorber, which I did in December 1949. And so, as they say, “The rest is history!” I thought Sally was one of the nicest, cutest, and smartest people in the world. And I still do! Muggs, Janet, and Maggie were nice to me and were also a source of Sunday meals when our frat house closed its kitchen.

Muggs offered me a job at his camp during those early college years, but I didn’t think going to work at a place where I was dating the boss’s daughter sounded like a good idea. So I continued working at Stein Wholesale in the summer.

While Washington University turned out to be a good choice for me, I quickly discovered that the education I received in Fort Smith had not prepared me for rigorous studying and real academic challenge, and I really struggled at first. Although I entered college thinking I’d like to be a doctor, I dropped that dream and studied what I liked with the professors I liked, feeling that eventually I would find my way. People chuckle when I reveal I was a medieval literature major with a minor in psychology and a lot of classical art and archaeology courses.

nardie_serviceAnother reason I qualified for the WLG award is that I was drafted as a sophomore, during the Korean War, but Congress changed the draft laws a few months later and allowed college students to be deferred as long as we kept our grades up. As a result, I graduated in 1953 and was inducted the very day the Korean armistice was signed in July of that year. And the good luck continued. At Fort Sill, Oklahoma, one week after induction, I noticed an ad seeking foreign language translators. I, of course, signed up for French, as I had had three years in high school and two more in college, and I stayed behind when my unit was shipped out, so that I could take the test. I took it, discovering how inadequate my French skills were, and did not qualify as a translator. I was then placed with a unit that was sent to Fort Gordon, Georgia, for basic training, where by luck I got an interview with another Washington University graduate, who let me select my Signal Corps specialty job: cryptography.

Although Sally and I had dated quite a bit as she finished the last year and a half of high school, we “broke up” after she graduated and went off to the University of Michigan. Upon completing my army training, I visited old friends and family in St. Louis at Christmastime in 1953, and lo and behold, there was Sally again. We saw each other briefly and realized our relationship was not really over. We said goodbye at Union Station in St. Louis, and I boarded the train back to Georgia, once again dazzled by young Sally Lorber.

We saw each other again a few months later in Florida, as I knew I was going overseas and wanted to say goodbye. She was visiting her parents, who had by then moved to Miami Beach. This time we knew we were in love, but I had one and a half more years of overseas army duty, and she had one and a half more years at the University of Michigan. We decided to quietly make plans for a future together and shared this decision only with our immediate families. So Sally returned to Ann Arbor, and I headed to Seattle, then to Japan, where I again had the good luck to be stationed near Yokohama at Camp Zama, the headquarters of the U.S. Army Far East Command. My duty as a cryptographer was reasonably interesting, and I had ample time for travel and learning about Japan and its rich culture.

In summer 1954, I received a letter from Muggs that shocked me. In it he explained that he and Janet wanted to plan for their retirement, and he wanted to know if I was interested in a career in camping. This was truly a bolt out of the blue! I had welcomed my two years of required army service, as it gave me a cushion of time to consider possible careers. I only knew the three business offers I had received failed to interest me. These were small family businesses, and eight years later they had all disappeared. Again, a lucky decision!

I responded cautiously to the offer of directing Camp Nebagamon and began corresponding about this possibility with Sally and Muggs. I was excited about this opportunity, but it loomed as a frightening unknown. Muggs and Janet felt they could train Sally and me and decided that my best training would be “on the job” in carefully measured steps.

I was discharged from the army in late May 1955 and went to Wisconsin in mid-June to meet Nebagamon and start counselor training, a big transition for this mustered-out soldier in a short period of time. The first step was serving as a senior counselor in Swamper One with a junior counselor and six wonderful first-year ten-year-old campers. It was a summer fraught with conflicting agendas. Sally and I were busy trying to plan our October wedding and our future and had many big issues to deal with, while each of us had to get used to each other again. We were also trying to envision careers as camp directors of a large, successful boys’ camp.

In retrospection, it is safe to say I also was terrified (or at least I should have been!). Here was this nardie-and-sally-1980huge business dominated by a larger-than-life hero figure—Muggs Lorber—dynamic, brilliant, super-athlete, gifted, a personality-plus guy . . . and I was contemplating filling his shoes!

Somehow we got through the summer of 1955. After our small wedding in the Big House, we were off on a wonderful three-week cross-country drive ending in Miami Beach. We then had a ten-day honeymoon in Nassau, paid for with my army savings. What a great start to our marriage!

Variety Show

by Adam Kaplan

At Camp Nebagamon, the notion of chance can mean a lot of things. Yes, it can mean randomness — whether we’re talking about a horse ‘n’ goggle, the Luck of the Draw Run, your bunkmate for the summer, or the myriad stories of campers and alumni enjoying chance encounters anywhere from Hawaii to Hayward. But from my point of view (and most importantly), chance at Nebagamon means opportunity.

It means the chance to be whoever you want to be, do what you want to do, explore the unfamiliar. It means a certain kind of freedom from the angst and expectations and self-catopportunity-1egorization that may dominate the rest of the year.

Often, this opportunity manifests itself in a wondrous diversity. One of my absolute favorite aspects of this place is the variety of interests that our kids hold and the ability of our staff to be creative and cater to these.  This amazing variance was on full display during a couple of consecutive nights last summer during our Special Interest and Wannado evening activities.

As a reminder, Special Interest is when our normal program areas offer abnormal activities. And Wannado, for those who scampered around the Northwoods before its advent, is when folks with skills and hobbies that don’t fit perfectly into our program areas get a chance to share their passions. For example, here were some of the opportunities that arose in the middle of July:

  • Instead of working on backhands and volleys at tennis, the tennis program headed to the upper diamond for a giant home run derby with racquets and tennis balls.
  • Down at sailing, instead of learning proper tacks and capsizing skills, they flipped over the boats and windsurfers and enjoyed team paddleboarding.
  • Our nature program took a night off from teaching about the flora and fauna of the area, and instead, found various appliances that had died, and spent the evening dissecting them. The boys got to see the inner workings of a toaster and a computer, but mostly they got to tear things apart.
  • At athletics, instead of a typical game of soccer or basketball, they offered trench bombardment – a giant game of dodgeball in the natural valleys and berms within the Axeman Village.
  • Music took a break from teaching guitar and became a travelling interpretive dance party (with an iPod and a speaker) that danced from one corner of the camp to the other, every minute gathering more dancers and growing in size like a snowball.
  • There was a session of Nerd-ology that invited those that wished to engage their nerdier sides and discuss all things nerdy. (Indeed this event was populated by some of our more jock-y type kids who wanted a moment to indulge the sides of them that are sometimes shelved for a variety of reasons.)
  • One of our British staff, along with another staff member who is a goalie for the University of Minnesota water polo team, offered a combination of British polo with water polo – Water Noodle Pony Polo in the deep end of the swim area.
  • Down at art, they built driftwood boats and then set them ablaze before launching them out into the lake.

I lopportunity-2ove — and I’m sure my fellow alumni did, too — the fact that Nebagamon campers are given the opportunity to pursue whatever it is that tickles their fancy on a particular day. They aren’t told where to go and when. They are guided only by their interests and ambitions.

And there is no social stigma associated with any activity. Surely, we all recall what a particularly special gift this is for boys navigating those tricky and socially challenging middle school years. It is an age when doing what is proscribed by a social “in” crowd takes on huge importance. It is an age when one of the things to be most avoided is standing out from one’s peers in any way.

It is different at Nebagamon. In fact, this is a community which expects that you WON’T follow the crowd and instead which supports following your interests, your passions, and your curiosities. This is a community that not only accepts trying something new and out of the norm, bopportunity-3ut encourages it.

And so, it was the “hippest” 14-year-old who gave himself to a totally goofy dance party around the camp, and it was the most timid 4th grader who smeared his face with camouflaging mud for a rousing game of bombardment, and the driftwood boat making project was as popular with Lumberjacks as it was with Swampers.  Now, maybe the cynics would argue that this was because they were excited to set the boats on fire, but the pride and care with which these Lumberjacks created their little boats belied that notion.

Something else was going on there, something freeing and wonderful. Summer camp.

News from the Camp Family


Andy Newman (St. Louis) is Chairman of Hackett Security Inc. and also serves on the Board of Trustees of Washington University… Bud Schram (Highland Park, IL/Boston) is a  brokerage director with Mass Mutual Financial Group… Michael Eastman (St. Louis) had an exhibit of his photography work at the William Shearburne Gallery in St. Louis… Alain Beretz (Strasbourg, France) has been a member of the University of Strasbourg’s pharmacology faculty since 1990 and has served as president of the university since 2009… A photograph of Ricky Gitt (St. Louis/New York) appeared in


Box hockey, 1950

The New York Times in June. It showed him reading a book to an abused dog as part of an effort by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to reintroduce the dogs to human socialization… Lars Kolind (Copenhagen, Denmark) serves as chairman of the World Scout Organization, which is working to transform scouting into the world’s premier leadership development program… Bill Tucker (St. Louis/New York City) has written a book titled Narratives of Recovery from Serious Mental IllnessSteve Wilson (Fort Smith, AR/La Quinta, CA) teaches urological surgery procedures… Dale Wilson (Fort Smith, AR/Houston) has retired after serving 36 years (and seven years of consulting) with the U.S. Customs Service… Ed Altman (Fort Smith, AR/Studio City, CA) serves as a vice president with Value Labs, a firm dealing with media and entertainment sales and solutions.



Tri-camp archery team, 1982

Jon Fisher (St. Louis/Pittsburgh) is a senior metals trader at Wimco Metals, a dealer in non-ferrous metals… Kurt Ryden (Wilmette, IL/New York City) is a Managing Director and private client advisor at U.S. Trust, Bank of America… Josh Solomon (New York City) had the pleasure of seeing his BOSS (Manhattan’s Business of Sports School) highlighted last winter in both The New York Times and on Good Morning America. On the latter, a group of students from the school served as guest interviewers. They interviewed Bill and Melinda Gates… Sanjay Jain (St. Louis) is an adjunct professor teaching entrepreneurship at St. Louis University and Washington University… Mitch Cohen (Chicago/Boulder) is the director of surgery at Denver Health medical center and a professor in the department of surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine… Matt Goshko (Washington, D.C.) is a Deputy Director in the Office of Western Europe Affairs at the U.S. Department of State… Scott Silk (Louisville/San Francisco) is a regional director for Hands of Peace, an interfaith organization that brings young Palestinians, Israelis and Americans together to pursue peace, equality, freedom and justice… Tom Ruwitch (St. Louis) serves on the boards of the Scholarship Foundation, Aim High St. Louis, the Sheldon Arts Foundation, and Hope Happens.



All-camp birthday, 2006

Andrea L’Tainen (Philadelphia) teaches third grade at Germantown Friends School… Michael Tolan (St. Louis/Minneapolis) is community engagement coordinator at Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization working statewide for the use, reuse and preservation of historic buildings and sites… Troy Brodsky (St. Louis) is the executive director of the St Louis Brewers Guild and as is in charge of planning the annual St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival in June along the city’s riverfront. A feature article about his tireless entrepreneurship appeared in November in St. Louis Jewish LightHenry McKenna (Boston) joined USA TODAY Sports Media Group, where he’s become the blogger-in-chief of their new Patriots-only website, the Patriots Wire… Paul Lux (Cincinnati/St. Louis) is the director of strategic development for Luxco, a liquor producer and marketer… James Atkinson (Australia) has spent a couple of years in Fiji and Cambodia while working on the U.S. TV show “Survivor.” Among his responsibilities: Building and testing the contestants’ challenges… As CEO and founder of Fourlaps Athletic Apparel, Daniel Shapiro (Clayton, MO/New York City) was profiled in Fashion Times, which described his company as providing men with “attractive-but-attainable activewear with unique technical features and an effortlessly cool aesthetic.”



We congratulate the following alumni on these new additions to their family (and the camp family):

Nikki and Bill Wallenstein (Chicago 89- 93,02) – Jordyn

Lisa and Robert Ramsay (Glasgow 04-07) – Edie

Abby and Charles Dan (Memphis/London 93-99, 01) – Hildy


WE ARE SAD TO REPORT these deaths in the camp family:

Bud Samuels (St. Louis/Naples, FL 34-39, 41)

Marty Hecht (St. Louis/Cape Girardieu 39-41)

Lou Mendelsohn (Cincinnati 41)

Paul Arenberg (Chicago/St. Louis 42-44)

Peter Nathan (St. Louis/Iowa City 44-52)

Gordon Scherck (St. Louis 46-47)

David Fleischaker (Oklahoma City 56-57)

Ed Elisberg (Glencoe, IL, camp doctor 60-63)

From the Mailbag

Art Auer (St. Louis 44-45, 47, 53-54) wrote in to declare that he is alive and well: “I was a camper in Axeman 1 in 1944 and Lumberjack 4 in 1945 and remember being at camp when WW II ended and the big bombs were dropped. Most of us were still too young to fully understand all the implications of the destruction that had occurred and the lives destroyed in Japan as well as the lives that were saved on the side of the Allies. I was at Hodag in 1947 and headed the Rifle Program for two years 1953 an 1954 and then turned it over to John Nevers. 


Art Auer at the rifle program in 1953

At this writing I am enjoying time on the west coast of Florida where we spend about 7 months in three separate segments. I still enjoy tennis, gardening, and fishing, all of which I learned at Nebagamon. In May will be my 60th anniversary of graduation from Washington University Medical School. Hard to believe all that time has flown by so fast. It would be nice to hear from some of the other old timers ( I hesitate to name anyone for maybe they are in that great campground in the sky. Keep the fires burning!”

As editor/publisher of a quarterly magazine called Terrain, focusing on outdoor fitness, recreation, adventure and discovery in the St. Louis area, Brad Kovach (St. Louis 82-87, 89, 99) was able to reference Nebagamon in his “from the editor” note in the Winter 2015/2016 issue. He discussed the origins of his love of the outdoors, recalling his “first summer away from home at a wilderness camp in the village of Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin. Part of the program included outdoors skill training—knots, pocket knives, tent pitching, campfire cooking, orienteering—as well as the option of taking overnight trips in the nearby Porkies Mountains and Boundary Waters Canoe Area. I can’t begin to recount all the fun and life-affirming experiences I had while there.” Terrain can also be found online at

2-lakenebagamonmapWondering what gift to give to a fellow Nebagamon alumnus? Last December, Mike Cole (Indianapolis/Cleveland 56-63) wrote to say that he unwrapped an unusual gift from his son Kevin (Cleveland/Boston, 86-92, 94-95) on the first night of Hanukkah last year—a topographical map of Lake Nebagamon. That is, the lake itself. In case any other alums are interested, Mike wrote, “Though it is produced by a company in Harbor Springs Michigan—Lake Art—he purchased it through a New York based company known as Uncommon Gifts.” Some facts: Range Road is on the map. The lake consists of 913 acres. And its deepest point is 56 feet.

After Lawrence “Punky” Chapman (Omaha 44-49) met a fellow Nebagamon alumnus Ricardo Phillips and his son (also named Ricardo) on the California coast a couple of years ago, he was moved to send the following letter, which Ricardo shared with the current camp directors: “Ricardo, it was such a pleasure meeting you and your extraordinary son yesterday… You should have seen the expressions on your faces when I mentioned ‘Nebagamon!’ Because of its central U.S. location, it never dawned on me that the camp had expanded internationally in so many directions. As I mentioned, over the years, I have run into many campmates at various places around the world, and the instant we meet we begin recapping our wonderful camp experiences—always truly inspiring and exhilarating – we are indeed a fraternity. Realizing that I was at Nebagamon nearly 71 years ago and that so much has remained the same was a true awakening. I hadn’t heard the name ‘Throck’ for over 60 years and have wondered on occasion if the A.K. Agakimik exercise was still in play. Just mentioning Muggs and Janet Lorber and Nardie and Sally Stein brought back such lovely memories. I remember Sally running around the Big House as a little girl. Also, I can remember the Lorbers coming to our home in Omaha to make a recruiting presentation, as if we needed one.  My twin brothers, now 87 years old, attended there as well in the 1930s… Well, enough with the nostalgia today—but be assured, the two of you made my year. Upon arriving home, I immediately called my campmate Jonas Weil (originally from Lexington, KY) to tell him of our meeting. He was absolutely ‘stoked’ (as the kids say today).”


Joe and Marilyn Hirschhorn, partying in 1999

Joe Hirschhorn (Cincinnati 40-44, 47-48, 99, 01-08) wrote to tell the tale of an international meeting that wasn’t necessarily a chance encounter, per se, but is certainly representative of the reach of Nebagamon: “In 2005 Marilyn and I planned an Atlantic Crossing from Ft. Lauderdale to Lisbon. Three days before we departed, Marilyn suggested we check the C/N Alumni Roster to see if by any chance there was someone listed in Portugal. To our surprise, one person was listed, Don Price. Don is approximately 10 years younger than we and,of course, our paths had never crossed. Undaunted, we emailed him and received a prompt reply that he would be delighted to see and help another ex-camper. We arrived in May, took a cab, from the port to our hotel and spent a couple of hours, on our own, getting acquainted with Lisbon. On this initial foray Marilyn had her wallet stolen, and so it was back to the hotel and calls to cancel credit cards. Don had sent an English speaking taxi driver (a friend) to show us the sights that first afternoon… The next morning. we took the train to Cascais, a seaside town and Don’s home. He served as our friend, guide and teacher for the rest of a full day… I could go on raving but it was a most pleasant experience, all connected by our summers at Nebagamon.”

Family Camp Alumni Photo


Front row: Adam Kaplan, Max Settineri, Matthew Santner, Todd Alhers, Troy Donovan, Kayla Rosenow, Jeremy Boshwit, Barnaby Sargent Megicks, Amy Mack, Charlie Gordon, Alex Gagnon

Second row: Tony Blumberg, Hugh Broder, Bill Hensel, Jaye Hensel, Jon Rogen, Sally Stein, Nardie Stein, Allen Bennett, Jill Kiersky Marcus, Keri Rosenbloom, Amber Burvall, Grant Rosskamm, John Kleeman

Third row: Paul May, David Serwer, Grace Slosburg, Bud Herzog, Sam Slosburg, Eric Kessler, Adam Bezark, John Bezark, Mark Caro, Bill Caro, Jeffrey Cohen, Dana Gustafson Regan

Back row: Adam Winick, Jim Koretz, Bill Nefsky, Bruce Rogen, Zack Colman, Jon Colman, Jon Star, Andy Kaplan, Carlos Beaujean, Joel Hensel, Margeaux Settineri, Andy Mack, Hank Pulitzer

Thank You, Donors

The Camp Nebagamon Charities web site is dedicated to both the Camp Nebagamon Scholarship Fund (CNSF) and Camperships For Nebagamon (CFN). Learn about different donation options, read about each charity, and more.

Introducing CNSF’s New Logo

A big “HOW!” to Dana (Gustafson) Regan for designing the Camp Nebagamon Scholarship Fund’s new logo. Dana, a professional children’s book illustrator and former Nebagamon Art Shop director (in the 1980s), donated her design services. CNSF’s new logo (in Nebagamon blue and gold) evokes a North Woods vibe with a whiff of how camp changes kids’ lives for the better. If you think the tent looks like a book, you’re right! We hope CNSF’s impact on kids who experience poverty and disability comes through loud and clear: fun, friendship, freedom, nature, adventure, learning and forward momentum in life.

Recent Donors to the Camp Nebagamon Scholarship Fund

Thanks to the generosity of Nebagamon alumni and friends, the Camp Nebagamon Scholarship Fund supports transformative camp experiences for youth who experience poverty and/or intellectual and physical disabilities. Recipient camps, located near communities where Nebagamon campers live, are a home-away-from-home where youth in difficult circumstances are among peers and powerful role models for success.

Check out (and like!) our Facebook page for a first-hand glimpse of photos and insights that illustrate the amazing impact the CN Scholarship Fund is having on kids’ lives. Founded in 1947 by Muggs and Janet Lorber and administered for 50+ years by Nardie and Sally Lorber Stein, the CN Scholarship Fund provides tuition scholarships at nonprofit camps that cultivate skills and values needed for success. Thanks to generous donations to the Camp Nebagamon Scholarship Fund, 225 kids attended camp in the summer of 2016 (up from 175 in 2015).

The CN Scholarship Fund gratefully acknowledges donations from April 1, 2016 – October 31, 2016:

Lara and Michael Balser

Peter Bloch

Lori and Jeff Blumenthal

Joe Borinstein

Linda and Philip Carl

Teddy Chazkel

Debbie Dalal

Jessie and Scott Diamond

Luise and Ed Drolson

Deepa Dwarakanath

Anthony Ero

Sara and Scott Fisher

Julie and Dan Frank

Laura and Bill Freeman

Susan and Bill Goldenberg

Carolyn Grant

Sherry and Michael Grosman

Bobbie and Mark Gutman

Dee Dee and Dick Harris

Pat and Michael Harris

Carol and Leonard Hershkowitz

Blair Kaplan

Irene and Dmitri Kaznachey

Malcolm Kerr

Jen Kline-Galkin

Claudia Simons and Alan Korn

Stu Kornfeld

Pam and Mark Kuby

Janet Leeds

Sondra and Alan Levi

Judith Axelrod and Kenneth Lewis

Joyce and Brad Long

Leslie and Paul Lux

Reed Maidenberg

Nancy Brown and Andrew May

Michael Mendelsohn

Deborah and David Mendelson

Teena and Mike Myers

Leah and James Myers

Bill Nefsky

Cynthia Wachtell and Jeff Neuman

Deborah Snyder and Jim Platt

Viki and Tom Rivkin

Marie and Louis Robbins

Cindy and Jon Rogen

Marya and Tony Rose Foundation

Jonathan Tobak and Keri Rosenbloom

Carol Murphy and Bill Rosenthal

John Rubel

Leslie Rusoff

Mary Anne Saltzstein

Kim and Tom Saltzstein

Isaac Schiff-Lewin

Julius Schweich Jr.

Laura Seeley

Geula and Josh Solomon

Solon E. Summerfield Foundation

Nesta and Walter Spink

Barbara and Frank Star

Irene and Norton Starr

Ellen and Corky Steiner

Elizabeth and Walter Stern

Ann and Will Stern

Gavin Stern

Emily Glasser and Bill Susman

Nanette Williams

Here's a virtual thank you note from teens at Wyman Teen Leadership Program one of 13 camps that received tuition scholarship support from the Camp Nebagamon Scholarship Fund last summer.

Recent Donors to Camperships for Nebagamon

Camperships for Nebagamon (CFN) was established in 1995 to enable children who would not otherwise have the opportunity to have a camping experience. Over the years, the CFN endowment fund has provided camperships for boys to attend Nebagamon and girls to attend Camp WeHaKee. Campers receiving camperships help to diversify their camp communities by virtue of their racial, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic status. In addition, CFN continues the tradition of support to sons and grandsons of Nebagamon alumni who demonstrate financial need.

CFN wishes to thank the following individuals who generously made donations to CFN from April 1, 2016 – October 31, 2016:

Gayle and Corey Arlen

Lisa and Andy Aronson

Neeraj Baxi

Lynn, Bob and Robert Behrendt

Susan and Simon Blattner

Lori and Jeff Blumenthal

Julie and Adam Braude

Tracy and Martin Bregman

Linda and Don Brown

Lewis Burik

Nancy Chang

Ralph Cohen

Lisa and Sherman Cohen

Carrie and Steve Cohen

Jeffrey Cohen

Elizabeth Moss and Bill Dubinsky

Daniel Finan

Marjorie and Terry Franc

Julie and Dan Frank

Roxanne Frank

Laura and Bill Freeman

William Friedman

Bill Friedman

Osnat and Greg Gafni-Pappas

Judy Garfinkel

Terri Grossman

Ethan Harkavy

Shirley and Barnett Helzberg Jr.

Barbara Herz

Carol and Richard Hillsberg

Marilyn and Joe Hirschhorn

Marjorie and Robert Kaplan

Leo Kayser III

Malcolm Kerr

Sharapat and Eric Kessler

Daniel Kotcher

Roberta De Araujo and Ron Kreisman

Janet Koestring and John Kupper

Mike and Jane Lenz

Ming J. Lowe

Laura and Ken Mack

Reed Maidenberg

Elaine Rosenblum and Charles Mendels

Michael Mendelsohn

Julie Stevenson and Tom Meyer

Benjamin Moskowitz

Betsy Murray

Janet and Fred Nachman

Bill Nefsky

Brian Neil

Brenda and Sandy Passer

Deborah Snyder and Jim Platt

Renee and Joel Posener, M.D.

Rita and Kevin Powers

Marcia Kaplan and Michael Privitera

Judy Rolfe

Alyne and Jim Rolfe

Emily and Bob Rosenberg

Bryce Rosenbloom

Jonathan Tobak and Keri Rosenbloom

Carol Murphy and Bill Rosenthal

Dawn and Dan Saltzstein

Ruth Sang

Laurel and Edward Shapiro

Allison and David Singer

Lucy and Eric Slosser

Sue and Bob Smith

Julie and Rick Smith

Geula and Josh Solomon

Gloria and Paul Sternberg, Jr.

Barney Straus

Deborah Aronnoff and William Strull

Laurel Southworth and Andrew Susser

Robert Tecktiel

Peggi and Michael Touff

Esther Starrels and John Wasserman

Betty and Bernard Werthan

Phyllis and Bruce Willett

Deborah and Adam Winick