Celebrating a Life Well-Lived

by Brad Herzog

Over the past seven or eight years, I have devoted each twice-a-year alumni newsletter to a theme. Each Keylog has focused on an inspiring and integral aspect of camp—sports, nature, trips, photography, Sundays, the Rec Hall, Paul Bunyan. But it is impossible to consider inspiring-and-integral Nebagamon without celebrating the impact of the late Nardie Stein. From the time he was a counselor in Swamper 1 (1955) to the time he and Sally closed out their tenure as camp directors (1990) to the decades afterward in which he continued to serve as a fount of wisdom about and around camp, Nardie was profoundly integral to the history and sensibilities of Camp Nebagamon. And, as someone who looked up to him for half a century, I can attest that he was always inspiring.

So this is the NARDIE issue of the Keylog, our attempt to honor the various ways in which he influenced the lives of the people who had the pleasure of being part of his Nebaga-world.

We begin this extra-large edition with a loving recollection from his longtime co-director, co-life-partner and co-adventurer, Sally Lorber Stein (SALLY REMEMBERS NARDIE). But that’s just the beginning.

Nardie influenced countless lives. So in NARDIE’S IMPACT you can read several dozen brief tributes and memories from camp alumni, just a snippet of what could have been a book-sized collection. Most of us who knew Nardie first encountered him when we were campers or young counselors. But notice how many people, even several decades later, reflect on how he influenced their aspirations and attitudes as adults. As one wrote, “I try to live up to the lessons he so lovingly taught me.”

But sometimes a picture is WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS, so we’ve also included a collection of photos covering more than half-a-century of Bernard Stein at Camp Nebagamon. Nardie at the microphone, at the Shrine, leading the camp in song, overseeing the award ceremony, reminiscing with A.K. Agikamik. Nardie’s wisdom, his playfulness, his love of family.

You also can discover more about Nardie by watching the video or reading excerpts from his memorial service in November (IN MEMORIAM). For the many alumni who arrived at Nebagamon after the Steins retired, it is an opportunity to get to know him from some of the people who loved him most – his children and grandchildren. Their memories included a heap of humor, as did Nardie. I always appreciated his wit, but never more so than over the past decade, when I had the luxury of spending quality time with him on many occasions. My favorite part was the moment before he let loose with a pun or quip or hilarious memory. His eyes would grow big, he’d chuckle a bit, and you knew something good was coming. That’s a memory I’ll treasure.

Finally, you can read about Nardie in his own words. Learn about his childhood, his introduction to camp, and more about how he met Sally… all part of an excerpt from the Steins’ book about the history of Camp Nebagamon: Keeping the Fires Burning. Nardie called his personal story REFLECTIONS OF ONE LUCKY GUY. I know I speak for many when I say that I consider myself immeasurably lucky to have known him.