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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summer is just around the corner at YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea!

We're less than a month away from welcoming the new and returning campers to begin the Segowea Summer season of 2012!  The Camp staff is getting the camp ready and soon more staff will arrive and begin lifeguard training.  The sessions are filling up quickly, but there's still time for campers to register.  Registration is very easy to do, and can be accomplished online at  If you can not register online, you can always contact Camp director Kat Fitzpatrick via email at or via phone 518-656-9462 Ext 6632.  
At camp, there's already been a couple Open Houses, but for the month of June, there's still the chance to visit camp every Sunday until camp opens on the 24th!  Open House dates are June 3rd, 10th and 17th  at a time of 2:00-4:00 pm.  If you'd like to come up and visit the camp for a first time or return to see the improvements, please let Kat Fitzpatrick know. 
We also have one last work weekend left coming in a couple weeks, on Saturday, June 16th and Sunday, June 17th.  We expect a good turnout for this work weekend, so please consider joining us.   There will be a lot to do!   For this, we also ask that you RSVP and to contact Norm Button at or call the camp directly at 413-229-9110.  

We want to thank all the volunteers and Friends of Segowea that have come out and volunteered their time in May for the work weekend and Open Houses.  We've accomplished quite a bit!   
Here's some pictures from May's Open Houses and Work Weekend.

                                                     Power washing the lodge.  
                                                 You won't believe the difference!

Dock duty- they're all in!

Cabins getting cleaned.

Some new benches for the lodge!

Moving some items around.

Volunteers putting together the new Ga Ga Pit!

Getting some mechanical assistance.

Finalizing the newly re-done boat dock area.

Keller cabin getting painted.

At the end of the day, time for a boat ride or a little fishing...

or just relaxing...

From the recent Open House- some fishing,

and a little story telling.

Three generations at Wa Wa!

It's a ways away, but we also have scheduled  fall work weekends on September 22-23 and October 20-21st.
Hope to see you at one of these!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Foley Hill Road Gang!

When you make your way towards YMCA Camp Wa Wa Segowea, some come through the Connecticut side, taking Route 44 until you reach the back roads.  Some come the Massachusetts way, and Routes 57 & 23 and others, which take you to the back roads.  But one road they all lead to is Foley Hill Road.

A true "full circle" story is that of the Foley's.  They are of course, the former owners of the property where Camp Wa Wa Segowea is now.  Before it was Camp Segowea, it was the Foley Farm (hence we're on Foley Hill Road!)   But we know it was back in 1928 when William W. Smith II and Dr. James Harrington purchased the property from the Foley's and thus created Smith Park.  The main lodge was built from trees on the property and 84 years later, it's still around.

The Foley's too, are still around and have stay tied to the area.  They have an annual tradition of returning to the Berkshires on Memorial Day Weekend, (specifically Mill River) and I'm happy to say, continue to visit Camp Wa Wa Segowea.   I was in touch with a couple of the Foley's and they were nice enough to share their thoughts on the family and their annual trek.  Thanks to the "Foley Hill Road Gang" for contributing!  Here they are-

Ann Foley- 

We  have been returning to Foley Hill Road for as long as I can remember-(1950's)   Memorial Day weekend was always set aside as the time (rain or shine) for a trip to the Berkshires and Mill River to honor our grandparents, family and their former homestead.  My father and his brother, Ned, were very fond of this trip and did everything they could to keep it alive and running.

We start the day at the charming and well-kept Mill River cemetery.  We leave flowers and plants  and say prayers at the grave site - it is never melancholy but uplifting.    I love to wander around the cemetery and read the stones.  I get enormous comfort  and joy from this place and always love this  special spot.    

On the way, we pass the "One Room Schoolhouse"  where my Grandmother taught ,  the "Sunken House" , and  the church where they worshipped.

The caravan (Mass, RI, NH, CT ,NY) then makes its way to Foley Hill Road (someone invariably makes a wrong turn) so we all do not all arrive there at the same time -  GPS was made for the Foley's!!   Seeing the sign "Foley Hill Road"  always lends an amazing feeling of family pride, continuity and warmth.    Clearly, we are so fortunate to have this link to our family heritage. 

Making our way on the dirt (rustic) road, we pass the land that once was my Grandfather's farm and enter the Camp grounds (some years the gate has been locked - so we cheer and beep horns when we find it open).  

The Foley's have enjoyed EVERY bit of this place- playing fabulous softball games on the field, tennis on the courts , boating, swimming and diving in the pristine lake.  We particularly loved the giant log that was there for many years and provided hours of fun and entertainment - lots of laughs.  Now the "IN" place to be for the kids is the rope swing across the lake-  they adore it!! 
Squeals of delight and merriment can be heard all day.  They also play games, ping pong, basketball in the lodge and generally have a fantastic time!

As kids we loved to explore the woods in back of the lodges, picking flowers- imagining, telling and re-telling stories about the totem poles and the Indian tribes to whom they belonged to - a more innocent time, to be sure.     A feast for the the imagination!

I  also fondly recall the exquisite outdoor chapel on the water.  -- Unlike a formal church -  but glimmering with hope and renewal in the most beautiful of settings.

Everyone in the group brings assigned food, and/or utensils or grill (masterfully organized by my cousin Theresa these days) and we enjoy an all day gourmet feast.   We play, chat, catch-up with our lives and enjoy the kids.  It is a low key and pleasant holiday, but very, very meaningful.

I do hope that these thoughts are helpful to you and I am grateful for the opportunity to return to this most wonderful place every year. 

Tess Leary-  

Mill River represents our family ~ what we value from the past, in the present, and for the future.  

My father (Ned) and his siblings (Jim, Grace, and Bill) were all born in Mill River and lived there until their father’s death in 1929.  Their mother, Mary H. Foley, had grown up in Holyoke with her 12 siblings and she and her children moved to Holyoke upon the death of her husband.

I believe the family then started to make the trip from Holyoke to the old homestead and cemetery. We go to honor those who came before us, those we didn’t get to meet, to celebrate the traditions of our family and appreciate the beauty and simplicity that is “Mill River”. 

“Mill River” (includes our trip to the cemetery and Segowea) has been part of my memories for my entire life.  People make the trip from all parts of New England, sometimes California and Virginia.  There are pictures of all the various aunts, uncles, and cousins, etc. spanning generations.  I am particularly fond of some pictures I have from decades ago that were taken on the steps of the camp.  It is extraordinary to me that we have pictures of now younger generations on those same steps!  Those pictures say so much about our family AND about Segowea.  In a time where things change in the blink of an eye, here we are celebrating and appreciating the traditions of our family and Segowea in a truly meaningful way.

And we have so much fun!  For years we played softball on the upper field with all generations participating ~ with varying levels of success but all with good humor!  The use of the camp and lake has been something we all look forward to every year.  Segowea is nothing short of idyllic and to be able to share that with the people I love is a gift I cherish every year.  And those few years when we were unable to use the camp there was a void, a sense of loss.  And the excitement and hopefulness in returning to Segowea was wonderful ~ I think it made us appreciate it even more!  

Turning onto Foley Hill Road, which really does create a feeling of pride and history, brings its own sense of anticipation.  We always knew we were getting close when we passed H. Crunden’s Tree Farm!  Years ago we would bet if the gate was open or closed, hoping it was open so we didn’t have to lug everything from the car all the way down to the camp!  We arrive and breathe, run, hike, explore, boat, swim, play ~ and put on bug spray!  The day always goes by way too fast but we know we will be back next year!  

Rose Foley-

Thank you so much for the opportunity to write about memories of my family's annual Mill River outings.

When I think about Mill River, one memory that stands out for me is the image captured in an old black-and-white photograph we have of my Grandma Foley standing so tall and strong on the porch of Camp Wa Wa Segowea. Now every year we take a picture of the family right  where my grandmother was standing all those years ago. It's comforting to know that we're continuing a tradition - to know that my dad and my Uncle Jim and Aunt Grace loved coming to this place and that their grandchildren and grandnieces and nephews still come back to play here each Memorial Day weekend. We have a cookout, go for a swim, go canoeing, see who will go the highest on the rope swing, play some ping pong and a little wiffle ball, check out the huts, and visit the totem poles. In years past, we played softball and tennis on the field and court in the area above the camp. I remember my Aunt Belle was a power hitter but always needed a pinch runner. I also remember contests to see who would be brave enough to take the plunge into the lake on bone-chilling May days (although in recent years, this hasn't been a problem!) And I distinctly remember one year ending up in Connecticut when I got lost leaving the camp while driving with my cousin Jimmy. Our annual outing is a real celebration of our family and tradition. I lived in the Berkshires for a time myself several years ago when I worked for The Berkshire Eagle newspaper and I remember driving my friends to Mill River so they could see the Foley Hill Road sign named after my grandfather John Foley. It was a great source of pride.

Ellen Foley-

I am one of the Foley Family Mill River diehards--I think I missed one of the annual trips trip in 2000 when I was maid of honor in a wedding the same weekend, but not many others. I can't add too much to what Rose and Ann already wrote--the getting lost, the gate, the Foley Hill Road sign, the cold, cold water are all part of the family lore. One thing I don't think either of them mentioned is the rolling log that used to be anchored to the right of the dock. I must have been 8 or 9 when I first learned it was there and it seemed mythic--something out of another era or a Paul Bunyan story. Back in the 70s and 80s, the Memorial Day weekend weather and the water were much colder, and I felt  proud being among the few of us who would brave the temperatures and swim over to the log to see if we could stand up. We never lasted very long. In addition to rolling, the log had a challenging coat of slippery algae. Despite that, I remember my niece Katy becoming quite good at it in later years, and I remember laughing whenever we were on it. Lots of laughing.  

I thought you might be interested in this photo of many of the Foleys (but not nearly all of us!) at the camp about two years ago. My boys are in the photo; I'm holding Jake in the back, and Ned, my father's namesake, is in the green shirt and orange shorts in the left front. Nothing makes me happier than to see them enjoying themselves there, with their cousins, and aunts and uncles. 

My husband Ed is also in the photo, wearing a blue shirt in the back row. He first went to Wa Wa Segowea about 6 months after we first met, in 1999. As we drove there, I was nervous. Some of the people who have married into the family have described the Mill River trip as "a long way to go for a hamburger." It's not everyone's cup of tea, especially if the restrooms are not operational. But Ed enthusiastically joined in what he later dubbed "The Foley Family Olympics." He has made it an annual tradition to run up Foley Hill Road, followed by a swim across the lake, and he always has enough energy left to play basketball in the lodge or wiffle ball on the lawn and to row the kids all over the lake in one of the boats. And that pretty much sums up why I married him. 

My father, Ned Foley, who was born on Foley Hill Road, passed away more than 30 years ago, but his 7 children, and his nieces and nephews, have kept this tradition alive because we love the camp, and each other, so much.  It's so great to have a place to be together, especially such a meaningful place. My parents' generation is almost completely gone from us, but this annual trip makes me feel connected to my parents and aunts and uncles, and it bonds my boys to this generation they never met. 

Recently, my son Ned was asked to record an important family story for a school project. He talked about our family's connection to Wa Wa Segowea and our annual trip there.  
(Editors Note: The clip of Ned's recording is below.  I added a couple pictures)

Thanks for letting me share these thoughts and memories with you. We are thrilled to still be part of the Wa Wa Segowea story. 

Bill Foley-

My reflections on Mill River are unique in comparison to my sisters, brothers, and cousins as I have been in California for the last 20+ years and have not been able to experience the annual mecca to the family homestead during that time.  That being said, I have wonderful memories of my visits there.

To me, Mill River has always been about the journey.  From deciding on the date to who would bring what to who would travel with whom occupied our time leading up to the magical day.  I remember my father giving me directions after I had learned to drive and then my getting lost on the way.  After finally meeting up with everyone, he was perplexed.  After all, he had told me, "Don't take a right." (Wouldn't most people say, "Take a left?")

We had many other chuckles along the way.  One of my favorites was a friendly wager amongst the cousins as to how late Roseanne would be arriving at the cemetery.  Nobody won as she never made it deciding to meet up with us (much) later at the ball field.

Getting to the ball field wasn't easy.  The gate was often locked down a ways on the road and we had to park and lug everything and everybody quite a ways.  I remember Jim always making sure all the barbecue items were where they needed to be no matter how many trips it took!  Jim and Ned shared the cooking duties while Grace, Marie, Belle, and Lil sat watching the kids.  They deserved to sit as the efforts they had all put in preparing dwarfed that of the barbecuers. (Everyone looked forward to Belle's potato salad and didn't Grace bring Ryback's cinnamon donuts in addition to all of the hamburgs and hot dogs?  Wow!  Best donuts ever!)  

While the barbecues were heating up and the food being prepared, it was time for some baseball.   Everyone looked forward to the game each year.  There were some special moments on the field as anyone who wanted to take a swing from the youngest to the oldest was involved. Many continued to play as lunch was served grabbing a bite to eat when ever they could. Cleaning up usually didn't take too long as Millie was bad news for the local ant  community disposing of all paper goods the moment people finished eating. 

After the ballgame and on a full stomach (after the parent imposed mandatory 30 minute wait before swimming), all of us headed down the hill to the Y and the water.  Brother Pete was always leading the way no matter what the temperature.  I have pictures of Pete going for a swim at Hampton Beach while there was snow and ice on the beach. He got his start at "chilly" Mill River.  Those that took the plunge took pride in their accomplishment while they goaded the others into joining them.

Before you knew it, it was time to pack up to leave.  Time always went by so quickly at Mill River.  We had to say goodbye but we all knew we would be back to Mill River the next Memorial Day.  

It is about the journey.  It is about family.  It is about tradition.  I will be back!

This year, the Foley's plan on being at camp once again, and this time it's even more special.  They have made a wonderful donation in honor of their Aunt Grace and will sponsor a child to come to camp!  We thank them for their donation and making a difference in a child's life.

 Ann- Thanks for getting back to me about the child selected to attend camp in honor of my Aunt Grace- how perfectly wonderful!!    Grace was a teacher and an advocate for children - she would be particularly pleased with your choice. This magical place will certainly make an enormous  difference in his life as it has in all of ours!

Rose- I know that my Aunt Grace would be thrilled to know that a little boy is experiencing the joy of Wa Wa Segowea in her name. Thank you for honoring her and thank you to my cousin Ann for all her efforts in making this happen.

The Foley's story is such a great example of what Wa Wa is all about- tradition + family + a fun experience.   If you would like to make a difference in a child's life, please consider making a donation to Camp Wa Wa Segowea.  Contact us today - 518-656-9462 x6632  Visit the website-

If you would like to begin your own tradition like the Foley's and take advantage of Wa Wa Segowea in the offseason, let us know.   -

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Wa Wa Wally Waddle was a smashing success!

What a day!

The 3rd Annual Wa Wa Wally Waddle was a great success, with more runners, more spectators and more pies!  It was a gorgeous day for the 5K race and the kids races- the 1 mile race and 100 yard dash.  There were a good number of families there, either running, walking or cheering on the participants.  Speaking of the participants, their numbers have increased almost 3 times since the first race!

A new addition to this years festivities was an option to purchase raffle tickets.  Camp Alum Georgia LoPresti Meckes donated the prize, a 2 night stay at Cold Moon Farm Luxury Farmstay for 2 in Jamaica, Vermont.  The raffle alone raised just about enough money to send a kid to camp!  Here's more on Cold Moon Farm-

And that's what the Wa Wa Wally Waddle is all about, raising money for camp scholarships to send kids to our favorite camp.   All together, over $4,000 was raised!

We want to thank all the volunteers who came out and helped organize the race, baked the pies, coordinated the registration, worked on the course itself, and we especially thank Josh and Lisa Perks, the race directors!  We also want to thank all the sponsors for their support as well as the MidHudson Road Runners Club for their hard work.

Babycakes Café
CAYA Restaurant & Café
Finnish Solutions
Mid-Hudson Oral Surgeons
Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club
Molloy Pharmacy
Morris Associates Engineering Consultants
Roadkill Racing
Soul Dog Restaurant
Tubby’s Bathtub Resurfacing
Zimmer Brothers Jewelers

Here's some pics from the day-  Thanks to the various picture takers for their time and efforts in getting the right shot!

                                                     Early on at Race Day

Sarah arranging the Pie Table

Wa Wa Wally is here!

The runners start arriving to register.

Some Friends of Segowea!

Turtle Cupcakes, naturally! (from Bella Cakes)

Zach and Dave having a stare down over who gets the last cupcake.

The Kids 100 Yard Dash.

The main Event- the 5K!

And they're off!

Race Director (and Dad) Josh Perks showing the way.

Lisa looking spiffy in the Turtle hat.

Mike and Amy on water duty.

Dave running hard.

Katie in the home stretch.

Sara and Abby taking time to smile.

Minna's not breaking a sweat! 

Amy posing.  Okay, what's the raffle?

The Harvey's out racing!

Announcing the winners.

Look at all those pies!

3 Time Champ Mike Insler!

3 time winner Marisa Strange choosing her pie.

Yes, that's the one!

Camp Alum Richard wins a pie!

Some more pictures taken of the day are here-