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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What is the magic at Camp Wa Wa Segowea?

What makes Segowea, Segowea?

It's a new day, a new start, again.  We've had a few new beginnings through the years here at Camp Wa Wa Segowea.    The camp moved to its present location on Foley Hill Road 85 years ago- a new beginning.  Boys attended camp and the only females were the ones that came on Visitors Day, until the camp became coed- a new beginning.  The camp went quiet for a few years, and then reopened with great fanfare in 2010- a new beginning.  And now, 2013, our 100th Anniversary Year, opening with a new partner, the Northwest CT YMCA- a new beginning.   Through it all, Wa Wa has endured in the hearts and minds of many, many friends and supporters.  And we can not thank you enough!  

With this new beginning, the task at hand for us, is to attempt to explain what makes Segowea, Segowea, and share these thoughts/ideas/beliefs/traditions with our new partner, the Northwest Y.  They are aware of the passion for camp by friends and alumni, but it's always helpful to put this passion into words.   The past two blog posts have been about this topic in a roundabout sort of way. Sarah Perks did an excellent job with her photo essay of camp, and the last post was made up of Smith Park Board members and their reason for involvement.  Now, we're looking to hear from you.

So we thought we would ask you!   What makes Segowea, Segowea?

Whether it's just a few words or a whole list of things, please feel free to include anything and everything!    Is it the people?  Is it Harmon Pond? Is it that wake-up call?     

You can post your responses a few ways- 

  • on this post (at the bottom), 
  • email them to 
  • post them on our Facebook page      
Now's the chance to be heard!

We want to share all responses with the Northwest CT Y.   


Monday, February 18, 2013

Wintertime is busy time here at Camp Wa Wa Segowea!

Winter at camp is a time to live that unhurried lifestyle.  It's a calm, normally inactive period where the snow piles up and the wood stove/fireplace is burning consistently.  And it's no different this year, except for behind the scenes where things are happening at a furious pace!  The process that was put in place back in September of 2012, now has that proverbial foot on the accelerator and we're proceeding with momentum making sure that children will have an excellent summer in this, Segowea's 100th Anniversary year!

The Northwest Connecticut YMCA (with branches in the local area of Torrington, Winsted and Canaan) has joined with Smith Park to see all this come to fruition.   Both parties are working very hard on their own as well as together and we've not a minute to waste.

The first thing everyone is looking for is information on the summer.  We steer you first to the website already up and operational-    There's info on Resident Camp, Day Camp, and Stay Camp, as well as online registration.  There's an Early Bird Discount if you register before April 15th too!  There's also a link for staff members to apply.   Secondly, to hear in person more plans for the summer, or if you had questions regarding camp or just wanted to be involved with camp, we invite you to the Smith Park Annual Meeting!    All are welcome to attend! It's taking place on March 2nd in Poughkeepsie at the Newton Community Center at Christ Episcopal Church  from 12 Noon to 2:30 pm and lunch is provided!    Christ Episcopal Church 20 Carroll Street Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Then if you're interested in seeing camp before the summer, come see us at the Open Houses!  Mark your calendars now for April 14th, May 19th and June 9th from 12-3pm.

So how did we get to where we are today?  As we said, the process began back in September with the Smith Park Board of Directors meeting many times over the 4 month period of September to December 2012.  We discussed the best options for camp, sent out inquiries, put forward requests for proposals, had many phone and in-person conversations, vetted through the proposals and came to the conclusion that the best selection to partner up with was the Northwest CT YMCA .  They were delighted to have the opportunity to expand their camping program even further to include the rich tradition filled Camp Wa Wa Segowea!    All of us combined really can't wait for the summer!

The Smith Park Board expresses their gratitude for those recently making contributions to camp, especially in these hard times.  They are very grateful and wanted to share with you why this beloved camp is so special to them.  The following are their answers to the question "Why are you on the board?"
John Dunn- Past Chairman Smith Park of New York (SPONY)/Present Chairman of Smith Park of Mass/Board Member
 I am on the SPONY board because:
 I feel every child should have a camp experience;  I respect my fellow board members;  I feel there is more to being a kid than playing with video games and cell phones;  I refuse to let a great tradition and institution like Wa Wa die;   I will not let all the work of those who came before me be in vein.
Linda MacIsaac- Co-ed Camper/Treasurer SPONY/Board Member
I hope my answer isn't too simple, but my reason is ensure that Camp Wa Wa remains open for children to experience the wonderment of Camp for generations to come.  Camp is in existence today only because of those volunteers that have come before us, giving of their hearts, souls and lives for the sole purpose of keeping Camp Segowea alive for the children.  It is my responsibility to continue that legacy of caring by being a member of Smith Park's Board. I can only pray that my participation is worthy of those forefathers of Camp Wa Wa Segowea.
I started work weekends in 1985 much to the surprise of the then all male Camp Committee.  After a very short time, the guys found that I was a strong back and weak mind fitting in with the rest of the work weekenders quite well.  I became a member of the Camp Committee joining the likes of Bobby Gaddis and Gordon Ackerman in maintaining Camp on an all volunteer basis.  I first became a member of the Smith Park of Massachusetts Board at the request of none other than Bar McComb.  My outspokenness at the Camp Committee meetings not being afraid to always ask  the hard questions might have had something to do with it.  Once our relationship with the DC Y collapsed, Smith Park of New York was created consisting mainly  of the same folks who were the Camp Committee.  I resigned from the Board in 2009 after the death of my husband.  Camp is such an emotional part of my life I found that I was not in the correct frame of mind after losing my husband to be an effective part of the Board thus my decision to leave the Board.  Perhaps a year later I realize the void in my life was in part due to the lack of my involvement with Camp so I had a long conversation with John Dunn about coming back.  And have been on the Board ever since.
It should be noted that in 1996 I was first diagnosed with cancer and thought at that time I should resign from the Board for I knew I would not be physically able to a positive contributing factor to Wa Wa.  All of the other Board members would hear nothing of my leaving and allowed me to dictate how much I could be involved when I was able to.  With the two recurrences of cancer since 1996, the Board has continued to allow me the latitude to be as much involved as I was capable of while battling cancer.
I suppose the actual beginnings of my devotion to Camp all started in the mid-sixties at the first co-ed two week Camp session which I proudly attended.  Though I only attended for that first two week period the magic of Wa Wa has stayed with me through these many years.
Michael Page- Camper/Board Member
I feel honored to sit on the Smith Park Board.  The reason that I do sit on that board is, I am the second of now 3 generations to attend Camp Segowea.  I became a board member to insure that other children get the chance to experience what was a wonderful time in my life, in their lives!
Segowea is a magical place that helped form me as a person & I believe that any child who can experience this or come close to experiencing this will have memories throughout their lives, & this experience can only make them & the world a happier place!  That is why I am a board member & will continue to work to keep that "magical" place going for many generations to come.
John Fisher- Camp Director/Present Chairman SPONY/Board Member
I'm on the board because I asked to be on it when I stepped down as camp director in 82.  I have loved Segowea since I took over in 76 and have wanted it to continue for my kids, grandkids and everyone elses.  It is that kind of place!
Amy McPheeters- Camper/staff member/Board Member
The case for many of us, I was introduced to camp through a close friend from Albany, NY where I grew up.  My first summer, the summer of 1995 on the cusp of my ninth birthday, I was assigned to Seneca cabin and began to form my new identity as a Wa Wa.  From the very start, Segowea was a home for me.  My mom used to joke that her feelings were hurt, what, with me practically jumping out of the car when we finally reached the bottom of the hill to be dropped off at the beginning of the summer and bawling when camp was over and I had to be picked up to go home, the opposite reaction of what a parent of a new and relatively young camper may have expected.  Moving up the ranks from camper, to senior villager, to my LIT/CIT years, and eventually to junior and senior staff, my tenure at camp continued until camp tragically closed in 2005.  It was the deep bonds between camp friends that sustained me during the school year growing up, and it is those same friendships that have inspired me to remain connected to camp and ensure its success for future generations of Wa Wa's.
Jeff Raymond- Camper/Family Camper/Former VP SPONY/Board Member
I want the wonderful experiences that I've had at camp my whole life to be available to others now and in the future.
Darlene Ward- Parent of Camper/Secretary of SPONY/Board Member
I have had the pleasure over the years when my daughter, Amy McPheeters, was a camper and counselor at Wa Wa, of seeing what a positive difference it was making in her life.  I saw how connected she was to everyone there, how camp had expanded her family and helped her turn into the wonderful young woman she is.  When camp was closing, I attended a meeting there.  I began to feel that I could in some small way be part of the future, part of continuing all that Wa Wa had been, so offered to assist in the transition.  I attended meetings for awhile, and offered what I could.  One day, a vote on something was needed, and the other board members looked to me to cast my vote.  I reminded them I wasn't actually on the board, merely a board groupie!  I was elected at the next opportunity, and continue to find it an inspiring and committed group of individuals.  Members have had personal tragedies and challenges and many, many other obligations and demands on their time, but through it all, we persevere.  We dispense with the considerable work required to maintain a not for profit and to ensure that generations of future WaWa's will enjoy the life-changing experience my daughter did.  We write, we work, we talk, we ponder, we argue, and we laugh.  Together.  Which is the Wa Wa way.
 Lou Falk- Past YMCA Executive/Board Member
I volunteer on the Smith Park Board for two big reasons....
First and foremost I truly want this Resident Camp to survive and flourish because there are so few smaller intimate camps like this which remain in operation.  I hope that, by serving on this Board, I can provide both knowledge and money to keep this camp in operation for many years to come!
Second, and you must keep this a secret, Harmon Pond is one of the best largemouth bass lakes I have ever fished on in the northeast!
Elizabeth Carivan- CIT/Camp Staff/Camp Program Director/Board Member
I want to serve on the Smith Park board because I believe it is fulfilling to work towards the longevity and growth of Camp Segowea. Wa Wa has been an indescribably significant part of my life, and I want to help make this experience possible for many more children in the future. The Wa Wa approach to communal living and outrageous fun is unique in so many ways, and I can't wait to see what wonderful stories next summer will bring!  
Mike Bruns- Camp Staff/Present VP SPONY/Board Member
Why am I on the board?
I've seen first hand the experience that Wa Wa can present to a child- the fun it brings, and the learning of the acceptance of others for who they are.  What makes it great is seeing the child grow before your very eyes.  Camp has educated me and continues to help me learn about people, about the outdoors and about life itself.  When something that good comes into your life, you want to share it with as many people as possible, and you want to preserve it for others to cherish in the future.  There have been many people that cared for Segowea before me and many will come after me.   But right now, I am lucky enough to have it be my turn.
Tom Harvey- Camper/Camp Staff/Board Member
It is hard for me to say anything else other than… I am on the SPONY Board to help to ensure a future for Wa Wa Segowea!
Wyeth Drummond- Camper/Camp Staff/Director/Board Member
Wyeth answered the question by sharing an essay he wrote awhile ago about Segowea:

As the early morning fog lifts from the lakes surface, the daylight reveals a sun whose rays stretch from the sky to the waters surface to dance, skip, and shine in harmony with the wind driven waves.
This place where nature thrives and the elements of the Earth abound with strength and longevity is located in the Berkshire Mountains, in the state of Massachusetts. It's five hundred and fifty-five acres of natural hardwood forest, spring­ fed lake, and all the beauties of natures life that accompany them.
One reason I cherish this place of wonder and magic is the pure physical beauty of the surroundings.   From the moment the sun rises with its hypnotic effect on the water, to the rising and cascading of the moon, revealing stars and distant places one can only wonder about.
With this delicately balanced environment it only seems natural that the wildlife, so abundant and healthy, would only thrive here to form the perfect eco-system. The powerful flight of the majestic Blue Heron who choose this place as it's watering hole and life source, to the effortless flight of the Red-tailed Hawk who rides the wind thermals as the champion of all gliders. The ever present night time croaking of the bullfrog as he tries to attract a mate, similar in the way an artist displays his works as they search for the perfect buyer . The forest alive with under growth and lichen, young saplings taking hold, stretching through the canopy of life above them to find their own place in the forest of life.
It's not only the natural which propel this place of wonder but the physical elements as well. The small rustic cabins constructed of native chestnut, leaning ever so slightly with their age. Some might describe them as old and dilapidated, but I see them as alive and youthful with memories and stories of the years and times gone by. The main lodge sits as it has for over seventy-five years. From it's wrap-around  porch overlooking the lake, to the towering stone fireplace inside, both command your respect as time aged treasures.  The huge open windows allowing the gentle Berkshire breeze to blow through carrying the sounds of the present, as well as the voices of the past .
One thing that is so unique about this place is its resistance to change. When a recent visitor came to this place for the first time in thirty-seven years he was fascinated with how much the place hadn't changed . It was just  as he had remembered it, so vivid and dear in his mind and heart . He told of how the only thing that may have changed was that the place seemed smaller in size. It hadn't gotten any smaller, he had only gotten bigger. You see the last time he was there he was only eleven years old, a mere child. The only consistent change encountered in this seemingly divine place is with the comings and goings of the seasons. The summer abundant with sunshine, warmth, and life: whereas the winter brings only darkness, cold, and a feeling of closure.
There also is a human element here, an element that plays a major role in my love for this place. Here people encounter a wonderful belief and idea the belief in a communal sense to ones self and surroundings . A communal sense encompasses so much of what is learned, taught, shared, and embraced here. From everyone doing chores together, to shared decision making, to daily living, community is what is important. It is often said in this community that we are like a chain Each person in the community represents a link in the chain, and no matter how big or small someone is they all represent an equal link. In order for the chain to remain strong we must work together and value each other, for we are only as strong as our weakest link.
It's not just the humanistic communal view that occurs here, but a natural view as well. People living here, although a community themselves, are really just part of a larger scheme or realm of things. They live in natures community, and they are only part-time residents . They must respect the natural community, for it is the one which provides life to us as humans.  It  is this co-habitation of communities that allows this place to survive and thrive. It's this delicate balance that allows this amazing eco-system of man and nature to remain here then, now, and forever.
This place is Camp Segowea. It's a co-ed resident summer camp where children come to bask in natures splendor, have fun, meet and make new friends, and all the while learning basic valuable life skills. The word Segowea is Native American for, " he who casts his bread upon the water." Translated this means that if man gives to the land and water to ensure its survival, the land and water in return will ensure the survival of man. This place called Segowea so true to its name. It's the natural beauty, the physical characteristics, and the balance between man and nature that I cherish, and that is why I love this place.

Thanks to all for sharing!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Camp Wa Wa Segowea Photo Essay by Sarah Perks

We are very lucky and extremely honored to share this wonderful photo essay with all of you.  Essayist and Camp Alum, Sarah Perks shares her personal story of camp.  It truly invokes the spirit of Wa Wa.  Thank you Sarah!  Photo credits go to Liam Carleton.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Happy Times at Camp Wa Wa Segowea!

As the last two posts were titled "Happy Holidays" and "Happy New Year", it's only fitting that this post should also have "Happy" in the title!  And that's because that's what we are.  We are happy!  We are happy to be able to offer our beloved camp to even more children in this year, 2013, our 100th Anniversary year.  We are happy to announce a new partnership with the Northwest CT YMCA!  And lastly, we are happy to see that this whole process has led to a great conclusion.   Yeah!

And now comes the tough part, of getting all this up and running in the short time we have before the summer.  It will be an arduous undertaking, but we are confident that great goals will be accomplished. We've already received some requests for more information and some of you need to know dates and times now, as you are doing your summer planning.  We hope to have those as soon as possible, and the NW CT Y is also working on a website to eventually answer all your questions.  We are very thankful for the continued interest in Wa Wa by all of you, as we all know, it's a very unique place.

With that, we wanted to share the letter going out to all Supporters of Camp Wa Wa Segowea-

To supporters of Camp Wa Wa Segowea:

As we enter the new year, we wanted to keep you posted about the future of Camp Wa Wa Segowea.  As you know, our three-year agreement with the Capital District YMCA came to an end this past November.  The Board of Directors of Smith Park of New York has engaged in a strategic planning process to reaffirm the values that Segowea holds dear and plan our next steps.  We cast a wide net through a Request for Proposal (RFP’s) process, approaching a number of individuals and organizations and inviting them to propose how we could work together to ensure the camp’s future.  The RFP’s were due at the end of November, and the Board met in early December to review and rate them. That process is completed, and we are going to partner with the North West CT YMCA (with branches in Torrington, Winstead, & Canaan). We are hitting the ground running together to ensure the camp is filled with children for the summer of 2013, our 100th Anniversary!

We need your help.  The camp has never been in better physical shape, but all of those improvements depleted our resources.  Our continued goal is to ensure that we have enough revenue to plan for the future.  Please consider a donation to Smith Park to P.O. Box 4994, Poughkeepsie, NY 12602.    This is a critical time in the camp’s history.  All of the hard work and sweat as well as the creativity of the past few years can’t be lost.  Will you consider making a special, TAX DEDUCTIBLE, donation to help us continue the tradition of camping at Segowea? (check to SMITH PARK OF NEW YORK, a 501c-3 organization)

We also invite all of you to become members of SMITH PARK.  An annual fee of $30 provides you with a membership in both SMITH PARK OF NEW YORK and FRIENDS OF SEGOWEA, our alumni association.  You can vote on the members of the Board of Directors for Smith Park and know you have a voice in determining the future of camp.  Smith Park’s Annual Meeting, March 2nd at noon in Poughkeepsie, is also an opportunity to come hear about plans for the coming year, be involved and provide feedback (Specific details of the meeting will be forthcoming).  Membership fees can be paid at the annual meeting or be sent to P.O. Box 4994, Poughkeepsie, NY 12602.

All of you make Camp Wa Wa what it is:  a place for children and grownups alike to be part of a very special community.  For 100 years, we’ve all made new friends, explored nature at its finest and taken part in many traditions at camp.  Please be a part of what Wa Wa will be in 2013 and beyond.

John Fisher
Chairman, Smith Park of NY

We will continue to have more news on what's happening here at Camp, so stay tuned!

Here's some recent pics of camp taken in January, 2013, and a couple of the Smith Park Board, hard at work!