At Surprise Lake Camp , we talk a lot about Fish and the philosophy, WOW and the staff that will be bringing it all together. Sometimes, because I have only been at Surprise Lake Camp for 5 years (I got my 5 year jacket this summer) I am not as familiar as some with the rich history of camp. Oh yes, I know that Surprise Lake Camp has been around since 1902. I know that we have many famous alumni, and that we change lives every day. I wonder if anyone realizes the rich history that we still have at camp. The fact that of all the JCC resident camps we have the least turnover? Our Key Staff and our Icons have a long rich history that leads right into the present.
The word icon is derived from the Greek eikon, meaning an image. Camp has many characters, but only a handful of icons. I would like to introduce you to the SLC icons…or perhaps reintroduce you to them: Our Executive Director, Jordan Dale attended Surprise Lake Camp as a camper, a staff person and has been in his position as Executive Director for over 25 years. Did you know if you are lost in the woods and you call camp he will lead you back. I didn’t believe it until I heard it, he asks someone to look up…..describe what they see. He tells them to walk towards the drooping tree and they will see X and sure enough they do and then he talks them the way down…..really? Yes really! Please pray if you ever get lost you reach Jordan and not Sheryl….Sheryl gets lost with a tom tom.
Harry Vogel had been at Surprise Lake Camp for 60 years. He is the Administrative Director and the glue that holds it together in terms of making things happen. Harry has Harryisms…..they can’t make it tough enough,…when the smoke goes up the mountain, he is a charismatic legend in a red jeep, a speedo covered by Taliban shorts and a heart of gold. Whether he is putting up the docks or doing orthodontics Harry is always there to help. Harry made it clear to me that he has survived many Camp Directors, and that he would make my life easier…true words were never spoken. He is a g-d send.
Whammy…some would say he is a legend in his own mind but I would disagree. Whammy has been at camp for over 30 years (he also went to camp with JD) He has taken countless campers on hikes and assisted more staff than you can imagine on and off camp. He is the guy that everyone has a story about…he is the guy who is always offering to lend a hand and will jump in where ever he is needed. He takes our pictures, creates slideshows, and makes sure that every child (and staff he touches) has a WOW experience. His dedication and love for camp is immeasurable…..so much so that he is one of the honorees at the 110th Anniversary bash!
As I said, camp has a long and colorful history….these legends are with us every summer…if you are not here…you are missing out on something special.
I hope to see you all at the Surprise Lake Camp 110th Anniversary Party on March 10 and this summer when we continue the celebration…counting down the days until summer.