Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Camp Madison Felicia Then And Now

Com Be
A report from Sarah on her visit
Sorry for the delay in getting to the good stuff that is happening at and on the land that was once (and some think will always be) Camp Madison Felicia. First you all should know more about Scott Robichaud. He fell into this connection to Camp but he seems to have fallen in love with it and it is something to see and be around. He refreshes and reminds me of how I felt about the place and it's fun to be around that enthusiasm again. He was not hired specifically to work on Camp Combe stuff but had they looked nobody better could have been found.
The improvements to many of the structures we know so well are fun to see. Knowing how the lower unit bunks and the Pavilion/Open Shed were used, I immediately approved. Other things made me think of Jerry's building projects and these new additions capture that spirit of his 'projects'. Where is Jerry?

Here's what I saw as I saw it.
1)There's now a water slide that runs on the ground, down the incline from Peekskill Hollow along what I think is the camp's property line. It's set apart from but in the area of the pool. Pool seems in good shape, no more diving board or slide. The new slide is tempting; it has this big corrigated vent you slide through. I resisted, but I did jump the fence and into the pool. It was hot and felt very good. The changing areas are the same we used; need and will be replaced.
2) As you walk up the hill from the pool to the rear of the barn and side of the dining hall, you notice that a lot of tiering has been done that stabilizes the incline; prevents erosion from the global warming rains we seem to be experiencing.
3) Walk on the path behind the dining hall, toward the side of the Pav/OpSh and the brige over the creek, the big tree on the left is even bigger and now is encased in a wooden, climbable scaffolding/decking that goes way up. Fun, huh?
4) The Open Shed, which is what it was called in the 60s/70s was called the Pavilion when I was a camper. On the side facing the field, the floor has been extended to create a really nice front porch. It could also serve as a stage, I think, with the audience sitting on the grass, backs to the road. 5) The bridge over the creek has been rebuilt and the railings on either side incorporate benches. 6) The one room library that stood on stilts to the right is gone - but get this, the part of the path to the lower unit that was always the muddiest has been BOARDWALKED! So now, we can tell the younguns how we walked to and from, 3X a day at least through the mud and how easy they have it! And then you get to the Lower Unit and it's a revelation...
5. Big Lower Unit changes to the bunks. Since camp is now days only, each lower unit bunk houses an activity like Nature, Arts and Crafts. So campers can be sheltered on a rainy day and not be cooped up inside, a large semi-covered deck has been built around each bunk. The spooky shower house is gone! The Arts and Crafts hut when I was a counselor is now for the youngest kids' that attend - pre-schoolers. When I was a camper, arts and crafts happened in the garage attached to the barn opening onto the parking area. I remember that soon after we arrived, a big ceder tree would be cut down and carried in. Each kid, counselor and every staff member would be given a pocket sized piece of the wood and a few sheets of sand paper. Everyone worked on their wood at every chance; carried it around with them all the time. It was a camp wide, continuous, walking around project that yielded a good luck piece for home. I still love the smell of cedar.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! I went to Camp Madison-Felicia in 71 or 72. I was supposed to be in Lower Girls (I think it was called) but because I cried and also because approximately 3 or 4 girls that I knew from my neighborhood in the Soundview-Clason Point section of the Bronx were in upper girls they placed me in upper girls! I was the youngest girl in those bunkers and boy was I a cry baby!!! LOL! I remember having an asthma attack while on a hay ride and going to the infirmary where one of the counselors were also... it turned out that it was Sunshine/ Sundance(?) Whoopi Goldberg!!! I remember her clearly with her Afro, looking sort of like a free spirit even then! I remember Bunny(?) and a Spanish dude that was good looking always hugging each other too. That camp left me with indelible feelings and impressions regarding nature and the environment! It was the most beautiful green place to me and made me a nature lover! I used to eat berries from the trees, make real leather bags and home made cookie with the "grandmas", develop my own pictures, make wooden stilts, etc. I can still visualize much of the camp in my mind. I loved that camp!

Chocolate said...

I went to camp Madison Felicia in 1977 and LOVED it.
I 42 yrs old now I still remember all the songs.
I was in the Lower Girl's and my sister in the Upper Girl's. I remember "backwards day" going to "grandma's house" and singing "Food Waiter Waiter Waiter"
...I came to camp and tell me what did I see/ Maaadison Felicia YAY! The greatest camp in tha commnunity.Wonderful memories.

Anonymous said...

I may be the oldest person around who attended Madison House, Camp Felicia and Camp Madison. I went
to Felicia in the 1930's. My
parents were members of Madison
House as teenagers! We used to go
to Camp Madison with our parents for "old timers" weekends. I have many wonderful memories of those summer vacations.

T. Morris said...

I would love to talk to anyone who attended Camp Madison Felicia between the mid-60s & the mid-70s. I am doing research on a civil rights organization from Mississippi that sponsored Black children from the South to attend the camp during this time period and would like to know if any former campers remember this. Please contact me, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to hear your recollections. Please contact me at tmorrisphd@gmail.com. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Please post more pictures.

Thor Robstad said...

What a blast from the past.My name is Thor Robstad,my dad Trygve was the caretaker of Camp Madison Felicia for many years.We lived in the house across the road (peekskill hollow road).It's a blast to see the library,uncle sid's place,the brook.There are so many memories here.I hope to connect with someone or anybody that may remember this era.

Thor Robstad said...

I remember Mr. Press being director,and Marvin fleischaker.Jerry and Claudia...They built a walk bridge from uncle sids across the sludge to the library.Contact me...trobstad@hotmail.com or facebook Thor Robstad

Jimmie Reese said...

Thor please send me your email address and I will connect you to some former campers.
davidbellel@mac.com

Anonymous said...

Wow. I went to camp Madison Felicia for three years...can't remember the exact years but I would venture to say between 69-74...around that time. I started in the lower girls. Blueberry cabin and Vanilla I am pretty sure that is what they were called back then. My last year was the upper girls...what trouble we got into...ha ha. The songs we sang them were Camp Madison Felica Yah, Camp Madision Felica Yah, M A D I S O N F E L I C I A...its the greatest camp of all...and We are the upper girls oh yea, the best in town oh yea and if you see us coming oh year...you better get out of town...ha ha...what fun. I also remember singing Kumbaya my lord and each bunk had to come up with a verse during night singing in that huge cabin with no walls down near the flag pole if I am correct. I learned to swin there. How about being able to go to the canteen across the street once a week. I remember we went for three weeks at a time each summer. My friend Rosanna from the Bronx went, too, but she was 1 year older. I remember going up a mountain for a day hike trip where we took bag lunch and it was to Daytop Village. We also hiked to a waterfall and swam. At the time I was there I believe they had a carnival and they had a hang slide which was in the area of the flagpole...remember having to go to the flagpole every morning? Each bunk taking turns lifting our American Flag for the day. What about the bug juice. The food was actually good and I was a picky eater...the eggs were awlful though and the cin. toast was yummy. I remember we snuck to the upper boys cabin and got caught...well atleast I thought I didn't and hid well but when I went to walk in the dark back the boys counselors yelled "Sugar" you want a flashlight...lol...I ran. Someone mentioned about kids coming from the South. I don't know where all the kids where from. I liked everyone and had fun. I know I took a bus from Harlem where my mom took me on a train from Soundview to get to. It cost my mom I think $75.00 for the entire 3 weeks for me to go and unlike today...you could get care packages and my mom was good and sending them. I always got mail.

Tony Rose said...

My name is Tony Rose. I was an upper boy during the summers of 70,71 & 72. In 1974 I worked in maintenance, working in the kitchen with Armondo & cutting grass etc.. In 1975 I was in service corp, counselor in training & waiting the tabels in the mess hall. In 1976 &77 I was a lower unit counselor. Names I remember are Jughead, Bonehead, Sash, Frenchie, Mark, Gail Vanderhorse, Gail Benjamin,Paul the lifeguard, Amy Flieshacker, Marvin Flieshacker, Larry Gutlerner, Alan Dindas, Tex, Coke,Kermit, Roger, Judy Smart, Joe Murph, Tee, Lois, Michael Friedman & many others. I remember the grandma's and they even had a grandpa who called everyone "stick in the mud". I remember mornings at the flagpole before breakfast & after breakfast singing in the open shed. My service corp performed Godspell at the steps behind the open shed one evening. I remember overnites at the upper & lower snipes (up the hill across the road from the camp). I remember the Admin,the Stable, Uncle Sids, the Couselors Retreat. I remember Tomkins & Adams Corners. When I was in maintenance we stayed in a bunk located across the street from the camp on the hill between the directors house & the lower snipe, called the shack. My younger brother Frank Rose was also a camper & employee of the camp during those years. Whenever I find myself on the Taconic Parkway I get off on the Peekskill Hollow Road exit & check out the old camp. The barn & mess hall are still there. The open shed has an addition to it, Uncle Sids is gone. I haven't ventured up into the lower & upper units. My introduction to the camp was from my school teachers Alan Dindas & Larry Gutlerner and my school principal Marvin Flieshacker from P.S.47 in the Bronx.

Tony Rose said...

Bug juice....lol

Tony Rose said...

Bug juice....lol

Tony Rose said...

To Thor, I remember that bridge behind Uncle Sids. It was only there for a couple of years.It started leaning so they took it down. I think that bridge was built in 73. I played alot of basketball in Uncle Sids. Sids had fiberglass back boards. When I was in maintenance '74 we played the pots & pans on Uncle Sids stage using the forks & knives as drumsticks. Peace, Tony Rose

queen said...

Wow I went to camp Madison Felicia my mom sent me for two years..I remember at the end of my two weeks I would always get home and I was always missing something..LMAO!!I. Think I went in the later years maybe about 10 years. I was in the upper girls for both years.I really enjoyed my time there. Didn't keep in contact with no one :(

Steve C said...

So many fond memories from so many years ago. I went to Camp Madison Felicia only a year or two around 1958/59. I went on to Boy Scout camp afterward (Ten Mile River, Camp Keowa). My younger brother and sister went to Camp Madison Felicia in the late 1950's and early 1960's. I remember the big field and great baseball games. I remember sneaking across the road to the swimming pool thru a culvert. I remember lots of steps to get up to the pool. I remember a photo shop and the large barn-like structure we would sit in and sing all those great camp songs. I also remember a cute red haired, freckle faced girl named Erica.

Anonymous said...

How I cannot believe that i found this. i was a lower girl and a upper girl in about 1976 to 1980. i had somuch fun. i remember closing night and every body crying. drugs ruined my life so long but i am ten years clean. i remember floyd and tee. cheryl and her sister. tee was my favorite. there was a guy counselor from harlem named eddie. he was my counselors boyfriend. he was the nicest guy and i use to wish he was my dad. all of us did. nice guy. i wish i could be there during the years that i was getting high. even wheni was on the street i would think about camp and feel happy and safe.

joseph murph said...

Joseph murph here. I worked @madison-felicia from 1973-1983. 73,service corps,74, maintenance 75 counselor lower boys 76 counselor upper boys,77 counselor upper boys. 78, dance specialist. 79-83 drsma specialist. Man all the fun and joy. I remember almost every song. My favorite. Summer days are clean and fun and gentle, we do things we cannot do at home. The kids we meet stay with us through the snowfall, and the hearts we touch all stay inside our souls. And the summer it comes every year and same good vibes are always here, we re high upon a cloud of fantasy. We can t forget we can only live and think of days gone by and feel good and peaceful now in our summer home. Madison-Felicia magical,peaceful and reminds me of a dream. I grew here, loved here made discoveries. Once I made that right turn from division st to peekskill hollow road, a feeling of calm overcame me. Knew I was close when I went past the grave stones that we would outline with crayon and paper. Came around that bend, grandmas on the left and lower field on the right. That phone booth out front. Probably my best time was when I got up the first day of each new trip and went to the city to help get the kids on the bus. I still get chills thinking about it. Madison-Felicia will live within forever.








Myles Lessner said...

Wooow were can I begi n My name is Myles, I went to Camp Madison - Felicia for abt 5yrs started in the lower boys allll the way to the upper boys i remember it all like it was yesterday still at the blessed age of 44yrs old.me, my best friend Dwayne from Chelsea houses & Richie had so much fun the staff was wonderful they truly treated us like family..all the friends i made i haven't seen anyone in years (the eary to late 80's).we uaed to leave from in front of the Hudson Guild on 33rd & 10th ave side of Chelsea Projects & PS 33...I will never forget performing in West Side story at that camp and working on the set also..To all whom have attend this Camp.GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!.What a true learning and love experience it has been.
LONG LIVE CAMP MADISON-FELICIA!!!

Marlynne Brown said...

I remember you I was there in 76/77 and Work Camp '78

Marlynne Brown said...

My parents sent me to MF as a "punishment" in 76/77 I LOVED it so much I stayed and returned was part of Work Camp '78 Ain't we great! I remember Floyd his family was in touch w his daughter Linda till the 90's
I remember my cabin mates The Lemons, Daney and the boys lol Carl and crew
Counselors Marilyn and Eddie and Tee and the camp radio station LOL Great Memories!!

Anonymous said...

MADISON FELICIA IT THE GREATEST CAMP OF ALL!! remember this song. I learned how to swim 41st madison felicia.

Anonymous said...

I went to camp Madison Felicia in, I think 1968 when I was ten years old. The schools in my neighborhood, PS 199 and PS 191, had been paired together during the civil rights movement and at least half of my friends lived in the Amsterdam housing projects between 64th and 61st street. My friends had come back from MF with all these great stories so I wanted to go there too. I remember the bus ride to the camp. The predecessor to the boombox was this portable radio that also had a 45 record player built in. We must have heard "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" about a million times. I was in the lower boys, but I can't remember the specific cabin. I remember the big open house that we gathered in for morning assembly. We sang, "Rise and Shine and pull down your drawsies drawsies..." It was so much fun. I also remember a soccer coach from England and in those days hardly anyone played soccer in the city. I also remember the great swimming pool and a swimming contest that involved teams. We had one kid on our team who couldn't really swim that well but he could jump like a mini Jordan. Part of the contest was seeing who could dive into the pool and clear a pole held by councilors. This kid won that part of the contest and our team came in second. I don't remember meeting any kids from down south but it was an amazing experience. Talk about diversity, there were kids from just about every background.

Robert Stark

gales1 said...

I was there from the south, MS in 73 my brother went in 71. we stayed with a white family in the city for the first three days, then caught a bus to the camp. One of the best times of my life as a kid.

Harvey Gales

Marilynn said...

What a pleasant surprise after all these years to find this blog! I have so many memories of Camp Madison Felicia! I was 17 and this was my first job after graduating from high school. I was a counselor in the Upper Girls Unit. I remember you, Deneen, Jerri, and Eddie and many of the campers and counselors from the summer of "78". Deneen and Eddie signed my H.S. yearbook which I still have and it takes me back every time I see it! Don't know if you will see this but I hope this finds you well and happy. Blessings to you and your family in 2017.
Marilynn CMF"78"

Marlynne said...

Hi Marilynn
I remember you and if I can find my old photo albums I have pictures of you and Eddie.
Wishing you and your family a wonderful 2017!
Marlynne WC'78 "Ain't we great"

Marilynn said...

I'm so excited to hear from you! I don't have any pictures from that summer. Would love to see them if you find your old photo albums. Found video of the old campsite on Google. Was really amazing to see the old cabins and campsite. Just like I remember...