By Mark McMurray
From the FINAL Alton Almanac August of '92
Special thanks to Stew Shankman for supplying the article
The following is a letter from Mark McMurray to the late "Old Doc" (Peter Stromberg) who passed away before the summer of 1992 (camp's final year).
It seems like just yesterday when we last spoke. I remember discussing this upcoming camp season, which has now just gone by, and even though your physical presence was not here this summer, I figured I could try and give you a quick summary of what went on.
Like we discussed this winter, the big story of the year was Bunk I. With twenty-five campers and five counselors, it was a unique experience that had never before been attempted. The senior group, as a whole, was large, but the bulk of the group was Bunk I. Dusty, Tad, Jake, Kash, and I were the five who tried to lead this group throughout the year. I think we succeeded in showing the bunk what the "Bunk I experience" meant to each one of them, as well as together in a unit, so that they could prepare themselves for their final year as campers and their future years as counselors. Of course, we used fairness and vigilance (I know you love that word) and a lot of fun to make this summer the best one ever for the Bunk I seniors [Editors note - Bunk I that year was the recipient of the Andy Ades Andy Ades award].
As for the rest of camp, it went off without a hitch. Pete kept telling me how this was one of the smoothest, most consistently run summers he's ever seen, and I think he really meant that. Doc, it was great. Of course, the usual characters were in their usual places doing their usual outstanding jobs. Goober and Jake ran the A-Crew, and Tad and Sam were at the beach. Lou, well, Lou is Lou, so the tennis courts were in their usual A-1 condition; so was the tennis program. Laura and her husband, Keith, were at camp this summer and did a great job. There were many new counselors too, who stepped in and performed well.
The special events were outstanding. The Sing, Track Meet, Swim Meet, and the Rush were all competitive, and everyone, both campers and counselors, performed at the highest level they possibly could. Even Wrestling Night was a big hit, especially the "epic" bout between the brothers Lewin, Stone, and Kasher. You would have loved this match. The kids were into it and so were the counselors. The Great Glenno defended camp admirably as he defeated the Prophet, who actually turned out to be Andy Ganick. Andy was the masked wrestler because he wanted to patch up the "differences" that Glenn and Kappy had during the summer. Andy did not want to see their friendship erode and break down.
I would say, Old One, that friendship was the catalyst of my summer. Though I could never take your place, I was happy and honored to be in Bunk I this year. I made twenty-five new friends this summer, each of them in a special place in my heart. For these ten years that I've been here, I've tried to counsel these kids in the best way that I know how, and that was by watching you and trying to imitate your actions when it came to counseling. By using you as an example, I think I carved my niche here at camp. When it came time for a laugh or a smile, like you, I tried to provide it, although some people accuse me of laughing too much. When a kid needed a shoulder, I've tried to give them both my shoulders. And when it came for a tough, stern look or an unexpected angry shout, I did that too, but only when it was appropriate. Just like when you did it.
Doc, I know you weren't here physically, but you were here. You are camp, and signs of you are everywhere. You're at the A-Field, throwing a curveball and telling a 10-year old to "keep his head in." Though you weren't a fan of the water, you're at the dock and the beach. You're at cookouts, telling stories of when "men were men." You're in the bunk on Sunday nights, starting each meeting by saying what a great week the kids had. You're here with every handshake, every hug, and every tear this is shed by all of us who love camp as you did.
Your spirit is here and will continue to be. Everyone misses you. I miss you a lot, probably more that you know, but then again, you probably do know. Please let me know if I'm doing my best because I know you won't settle for anything less.
Stay in touch, and I'll talk to you soon.