For those of us who attended 6th grade in Ridgewood in the late 1950's, 60's and early 70's, going to Camp Green for a week will be fondly remembered - it would be close to our last time together as Glen School classmates - we had been classmates for 7 years - K-6.
As short as it was, many people who attended Camp Green through the years have returned to the site at one time or another, often trying to find Cooper Hall and trying to place where their dorm once stood. I haven't dedicated any of my blog posts to anyone before but I feel wanted to dedicate this one to Beth Perdue. I know Beth loves the area so much. Not only did Beth so enjoy camp when we went there back in the spring of 1967, but to this day Beth still enjoys countless walks with her dog in the picturesque setting - conjuring up wonderful memories of her own family and reflections on her past. This is for you Beth...............
Click on any picture to enlarge.
Above l to r: Some of "The Glen" girls (still the best!) Beth Perdue, Katie Knight and Ann Rimmer at Camp Green May, 1967. I love this photo! Thanks for sending it Katie! Beth and Annie are wearing their camp sweatshirts and hats, Katie is wearing her sweatshirt - I think every one of us bought those at the camp store. At the time they taught us how to use a checking account - we had temporary accounts set up by our teachers and it was the only way we could make purchases at the camp store.
If you were a 6th grader in Ridgewood back in the day chances are you went to Camp Green and spent 4 nights and 5 days away from home. For us, camp started Monday May 8, 1967 and ended Friday afternoon May 12.
When I was in the lower grades at Glen School, camp was something I always heard about and couldn't wait to do myself! I had no clue what they did there but it was a week away from home and that sounded exciting! The idea that the 6th graders would get to go away for a week together (really 4 nights and 5 days) was pretty cool and by the time I was 10 (I started 6th grade at age 10) it was all I could think about that year in Mrs. DeJongh's class.
Mrs. DeJongh's 6th grade class Glen School - soon off to Camp Green. Photo supplied by both Karen Eide and Beth Perdue.
Front Row l to r: Karen Eide, Mary Ann Vaz, Corinne Frank, Jennifer Rudy, Linda Pursiano, Kara Degraw.
Second Row l to r: Ed Nalbantian, Ricky Flannery, Barbara Durheimer, Katie Knight, Ann Rimmer, Cara Worthington, Beth Perdue, Linda Bowers, Greg Rehe, Mrs. DeJongh.
Back Row l to r: Jim Smethhurst, Carl Vrabel, David Chandler, Randy Sharp, Wayne Bond, Jan Koper, Charles Voorhis.
Above Mrs. Bleeden's 6th grade class Glen School. Photo supplied by Artie Brierley.
Front Row l to r: Irene Williams, Betsy Kline, Penny Ward, Lynn Malley, Linda Breitkruz, Lori Abrahamson.
Second Row l to r: Martin Vaz, Cary Hoff, Sue Nunno, Jill Neandross, Beth Daly, Lisa Faeth, Bruce Meneghin, Mrs. Bleeden.
Back Row l to r: Frank Fortino, Bill Lavery, Bobby Stewart, Artie Brierley, Ken Merrill, Frank Petrucci, Alex Kramer.
Year after year in the spring, the bus and the Ridgewood Public Schools truck would pull up to the circle in front of our school in the early morning to take all the 6th grade graders to Camp Green. Mom's would drop off their kids and wave their goodbyes, etc. When our own turn came, the guy driving the open air truck would load up all our duffel bags and we said our own goodbyes to our moms. It was quite the adventure and there was lots of anticipation. Although, there were definitely more than enough verses of "100 Bottles of Beer On the Wall" - yes we sang the song using the word "beer" and it was no big deal but we sang and sang..............and probably drove the bus driver crazy!
To raise money for camp, our 2 6th grade classes ran various fundraisers. Among them were a bake sale, candy sale and a book fair in the gym - probably the only reason I remember the book sale is because I was on duty with Sue Nunno and our picture got in the local paper. I actually was wearing a sport jacket and tie - wow! Check out the nerdy photo - Sue's lookin' better than me in that one! What made this sale so unique is that we as a class would select and order the books we sold - we did the displays and we did the advertising via posters and flyers.
Above is a clipping from one of the Ridgewood papers showing Sue Nunno and Ricky Flannery working the book fair to raise money for Camp Green. The book fair was planned by us. We selected and made the book purchases, advertised it with flyers and posters and worked it. I remember being proud about how we had so much input in these fundraisers. The paper said our week of camp would be in April but we actually went from May 8 - 12, 1967. Click on to make larger to read the clipping.
Above, a 1962 map of Ringwood Manor and Camp Green.
There was talk about Camp Green from the time we returned from Christmas vacation til the time we departed for camp that May (1967). One of the things our teachers required of us was the keeping of a daily camp diary of our experiences at Camp Green which would be graded. The great thing about camp was that every 6th grade in town would partner up with another school in town - we had quite a few grade schools in town. At Glen School - where I went - we had 2 6th grade classes: Mrs. Bleeden's and Mrs. DeJongh's. I think we paired up with Ridge School but I may be wrong about that one - if anyone knows the answer please let me know!
I'll admit that while I was excited I also had my share of trepidation - what would I be eating (I was such a picky eater), what guys would I be rooming with - how many of us in the room, what would our schedule be like. But it wasn't "I'm gonna miss home" or anything quite so melodramatic - I was definitely psyched to be going away!
But before I write about ours and others camp experiences, allow me to give you a short history of Camp Green itself.
Camp Green - as it was known during the Ridgewood Public Schools camp years (8th graders used it as a science retreat as well), was nestled in the thick, forested hills and ponds in Ringwood NJ at the base of the Ramapo Mountains - 45 miles from Manhattan. It had a total of 11 buildings, which included a vast rustic hall (Cooper Hall) complete with moose heads, stuffed birds and numerous other pieces of memorabilia from past science classes at Cooper Union. There was Hewitt Hall which was where the camp store was. There was the dining hall and the dorms or bunk houses.
The property that made up Camp Green was formerly a working farm for the estate of Ringwood Manor when it was still owned by the Hewitt family as their summer residence. Years later, the youngest Hewitt child, Erskine Hewitt, donated the estate which is today known as Ringwood State Park but it did not include the portion that was known as the working farm. This portion of the property was willed to Erskine's nephew Norvin Green. Norvin eventually began slowly donating the property in 1940 to Cooper Union Institute in New York City. For many years, Cooper Union utilized the buildings and the site for summer classes in engineering, nature, surveying, the arts, etc.
Above is a postcard depicting a "Surveying" class for Cooper Union students at what we knew as Camp Green when the camp was known as "Green Engineering Camp".
In fact, an event of major importance occurred the weekend of May 27, 1950 at what became to be known as the "Green Camp of Engineering" (well before Ridgewood started to have their 6th graders go to camp). On this day - May 27, the first and founding meeting of the SWE - the Society of Women Engineers took place - a sort of convention. More than 60 people - mostly all women - participated in this weekend retreat. The young women hailed from the regional areas of Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Washington DC. The SWE is today the driving force that makes engineering a highly desirable career aspiration for young women. It empowers young women to succeed and advance and be recognized for their contributions and achievements as engineers and leaders. Today the SWE is a very strong and notable organization.
Above is a "Green Engineering Camp" memory book from 1947. After Norville Green donated the remaining property to Cooper Union, the property - which was once a working farm - would be used for retreats and classes.
Above, main campus of "Green Engineering Camp".
Above, school spirit with an old Cooper Union pennant.
Above, close to 60 young women arrive from the region to attend the "Society of Women Engineers" (SWE) SWE founders weekend at the camp site May, 1950.
Above, young women attending the SWE founders weekend make their beds.
Above are all the young women who attended the SWE founders weekend at the Green Engineering Camp May, 1950.
There were cookouts.
Above, the SWE ladies play badminton - May, 1950. Cooper Hall is in the background.
Above, the SWE play softball at the Green Engineering Camp - May, 1950.
Above, Louise Davis of the Society of Women Engineers speaks in Cooper Hall during the SWE founders weekend - May, 1950.
The young women of the SWE listen while Louise Davis speaks in Cooper Hall - May, 1950.
While I am not sure of the year, Green Engineering Camp became known as Camp Green to the various schools that participated in the science and nature programs yet was always known as Green Camp to the alumni of Cooper Union - who even today gather at Ringwood State Park for annual reunions - official and otherwise - celebrating their own time there.
For us, the camp was not just about learning science, surveying and map making - it was also about learning to be responsible for ourselves. We each were given tasks like kitchen duty - we were called "cruisers" on days when we had kitchen duty which included setting the tables, serving food and cleaning up.
We were each given a checking account (which I think the teachers managed) - the account held probably $10 or $15 and this is how we purchased our souvenirs such as our sweatshirts and camp hats - in fact it was the only way we could purchase things. We would sit in Hewitt Hall and write out our checks "Pay To the Order of...." at the Camp Store. We also had campfires, talent shows and a square dance which we prepared for during the school year. The whole experience was one of having fun, learning life lessons and learning about some very interesting subjects and worrying about setting yourself up for rejection at the dance!
Some of the notable landmarks of Camp Green aside from Cooper Hall & Hewitt Hall were Alumni Bridge, the outdoor campfire site, Sally's Pond, the Ringwood Creek, the pine forest, Ringwood Manor and the cemetery.
Two other famous landmarks - the eagle statue (2 have adorned the entrance to Skylands Manor in Ringwood, NJ - there was only one eagle statue when we attended camp) were among 22 total eagles that once perched atop the old Pennsylvania Station Building in New York City before it was demolished in the early 1960's. The New York Times described the demolition of Penn Station at the time as "......a monumental act of vandalism."
Above is the famous eagle statue we all climbed on during 6th grade camp at Camp Green. Photo courtesy of Karen Pursiano who attended in 1968.
Above, another view of the eagle in 1969.
Above, a Cooper Union outing on the eagle circa 1970. Photo owned by Penneagle.
Of the 22 original stone eagles, about 14 of them would survive and find new homes. When we attended Camp Green, there was one eagle that we climbed on and took pictures of. After about 10 years at the camp, Cooper Union decided to bring this one back to the city at the time of the sale of the camp property and it found a home in a courtyard of a building owned by Cooper Union on Third Avenue. When that building was sold, Cooper Union ultimately placed the eagle we all climbed on atop its new academic building in 2009. Interestingly, a pair of Penn Station eagles had been discovered discarded in the Meadowlands of New Jersey where they were rescued and placed at the entrance to Skylands Manor in Ringwood where they sit today and have for many years. Each one is approximately 5 feet tall, with wingspans that measure more than 70 inches and weigh nearly 5,700 pounds! But back to our own story..............
The eagle pictured above was the original one we all climbed on. Cooper Union moved it from Camp Green in 1973 to a courtyard of a building it owned. When that building was sold the eagle was cleaned up and placed atop its new academic building in 2009.
Above, after Cooper Union had come to take the original Camp Green eagle back to the city, a pair of Penn Station eagles were discovered dumped in the Meadowlands of NJ. They were rescued and placed at the entrance to Skylands Manor.
On the day we left for camp, I brought my duffel bag to school on the morning of Monday May 8, 1967. I handed it to the guy loading the truck and of course mine was one of the first bags on which meant it was gonna be on the bottom of the huge pile of about 40+ bags - but I didn't give it much thought at the time but it would come back to haunt me that I gave the guy my bag first! Then it was off to Camp! I do recall the great excitement and fun we all used to feel when we boarded a bus - sometimes coach-style buses - for field trips to New York City but Camp Green was even more exciting - especially knowing we wouldn't be coming home til Friday!
Above, the truck gets loaded with all the kids duffel bags as the parents mill around to say their goodbyes. This was the 1964 6th grade from Somerville. From the leaves it appears they went in the fall.
Above, 1964 Somerville 6th graders wait to load the bus for the trip to Camp Green.
Above is the Camp Welcome Song. Sung to the tune of the song "Ol' Texas".
Below is a condensed version of the daily events based on my own memory and camp diary:
MONDAY MAY 8, 1967
When we arrived at the camp, we stopped at the boys bunkhouse building first of course and when the guy was done unloading duffel bags mine was still on the truck! When I told the driver that I needed my bag he gruffly told me "....sorry chief you'll have to pick it up at the girls bunkhouse....." - seriously?! So I wasn't there 5 minutes and I had to walk all the way to the girls bunkhouse, wait for the guy to unload the rest of the bags for the girls and turn around and walk back with my duffel bag - not a great start here!
Above, l to r Greg Rehe, Jim Smethurst and Wayne Bond in our bunkhouse at Camp Green. Our dorm mom was Mrs. Hamill.
Anyway, we didn't have time to do much other than throw our bags in our rooms and meet up with Mr. Johnson who took us on a tour of the camp. We had the longest walk to and from our bunkhouse through the pine forest. After the tour we returned to our dorms, where we met our dorm mom Mrs. Hamill and made our beds. I remember Greg Rehe, Jim Smethurst and Wayne Bond were in my particular building and Tom Gorenflo who was from the other school and in a bunk across from me - I idolized Tom - he had a serious girlfriend and I was so impressed by that! I was going "steady" (well, at least I gave my id bracelet to Cindy Pomeroy) but Gorenflo and his girlfriend were actually going out for real - he would always see her when we hooked up with the girls for the various things we did. I think I slept on the top bunk but unsure about that. I do know we always talked a lot even after lights out. We always had to make sure everything was clean and neat and we would get rated on how well we did that and how quiet we were.
But back to our first day. Once we had our dorm rooms squared away and beds made, we went to the dining hall where we learned the rules of the kitchen. We learned how to properly set a table and also that it would be us at various times during the week who would serve our classmates and clean up.
Lunch immediately followed and then we joined Mr. Johnson in Cooper Hall for more background on Camp Green. Immediately following this, we went to the camp store which was located in Hewitt Hall where we learned how to use a checking account which was the only way we could purchase items. Following this, we had a rest period followed by dinner in the dining hall - rest period was typically 1 hour..
After dinner - according to my diary - we went to Cooper Hall where we acted out two plays and recited poetry. Next was our first campfire and someone by the name of Mr. Lindy spoke about campfires - how to safely start and extinguish one. After the campfire, we walked about a quarter of a mile back to our dorms and turned in for the night. Despite Mrs. Hamill having to come in and tell us to quiet down, she awarded us an "Excellent" that night and according to my diary, "That day was great!"
Above, the outdoor campfire site at Camp Green.
TUESDAY MAY 9, 1967
Upon getting up, I made my bed. We joined up with the girls and Dr. Ann Dunham for an early morning bird walk where we spotted and learned about birds such as: the Yellow Warbler, Barn Swallow, Red-Winged Blackbird among others. Then we took a walk through the pine forest which I recall as being fun in itself - there we spotted the Canadian Goose - the forest seemed huge and home to another world.
After the walk, we all headed for breakfast in the dining hall - lots of walking since our bunkhouse was further away than the girls. Following breakfast, we met up with Dr. Strong, Miss Illiesen and Mrs. DeJongh and headed to the Ringwood River - alternately known as the Ringwood Brook or Creek locally - where we learned how to pan for iron ore and we learned how to sketch trees, flowers, birds and rocks. We would also find pieces of coal. This was followed by lunch. I really enjoyed panning for iron ore but had little luck although my diary states that I found a "half a piece of iron ore".
Above, while not a scene from Camp Green, all the 6th grade classes tried their hand at panning for iron ore during camp week.
I'm not sure what day we did it but I do recall learning about map drawing and surveying. Erskine Hewitt had made maps for George Washington - so there was much history at Camp Green about this skill. We would gather up all our measurements and meet in Hewitt Hall where we made charts using the measurements we found.
Later, we pruned trees for firewood and enjoyed our rest period. Then it was dinner and square dancing - I don't know who was more nervous the guys or the girls but I do recall that I was very apprehensive about the square dancing - nervous about rejection. Refreshments of punch and cupcakes were served during the dance and then we turned in for the night - our dorm got another excellent from Mrs. Hamill!
WEDNESDAY MAY 10, 1967
After making our beds, we had breakfast in the dining hall which according to my diary was "....French toast, cocoa and Rice Krispies." On this day, we headed over to "Sally's Pond"where had a "Pond Ecology" class. Using nets we caught tad poles, insects, salamanders and fish. We would discuss and learn the origins of what we caught.
After a lunch of Sloppy Joes, we did live tree identification followed up by a slide presentation on trees and flowers. Rest period was next. This night at dinner I was a "cruiser" which meant I helped set the tables, served dinner and helped clean up when we were done. After dessert we went to Cooper Hall where we sang songs. That night my roommates and I got our 3rd excellent from Mrs. Hamill!
Above is the Camp Green dining hall where we ate meals everyday. The doors to the left is the kitchen. Each of us would become cruisers for dinner where we would learn how to set a table, serve our classmates and clean up. This view is from 1950.
THURSDAY MAY 11, 1967
Thursday - our last full day at the camp - was supposed to be a busy one. We got up early, made our bunks and headed for breakfast in the dining hall where we dined on pancakes and sausages. Then we went to Cooper Hall where they set out sandwiches for our all-day hike. It started out ok but by the time we had reached the pine forest it started to rain hard. We ate our sandwiches under what little cover we had. All of the girls returned to camp with Mr. Johnson. Some of the guys went further up the mountain (which I believe is Cupsaw Mountain) and the rest of us walked back - soaked to the bone! When we returned to Cooper Hall we took all our wet coats and boots and returned to our dorms where we had an extended rest period of nearly 3 hours instead of the usual 1 hour. I had been looking forward to the hike and was disappointed it got cut short due to the weather. For dinner that night, Mrs. Hunt was supposed to have driven us because it was still raining but her car broke down and we walked in the rain again. After dinner that night, we headed to Cooper Hall for an indoor campfire in the large fireplace - it was the perfect night for it. At the campfire, Mr. Gleason told stories and according to my diary it was "real fun". After getting 3 excellents in row - my bunk mates and I received a "very bad" from Mrs. Hamill - we must have been pretty loud that night I guess - but the rain kept us cooped up all day.
I do remember chatting up Tom Gorenflo about his girlfriend............
FRIDAY MAY 12, 1967 - LAST DAY OF CAMP
Well, we got up for the last time at Camp Green made our bunks and performed dorm chores before going to breakfast. We returned to Cooper Hall for a talk by Mr. Johnson. On this - our last day - we headed to Ringwood Manor and visited the grounds of the estate including the cemetery. Afterwards, we had lunch for the last time in the dining hall. Then we headed back to collect our things and load up our bags on the truck and get on the bus. I probably tried to ensure my bag was not on the bottom this time. According to my last diary entry "....it was fun while it lasted."
Above, an early turn-of-the-century view of Ringwood Manor.
Above, this view of Ringwood Manor was taken by Karen Pursiano in the Spring of 1968 when she and her 6th grade class from Glen School went to Camp Green.
Above, Ringwood Manor as it appears today.
The grade on my diary was an S- ...ouch! Mrs. DeJongh never really liked me much anyway and never made herself available for help despite being asked - especially with math which I wasn't very good at. She was extraordinarily hard on me. I do remember that many of us were jealous of Mrs. Bleeden's class (our other Glen 6th grade class). This is terrible but I will never forget toward the end of the year when Mrs. DeJongh went to get something out of her desk drawer. She wasn't watching what she was doing and she pushed her hand into a box of pins - she screamed out and I couldn't help laughing! Sweet unitended revenge! Hey - I know that's not nice.............
Above, my infamous camp diary - not very well-done by any stretch...............
I must admit my diary was pretty plain - no pictures just text. Linda's Pursiano's sister Karen went to Camp Green in April, 1968 and sent me a copy of her camp diary 3 years ago - and it is amazing compared to mine! Pictures, sketches, well-written.
Above, the cover of Karen Pursiano's camp diary which was extremely well-done and chocked full of information.
Karen's diary was a much more detailed one whose descriptions were great! For example:
April 22, 1968
".....pine forest is so pleasant to walk in...............sounds of the waterfalls is always in the atmosphere."
Karen goes on to say that on Tuesday night they put on a talent show where some students played instruments, sang and performed a ventriloquist act.
On the day of the all day hike Karen writes "I was so tired and weak that I thought I didn't have the strength to walk back. I can guarantee you that I had no trouble getting to sleep that night."
On the last day of her camp experience, Karen writes:
"We were all so sad to leave Camp Green, but we knew we possibly could return some other day. Then the driver came and started the bus. Everyone waved to Mr. Johnson, Dr. Dunham, Mrs. Henderson and all of the other helpers of the camp. Slowly the driver pulled out of the camp. We had come to the end of our wonderful experience. Goodbye Camp Green!"
Above, the last page of Karen Pursiano's camp diary.
Glen School classes would practice square dancing before leaving for camp.
Above, Mr. Harrison - 6th grade teacher from Glen School at Camp Green with his class. His and Mr. Montick's class would enjoy their experiences at the Camp in the spring of 1969. Photo taken by and property of Kathy Wescott Burke.
Above, Cindy Pomeroy - 6th grade Glen School 1969 - wins the panning for iron ore contest for the girls! Also shown is George Yacowicz who won for the boys. It is thought that the girl sitting down on the left is Judy Willson and Cindy Ward standing up. Photo taken by and property of Kathy Wescott Burke.
Above, Andy Wright who attended Camp Green in its second to last year of operation and wearing the infamous sweatshirt. Andy went to Glen School. Not sure if Andy was modeling the sweatshirt for the Camp or what! Photo property of Andy Wright.
CLASSMATE CAMP MEMORIES 1967:
CHIC VOORHIS - "I was pretty into fishin' back then. As I recall, they didn't let us bring fishin' poles, so, I brought a hand line. I baited it, tossed it out in the pond, went to the mess hall. On the way back from dinner, low and behold, there was a big catfish on the end of that hand line! Nice memories - Wayne Bond was soooo jealous!"
BILL MONTICK Glen School and Willard School 6th grade teacher writing to both Margaret Silvers and myself - "Margaret and Rick - Haven't thought of Camp Green in years but if my memory serves me correctly, it was owned and operated by Cooper Union College. They had staff up there and then Ridgewood brought in their own naturalists. Jenny Scherr and Ann Dunham were two of the women who worked for Ridgewood Schools.......Do you remember Ralph Bogertman? He was the Director of Science for the school system and always did a unit on mapping at the camp. He was always one of my favorites, both as a friend and as a mentor. Unfortunately, all three of the people I've mentioned have since passed away."
BETH DALY - "I only remember that Camp Green was my first trip away from my parents!"
BRUCE MENEGHIN - "Wow, Camp Green! Yeah, I've got plenty of memories from there. Remember getting challenged to find the small tree planted in the crook of a larger tree? I think it was Gary Vukov who spotted it alongside the road to the main hall. Also, I remember resounding choruses of "Age of Aquarius" from the boys dorm..........and the old German dorm mom who hid her eyes when she stood at the doorway to tell us to shut up!"
KATIE KNIGHT - "I remember the square dances with the other school, the big dorm rooms with metal beds all in a row, the dining hall and all those nature hikes. Really enjoyed that camp."
BETH PERDUE - "Camp Green was held at Ringwood Manor which is open to the public. The Barn now has art shows and was the (girls) dorm during our camp days. I feel like I remember Camp Green vividly as on off-the-scale great time. I sure wish school budgets could still provide that. I do live (in the area) and have spent many hours strolling the grounds at Ringwood Manor for the past 21 years."
BETH PERDUE (I had written Beth again asking if she could identify a couple of photos and she wrote this) - "I sure wish I had some pictures of Camp Green. I don't remember much but I do remember that it was one of the best weeks ever! Maybe that's why I go there almost every day to walk the dog. It's still a place I love."
DIANA WAGNER (Glen School Class of 1969) - "I remember using early geometry to figure out the distance to some building over a pond and of course dorm living with bunk beds. I think Trisha Daly and I shared a bunk. I also remember some of those Willard (or was it Orchard) kids smoking cigarettes and of course the early hook-up between some of the Willard and Glen kids."
MISS BEATTIE our 3rd grade Glen School teacher who had also taught a 6th grade class - "I don't remember it being called Camp Green but since I taught 6th grade my last year (at Glen School) I went to the Cooper Union camp in Ringwood for the week. It was a great experience and I remember Charlotte Nash who was the math specialist teaching us all how to be surveyors. Something I haven't needed too much in my life I must admit!"
KAREN PURSIANO - Glen School Class 1969 - "I went back to Ringwood State Park with my husband and son about 5-8 years ago. I think out of all my experiences at Glen, that was by far the greatest. It was the "right of passage" - in a sense our unique Glen way of graduating from childhood. Anyway, I was looking for the old dormitory with my husband. It was gone, but it was kind of eerie. There was something - I cannot remember exactly what - a marker or plaque on the ground that marked the exact spot where the camp once stood. Maybe I will go back this Spring and see if I can find it. Do you remember the old scary cemetery there? And collecting pieces of coal. Dreading having to eat oatmeal each morning! I still have my piece of coal that I dug up. Of course the cemetery and the Manor House are still there......"
CARA WORTHINGTON - "The best - so much fun! I loved the freedom we had to explore and be outside. I know we learned a lot, but it just seemed like a great time."
KEN MERRILL - "Large gathering of classmates for all meals. Never sleeping very well!"
OTHER RIDGEWOOD SCHOOL MEMORIES:
DEBRA SOVOIA WHELAN - Ridgewood Class of '73 - "I went to Camp Green with Willard School - I think it was in Spring of 1967. We panned for gold, had square dances - we practiced with our partners for a long time at school before the week of camp. My partner was James Stevenson. Had the nature walk that we had to write down our observations on trees, birds. I think that we had all kinds of plans about staying up all night and sneaking out but I think we didn't want to get into trouble or we were too tired - not sure but nothing bad sticks out. I just remember that we were panning for gold or some kind of metal and it was fun. It was different than anything we had done in the backyard or the neighborhood.................."
DOROTHY BERGER KEHE - "I went to Somerville School. We went in 6th grade. I still have the little notebook we were supposed to keep for the week. I was in the group Ringwood Rattlers. I Remember gathering at Cooper Hall for meetings in the evening. Hikes, ghost stories. Fun! We would share what we learned that day and sing a few songs. I also returned again to Camp Green in 8th grade for Science Camp. I attended BF. We were lucky to be a part of an archaeological dig of one of the iron forge furnaces. I have an article from the paper about it. A Mr. Robinson was the lead archaeologist that helped us. I believe Ringwood Manor is now a state park. Don't know when the trips for schools was stopped. Fun times and great memories."
CHRISTINA BUCK ARMSTRONG RHS Class of 1967 Christina went to 6th grade camp at Camp Bernie but attended science camp in 8th grade at Camp Green - the pictures Christina provided are of Camp Green but in 8th grade - "I know that I went to Camp Bernie in 6th grade (camp 1961), (but) I went to 8th grade science camp at Camp Green. .........here is some of what I learned about my experiences at 8th grade science camp at Camp Green in April 1963. Anything in quotes comes directly from my diary......I loved it. We were there for four days. GW and BF kids were there together. GW girls slept upstairs and BF girls downstairs in a building near the dining hall; boys had to go through the pine forest to get to their cabins. At meals, 3 BF boys would sit with 3 GW girls, etc. - all assigned alphabetically. This resulted in some proprietary feelings and "How dare they" when 3 particularly desirable GW boys were all at one table with 3 BF girls! (That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the drama that went on!) My evaluation of ecology was that it "stank". There was an hour of recreation each day. It included softball for the boys (using a hardball instead) until we took it away from them with a little game of keep-away! We also played a mob game of basketball - girls against the boys."
DIANNE MILLER RHS Class of 1967 - "I came to Union Street School after my classmates went to Camp Green - darn!! (Dianne did go to 8th grade science camp at Camp Green) ".....I loved the camp! The big ol' dining hall, the bunk beds. There was a forest nearby. At least, I remember it that way.....One night I woke when everyone else was asleep. I told a boy I'd meet him in the woods. I didn't go. I'd never met a boy alone anywhere before, but enjoyed being asked........"
JENS LARSON RHS Class of 1977 - "My 6th grade year would have been around 1971 - I was at Willard. I remember the director of the camp knew all the kids names the first day we were there and we had never met him before. I thought it was magic! I don't remember his name though."
MARY STPEHANIE HOOD RHS Class of 1973 - "Although I went to Camp Green a long tome ago (1967), I remember eating oatmeal every morning for breakfast and learning how to write out checks for purchases. I also remember how tall the evergreen trees were and how soft the fallen needles were when we walked on them." Mary went to Somerville School for 6th grade.
ANN LARSON RHS Class of 1970 - "Wow memories galore! I went with Mr. Slicker's 6th grade in 1963..........Worst memory from 6th grade (camp) was the day they forced all the girls to take showers - no separate stalls! Best memories were from the National Honor Society "retreat" there in Winter '70. With snow on the ground, we wished we had sleds. The caretaker helped us break into a kitchen closet to get serving trays for the purpose!............."
ROBERT EISENHARDT RHS Class of 1973 - "I went in 6th grade from Ridge School. I never EVER had better oatmeal for breakfast than at Camp Green. Now for Ringwood Manor, go there for the Christmas celebration, it runs for 2 weeks in December and is well worth the trip. I also visited Camp Green a few years ago and was given and was given a walk-thru by staff - wonderful visit."
LISA MEHLMAN BRAUN - "My mom and I went to Camp Green for an Ethical Culture retreat type of thing when I was around 12 or 13 I think - so maybe around 1971. I remember my mom stayed in a little cottage that I had to go through the beautiful pine grove to get to. I stayed in a big old building - in a dormitory - where bats used fly through - it was a blast! We had all kinds of neat activities - yoga, art. One day we went to a quarry type pool to swim......mostly all vague memories - but very nice ones!"
CORINNE CANALI - RHS Class of 1973 - "I remember Camp Green well! In fact, over the past 10 years I've driven up to Ringwood Manor and the outlying area behind it to look for the "old dorms"! Now I know why I couldn't find it. Had no idea they tore down much of it. I remember the walks, even time for artwork. In fact, somewhere I still have a sketch I did of the Manor that got me a commendation! I remember the hikes, the wandering off to the cemetery there and believing half the stories of the ghosts!"
Below are Sandy Brown's memories of Camp Green. Sandy went to Glen School and attended the camp in 1968:
"Well you asked for it! I typed up my Camp Green memories and will paste them below. It looks like you were just one year ahead of me.
"Such long awaited excitement for all of us - a week away from home and school! We brought our suitcases to school and kissed our mothers goodbye, all the time anxiously glancing over our shoulders at the school bus that would take us away to Camp Green.
"The giant dormitory where we deposited our luggage was unlike anything I'd ever seen. Janice Malley and I chose bunks close together and we'd talk quietly at night, after the lights had been turned off, until we were shushed. It was hard for me to sleep with all the noises around me.
"Every day was a new adventure and there was so much to do and to be done. Children from different schools took over the flag ceremony each day, as well as groups who would collect information for the weather report. Not much more involved than the wet rock/dry rock experiments, but it felt like an honor to be able to report our results for the whole camp's use.
"I remember they mixed up the seating in the dining room, so I had a chance to get to know kids from other schools who sat at my table. I sat across from Peter Wilkerson, who unfortunately had a broken leg in a cast. I can't remember what school he came from, but I do remember the endless "almost" flirtation we engaged in. And I remember the joy at being to step out of character and try on a couple of different persona's. Gone was the good Sandy. I distinctly remember the gross-out experiments at each meal, showing my table mates giant mouthfuls of masticated food! I was being bad! It was so much fun!
"I remember our biology-in-the-field-day with the woman doctor whose name I can't remember.......... taking us out, tramping around, wading in what looked to me like a swamp (Sally's Pond) to bring back a frog for us to marvel at. I also remember when we got back to the campgrounds and she removed her wading boots, there was a leach stuck to one of her legs Yuck! Total gross-out!
"And there was the day we learned about the ore in the area and panned for ore ourselves in the stream. We were given magnets, later, so we could entertain ourselves, collecting the tiny bits of ore from the envelope they had been put in.
"And there were the monetary lessons we learned from our first checking account and candy at the commissary! It was interesting to see the money in the account slowly disappear with those nightly candy bar purchases. A lesson in consequences. I felt so grown-up making out those checks for my small purchases!
"I distinctly remember Thursday was the day we hiked over to Ringwood Manor. Walk, walk, walk. That's what we did most of the day. Why do I remember that it was a Thursday? Well, because that was also the night of Camp Green dance, as though we had any energy left. Everybody jumped into those communal showers after the hike to get our hair washed and get prettied up as best as we could. I even tucked those despicable cat-eye glasses in my purse, hoping to improve my chances at being noticed. When Mrs. Bleeden asked about the missing glasses, I advised her I had somehow forgotten to put them on. Silly me!
"I remember the Talent Show at the end of the week. The boys from our 2 6th grade classes had something up their sleeves and I couldn't wait to find out what they were going to do. Although I seem to remember some of the teachers shocked us with their talents, nothing could have prepared me for all those boys singing "H-A-double R-I-S-O-N spells Harrison, Harrison " (Mr. Harrision was the other 6th grade teacher at Glen). The look on Mr. Harrison's face was priceless! I'm still amazed at their courage. Camp Green was unforgettable!"
Above, a 1962 version of a brochure for Ringwood Manor State Park and its surrounding sites.
Above, the second part of the 1962 brochure.
CAMP GREEN TODAY
In the Spring of 1973, Cooper Union's 1,000 acre Green Camp - affectionately known to Ridgewood, NJ 6th graders as "Camp Green" - was broken up and sold to the State of New Jersey. All but 173 acres were used by the state's Juvenile Justice Commission for a reform school called "Green Residential Community Home" - the center serves a maximum of 32 teens. The remaining 173 acres was designated as part of the park it is today I believe.
At the time in 1973, Cooper Union expected a windfall of $10,000,000 from the sale. While citing upkeep of the camp which was relatively small ($150,000 annually) - for school that was tuition-free and depended heavily on donations the sale would give them unprecedented cash for use at Cooper Union in the city.
Cooper Union actually attempted to sell the property in 1971 but was met with strong student and alumni opposition and resulted in the board holding off temporarily. But despite a $20,000 study of the camp the board was pre-disposed to the idea of the sale and the vote - 11 board members - would vote unanimously in 1973 to sell it and on June 28, 1973 it was shut it down. I like to think that the last ones to use the camp were 6th graders from New Jersey who experienced for the last time the benefits of Camp Green.
Below are more photos contributed by Christina Buck-Armstrong who attended 8th grade science camp in 1963 that make up our Camp Green scrapbook - enjoy and thanks Christina!
Above photo courtesy of Christina Buck-Armstrong - RHS Class of 1967. She attended BF Science Camp at Camp Green in 1963.
Above, a baseball game at Camp Green - 1963. Courtesy of Christina Buck-Armstrong.
Above, down time at Camp Green 1963. Courtesy of Christina Buck-Armstrong.
Above, outside Cooper Hall Camp Green 1963. Courtesy of Christina Buck-Armstrong.
Above, a scene at Camp Green 1963. Photo courtesy of Christina Buck-Armstrong.
Above, boys near the outdoor camp fire site at Camp Green 1963. Photo courtesy of Christina-Buck Armstrong.
Above, outside Cooper Hall Camp Green 1963. Photo courtesy of Christina Buck-Armstrong.
Above, having some fun at Camp Green 1963. Photo courtesy of Christina Buck-Armstrong.
Above, waiting to load the truck with the duffel bags and the bus to go home - Camp Green 1963. Photo courtesy of Christina Buck-Armstrong.
THE FAMOUS BLACKSMITH BUILDING
Above, the "Smithy" building at Ringwood Manor just around the corner to the left is Camp Green as it look in 1937.
Above, the "Smithy" as it appears today - this is the back view.
Above, the "Smithy" from the front as it looks today.
Above, this is a scene of Ridgewood kids in 1963 at Camp Green. On the left side of the photo is the "Smithy" from the back as it appeared at the time. Photo courtesy of Christina Buck-Armstrong.
MORE SCENES FROM CAMP GREEN
CAMP GREEN - EPILOGUE
Many former Ridgewood students still make treks to Ringwood State Park searching for "their" old camp. (The girls might be surprised to know that the old girl's dorm is now an art gallery there). But we're not the only ones, Cooper Union alumni also cherish their time there.
Here is a short write-up about Cooper Union alumni and Green Camp:
"Whatever memories alumni recount of Green Camp - be it the halcyon days of freshman orientation, engineering survey classes, painting groups, weekend visits organised by student leaders or just the experience of a rural setting with other Cooper Union students - they all share their stories enthusiastically. And so it was during Alumni Day on September 20, 2009 when some returned and others experienced for the first time the history and beauty of the former site of "Green Camp" and the surrounding acres of Ringwood State Park, NJ.
"Ranging in class years from 1945 to 2008, alumni with family and friends took advantage of the pristine late summer weather to hike, picnic and tour the grounds and former estate of Abram and Sarah Amelia Cooper Hewitt's Ringwood Manor.
"Other highlights were the 43rd Annual Fall Open Juried Exhibition of the Ringwood Manor Arts Assosciation in the Carriage Barn Art Gallery (former dorm) and traditional 19th century blacksmithing demonstrations. But none topped the much anticipated trek along the historic carriage road to the site of the former Green Camp (Ridgewood's beloved "Camp Green") and the anecdotes regaled by Ron Weinstein (CE '67) and other alumni whose lives were transformed by this unique Cooper Union experience."
Above and below Ringwood Manor in the winter.
It's funny how something that was part of our life for 5 short days can hold such great memories.
If you would like to add your experiences, photos or movies to this post please contact Rick Flannery at email@example.com.