Alumni updates and news delivered right to your inbox!
Once a Life Camper, a camper for life. Once a Trail Blazer, always a Trail Blazer. Whether it’s been one year or fifty since you last visited camp, we want to keep in touch! And keep your eyes peeled for information about our annual events: Operation Muscle (volunteer day to set up Mashipacong Estate in May), Friends of Trail Blazers Day, and Labor Day Weekend Camp Out!
Welcome Fellow LC/TBC Alumni,
The Alumni Engagement Committee (AEC) was established by the TBC Board of Trustees to help promote camper and staff alumni engagement with Camp and foster a sense of unity and continuity across generations of TBC alumni. Like you, AEC members have been campers and/or staff at Trail Blazers and fondly remember their Camp experiences and the people who impacted their lives in so many ways.
This page celebrates the rich legacy that we inherited from those who came before us. A legacy which became a part of, and was left to, those who followed. As importantly, we hope that it will serve as a way for alumni to learn about current programs and events and find meaningful ways to stay involved with Trail Blazers and support its continuing efforts to provide children and young adults the opportunity to “Go Outside, and Grow Inside.”
AEC Status and Purpose: The Alumni Engagement Committee is a standing committee of Trail Blazer Camps established by the Board of Trustees to increase camper and staff alumni engagement with Camp and foster a sense of unity and continuity across generations of TBC alumni.
AEC Organizational Structure and Membership:
1. The AEC shall include at least 5 camper or staff alumni who are committed to serving a term of at least one year. Additional alumni may be added as needed to ensure a diverse representation of generations and program experiences, but should normally not exceed a total of 11 alumni members.
2. All camper and staff alumni are eligible to serve as members.
3. The founding alumni membership shall be established by the TBC Executive Director in consultation with alumni who participated in initial conversations relating to the AEC.
4. Future alumni member appointments shall be made by the TBC Executive Director (ED) in consultation with continuing members of the AEC.
5. The TBC ED shall designate at least one TBC Staff member to serve as a liaison to the AEC (this may be the ED).
6. The Chair of the AEC shall be an alumnus/alumna elected by the alumni members of the AEC for a term of one year.
7. The committee shall function quasi-independently under the leadership of its chair to develop and implement projects in consultation with TBC staff and with limited staff support to the extent that it can be afforded and is consistent with advancing TBC priorities.
8. The AEC may establish ad hoc project subcommittees to develop and carry out specific projects and recruiting Alumni to participate in the subcommittees.
9. In light of the geographic diaspora of TBC alumni, the AEC shall adopt electronic mechanisms for holding “meetings,” communications, sharing documents, assigning tasks, and monitoring progress toward achieving project goals.
The AEC is charged to develop projects and recruit alumni participation in projects directed towards the advancement of the following goals:
1. Documenting, preserving, and making Trail Blazers history, traditions, institutional knowledge, and program evolution accessible and transmissible;
2. Promoting engagement of the larger community of Alumni in Trail Blazers and Trail Blazers engagement with Alumni;
3. Promoting a shared sense of TBC culture and values across generations of Alumni, along with an understanding of and appreciation for traditions and program elements that inevitably change over time;
4. Creating and maintaining connections within and across the generations of Alumni through communications (e.g., an Alumni newsletter) and events (e.g., a re-envisioned Alumni day);
5. Creating connections between Alumni and new/current campers and staff through Camp visits, participation in staff training, working together on projects, transmitting information/advice from alumni to current staff/campers.
Current Alumni Engagement Committee (AEC) Members
The overall goals of the history project are to document and preserve Trail Blazer’s
cultural and social history in forms that are readily accessible and can be shared with past, present and future generations of Trail Blazers to create connections across generations and promote a shared sense of community across generations.
History Project Committee members:
Juanita Barrena (chair)
The task assigned to this group is to develop and help implement meaningful
ways for alumni to participate in staff training, to make connections with new staff, and ensure
the passing on of institutional knowledge and skills. Although it would be helpful to have project
members who live close to Camp, there are ways to participate that don’t require being at Camp.
Training Project Committee members:
Kathy Riecks (Chair)
These scrolls were prepared by staff and camper alumni in 2019 and read at a pre-camp council fire . . .
A list of camp recipes from yesterday and today, as well as Trail Blazers cooking techniques from days gone by.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
- Spoon oatmeal mix into greased 9” square baking pan.
- Bake 35-45 minutes based on your oven
Name: Kay Smorto (nee Catherine Logato)
I was a camper at Life Girls’ Camp in Branchville CT from 1935-1938, a Camper Leader at Life Girls’ Camp at Mashipacong from 1939- 41, returned to Alumni Camp as an LL (Life Lifer) with my husband Charles and my children for many years, and served as a member of the TBC Board of Trustees for several years.
Although I have so many fond memories (including dishwashing), I suppose the most meaningful one took place in November 1938 when I was in the group of Life campers who came to Mashipacong to dedicate the site for a new Life Camp. On that day, we buried a time capsule with scrolls near the lodge where a new foundation was being laid and watched the workmen mark the spot where the Dining Hall would be built.
Name: Jean Lynch
(Pictured with Lisa Mitchell—Feb 1996, Winter Weekend)
From 1992 to 2004, Jean served in multiple roles at camp and on the year-round staff. Roles included Lifeguard, Waterfront Director, Assistant Director, and Girls Side Director. And, like all good directors, Jean was a part-time cook!
Jean’s favorite activities at camp were the final council fires, where all campers and staff came together for a final all-camp experience. The fire, the songs, and the scrolls were a highlight.
Jean has lots of great memories from Trail Blazers, and there are many campers – and little moments – who stand out. One summer, there was a Homestead camper who was terribly homesick. Jean spent time with her regularly, engaging in camp activities. On the second to last day of the session, the little girl came running up to Jean “I’m having fun today!”
Another moment that stands out for Jean shows us how we never know the moments that make an impression on the campers. A group of boys was coming back from a hike, walking through Girls’ Side. One camper threw a stone, hitting and breaking a window in the Dining Hall. The consequence, in Trail Blazers fashion, was a natural one; the boy worked with Property Manager Steve Bates to repair the window. Later, Jean had a conversation with the boy and asked him, “What’s your favorite thing about camp?” “That was. Fixing the window with Steve.”
The impact of Trail Blazers on Jean is lifelong. That first summer, when Jean was 26, she came to Trail Blazers as part of her goal to visit multiple countries; she had just gone to Canada and this was her opportunity to visit the United States. But the fun, the challenges, the kids, the friendships kept Jean coming back, summer after summer, until she just “sort of settled there.” Trail Blazers became a home and Jean took the lessons and friendships of Trail Blazers to every job in her life.
This video created by Juanita Barrena (former TBC camper and counselor) is a tribute to Lois Goodrich, Betty Faust, Nita Baumgarder and Rowland Warren. Through photographs and songs, the video honors their essential roles in the history of Trail Blazer Camps and their extraordinary personal impact on the lives of thousands of children and young adults. Photographs were collected from various sources. Most of the songs are original TBC songs sung by TBC Alumni. Special thanks to Chris Fletcher for her solo recording “Burrito’s Lullaby” in Nita’s segment.