Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Here at The Belltower, we asked some former campers what they are thankful for as they look back on summers they spent at Camp Yawgoog.
Bruce Fogel, now a resident of New York City, was 12 when he first came to camp in 1946. He was a camper for three years and worked at Yawgoog’s trading post for two summers. Fogel says he’s thankful for the funds and foresight of early camp benefactors, such as Col. G. Edward Buxton, the co-founder of Rhode Island Scouting when the camp was dedicated in 1928, and Sen. Jesse H. Metcalf, who provided support and funding: in 1942, the senator and his wife paid to complete the camp’s water system.
“Without this early financial support, I don’t think camp would be around today,” said Bruce. “It’s inspiring. Yawgoog was originally just a potato farm, and even in the years I was there, it advanced greatly.”
Bruce mentioned how Harold Williams and Gus Anthony as having a major part in the camp as well.
Irving “Chub” Clement, who still lives in Rhode Island, is thankful for the friendships formed at camp that continue to this day. He mentions Eric Ritzen, who he had passed away over the summer, as a friend he kept in touch with, and Harold Nelson, who is still active in Scouting.
Gene D’Ovidio of Sacramento, CA is thankful to have had Camp Yawgoog as such a memorable backdrop for childhood memories. He was one of seven brothers to have been involved in scouting and the son of a Scoutmaster. Gene was a Scout in 1960, at age 11, and became a counselor-in-training (CIT) at 13. “To me it was extraordinary that I was asked by one of the senior leaders to be a CIT; the rest of my campmates left for two weeks, my summer got extended by another six weeks, and that was just a wonderful feeling,” he said.
Irving “Chub” Clement (top left) and Bruce Fogel (top right) with fellow YAA members
D’Ovidio also remembers being taken to the hospital by a staff member for an appendicitis attack [and surgery that kept him away from camp for the rest of the summer]; receiving letters at camp; and taking a solo weekend trip to Westerly, which he said seemed exotic at the time. “It was that transitional period where you are still a boy but becoming a man,” he said.
From all of us at The Belltower, best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!