An Introduction to|
Tall Timber Tales
April 24, 2015
Sending kids to camp is one good sanity option, depending on the class background and financial resources of the parents. Some kids are sent to nearby day camps, others to overnight camps. In the case of the latter, parents visit once or twice a summer. Some of the new campers cannot adjust to the group living style, and miss their families so much that they become too homesick to stay.
There is a third type of camp — most popular during the 60s and 70s — that was a cross between the overnight and day camps. These camps run on the grounds of bungalow colonies, which were rough cabins with plumbing. The best of these were appointed with play fields, a pool, and surrounded by woods.
Frequently, the wage earners — usually the men in those days — keep living in the city during the day and come north to the colony cabins on the weekend. The moms were usually on site almost all the time.
I did time — as a counselor — for two seasons in two overnight camps. One was in the summer of 1964 in Amesbury, Massachusetts, called Camp Bauercrest. The other, in 1966, was located in Hampstead, New Hampshire, and caled Camp Tel Noar. For five seasons, I worked in two colony camps that were located in the mosquito infested hills of upstate New York. The colony camps were run by my dad, otherwise known as “Uncle” Mel.
The first colony camp was called “Camp Kiawanna,” in the “Hillocks” bungalow colony, in Lake Mahopac. I worked there in 1960, I was 15.
“Mahopac” is Algonquin for “the big pond,” It was originally settled by the Wappingers, one of the Algonquin tribes. Mahopac became a booming summer resort community in the mid-1800s.
I have not been able to learn about the origin of “Kiawanna.” It is possible it was a made-up word, attempting to sound Native American.
The second coloney camp I worked at was called “Tall Timber” at the Tall Timber bungalow colony in Mohegan Lake. I worked there in 1961-63, 1965, and 1968.
Mohegan means “wolf” and was the name of native people that were part of the Algonquian linguistic stock. Lake Mohegan received the name, in 1859, from William Jones, a Welshman who owned the Mount Pleasant Hotel on the East side of the lake, and about 300 acres in the vicinity. No one owned the mosquitos.
Uncle Mel Coburn, assisted by his wife, Sylvia, ran Kiawanna from 1956-1960, and camp Tall Timber from 1961-73.
The links below offer stories and images from those days of yesteryears.
Comments from Tall Timber campers can be read in the “Tall Timber Alumni” article.
Photos from the 2009 Tall Timber Camp Reunion, which took place at Downing Park, Yorktown, NY, can be viewed via the links below
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