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Camp Hoffman Alums

The Camp Hoffman Centennial is on July 24, 2021, and we will be holding our celebration on September 25, 2021! To celebrate, we'll be sharing stories from camp alums on our Facebook pages (@gssne and @gssnealum) and Instagram (@gssne), but we'll also be adding their stories below! Click the arrows to see what our alums have to say. 

Were you a past camper or staff member at either Camp Hoffman or Camp Green Forest? We’d love to include your stories—submit your Camp Hoffman alum story today

Want to hear from us about what we're doing to celebrate the Camp Hoffman Centennial? Join our Camp Hoffman Alum group today and stay connected!

Pam Hyland
Pam Hyland Hoffman Alum

Our first camp alum story is from none other than GSSNE CEO Pam Hyland!

Q: What is your favorite camp memory or experience?
A: I loved working with the girls and helping them develop their independence. I loved singing around the campfire. I loved walking the trails at camp. I loved the friendships I developed with other staff.

As a girl member I also attended and helped troop leaders plan campfire programs when I was in high school. I would stay at camp all weekend, help the leaders out during the day and stay up late with my friends at night.

I have been part of many camps during my tenure as a staff member and I am always drawn to the camps because they are special places. One of my favorite Girl Scout songs is "I Know a Place" and this perfectly sums up the joy I have being outdoors thanks to Girl Scouting!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?
A: Well, I care about the environment for one thing, and I still find great joy in being outdoors.

Camp also taught me resilience because you always had to figure out a way to solve the many little (and big) problems that surfaced at camp.

Camp taught me the importance of teamwork—there was a theme I always loved called "find the Gift in Every Child" and I find that true for adults as well. We need our collective gifts to make anything work well!

Camp and the outdoors is where I find peace...

Liz Dowding

Here are some of Liz Dowding's favorite memories of Camp Hoffman:

“The first thing that I remember about overnight camp was being so nervous—I had never been away from home for that long before. I was 12 or 13 years old and I was attending with a friend of mine who had also never been to overnight camp before. The experience helped me grow up quite a lot in the span of a week. My favorite memory, however, was being “kidnapped” not once, but twice. One day, I was at the pond swimming and, I believe it was the camp director who grabbed my unit and a few others for a picnic lunch in the canoes on “Pirate Day.” The other time, it was in the middle of the night, and an older unit “Attacked” our unit. I was barely asleep when they burst into the tent, blindfolded us, and took us to the dining hall to play manhunt in the dead of night. I think that one was called a “Pixie Party”. I remember feeling strangely excited, and that the older girls guiding me were exceptionally polite. I’ve never had so much fun being taken “hostage”. While I only ever went to sleepaway camp once, Camp Hoffman will always have a special place in my heart.”

Sally Strachan

Here are some camping memories from Sally Strachan, who camped at Congaree Girl Scout Camp in South Carolina!

Q: What is your favorite memory or experience you had at camp?
A: Sitting around campfires singing late into the summer nights, especially when we were actually camping in the woods.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today? Or, how did that memory affect/or change you?
A: To the moment I die, I will have in my head the lyrics and melodies and descants of old Girl Scout songs. And to the last breath I take, I will have the love and the memories of those moments and those female friends who were with me, some old friends, and some new. Girl Scouting and, especially the experience, love, and satisfaction of camping gave me additional survival skills in every way imaginable. I attended the International Girl Scout Roundup at Button Bay State Park, VT, in 1962 and will never forget those memories: 10,000 Girl Scouts in a single place, for over a full week, and for that week, we were the second largest city in Vermont! It has magical. And, of course, we camped out in our little pup tents and cooked all our very own food. It is Girl Scouting that taught me all the survival skills I have used through life, jobs, relationships, and magical moments.

Freda Lehrer

Today we are sharing camping memories from Freda Lehrer, who was a camper, CIT, and counselor in the 1960s!

“As a 14-year-old camper, I took my first horseback riding lesson through a program at Camp Hoffman. We rode in the back of the "birdcage". It was a truck with metal seats along the 2 sides—no seat belts. We were driven to Rocky Brook Stables by Barbara Smith (who would never be accused of being a slow driver). We sang (while bouncing up and down on the seats) all the way there and all the way back. Barbara and the program were outstanding.

My love of horses and horseback riding continues to this day. My parents could not afford to send me to a private horseback riding camp back then. I am grateful that Camp Hoffman provided me with this opportunity, one that I would not otherwise have had.”

Camp Hoffman Staff photo c.1970

Photo of 1970 Camp Hoffman summer staff provided by Freda Lehrer.

Freda says of the photo: "The administration folks were in the boats. The waterfront staff (of which I was a member) were in the water. I am all the way to the left!"

Michelle Jessop
Michelle Jessop Hoffman Alum

Here are some camping memories from Michelle Jessop!

"My troop loved to go camping. I spent much more time at camp with my troop than I did for summer camp. My troop grew very close on camping trips, and our experiences taught me a lot about teamwork, and adapting to changes that come my way. I think both of these have helped shape the person I am today."

Georgann Lardaro

Here are some camping reflections from Georgann Lardaro, the Camp Hoffman Centennial Committee Chair and former camp volunteer.

“My favorite memories are singing Taps from unit to unit at sundown, and watching young Girl Scouts folding a flag or carrying a water bucket to their unit. I felt a part of something bigger than me—teaching young girls that they can problem solve—as in carrying a heavy object for point A to point B. The flag ceremony at the beginning and end of each day united us as a camp—we were ready to start each day, while giving pause to honor God and Country. At the end of the day, to reconnect, we’d place our flag to rest for the night before we all went our separate ways. Every unit in camp got a chance to do both—instilling pride and confidence—we can do it!”

George Shuster
George Shuster-Camp Hoffman Alum Stories

Today we are sharing memories from our Board Chair, George Shuster, who was a waterfront counselor at Camp Hoffman in 1964 and 1965.

Q: What is your favorite memory and/or experience you had at Camp Hoffman?
A: I think lunches in the open-air dining hall were really a great time—full of energy as the whole camp came together at once.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today? Or, how did that memory affect/or change you?
A: It may sound like a small thing, but I quickly learned that teaching rowing is multiples harder than instructing canoeing. I was on the Yale Crew, so I thought rowing was "natural", but it soon proved not to be so. At first, it was complete chaos, and even after that, teaching the finer point of how to "feather" was not easy either. By contrast, Girl Scouts picked up the techniques of canoeing almost immediately. I was very impressed with how nearly all persevered until they were excellent oarswomen!

Amber Fearn

Today we are sharing camp memories and reflections from Amber Fearn.

Q: What is your favorite memory and/or experience you had at Camp Hoffman or another camp?
A: I really loved my time helping lead the Rangers on their end-of-summer backpacking trip. We did a very strenuous hike in the White Mountains. The girls were so proud at the end of the trip when we looked back at the route, the adventures, and all the challenges they met. These experiences are why I was a Girl Scout and why I worked at summer camp!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?
A: Going to camp gave me an opportunity to be "me", to develop my personality away from any preconceived notions. I got to be silly, wild, and carefree in a way that wasn't allowed anywhere else. Those experiences led me to become my own person at a younger age than my peers. My confidence in self, along with a steadfast understanding of civic engagement and volunteerism that is at the heart of Girl Scouting, made all the difference in my life.

Ruth Gammons

Today, we’re sharing some of Ruth Gammons’s favorite camp memories:

“My favorite memories of camp were walking and camping; going to the ice cream store at camp, canoeing, tying knots, cooking over a fire. I learned so much—so many things that I still use today. I just loved camp!

Camp helped me become more independent. I was a Junior leader in Germany 1961-1963 when my husband was stationed there, we led the troop together and then I was a leader from the early 70s until sometime in the 80s. 

In 1959 I went to the Girl Scout Round Up in Pikes Peak, CO with girls from all over the world. I still have slides from that trip!”

Donna Fish

Today we are sharing camp memories from Donna Fish:

Q: What is your favorite memory and/or experience you had at Camp Hoffman or another camp?
A: I was a Girl Scout troop leader from 2005 to 2018. Some of my fondest memories were visits to Camp Hoffman. Whether it was taking the troop down for a day time event, or taking them for a weekend overnight, it was all such great quality time spent with the girls. But my absolute favorite time spent at Camp Hoffman was the summer of 2006. My daughter was 7 years old and attending summer day camp at Hoffman for the very first time but she didn't go alone. I too volunteered at Hoffman as did my mother who visits RI for the summer. My 5 year old son tagged along as well. He was a "Peter Pan" in the camp's daycare that was provided for parents that volunteer. The four of us would catch the bus every morning and head down for a fabulous camp day. My daughter was with her 7 year old peers. I was a co-leader for girls 9-10 years old. My mother, a trained nurse, did a little if everything at camp. We sang songs on and off the bus. Traded stories of what we each did that day at camp. It was a tremendous bonding experience for our 3 generations of family. One we will never forget.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today? Or, how did that memory affect/or change you?
A: Being a Girl Scout leader (of 13 years) has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever taken on. It all began when my six year old daughter wanted to be a Brownie, except there was no troop. My experiences spent down at Hoffman year after year gave me an opportunity to watch as the girls in my troop grew, explored, discovered things in nature and about themselves as individuals and as friends. From hiding notes for other campers to find, or going on night time hikes, the memories and experiences are many. Spending time with my daughter and my troop was honestly some of the best times in our lives. Thank you Camp Hoffman for providing us with so many wonderful life time memories. Happy Birthday!

Elaine Mathers

Today we are sharing an amusing camping story from Elaine Mathers, a longtime GSSNE volunteer, in honor of the Camp Hoffman Centennial.

Q: What is your favorite experience you had at Camp?

A: I learned early on that camping is a great way to have your troop bond, so we went several times a year. I had picked up a book about different ways to enjoy camping through cooking. My troop decided that they wanted Jell-O for dessert. Friday night after we checked in and packed everything away, the girls mixed the Jell-O in large Tupperware containers. All kinds—lemon, cherry, lime, blueberry—our plan was to have rainbow Jell-O at supper Saturday night. We then placed the Tupperware in large mess bags and took them down to pond, carefully placing them knee deep and putting rocks on top to make sure they stayed safely under the water.

The next morning, rising early, my co-leader and I decided to check and see if our experiment had worked. To our surprise it had, but to our shock the liquid Jell-O had seeped out and formed large islands of red, yellow, blue, and green floating on top of the pond. Not exactly an ECHO moment. What to do? We went back, woke the girls up, rushed back to the pond and held a Scouts Own as they watched the Jell-O float by. This was truly a bonding moment, we made them promise to NEVER tell a soul how our troop fed the fish at Larkin Pond.

Q: How did that memory affect you?

A: If I learned one thing from this experience is that it's ok to make mistakes, it's not the end of the world if things don't turn out the way you expect them to. And I learned that girls can be adaptable to change— they had more fun watching the Jell-O float by, laughing and trying to decide which patrol made the biggest island, than they would have eating it.

Jessica Iacobbo-Sawyer

Today we are sharing some of Jessica Iacobbo-Sawyer’s favorite memories from Camp Hoffman in honor of the Camp Hoffman Centennial!

“One of my favorite stories of attending Camp Hoffman was telling ghost stories about Mary Briggs and doing grave rubbings. Another is when I got sick from eating too much pepperoni. Another was when I woke up my entire tent because I thought it was morning, but it was really was the middle of the night. Then another time, no one would wake up to be my buddy to use the latrine and when I shined my flashlight out of my tent two beefy eyes were looking at me, I got scared and peed out the back of my tent. I spent many years camping with my troop and many summer sessions. Most of all the favorite times were singing with my leader Mrs. Furtado and camp counselor Tree. I loved Camp Hoffman as a kid and loved passing on and creating new experiences for both of my daughters and my troops in the 2000s.

These memories helped me to become the leader that I was because I was able to pass on all the fun times and create new memories at Camp Hoffman with my daughters and Girl Scouts. I will cherish all my memories, childhood and adult, for always.”

Danyelle Mulin

Today we are sharing Danyelle Mulin’s favorite camp memories in honor of the Camp Hoffman Centennial!

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: My favorite memory of Camp Hoffman is that one day we played a game where all of the units sat in lines and there were leaders at the front of the room who called out items. If you had the item they called, you would pass it up the line to the front and your team would get a point. I remember having a lot of the items even though I was only wearing a bathing suit and a t-shirt on (I remember specifically not having one item but saying that if I was wearing my pants I would have had it in my pocket lol). I don't remember what any of the items were or how I could have them since I didn't have pockets (though I'm sure gymp was one because I always have some gymp or string in my hands while at camp!), but it was so much fun. I also remember two leaders singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" that day because it was so funny.

Also, I remember I thinking the food was awesome at Hoffman. I loved boating and swimming and my counselors. I loved camp!

Q: How did that memory affect or change you?

A: I look back on those memories fondly. I loved camp so much that now as a parent myself I've become very involved in Girl Scouts as a leader and camp counselor. I try to give my girls opportunities to make those kinds of memories themselves and feel the freedom of the outdoors.

Cindy Rollins
Cindy Rollins Camp Hoffman Alum Stories

In honor of the Camp Hoffman Centennial, today we are sharing camping memories from our amazing staff member, Cindy Rollins!

“My best memory was learning new songs! Singing on the bus to camp and singing around the campfire. I also helped to build a raft out of logs at Camp Hoffman—it actually floated! However, when we put it in the water we discovered that the logs were filled with ants!”

You can check out some of Cindy’s singing in the recording of our Kickoff Campfire: https://lnkd.in/d4GHFWw

Nicole Harvey

Today we’re sharing camping memories from Nicole Harvey in honor of the Camp Hoffman Centennial!

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?
A: I loved every summer I spent at Hoffman, I always felt so at home sometimes I'd forget I had left New Zealand. I think my favorite memories were the Miss Hoffman pageants, never would I have imagined dressing up in a silly outfit, in what is Hoffman’s version of a beauty pageant. My first summer I remember dressing up with my co-counselor as campers who fell down the latrine, we covered ourselves in mud and toilet paper! I think we ended up winning and then we had to take a shower under the spigot afterwards!!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?
A: I think my experience at camp has helped learn to do things for myself. I also, with the help of my friends, conquered my fear of heights on the challenge course, and learned new skills to help me teach boating.

Miriam Dash

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Miriam Dash

Q: What is your favorite experience you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: My favorite experience at Camp Hoffman would definitely be the white-water rafting trips. The five-hour road trip up to Maine was always a wild beginning to the adventure ending with us navigating down the thrashing waters. With yellow helmets and big smiles, we bumped and screamed all the way down the Kennebec. These are memories I will cherish forever. I even enjoyed this experience so much that I actually signed up for this camping session three years in a row. The first year I became close friends with a group of girls in my unit. We continued to keep in contact even as the days shortened, the weather cooled, and we all attended different schools. But we made sure to reconnect back at Camp Hoffman every summer to relive those 10 days of bliss only Girl Scout camp can provide. In addition to learning how to white-water raft, Camp Hoffman gave me so many other unique experiences. Over the decade of summers, I learned how to kayak, canoe, sail a sunfish and shoot an arrow directly at a bullseye. One summer, my kayak partner and I were goofing off too much and accidentally capsized. We had to swim it back to shore from the middle of Larkin Pond because it was half sunk. Oops!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: A decade of summers at Camp Hoffman, and Girl Scouts in general, molded me into the confident female I am today. I am currently in my second year of medical school after earning a Master's in Neuroscience from the University of Rhode Island. Through this magnificent organization, I learned how to advocate for myself and be the top cookie saleswoman in the county two years in a row; I learned how to be confident in front of strangers as I was a guest on Cooking With Class with Chef Terranova. But camping taught me the basics of success. I learned how to work in a team, enjoy the simplicities of life and be self-assured in every new task I take on. Camp Hoffman transformed me into a well-rounded vivacious leader, and I will value those experiences forever.

Bethany Gervais

Today, we are sharing some of Bethany Gervais’s favorite memories of Camp Hoffman, in honor of the Camp Hoffman Centennial!

Q: What is your favorite experience you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: White water rafting, meeting one of my best friends, the two of us living in a tent for the whole summer as interns; two counselors taking pity on us interns and taking us for our "day off" to Six Flags, capture the flag, counselor games (especially swamp canoe and greased watermelon), every second as a staff member!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: It let me meet one of my closest lifelong friends, who would eventually be in my wedding. It gave me the bravery to try new things, especially traveling all over the world. It taught me skills that I would use throughout my life, including the songs I would sing to my students and my infant son. Camp gave me the confidence to try new things and be confident even when I wasn't!

Terri Vanderlinde

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Terri Vanderlinde.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: At Camp Hoffman, the scents, the singing, the feeling we could do anything!!! I learned biking, canoeing, sailing, outdoor skills—all things I still enjoy. I loved counselor intro night, singing in rooftree, singing all the time, and campfires. As a ranger, plank fish we caught on a string with a pin, and fry eggs on a hot rock. Lashing a table, and a latrine seat. As staff, making a positive difference in the lives of campers. Making friends that last a lifetime—50 years later!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: I have always been a strong person. Camp helped me hone leadership and friendship and outdoor skills. Have kept a love of camping all lifelong. Bought a cabin long ago because it smelled like a counselor's shack. I still melt with the scent of a wood fire. Still sing camp songs in my head 50 years later! Always excited to be at camp for any reason. Part of my life. My happy place.

Melissa Asselin

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Melissa Asselin.

“The love and friendship that everyone had for each other was amazing! I loved when we would have the pixie parties. It was great when they would come to the camp site, when we were sitting around the campfire and everyone one would chase us with pillowcases and go back to their camp site and have trail mix and sing. Also, there was nothing like the singing tree 🌲 before dinner. To this day I meet with my camp counselors and campers and we sing camp song together. I am 52 years old and when we get together it brings us back to when we were girls all together. The friendship the have bonded can never be broken. The bond my camp counselor Sally and I have is so strong. We are there for each other anytime. This is how close and the bond you form at camp is. I lost my mother a year and half later. I was at the wake and people were coming through the line. I wiped my eyes and looked up and there were 3 camp counselors and 3 campers. My camp counselor made one call and it snowballed and they all came to be by my side. Tell me that is not loyalty, that's the Camp Hoffman way, always there for each other!

Camp Hoffman has brought so much joy to my life. I talk about this camp all the time. Telling all the young girls of today that this is the camp to go to. I think that this camp and the time that I spent there made me a better person and a more understanding person to people's needs and it shows you how to be compassionate to others. Camp Hoffman is part of my soul and always will be.”

Jessica Tanner

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Jessica Tanner!

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: There are too many memories to mention! Camp Hoffman made me feel included, supported, and loved. I was able to express myself in every way I wanted to at Hoffman. I was a camper in the 1980's, a CIT in the 1990's, and a staff in the 2000's. Camp Hoffman is my home away from home, the place where I feel free to be myself. I love Camp Hoffman and I cherish it dearly.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: I am the person I am today because of Camp Hoffman. I grew up at Camp Hoffman and it matured me and made me a better person. I know how to work with children because of camp, I know how to work amongst a group of peers because of camp. I love camp because of the memories I have at Hoffman. 

Anna Lyons
  • anna hoffman
  • anna troop
  • anna lyons

In honor of the Camp Hoffman Centennial, today we’re sharing camp memories and photos from GSSNE’s own staff member, Anna Lyons!

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: I’ve never been much of a runner, yet I have very fond memories of waking up to watch my friends participate in Roadrunners early each morning. It was that time of day when the light is just right, there’s still dew on the grass, and everything is blanketed in a calming silence. I remember sitting on the side of the road by Trefoil, listening to the birds chirping. As my fellow Girl Scouts crossed the finish line, everyone was energized to begin the day!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: Attending overnight programs at Camp Hoffman was the first steppingstone of many adventures throughout my youth and young-adult life. My first experience at Hoffman was troop camping, then I started attending programs with one or two friends, and eventually on my own. Stepping out of my comfort zone then gave me to confidence to spend a semester in high school on the other side of the country (at an arts school in California), to spend three months backpacking solo around Ecuador as a college student, and then to move to New York City on my own to begin my career post-college.

Merelise O’Connor

In honor of the Camp Hoffman Centennial, today we’re sharing camp memories from Merelise O’Connor!

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: Camp was everything to me—I attended from 1963 as a camper and worked there in 1970 and 1971. I loved so much about the experience, but if I had to choose a favorite memory, it would be the sailing. It developed into a lifetime activity and passion for me—and I still love it! On a separate note, there was also so much joy in the singing!!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: My mom was busy with raising my 5 other siblings so in many ways, I feel as though I was raised at camp. There were so many wonderful role models in the staff—young, strong women who were creative and pursuing their own respective educations. Many of my fellow campers are still my friends today. In general, camp was a big motivator to be well and do well.

Barbara Neppe

Today, we are sharing some of Barbara Neppe’s favorite memories of Camp Hoffman, in honor of the Camp Hoffman Centennial!

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: How to select just one thing? I don’t know how possible that is, but I’d definitely say I have a top three: The Singing Tree, sailing, and earning my admiral’s cap!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: The camaraderie and incredible friendships definitely helped to build my character. Camp not only gave me self-confidence, but strong moral and ethical values which I carry with me today.

Connie Fitzgerald

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Connie Fitzgerald.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman or another camp?

A: Another camp??? Is there any other camp?? I could write pages and pages on this one. But I'll try to be succinct. My favorite memories are of sitting around a campfire for hours singing with others, forging friendships that have lasted a lifetime and gaining an appreciation, and awe, of the great outdoors.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: My experiences at Hoffman are (after nearly 50 years) still an integral part of who I am today. As a camper, and then a counselor, I developed confidence and independence and personal strength to find future success in relationships and my career. I developed a sense of adventure and a love of the out-of-doors. At 23, I directed a Girl Scout camp in Alaska. I have been to all 50 states. Last year, I hiked the Grand Canyon for the 3rd time. I would not be the person I am today had I not spent 10 glorious summers at Camp Hoffman. I will be forever indebted.

Susan Steiner

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Susan Steiner!

Q: What is your favorite experience you had at Camp Hoffman or another camp?

A: My favorite experiences are really too many to make singular. I particularly love the adventures we could do whether it was canoeing on the river, sailing in Salt Pond or setting up the camping site off the beaten path. My favorite other experiences were just the freedom of singing around the campfire. It was so much fun and felt so natural.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: My experiences at Camp Hoffman were foundational to who I am today as a person. I came to trust and rely on myself. I learned how to enthusiastically trust in the ability to learn how to do new skills and succeed. Learning how to work as a community as well as leadership skills I learned through Girl Scouting, especially at Camp Hoffman, I still use these qualities in my career today. Another enormous learning was what it meant to develop and maintain lasting friendships.

Susan Sweeney

Today, we are sharing some of Susan Sweeney’s favorite memories of Camp Hoffman, in honor of the Camp Hoffman Centennial!

“My troop loved winter camping in new old house. We had the whole camp to ourselves many times and ventured all over the property in the snow. In those days we had to use latrines and remember chopping ice off the seat before going. We had a lot of laughs trying to make the latrines just like the comforts of home. I also helped plan a neighborhood orienteering activity at Hoffman for a few hundred girls. The kids loved it and learned a lot about following directions and working in a team.”

Barbara R. Carroll

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Barbara R. Carroll.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman or another camp?

A: There are so many memories, I don’t think I can choose just one. I learned how to season a cast iron skillet, and how to make a “Johnny cocktail”…and who could forget the smell of the latrine? I remember the relentless mosquito swarms we’d have to swat away while sweating bullets on our hike to the Ridge in the August heat. And I loved every bit of it.

I recall being all tented together in Round Up tents during a February blizzard one year, right next to the New Old House, and then waking in the morning and waiting desperately to get the fire started in the kitchen on those cold cold days. Remember the cheese nips in the scrambled eggs? I think they called it the pot of gold or something. One of my favorite places to stay was at the little place on the other side of the dining hall, because it had the only hot shower in camp—you learn a lot of the ins and outs as a seasoned camper, like I was. At one point, I even worked at Macy in New York, and one day I was reading a book outside of my tent and Kit Hammett came by. She chastised me for reading, saying “when you are outdoors, you should be enjoying nature, not reading.” I can't read outdoors to this day! But I did end up becoming her “pet unit manager” because I was a Hoffman camper and she loved that I knew all of the Marie Gaudette songs. I have so many amazing camping memories—gosh, I could write a book!

Karen King
Oct_2020_The_Wickford_Way_K King

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Karen King, an amazing, dedicated GSSNE Volunteer. Karen was also recently featured in an edition of The Wickford Way!

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: Going to TREC the first year it started. My troop of Cadettes formed two patrols. There weren’t too many troops participating since it was just starting so the girls earned lots of ribbons. The most memorable part of the weekend was the rain. It had been raining for days and kept raining but we were well prepared with rain boots and rain gear so we stayed dry. The girls exhibited their bravery, courage, strength, and teamwork as they overcame the obstacles. We went back every year and I now take another Cadette troop that I am leading. It is a great way to keep older girls involved in Girl Scouting.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: I was never a Girl Scout as a girl, but I always loved the outdoors. Overall, being a Girl Scout leader helped me develop leadership skills in other areas of my life. Bringing girls together, teaching skills, and watching them develop their leadership skills has been very rewarding. We are lucky to have Camp Hoffman. It’s a great place to get girls outdoors!

Margaret Richmond

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Margaret Richmond.

Q: What is your favorite experience you had at Camp Hoffman or another camp?

A: In 1989 at Camp Hoffman, I worked with the Ranger Unit in Eyrie. Today this would be called survival. They were the oldest campers with the exception of the CITs. I was amazed at the level of expertise and enthusiasm of these campers. They loved what they were doing. They vied with each other over who would have the most one-match fires. They had to be able to tie 10 advanced knots and willingly helped each other. They had to be able to identify 10 edible wild flowers in camp. These girls taught me how to find dead wood on living trees and how to harvest it safely. The fires were always well built, watched, and put out. They learned to cook new meals every day by using Kit Hammet’s cookbook. Centerpieces were often small snares which the girls did not want to take down after the meal. I was often afraid that we would wake up the next day and find a chipmunk had been snared on one of our kitchen tables. This is only one of many, many experiences I have had at Girl Scout Camp.

Q: How did your experience at camp affect you?

A: This experience helped me realize how much of my skills and knowledge I had to share with others. The outdoor skills that I have were learned through Girl Scouts. I have now realized that I always have something new to learn from those I happen to be with, young or old. 

Sarah Woodin

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Sarah Woodin!

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: My favorite memory of camp is finally earning my red fire bead. It was probably my fifth or so summer and when my teeny tiny one-match fire burned through the string I was ecstatic. To this day I still have that little red bead on a string!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: Camp turned me into a person who isn’t afraid to try things I may be nervous about, always takes a “no-thank-you-helping”, and sings as loud as my heart desires!

Jacqueline Lawrence

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Jacqueline Lawrence.

Q: What is your favorite experience you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: I loved Camp Hoffman and had so many fantastic experiences. Though, I do remember selecting a particular bike riding excursion and thinking, "why did I do this to myself?" It was so much work and so hot! But, I stuck it out, and became stronger because of it!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: Learning how to work through problems and participating in activities together with different personalities helped me build a camaraderie at camp and gave me the strong relationship skills I have today. I’m also proud to say that my daughter and granddaughter (who is a 10-year camper/employee) have also become a part of the Camp Hoffman legacy!

Gianna Redmond

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Gianna Redmond!

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: At Camp Green Forest we took swimming lessons and learned how to make campfires and cook over them. I had the greatest summer with my best friend! At Camp Hoffman, nights were magical. I remember singing songs together in rounds while making dream catchers and sleeping under the stars.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: All in all, the magic of Camp Hoffman brought me back as an adult. I worked as the cook and then kitchen manager for two summers in the late 2010's because I wanted to help other girls experience the same thing!

 

Anne Anthony

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Anne Anthony!

“I was a CIT (Counselor in Training) at Camp Hoffman during the summer of 1974. At that time, we had the opportunity to train to earn the Senior Life Saving Certificate. This would allow us to be lifeguards and that was a very big deal to me. It was particularly challenging because, in addition to our CIT responsibilities, we needed to swim 1/4 mile each day, study the Life Saving manual, and take and pass both a written and practical test. In addition, all campers were also required to take a swimming test. To my dismay, I was leveled as an Advanced Beginner. I had been swimming for nearly my entire life and certainly felt I was well beyond Advanced Beginner!!! I definitely felt I had something to prove, so I challenged myself to earn the Senior Life Saving Certificate. I swam EVERY day and studied during every free minute. Our instructors were tough and only a handful of us passed all of the requirements.

This experience changed me to this day because I learned the importance of not allowing anyone else to define me. It also made me realize the power of determination and what can happen once you set your mind to do something. Even now, once I get a ‘bee in my bonnet’ there's no stopping me!!!”

Charlotte DeMarco

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Charlotte DeMarco!

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: It is hard to name just one favorite memory; learning and singing songs is definitely a favorite—I remember so many of them!

I must also mention being outdoors and learning so much about nature. The smell of white pine trees always brings me back to Green Forest!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today? 

A: I know that I learned to work with others to achieve a common goal. My training as a C.I.T. and one summer as a counselor at Hoffman helped me develop leadership skills which helped me in my nursing career.

It seems my memories of Camp Hoffman become more precious to me as I get older!

Sarah Durvin

In honor of the Camp Hoffman Centennial, today we are sharing some beautiful camping memories from Sarah Durvin.

"As a Girl Scout growing up, one of the things I most looked forward to every year was summer camp. I spent the earlier years at Camp Cookie, where I found a love of the outdoors; hiking, campfires, and swimming. When I had outgrown day camp and convinced my parents to allow me to attend overnight camp, Camp Hoffman was the obvious choice. Having spent many weekends troop camping, and as part of the overnight program through Camp Cookie, I was familiar with the tents in units like Spruces, the wooden docks at the waterfront, and the cramped tables of Rooftree, the dining hall. I spent one week having fun beneath the trees, and fell in love. I never wanted to leave.

Fast forward 9 years, my love of camp had never faded. In fact, it was renewed when looking for a summer job during college. I applied, and was offered a job at Camp Hoffman. Taking the position was one of the best decisions of my life. I arrived at camp, met my fellow counselors (many of whom I am still friends with) and fully immersed myself in this world in the woods. In the five years I worked at Camp Hoffman, I worked as a unit counselor, CIT Director, and Program Manager. I became a certified archery instructor and led lessons. I certified in low ropes on the new ropes course, and spent a lot of time climbing, and ziplining through the trees. Lighting one-match fires, singing songs, making smores, and canoeing on Larkin Pond constantly brought back memories of my childhood summers, and helped me to appreciate just what I was getting to experience, all while sharing my own love with a new generation of campers.

One of the most meaningful experiences I had, was actually leading a last night campfire at Gypsy’s Rest. As a program manager my last year, our camp director had to step away from the celebration, and my co-program manager and I led the singing, offering of the wish sticks, passing out of camp ties to newly inducted CITs, and finally, the dismissal through the candlelighted pathway to the last night’s sleep (and surprise Shack Party). Traditions are something I hold dear in life, and being part of one at camp was always something I loved. Hosting the Hoot Ananny and then walking in silence and darkness to Gypsy’s Rest, only to be greeted by glowing faces, singing, “for you are my friend, and I’ll walk with you always,” was something I anticipated each week. I loved the sense of calm that came with the Last Night Campfire, and the songs we sang that felt timeless, while also seeming to stop time. Leaving the ceremony singing “Aloha my friend” and hearing the song echoing through the trees all the way back to the units: the memory still gives me goosebumps (from such a happy time).

I hope to one day return to Camp Hoffman, perhaps to guide yet another generation of campers in the same traditions I experienced as a camper, and later as a staff member. I look back on my time at camp fondly, and often reminisce with my friends (from camp) about the summer days we spent together. I had over 20 guests at my wedding just from camp. In fact, I married someone I met at camp! Being part of Camp Hoffman changed my life for the better, and it will always hold a special place in my heart."

Roberta Cox (née Smart)

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping stories from Roberta Cox (née Smart).

“My story begins with my mom. She was a sailing instructor in the mid-50s. Eddie Arnold and the office manager were her close friends. One weekend she was invited to play golf with the office manager’s neighbors and their brother. Long story short she married the brother, my dad! I enjoyed many summers as a camper and a CIT. I then worked throughout my college years as a counselor and CIT director. Many lifelong friends were made during those years. After college, I worked for the council as the outdoor program specialist for 13 years. I coordinated camp programs and outdoor events and loved it! I believe I was the first person to get a 15-year pin, which I cherish. So you see, in many ways, this special place made me who I am!

After my years in Rhode Island, I took a position as Camping Services Director for the northern Maine council. It was there I met my wonderful husband and stepdaughter!”

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Kathleen Knag Berchelmann

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Kathleen Knag Berchelmann.

Q: What is your favorite memory experience that you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: On Sunday evenings, Catholic mass was held in Trefoil. The priest was named Father Ernie. He had a friend named Father Bert. We couldn’t stop laughing about this. Between the laughter and the peace of prayer, my heart found much joy. I have learned to love finding time to pray outside in nature. To this day I find much peace in my heart by praying in the woods.

I was featured in a photograph on the cover of the Providence Journal for the 75th anniversary of Camp Hoffman. I was a third-generation camper, my daughter made the fourth generation. My grandmother and mother and daughter all attended Camp Hoffman!

Mickey Bradley

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Mickey Bradley.

Q: What is your favorite experience you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: As the 4th child in a line with 8 siblings and just finishing the 4th grade in a Catholic school I was in great need of an experience with peers my own age. The challenge of selling cookies to qualify for a campership was daunting in a disorganized home of 11 people but I managed to somehow work around the issues and made the grade. Myself and my best friend from 2nd grade who had just lost her mom after just losing her dad a few years earlier were both chosen by our troop to attend camp. Our luck had taken a turn for the best! We had camped out at Hoffman with our troop and couldn't wait to spend more time as real campers meeting new Girl Scouts.

We didn't get in the same area together, but we knew sharing our experiences later would be worth the initial fears we were having about being separated. At first homesickness, then busy activities filled our days. Swimming, skills, skits, songs, and FOOD. By the time I went home my underweight frame had a bit of a belly. I never wanted to leave Camp Hoffman.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: That experience changed me from a painfully shy girl to a talkative character. My mother noted that before going to camp she rarely heard my voice but after camp I had endless questions to ask her about growing up.

I felt the experience awakened something in me to learn more about strong women, it empowered me to explore my world in a different way. I no longer would hide myself away, I took on more challenges and didn't fear failure.

I grew up to lead troops at every level, two service units, and a historical wilderness group.

My daughter (3rd generation Girl Scout) enjoyed a life in Girl Scouting and she plans to carry on our family’s Girl Scout tradition with my namesake in the years to come.

Stephanie Demirjian

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Stephanie Demirjian.

“I was a Daisy through Senior Girl Scout, and earned my Silver Award. Spending summers at Camp Hoffman are hands down some of the best summers of my life. I attended every GSSNE property throughout my life but Camp Hoffman will always hold a special place in my heart.

Trying to pin down one memory was hard so I came up with a couple. Camp Seahunt and Camp Curtain Call were so much fun. Making friends while exploring sea life and learning a little bit about marine biology was so cool. I loved that we had aquariums set up in Long House so we could observe different animals.

During Camp Curtain Call we ended up performing The Wizard of Oz. I wasn’t one to be front and center on stage so I stuck to behind the scenes stuff. I ended up being a haunted tree during the Tin Man scene. Something my Dad still teases me about to this day!

One of my favorite memories was horseback camp. The leaders ended up riding horses over and woke us up early that day to have breakfast together. I won first place in my first show.”

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Laurie May Johnson

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping stories from Laurie May Johnson whose camp name is Pixie. Her Nana was Trixie and her mom was Dixie!

“I am a third generation, lifetime member of Girl Scout. My grandmother, Laura Richardson, used to get driven to West Kingston by Myra Hoffman when she was a girl before it became Camp Hoffman. My mother was my troop leader for years. Mom would take us to New Old House sometimes—I have pictures of my troop as a girl and as a leader at New Old House.

I was a ranger at Camp Hoffman for a few years. I LOVED the time Ranger Jane and I were walking out to the furthest site and the biggest skunk I've ever seen took the hike with us. Thank goodness it didn't spray...unlike the skunk my mom met on the New Old House front steps.

I also loved when my assistant couldn't sleep, she was scared by a noise she didn't recognize—it took a while to figure out it was just the wind through the trees. I have so many memories, this is just a small part!"

Jackie Lawrence

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Jackie Lawrence.

“When I was 13-years-old, I participated in a Girl Scout program called the Mountain Day and Away Program. Our group of 20 plus campers spent a week at day camp learning the skills needed to camp in rustic conditions on Mt. Monadnock in southern New Hampshire.

I had been a Girl Scout since Brownie days and attended a Catholic school in Pawtucket for grades 1-9. Most everything I had been involved in was with the same group of friends.

Meeting fellow Girl Scouts from across the state and working together learning new skills was a great experience. The week away was especially fun—we all had nicknames—mine was Stilts because I was so short. On our mountain hikes we had ants on a log for lunch (celery stuffed with cream cheese and raisins on top).

The next summer I was able to go to overnight camp at Hoffman. I was going with one other girl from my troop and we picked cycling as our theme. All my biking experience had been in my relatively flat Pawtucket neighborhood to this point. I had a one speed cruiser and was ill prepared for the summer heat and the hills of South County. Larkin Pond was certainly inviting when we would return from our rides!

As a first year camper everything was new and fun. We had our meals in the old dining pavilion and after we ate we’d put our dishes in a mesh bag and “dunk” it in hot soapy water, then rinse with water and hang to dry—what a great way to do dishes!

Nights were extra special with a unit campfire which included singing and games and even a late night “tent talk.” We had all come to camp to spend a week away from home and family—making new friends and having new experiences. Somehow, because of the short time you’re together, you bond quickly. It’s as if you’re known each other a lot longer!

Because of my fond camp memories, my daughter went to Camp Hoffman for two summers, as well as my granddaughter, first as an 11-year-old camper and then as a camp counselor. She even traveled to Scotland to visit with international counselors she’d met at camp during those summers.

I’m happy to be able to share these memories in the hope that in another 100 years there will still be special memories being made at Camp Hoffman like mine.”

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Maia Correll

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Maia Correll.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: Attending TREC with my closest friends, going on night hikes to stargaze in the field, staying in Wellville Lodge for a night of fun, roasting marshmallows and making banana boats, sharing stories and singing around the campfire, making and trading swaps, endless amounts of friendship bracelets, and falling in love with the smell of bug spray to name just a few!!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: I learned the beauty of friendship, the simplicity of being "one with nature," and embracing the challenge to step out of my shell.

Colleen Allen

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Colleen Allen.

Q: What is your favorite memory and/or experience you had at Camp Hoffman?

I have some wild memories of summers at Hoffman but there's something magical about the last night campfire at Gypsy's Rest. Singing “Rise Up, O Flame” and watching the fire float across the water. Putting your unit’s wish stick for forever friendship or world peace into the fire. Walking through the counselors singing “for you are my friend and I'll walk with you always” with candles in their hands. Crying with your friends, for another week or two has come to an end at your favorite place. It's a memory I have from every summer.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: This memory taught me about traditions and how they build a sense of belonging. I later got to be a counselor holding a candle singing, "aloha my friend, I'll see you again" and then I even got to be the staff member to carry the torch in the kayak to light the fire. I could relate to the campers having felt the same as a girl and I could feel happiness to know I've helped the girls have a week of memories to hopefully last a lifetime.

Mel Wathen

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Mel Wathen.

“As a Troop Leader, Camp Hoffman was where they had their first "Outdoor Day". They progressed to an overnighter in Wellville, then Longhouse, platform tents to tents, and it all happened at Camp Hoffman. My Girl Scout Troop has grown up there, we've experienced Outdoor Cooking Workshops, T.R.E.C., Great Escapes, Wilderness Survival Events, annual service unit Halloween parties, camping, swimming, archery, hiking, singing, kayaking, daydreaming at Gypsy's Rest, and the list goes on and on... We've camped in beautiful crisp fall weather, tropical downpours, winter blizzards and warm summer evenings, each season giving us new experiences and memories that last a lifetime.

I believe Camp Hoffman has created bonds that will never be broken or forgotten.


Camp Hoffman will always have a special place in my heart, as a Troop Leader, as I watch my troop grow in confidence in their outdoor ability and knowing it all started there.”
 

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Alexandria O’Gara

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Alexandria O’Gara.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: I have so many memories in the past 10 years. My favorite memory would have to be when my sister gave me my 10-year pin at Last Night Camp Fire. I was so honored and so touched by the experience!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: My fond memories really changed me during the 10 years working and attending Camp Hoffman. I finally found who I was for once in my entire life.

Nancy Paradis-Morin

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Nancy Paradis-Morin, who attended camp as both a camper and a counselor.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: Getting to spend 9 weeks at camp, the all-campfires at the end of each 2-week sessions. And singing under the tree waiting for meals!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: As a camp counselor, working with the girls lead me into a career as a science teacher working with middle school children. In the U.S., Ghana, Ivory Coast, both in Africa and in Mexico!

Sarah Woodin

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Sarah Woodin!

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: I remember one summer being one of the older units at camp we would play tricks on the CITs. They had a stick that was their mascot and one day we stole it. That night we strung it up the flag pole and the whole camp found it the next morning.

Also, the end of camp campfire at Gypsy’s Rest—such a solemn and powerful ceremony. Our unit sang circle game one year which became a song I love singing to my kids at bedtime.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: Camp made me someone who makes friends quickly. And someone who has a song for every moment. My children have been woken up to many different camp songs!

Lisa Vincent (Breen)

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Lisa Vincent (Breen).

Q: What is your favorite experience you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: There are so many but the one that sticks out is the swim test. I attended camp for five summers. I was not a swimmer, and hated the mucky pond. Each year I tried to overcome my fear but was left embarrassed with the pole stretched out over the water. For the first four years I was fine with wearing the "red cap." It was not until my fifth and final year that I finally made it to yellow. When my daughter Erica went, the first postcard home said, "MOM I AM A BLUE CAP"

 

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: At a young age it is hard to be away from home but I loved the outdoor experience. It was nice to meet other kids from all over and develop friendships for the weeks at camp. When I was in 7th grade my dad came home from work one day and announced that his airline, Pan American, was sending him to Australia for a year. I viewed it as an opportunity for a learning experience. To this day I am in touch with my best friend Kim, who still resides in Sydney, Australia. She even came to visit me just three years ago and it was as if we saw each other the week before.

Mariah Sweet (Colaiacomo)

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Mariah Sweet (Colaiacomo).

Q: What is your favorite memory and/or experience you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: I will always remember when I dropped a flashlight down a latrine. I had to be about 5 years old, back when flushes weren’t a thing yet. I don’t know if it got stuck on something or what, but it shined for days. I had to have a flashlight buddy for the rest of the session!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: I went to camp every year until I was a counselor, and I still volunteer to clean up trails from time to time. Camp helped me become connected with nature, and even as an adult, realize that disconnecting from technology is important to everyday life. I am a better person because of Girl Scouts, and I live by the Girl Scout Law. Whether is it standing up for a stranger, helping a friend in need, or giving something I may need to someone who may need it more, I’m always going to do what is right.

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Mary Lyon

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Mary Lyon.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: The water safety test for a sailing camp, we had to jump into the middle Larkin Pond with jeans on, get them off underwater (not easy) and then tie off the legs into knots, blow into them to fill them with air and use them as a makeshift life preserver. We also had to dive for a big rock and bring it up to the surface. This was no joke!!

On a lighter note, the end of camp campfire complete with songs and guitars and tears. My very most favorite counselor was Peaches (of course we didn't know her real name). And of course, the thrill of being allowed into the counselor's cabin for the last night.

And then the skating party that happened during Christmas vacation. It was so much fun to reconnect with our camp friends in December!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: I'll never forget my time at Camp Hoffman. I loved it so much that I've sent my twin girls there for what would have been 6 years last summer. That's no easy task since we live in suburban Philadelphia! They love Camp Hoffman as much as I did and they have made a lasting friend that they talk to regularly.

They laugh when I tell them that one of the tasks we had to do was to refill the kerosene and clean out the lanterns!

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Peggy House & Pamela Harrop

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Peggy House and Pamela Harrop. 

 

“The winds are blowing and the rain is falling”……

August 1976, camp was in session and we heard the news that Hurricane Belle was on its way. 1976 was a special year as it was the celebration of the Bicentennial. Our Camp Hoffman staff was comprised of women from many states, each of us wanting to get the experience of this memorable year from an east coast perspective, where our country began. With that in mind, we had to be taught what to do with the impending Belle.

Masking tape was passed out in masses to tape an X over each window in camp. The girls and staff packed up their belongings and learned to strike the tents to the platforms. Waterfront gear was stowed, and each girl put on a life vest. This helped keep the vests from flying away in the winds and helped the staff keep an eye on all the girls. The girls and unit staff were loaded onto the “birdcages” (trucks), and unit by unit, evacuated to a nearby school until all the girls were safe and sound.

As the winds picked up, many of the support staff stayed behind to load up supplies and food from the commissary. Those winds were a bit frightening for those of us who were not from the east coast and never had experienced a hurricane. We struggled through the wind to load up the last of what was needed into personal cars and headed for the school.

Songs and activities filled the gymnasium until we declared lights out for the evening. The next morning, all was quiet, almost eerie. The girls and staff loaded back up to head for Hoffman. Surprisingly, there was not a lot of damage. Trees and branches were down, and in fact one tree impaled a platform tent. The most memorable change though was that the meadow had flooded. Clean up began and we all made the best of it, and had a little fun in the process. That may have been the first and only year that Hoffman had canoeing in the meadow!

Lifetime friendships were made that summer. In fact, there are a handful of us that get together to travel each year. We live in four different states, most have grown children, and still to this day, recognize Camp Hoffman as the place where it all began! When we have found ourselves in Rhode Island again as a group, we have to stop and visit where it all started. A lifetime of wonderful memories and amazing bonds of friendship!

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Rhonda Brown

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Rhonda Brown, a former camp counselor.

“I can remember on opening camp day, after the campers had their luggage moved, I went to move my Toyota and what did I find? The guys had lifted my car, and placed it in one of the cubicles! I also remembering the long walk from ridge...it seemed on my turn, there was always one camper needing to see the nurse. I loved my job...best summer job ever! Being a camp counselor also helped me be more accepting of others.”

Pat Giarrusso

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from former camp counselor Pat Giarrusso.

Q: What is your favorite memory and/or experience you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: It was the greatest experience teaching campers to do archery. To see their faces when they either hit the target or got a bullseye!

Q: How did your experience at camp affect you?              

A: It was so much fun being at camp in the summer and meeting international campers that I kept doing it even after my children stopped going! To this day my two daughters talk about going to camp.

Jessica Wrubel

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Jessica Wrubel.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: My favorite memory was completing CIT training in 1999 and helping younger girls create memories for their lifetime as well as mine.

Q: How did your experience at camp change you?

A: I refer to my experiences at camp all the time in my daily life. I feel that every girl should have a Camp Hoffman experience of meeting lifelong friends.

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Patricia Vivari

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Patricia Vivari.

Q: What is your favorite experience you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: We had a tropical storm warning while we were at Camp Hoffman, and the whole camp evacuated down the road to West Kingston Elementary school for the night for safety. We had basically a school lock-in there, with each camp in a different room. We took our TP rationing while visitors at WK very seriously but definitely enjoyed having toilets that flushed that night. The next day we went back to camp, but it was a night “at camp” that I'll never forget!

Q: How did that memory affect you?

A: We made what could have been a frightening experience fun. It was an adventure, but we were still safe. On the way back to camp the next day, we were singing camp songs and camp life went on as normal. Sometimes it's easy to be paralyzed with fear, but with the right attitude, sometimes the scary things are just a way to learn something new.

Thelma DiBona

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Thelma DiBona.

Q: What is your favorite experience you had at Camp Hoffman?
A: I had so many good times but meeting girls from around the state was my favorite!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?
A: I believe it helped me to gain self-confidence and the ability to try and do new things.

My enjoyment and experiences motivated me to want my daughter and other girls to have the same good times and feelings that I acquired. I became a troop leader, trainer, chairperson for events and best of all a camp counselor, then camp director at Camp ANSEOX in Oxford, CT and a special sports camp in Sharon, CT. 

Melinda Naccarato

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Melinda Naccarato.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?
A: I am lucky to have 11 summers worth of memories at Camp Hoffman and one of my favorites that comes to mind is my very first art show. There was a program I attended called “Art Mania” that was an 11-day-long session and at the end we put on an art show for our parents! I later went on to get my Bachelors in Fine Arts.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?
A: Growing up as a young girl on the Autism spectrum, making friends was never easy. But going to Camp Hoffman every summer gave me the opportunity to meet kids my age that shared the same interests and make lifelong friends!

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Anna Hicks

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Anna Hicks.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?
A: I have so many fond memories but I think my favourite is the prank we pulled on the programme managers during pre-camp when we carried an old shower stall across camp and set it up in the doorway of their cabin—it was a great bonding moment for all who were involved!

Q: How did your camp memories affect you?
A: Camp in general has affected me in that it has impacted the things which I like to do as hobbies such as kayaking, and the friends I have. I often think fondly of my camp memories and when I am having a bad day will still turn to my star jars to lift me.

Alen Kacal

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Alen Kacal.

“Congratulations to Camp Hoffman on 100 years! I have great memories of Camp Hoffman from my time as a staff person at Girl Scouts of RI. I started my experience with Girl Scouts as a wandering naturalist at all the summer camps including Camp Green Forest. As a field director for South County, I used the office for office hours and attended many many meetings of the Southgansett service unit at Long House. I spent many many wonderful afternoons and weekends training the canoe team on Larkin Pond and led many trainings and workshops including amazing bird walks through the property. I also directed the Seahunt Special Camp there, as one year we were based in Long House. Although I never was a camper, Camp Hoffman has a special place in my memories. Best wishes for many more years to come of empowering girls to be their best!”

Marianne Harris

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Marianne Harris.

“I was a camper when Hurricane Belle made landfall on Long Island on August 10, 1976, necessitating evacuation of Camp Hoffman to a local elementary school. I was unit leader of Winds and as I recall, the tents in Winds were ravaged by the storm. It’s an experience I’ll never forget!”

Nancy Kitchens Saccoia

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Nancy Kitchens Saccoia.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?
A: I loved the Birch Cove Canoeing Unit, the biking unit, and training in the Log Cabin CIT Unit. I loved every minute of my camping experiences at Camp Hoffman. Going to the New Old House when it was raining and listening to the counselors read us Winnie the Pooh stories was especially awesome!

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?
A: I had counselors that were Physical Education Instructors and they contributed to me becoming a Physical Education Instructor!

Grace Penn

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Grace Penn.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?
A: As a young 19-year-old it was my first time to Rhode Island and my first ever experience of an American summer camp and it changed my life. Learning about this history of the camp, the songs, the people, and the girls I got to inspire and work with everyday. As a girl from England I had always been involved in our Girl Guiding but to see how it was experienced at Hoffman was amazing. I loved being by the waterfront and on the lake as a lifeguard was amazing—teaching girls to enjoy the water safely and going on the row boats was magical. Everything from the early morning polar plunge to seeing the turtles. My second favourite part of camp was the campfires on Fridays— they were magical, singing and enjoying each other’s company. Aloha is my favourite song to this day from camp.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?
A: Being the assistant waterfront director gave me a chance to start to lead a small team of my peers, organise events, and work with the girls to make sure they were having fun. This taught me so much and gave me the confidence I have today. I met people from all over the world and girls and women all over Rhode Island—I got a real taste of America. I adore that summer and had the best time, we worked so hard and loved every second. I still speak to the girls I worked with that summer on a weekly basis, even years later they are some of my closest friends. I even have a permanent reminder of Hoffman tattooed onto my arm! Camp Hoffman taught me I could be anyone and I could work hard to achieve my goals. Now I use those skills in my day job and one day I hope I get to go back to Hoffman to visit that magical place. I’d like to see if my camp name 'Narwhal ' is still written in some of the cabins! 100 years of history and I’m so glad to be a small part of it.

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Roxanne James

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Roxanne James.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: My favorite memory by far was the two years I spent as a CIT. I was able to find out how much I loved educating other Girl Scouts while also spending time making new friends. I often think back to these summers as there were so many pranks, laughs, and memories that have lasted a lifetime. I am still friends with most of the CIT's today and am incredibly glad to have them in my life.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: My favorite memories will always be any memory that was at the nature center or treasure chest. These memories I hold close to my heart because they were the early foundation to me becoming an environmental scientist. I remember my nature specialist at the time, Ace, being passionate about nature and ecology, and in those moments I thought I wanted to do that also! Thanks, Ace! Now I have a degree in environmental science and I believe it started with moments at Camp Hoffman.

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Michèle Gariepy

In honor of the Centennial of Camp Hoffman, today we are sharing camping memories from Michèle Gariepy.

Q: What is your favorite memory you had at Camp Hoffman?

A: I was a camper in the wonderful era of two-week sessions. The songs then were excellent. I often went for two sessions and was able to be in many of the specialized units: trips, bike, hiking, canoeing, Junior Life Saving, exchange trip with Camp Farnsworth (Vermont) for a canoe trip on the Connecticut River. My favorite unit was Winds, when it was for the Salt Pond sailors. We were there six days a week. The program was challenging, and I am proud to have earned the rank of Admiral.

Q: How did your experience at camp help inform who you are as a person today?

A: I had a chaotic home life and Camp Hoffman was a welcome respite. I loved the structure and the very clear rules. The staff members were very skilled and I learned so many things. I was later able to earn several certifications in water safety, as well as Small Craft Instructor in sailing. I worked as a lifeguard, sailing instructor, and naturalist, at various times. I worked in summer camps for many years, returning to Camp Hoffman as Assistant Director in 1980. My camp experiences led to my earning a B.S. in Outdoor Education and an MEd. in Administration of Organized Camping.

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