side menu icon
hoffman centennial alum stories-cover photo

Camp Hoffman Alums

The Camp Hoffman Centennial is on July 24, 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! Click here to submit your alum story.

Want to hear from us about what we're doing to celebrate the Camp Hoffman Centennial? Click here to 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!”