IN MEMORIAM: The Grand Ladies of the
In Memoriam: Joyce Smith
Although we did not know it
at the time, this grand reunion was to be the last big event of the last summer
of my Mom Joyce Smith’s life. So the reunion was a fitting sendoff for
one of the chief architects of
In Memoriam: Wanda Fields
Note to all the others who attended: The photos in this article are the best of what I have. If you send me more, I will make a volume two of this article, because we all have so many memories to share of that remarkable weekend. –Timothy Smith, web author
This is the poster that I made for the reunion, which my brother Kelly and I plastered all over town.
Mat Freeman’s original design (left) became our beautiful sweatshirts for the reunion. It was Mat’s idea to include the Evangel, used for the first 25 years of camping, in the design. This pleased the old-timers like me greatly.
A former camper in my cabin for at least three years in
the 1970s, Mat Freeman towers over me now. He’s a church leader, camp
board member, and respected teacher in Kodiak. What a privilege to have
his handiwork as a part of the
Preparing for the Celebration:
The weeks leading up to the reunion were hectic for me for several reasons: I was serving as a chaplain at camp for part of the time, Kelly and I were taking turns caring for my Mom, who was having serious health issues, and I was trying to arrange for sweatshirts, publicity and staffing, all at the same time. But somehow it all came together. The camp board was very supportive. They let us use the camp for the entire week before the reunion, which helped immensely. This also gave the out of town and out of state guests a place to stay if they came in a day or two early. I was especially glad that Marianne Boko, who had spent about twenty seasons on camp staff, her daughter Gaby and Gaby’s husband Bob, had a chance to be on Woody and enjoy the surroundings a few days early. I hadn’t seen Marianne and Gaby since 1975, and that was a great reunion just for us. Here are some of the photos of our little reunion before the reunion.
Bob Beerman, Gabie’s husband (right) visits with Larry LeDoux on his boat as he takes them to Woody. Larry served many years at camp as a counselor in the 1970s.
At the helm of Larry’s boat is Sarah Adams, while her dad Bruce looks on. Bruce served as a counselor in the mid-70s, and has since helped me with many music projects. We still perform many of the songs we did at camp.
Marianne and Gabie pose on a log at the far end of
Sawmill beach. They had not been back to
Marianne Boko, the source of so many wonderful photos (see the articles on Camp Woody in the 50s through the 1970s) and one of my mentors in photography, waits patiently on the old dock for a shot of the bald eagles that hang out there. A new digital camera has replaced her old Pentax Spotmatic SLR.
Bob and Gabie try to get dry by the dining hall wood stove after a damp hike across Woody, while Marianne looks on. Gabie and Bob later nearly got stuck trying to climb over (rather than around) Garraboon Point, but that just added to the memorable experiences of the trip!
Clearly on Kodiak time, most
of the guests arrived at
Most unusual arrival (for anyone else but them): the North
boys, Andrew and Joel, arrive from Kodiak by kayak. Drew helps out every
summer with the cooking at the Kodiak Baptist
The Martens found out about the reunion by accident. They had a wonderful time, and it was an honor to get to know them.
One family, Dana and Lynnette Martins and their enthusiastic kids, had found the camp reunion quite by accident. She had been on the camp staff in the 1980s, and found out about the reunion from the proprietor of the bed and breakfast they were planning to stay in. He insisted that they go to Woody for a night to participate in the reunion. They got one of the cabins in the trees all to themselves, and seemed to enjoy their time at Woody more than anyone else!
The first evening’s dishes were dealt with especially swiftly, because that meal marked the inauguration of the new high-efficiency dishwasher. Ty and Jon, the husbands of the Questa and Karen cooking team, had a blast breaking in the new machine, hauling out sparkling, dry racks of dishes almost as fast as they had put them in. What a change from the old system! After dinner, we went to the recreation hall/chapel for some PowerPoint photos of camp in the 1950s and 60s, with plenty of embarrassing snapshots of the oldsters as youngsters.
Surrounded by eager kids, Ty cuts the
Joyce (center) listens intently to Zelanna Copsey as my sister Robin (left) and her husband Al (right) look at photos from Nadina’s collection (near right). Joel North photo
We went down to the beach for a campfire as the sun set. All but the youngest kids (and Mom, who was too tired) enjoyed the songs and the conversation around the roaring fire started by Nathan Lambert, veteran of ten seasons on staff. Then Jared Young reminded me about our secret stash of fireworks left over from the Fourth of July. He and some young friends quickly recovered it from its hiding place in the craft building, and the kids wasted no time in setting them off. I say kids, but Jon and Ty were right in the middle of it! About that time, magic happened. Around the corner of Near Island came the Kennecott, the Alaska Marine System ferry that’s too big for the Kodiak channel. As we saw it approaching, everyone had the same idea: to light off all the remaining fireworks as it passed. The timing was about perfect, as the majority of our remaining rockets and fountains erupted just as the ship was abreast of the beach. They acknowledged us with a loud burst of the foghorn. Wonder what they thought was going on? The tourists on deck were probably impressed with the sendoff that Kodiak gives to the ferry. Come back in fifty years and we’ll try another display for you! The photo I took just doesn’t capture the amazing sight of the brightly-lit Kennecott, framed against the dark islands, greeted by bright explosions of color. We couldn’t have planned that in a million years.
My photo doesn’t really capture the spectacle of the fireworks we set off as the Kennecott passed us. A few seconds after the last explosion, they honked the foghorn once.
Lindsay and Nathan Lambert pose as close as they dare to
the campfire (which Nathan started). It was a delight to get to know them
and hear stories of
Joel North snapped this photo of me preparing for the Saturday morning music.
The morning weather was a bit
“iffy” on Saturday, but we had a great breakfast and then a short devotion
time. I called together a staff meeting (actually, anyone who was free to
come, because the whole camp was made up of old staffers) and we decided to head
on out on a hike for lunch on the beach. The weather began to clear even before
we set off. The best beach that could be reached by truck was
Nancy and Elaine (who was a camper back in the 70s) enjoy
one of camp’s canoes on
Helen and Nadina enjoy
I appreciated greatly the
privilege of getting to know the Lamberts and the Bowmans, staffers who had
been so much a part of the Woody legacy during the two decades after I worked
there. Our friend and frequent visitor from the summer of 1975, Joe
Ritchie and his wife Darlene, made the trip from
Lunch on the beach gave opportunity for Nadina, Helen and Zelanna to do more visiting with Joyce and Wanda. Ryan Boudreau, our tour guide to the Arch after lunch, is in the striped sweater, while Nathan, Lindsay and Amber chat in the background.
Lunch on the beach, with a fine finish of s’mores!
Mrs. Fields, Mrs. Bowman and Mrs. Zimmer (with Claire Harper) enjoy an after-lunch chat. (Both are Joel North photos)
Bruce Adams interviews Joyce Smith after lunch (Mat Freeman photo)
The Bowmans, camp directors in the 1980s, were happy to meet the staff from the years before and after their service, and to reconnect with old Woody friends.
After lunch, my fellow 2006 staff member Ryan Boudreau (he of barbed wire fame in the other 2006 articles) and his brother Curtis volunteered to take anyone interested on a tour of the Natural Arch. Ryan may have had an ulterior motive because of a secret he had hiding nearby. (Those brothers had several secret homemade thrill rides in various parts of the island, which they had hidden there over the years, including a real buoy swing over a cliff on a hill behind the Chaffin’s cabin.) They had stashed a net in the treetops near the Natural Arch, and of course we wanted to visit that, too. The net made for a unique trampoline, high above the forest floor, within feet of a steep cliff. Not for the faint of heart, but perfect for the Boudreau brothers and other equally adventurous types!
Curtis Boudreau and Drew North try the net, hidden in the treetops above the Arch. The camp staff has been known to try to sleep there between camps, but the first person to roll over wakes everyone else, so it’s not a great idea! (Joel’s photo)
Joe and Darlene Ritchey check out the little beach on the back side of the Arch.
We scrambled down the cliff
below the tree net, using an old ladder that had been stashed there, reaching
the little beach that runs beside the Natural Arch. It’s a beautiful
beach, and the Arch is always quietly stunning as
The fallen tree became a makeshift amusement ride as we all tried to stay on without getting bucked off. (Photos are from my film camera and Joel’s digital)
We all finally made it back
to camp in time for supper, collecting from various corners of
Kelly, Bruce (in red) and I tried singing around the dinner tables, but we gave up so we could spend more time visiting. Mat Freeman, Larry LeDoux (looking away) and Sarah Adams are in the foreground.
Mat (left) and Larry chat with some of the young people at supper (Joel’s photo)
After supper we again watched some PowerPoint slides, including my time on staff in the 1970s and all I had collected of the years when I was not there. Nathan Lambert had many albums full of photos, and unfortunately I was just able to glance at a few of them (and none were available to me when I made the PowerPoint). How do you cram half a century of human experiences into a weekend? Well, you can’t! But we all did have some wonderful time sharing across the years and generations with each other.
More songs, more memories…the second night of the reunion was even more spectacular than the first, but we had no more fireworks, so we sang a few songs, talked about what makes Camp Woody work after all these years, shared a few horror stories of times when things just didn’t go right, and enjoyed the fire, friendship and spectacular scenery until late that evening.
That evening we had another campfire
(no way to repeat the drama of the previous night). We sat around the
fire swapping stories of our many experiences at camp. Nathan had a lot
of questions about how things had been done in the old days, and I heard a lot
of cool stories about the years after I left. I was struck by the fact
that some things work now that didn’t then, and some things we did routinely
back in the day would not be meaningful if we tried them nowadays. I was
also struck by the fact that there are two unchangeable truths about
The weather was spectacular
on Sunday morning, and as usual, the food at breakfast was fantastic. But
the main event of the morning was the closing service that we had in the
recreation hall. All four of the 2006 counseling staff members that were
still in Kodiak managed to make it over for that service, and it was a great
honor to have their help. I showed a PowerPoint of photos we had taken
that summer, and we all talked about what it is like to serve at
My brother Kelly (left) and I lead a few songs on Sunday morning.
Tim and the remaining 2006 lady staff try to teach the
“What did you come to see?” Evan John Jones shares
at the Sunday service, explaining that it’s the Spirit of God and not the
scenery that has made
Joyce Smith delivers her last sermon, while I hold her microphone and try to keep from crying. It was a memorable moment for everyone in attendance. “What God chooses to do cannot fail!” (Joel’s photo)
Then Mom Joyce got up to
speak. Tired out from all the excitement, and barely able to walk that
morning, she stood holding her walker as I held the microphone for her.
As she spoke, her eyes shone and her voice was strong as she shared what God
had done. She spoke of the struggles of the early years, of losing a site
for a summer camp and the miracle of getting the camp property just weeks
before the opening season of 1956. She spoke of the continuing miracles
of the following decades. And she stated that
After such a moving
experience, the reunion closed out with a meal out on the picnic benches, with
salmon, burgers and other delicacies cooked by Ty and Jon. There were
many more conversations, many exchanges of addresses, and then it was time to
go home. It was a splendid celebration of a remarkable place, made
special by all the wonderful people who have made
Jon Young mans the barbeque while Karen looks on.
The food was delicious, the relationship of the Youngs and the Harpers was a delight
to watch, and the Reunion’s food service was just about the best I’ve ever seen
on Woody. I was especially lucky, because the Youngs and the Harpers
worked at camp in 2007 also, and I got to develop an even deeper friendship
with them. People like these are what make
Ron and Mabel Quilliam, camp directors (end of table) chat with the Bowmans while Darlene and Joe Ritchey listen in.
In Memoriam: Beryl Torsen (right, who was the dean of
camp cooks for over twenty years, and is also featured in the articles Baker
Cottage Orphanage and Camp Woody in the 70s) chats with Zelanna Copsey (left)
while her husband Bill Torsen looks on. Since the
Ryan Boudreaux snapped this tree top photo with my camera…
…just as this photo was being taken. Joyce is
flanked (left to right) by Zelanna, Nadina and Helen, campers from the first
The Smith family: Tim, Kelly, Robin La Monte, and Joyce,
part of the first three decades of
Construction Volunteer: they always could use a volunteer (including construction and repair duties before each season).
Donation: You can send a generous donation by check to their mailing address, or by means of the secure PayPal link that you find in each camp article. Funds go directly to the Camp Woody account, and Tanignak.com has no access to or knowledge of any transaction. See the link just above the "written by" and site links below.
Staff Volunteer: There’s lots of need each year for cooks, counselors,
managers, chaplains, directors and the like. Contact the
Prayer: And of course you can pray. This is undoubtedly
the best task of all. There have been countless stories of blessing
Personal Thanks: Thank you to the
The Reunion kids listen to one of my stories on the
Saturday of the
PayPal Link to Donate to Camp Woody:
Written by Timothy Smith, web author. See the About Me page for more information. Always feel free to send me comments, suggestions or corrected information about this article or any of the articles on this site. (Write to: Tanignak@aol.com) This article and website is © 2008 Timothy L. Smith, Tanignak Productions, 14282 Tuolumne Court, Fontana, California, 92336 (909) 428 3472. Images in this article are my photos or are credited to the photographers. This material may be used for non-commercial purposes, with attribution. Please email me with any specific requests. You are welcome to link to this site.
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