Just thought I’d pop my head up and say “Hi” from my new desk in St. Louis. We had a great summer and created a multitude of awesome memories for our campers. I hope that the fall season finds you all well and either back to work and getting things done or back to school and studying hard. I have arrived here at my new winter home in St. Louis, Missouri to an incredibly welcoming office. Yes the summer just ended, and we have taken some time to relax and celebrate a job well done, but already more work must be done, so we are back to the office and busy again. I’m excited to be a part of the winter team and I look forward to helping in the planning of summer 2015, and making sure that it’s the best summer ever for everyone involved. Stay safe, and keep camp in mind!
Dear Tbird 2014 Parents,
The arrival of fall weather in Minnesota marks the true end to the summer season. For most of us in the Thunderbird community, the “camp sick” feeling still exists and the transition back to daily showers, classrooms, offices and an absence of the Minnesota fresh air is still a challenge. This reminds me of a quote that my father, Allen “Moe” Sigoloff, use to share with all of us. Boys camp campers will recognize Moe’s quote from the 2014 final banquet favor, but this still seems like an apt moment to share it with everyone. “When we go back to the cities, we return to the wilderness and leave the civilization of camp behind.”
This is perhaps even more true today as our “city lives” continue to become more detached and more removed from personal interactions and connections. Video conferences replace handshakes, texts and email are pushing aside phone calls, and we occasionally allow Facebook to constitute a shared experience. There is no doubt that our ability to stay connected electronically across great distances has tremendous value. However, as we watch our campers grow up at camp, we appreciate the tremendous benefit of the face-to-face moments of camaraderie that we witness each day. Whether sharing a moment of accomplishment, battling through a tetherball game, or simply a enjoying a moment strolling through the serenity of Thunderbird, our campers and staff are learning the art of communication and the value of moments of personal connection. This immeasurable life skill is one of the fundamental precepts of civilization that Moe was referring to.
Reflecting back on the 2014 season, one lasting memory from the start of the season will be how the mighty Mississippi reminded us exactly who is in charge. As the Minnesota and Iowa rains filled the Mississippi river, the shores of Lake Plantagenet crept up to the doorsteps of the Ranchero Village at Girls Camp and saturated the Boys lower ball field and Council Fire. As directors, we always worry about how campers will react to Mother Nature’s challenges. How will it impact their experience? Each camp managed different issues as a result of the flooding. Boys Camp experienced their first ever council fire on the beach, and, rather than expressing disappointment or frustration, the boys understood the need for the change of plans and welcomed the new experience. There’s even a rumor that “Council Fire On The Beach” may be an occasional add to the summer experience. The flooded lower ball field necessitated the purchase of a new set of soccer goals for the upper ball field. The boys’ translation…twice as much opportunity for soccer! At Girls Camp, our waterfront was literally underwater. While staff were frustrated by the added effort of building boardwalks and raising the docks (twice :-), campers found it fun and amusing to paddle over our once sandy beach straight to the canoe and paddleboard racks. And the cool clear water provided the perfect opportunity to watch schools of minnows swimming around the “Buddy Board”. We were proud and impressed by their resiliency. Noting their ability to transform mild adversity into life lessons and lasting memories.
We continue to pride ourselves on being able to offer a diverse camp experience, meeting the needs of all Thunderbird campers. We are reminded of how our program’s foundation is still credited to our predecessors Speedy, Honey, Moe and Carol. At Family camp this year, an alumnus shared the story of his 1950s JL trip. The group traveled in a carryall van, sitting on wooden benches, half way across the country and loved every second of it. Another alumnus remarked that his fondest memories were landing a 30 inch Northern and passing his bar 6 in Riflery. The faces have changed, but the stories of accomplishments continue to share a common theme.
Finally, we offer a huge thanks to all of you. For, although we may be the ringleaders, the true spirit of Thunderbird comes from our remarkable community. We value each of you and know there are many summer options available to you and your children. Thank you for entrusting us and allowing us to contribute to the growth and development of your children. We also recognize there are imperfect moments throughout the summer and hope that even those moments served as a learning opportunity. However, we also know the only way for us to grow as a community, as directors, and as individuals is to hear from you regarding areas that need our attention. So please, do not hesitate to share both the highlights and any areas of concern. As always, we value your feedback.
Soon, we will be announcing both the start of the 2015 enrollment and our reunion schedules. We will continue to send you relevant emails and also utilize the new blog, “The Grapevine” for other news. We hope you and your camper will tune in to the “The Grapevine” for updates on camp.
Along with a few other exciting changes for 2015, we would like to formally announce the addition of Tyler “Chuckles” Nelson to our year round staff team as the Assistant Director of our Boys Camp. Bringing with him eleven years of Thunderbird experience, we’re looking forward to the new energy and insight Tyler affords the Thunderbird team.
As always, please let us know if you have a younger sibling, cousin, friend or neighbor who is interested in Thunderbird. Word of mouth will always be our best marketing tool and we want to give priority to those who have a personal connection with our camp family.
We look forward to seeing you this fall and winter as we travel to connect with our camp families and enjoy the memories captured in the 2014 reunion movie.
Shari Sigoloff, Michael Rawitscher and Roger Bristowe
Today, we embark on a new era at Thunderbird. We are very excited to publish our first edition of “The Grapevine” blog! A few weeks ago, I asked our Thunderbird Facebook group to help name this blog. We laughed and enjoyed reminiscing with all who contributed. ”Grapevine” is a term that alumni from the late 1950s through the early 2000s know. Through these years, we printed the Smoke Signal/Tom Tom newspaper during the summer and winter and utilized it to communicate relevant camp information and keep our community connected. Though instant messaging, websites and social media took over and the newspaper felt less relevant there was still fun news to share. Our desire to keep our T-bird community connected and up to brings us full circle to “The Grapevine” blog. It occurs to me that the revival of the name is also a great opportunity to share a piece of Thunderbird history.
Back in the days of Speedy’s winter travels and then Moe and Carol’s, pads of paper would be set out at reunions. Campers and staff would flock to the pads waiting for a chance to write down a “shout out” to friends or update everyone on an accomplishment. My grandparents and parents then reformatted this information and placed it in the Smoke Signal/Tom Tom newspaper. Each family received a copy of the paper several times over the school year. It looked something like this: ….Shari “Tres” Sigoloff sends a big hello to all of her campers and co-counselors from Movin’ On ‘89….Roger “Brick” Bristowe sent a letter from England to tell Moe that he received his contract and can’t wait to return to lead PNW 1996…. Names were underlined, bolded and the four…. dots in between indicated a new person’s note. When the newspaper arrived, campers and staff alike poured over this part of the newspaper to see if their names were mentioned or if friends included updates on their lives. Remember that other than snail mail and expensive long distance calls, this was the only way to communicate with friends.
I visited the annuals of the Smoke Signal/Tom Tom newspaper to search for the first publication of The Grapevine article. What I learned fascinated my extended family and me. Speedy in all of his wisdom started the Grapevine concept in 1947, but he called it The Bulletin Board. It carried this name until 1954 when Speedy and Honey changed the name to the Mailbox and then Mailbag in 1956. Finally in 1957, he officially transitioned the name to “The Grapevine.”
So, in memory of Speedy, Honey and Moe and in honor of Carol, we revive a piece of history and bring you “The Grapevine.”
We are excited to present newsworthy “snip its” and stories from Camp Directors, counselors and perhaps campers this camp season and beyond. We hope you enjoy it!
Shari “Tres” Sigoloff