“Raising the Scudder Roof”
25th Anniversary Project
Holmes Presbyterian Camp
On a beautiful weekend in early May 45 volunteers came together to turn an open platform in the Holmes Camp woods into a pavilion that will protect campers from intense sun or heavy rain.
For some this was their 25th year of participation in a annual rite – a weekend when alumni, their family and friends come together to be “at camp”, to reconnect, renew old friendships and meet new family members while working together on a project that will enhance the camp experience for today’s campers. The weekend is one of the ways in which alumni continue to build community and introduce their children to the Holmes Camp. It has succeeded so well that the children refer to each other as camp cousins and often seek to attend summer camp together.
Short video of Dedication Ceremony
Full video of Dedication Ceremony
Presentations by Sang Park, George Varugheuse and Peter Surgenor
The projects began after Keith Miller, a young staff alumni, drowned in Florida. Under the initiative of Alice Pulliam, friends gathered at camp to honor him with a project to improve the Lakeside cabin that Keith loved. The following year another alumni, Pete Sandin, who had been co-director of the waterfront with Sang Park, died in a tragic farming accident. Sang and other camp friends felt the need to honor him too, again in a way that would give back to the camp where they had become close. They upgraded the waterfront with a low fence. Don Hostetter, the Executive Director of Holmes, decided to make these workdays an annual event and since then faithful alumni have been coming back. Each year the chosen project has made a great contribution to the quality of summer camp experiences for children, youth and young adult leaders.
Projects included construction of four sets of “Cedarkirk Tents” at Denton and Robinson, the bell tower at Agape, two Adirondack Shelters for overnight camping, upgrade to “the Train” (water pump house and storage tank), and the “Fireplace Room” restoration at Westminster Lodge, with addition of changing rooms for the waterfront. When Holmes acquired access to a fourth lake the Purple trail was revived and an equipment shed installed. “Shack to Chalet” was an ambitious project to improve Furnald and Edwards cabins (straighten, new windows, bunks, painting and porches). Years ago the original Scudder cabin was removed in preparation for the Alumni Volunteer project of a replacement deck (with accommodations included for eventual roof installation.)
Certain aspects of the Alumni Volunteer weekend remained constant.
- The planning and preparation are overseen by Paul Verdesi
- Work on something the camp needs but doesn’t necessarily have resources to complete.
- Wonderful meals are provided by camp alumnus Mark Ainsworth, a faculty member of the Culinary Institute of America. Holmes Chef Bobby Kraus contributes now too.
- Volunteers come back from as far away as Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Texas.
Over the years this group has grown. Original volunteers Paul and Brenda Verdesi, Sang Park, Chip Maggio, Chris Burke and Ted Masters still willingly take time to contribute each spring in spite of children’s schedules, graduations and other commitments (including preaching the next day). Spouses such as Chad Turner add their expertise. Friends like Paul Alcorn, Chris and Kathy Perry have joined to contribute their skills and to contribute to Holmes and this community. This year a major contributor is the child of one of the original crew. Keith Coombs was able to arrange a discount on the lumber purchased for the project. It was thrilling to have 45 willing volunteers on May 2nd, but success required the support of many other donors who were able to help with purchase of materials.
To recognize the 25th anniversary, the alumni asked for a challenging, especially meaningful project. Consistent volunteer Sang Park offered to lead the planning and fund raising committees of the Raising the Scudder Roof project. For the first time the group raised $21,000 to purchase materials. Planning began early and by the bi-annual Thanksgiving gathering Sang led a power point discussion of the project complete with preliminary architectural drawings, materials list and budget. As always Paul V. undertook the preparation of the site and ensuring that all building materials and safety equipment were on hand. Food and housing for 45 guests were also obtained.
There were many conference calls and planning conversations during the winter and spring. January 1 saw the post New Years crew gathered around the sawmill at Holmes to begin milling logs from our property for use as sheeting boards (under the roofing material). The late winter snows left only a few weeks to transport materials to the Scudder platform in the woods. A small group gathered the last Saturday in April to prepare the site, plan steps and imagine how May 2 would proceed. Another group gathered on Friday May 1 to make sure all was ready. A local contractor agreed to bring a piece of equipment to lift the completed trusses into place.
On May 2 the day began with breakfast, distribution of customized construction helmets, safety glasses and ear protection and a safety briefing at the job site. Then teams split up to begin cutting boards, assembling pieces, nailing, drilling holes and tightening bolts. At the same time the artistic crew under the leadership of Alice Pulliam and David Harris was busy working on two cedar pillars for installation on the front side. By 5:00 pm on May 2 this group photo was taken illustrating the truss work completed, the artistic work completed and great smiles of satisfaction on all tired faces. Then it was off to a great dinner in the Agape dining room. May 3 saw a small but faithful crew assembling to begin installation of sheeting boards. This work was completed on May 9th.
This Holmes camp tradition is one of several that have knit the alumni into a long term relationship that includes original alumni, their spouses, children and even grandchildren. A semi annual Turkey holiday gathering brings families together for a joy filled weekend celebration between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This group also gathers each New Year’s Eve at Holmes to bring in the new year with old and close friends.