Clinton Facility Assessment is available in draft form

A walk through the cabins at the Clinton campsite will show signatures dating back to the 1960’s. As you well know, this predates the opening season, 1989, of that site. This property was developed into a summer camp long before the Foundation purchased it. In the last 28 years, modest changes and improvements have been made to the facility to meet ever-evolving health codes and basic maintenance needs.

As part of our strategic plan, we needed to assess the viability and sustainability of the Clinton campus to provide programming into the future.  LAJF retained an engineering firm with significant experience working with camps in the region to conduct a comprehensive study of the Clinton campus.

The engineering firm returned a draft of the report to us. The Buildings and Grounds Committee and the Board have discussed the draft and it is being released to the CRS community. The final report will be completed in time for the BOD meeting this summer. The engineer’s report concludes with a promising thought:

CRS’s infrastructure and buildings and grounds provide a viable base to which improvements can be made. Although improvements will be a significant expense, with careful budgeting and planning in the next five years, CRS can be restored, revitalized, and prepared to expand and flourish for many more years to come.”

Alumni can view and discuss the report on the Forum and submit specific feedback via this form. We will have several months to complete this review, and to come to a decision about budgeting for the 2018 season and beyond.

In the meantime, the report highlights what volunteers can do to help. We are calling on our alumni to come to Camp on May 20-21 and help open the facility for the summer. You can register here. As always, we will be raising the tents on the hill and uncovering the pool. We also have special projects and need many hands to paint, help construct an Adirondack shelter, repair banisters and do some minor demolition!  In return for your hard work will be delicious food from our new smoker, good conversations and a campfire Saturday night.

We look forward to hearing back from alumni and to seeing many of you at upcoming reunion and volunteer events. There is plenty of work that needs to be done and we appreciate the efforts of all folks who can pitch in with their time, talent and treasure.


Damian Brennan, President & Helene Mattera, Executive Director


Jon Robertson ('97,'98,'05) and Alex Heim ('08,'10) discuss sustainability, Jon’s 20th reunion and keeping in touch after camp.

Camp Rising Sun from different generations share a common experience and often much more. This week, Alex Heim interviewed Jon Robertson about his life 20 years after first attending CRS, their shared interest in sustainability and green buildings and much more.

Jon Robertson

Jon Robertson

When we reached out to Alex to interview Jon, she said, “It's actually a funny story- Jon helped me land my current job. We work for the same company but in different offices. He is in Austin and I am in Toronto. I am currently working as Junior Building Analyst with the Toronto commissioning team. I think it is a great story that demonstrates how strong and positive the CRS network is and how it continually helps people to find their passions and make new relationships."

Alex: What do you do now? How did you end up there?

I went to Mississippi State University and started studying Mechanical Engineering thinking I would be some sort of glorified auto mechanic. But I wanted to do more than just push buttons for a living. An air conditioning class made me realize I really enjoyed the design aspect of it and the practical application of physics.

Doing consulting brings math, physics, and psychology together. You have to be able to predict human behavior, understand how people move from space to space and how buildings are used. On a whim, I applied to work for a company in California and they accepted me. One of my favorite quotes is by Hunter S. Thompson, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” That was my philosophy, the job was the excuse. It was really to say, “Why not? Let’s give it a try and get out of my comfort zone.” Working in an environmental engineering firm in California, I learned the basics of consulting engineering, that process takes precedent and that you cannot compromise your design to please an architect. But I got tired of designing places for pumps, I wanted to design places for people.

I ended up making the switch to focus on commercial design and on a whim again and the idea of “why not,” I made the move to Integral Group in Oakland, CA, at the time a small boutique firm that specialized in sustainable building design. This was a good fit for me, perhaps from my connection to the outdoors or the ideals I learned at Camp Rising Sun about making the world a better place. Joining the firm was hectic – there were no protocols, designs were all over the place, and the staff was very junior. I had 5 years of experience and was one of the most senior people. A lot of responsibility was dumped on me but I embraced it, for the most part, and within 5 years we had turned processes around, we had standardization, and quality became part of the office culture.

This experience made me passionate about deep green engineering and the principle that buildings should do no harm or the least amount of harm as possible while providing a safe, healthy, and comfortable places to live, work, and play.

However, helping to institute a culture of quality and grow the firm to be a world leader in sustainable design gradually wore on me over time. At a certain point, I got fed up with the working-life and burned out because of the amount of responsibility and trying to maintain company culture as we grew like crazy – we went from a staff of 40 to 80 in our Oakland office in just 4 years. It was all getting too much for me and I decided I needed a break. So within two weeks I decided to quit my job, had sublet my apartment, and had strapped my BBQ smoker to the roof of my station wagon beginning an epic 17,000 mile, 44 state, 4-month long trip around the US. I wanted this trip to help me figure out what the meaning of life is, to relax, and to take a break. I traded BBQ for free nights to rest, visited a lot of camp people and other friends, and visited every place I had ever wanted to go as I traveled across the country. It was really special. I never figured out what the meaning of life is, but I did figure out what I wanted out of life.

Jon bowling with his Austin office team

Jon bowling with his Austin office team

With this knowledge in mind when my trip came to a close, I interviewed with a lot of firms in search of my dream job and got a lot of amazing offers to lead design teams at various companies. At the last minute I ended up talking with Integral Group again and they offered me the opportunity to help open a new office and build a team in Austin, Texas. “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” In April of 2016, I rejoined the firm as Associate Principal and was welcomed back with open arms.  

We are a small office here in Austin which has made me wear a lot of hats – I am the senior technical engineer for mechanical and plumbing design, project manager, mentor, IT specialist, administrative staff ensuring we have the tools we need and fruit in our fruit basket, and even janitor depending on the needs of the day. This position has given me what I was looking for, which is a leadership role and the chance to build my own team from the ground up ingraining many of my views and principles into our office culture.

Alex: What made you interested in sustainability in the first place? Were you Influenced by Camp Rising Sun?

I have always had a passion for the outdoors. I was in the Boy Scouts when I was kid and my father had the mantra of “leave this place better than how you found it.” Also, growing up in Mississippi and being outdoors a lot, I have always had that connection to the natural environment, and having it be available to the next generation was impressed upon me at a young age.

At Camp Rising Sun we have always been told to change the world, that we would be the next world leaders, that we should strive to do great things to change the world. These principles coupled together have shaped my drive to make this world a better place and doing sustainable building design is the outlet that I found to accomplish that. It’s been a great ride so far and actually something that I have been good at. It is something that I have fully embraced and is my opportunity to change the world and make it a better place.

Alex: How does Camp Rising Sun impact your career today?

Camp impressed upon me the idea that we have to power to change the world if we want to. Now I joke with my staff about changing the world one building at a time.

From a leadership perspective, a lot of the skills that I have now have their foundations at Camp Rising Sun. I work with a myriad of clients and what I learned at CRS is that in order to achieve what you want, you have to speak to what is important to somebody else. Having high-performing buildings or reducing the carbon footprint might not be what drives the other person, but Camp taught me to balance my goals with the other person’s goals and to develop a means to find a common language to speak on. Right now I’m talking with a couple of clients and sustainability never comes up because they just don’t care, instead, we just talk about reducing ongoing energy costs. With another one, we talk about resiliency. In another project, the owner is concerned with how much they can lease the space for, so speaking about indoor comfort and indoor air quality has allowed for us to implement our agenda for deep green engineering, again without mentioning sustainability, and also for the owner to have a higher value development.

Alex: Which Camp Rising Sun values do you use today?

From a leadership perspective, the idea of leading from behind is something I picked up at Camp Rising Sun. There are two types of leaders. There are the ones that lead from the front, which is, essentially, “my way or the highway.” Or the ones that lead from behind, where you are pushing everyone along to a common goal. I prefer to lead from behind and to empower people to make their own decisions instead of pulling them along kicking and screaming.

I also learned to continually challenge myself. The message that you can accomplish more than you thought really stuck with me and has pushed me a lot along the way. Instead of being content with where I am in life, I am always trying to define my next goal. Staying in contact with my campmates over the years and their varied careers has given me much inspiration. In particular, my campmate Orian Marx has helped shape a lot of what I have done throughout my life as far as goal setting and what the next steps are.

The third bit of it is globalization. I can easily talk about friends that I have in a certain place or about little bits of culture of different parts of the world. This is paying off really impressively right now as I am proposing on projects in Serbia and another one in Bahrain and being able to draw upon different interactions I had 20 years ago has paid off a lot with what is culturally important in these regions. Knowing that cultures are different and that coming in with the American way of design just doesn't work in other countries, there are other norms you have to be aware of.

Alex: It’s your 20th reunion year. How has your relationship with camp evolved?

Unfortunately, right after camp, I lost touch for 7 years due to a variety of reasons. Facebook wasn’t around and not everyone had email in the late 90s. I went back in 2005 as a drama counselor and as a lifeguard and that got me reconnected with Camp and since then I've been rekindling these relationships and building new connections. Getting reacquainted with Camp allowed me to remember how much of an impression it had on me as far as how it shaped my life.

CRSAA in California 

CRSAA in California 

It was always told to me that “Camp Rising Sun is free, it’s a full scholarship, and he only thing we ask of you is that you give back to the world.” This partially shaped why I got into sustainability and building design. In a different way, I was looking for how to give back to place that I feel has given me so much. I never had an outlet to do it other than financially, which I couldn’t do during college and high school. Being a counselor helped filled that desire to give back and when I moved to California I joined the CRSAA there. Joining the California CRSAA linked me to people from different years and introduced me to other ways to give back to Camp – at first just cooking BBQ for our get togethers, then helping by reviewing applications, then assisting with interviews, and eventually getting involved with other CRSAAs (and kudos to Rachel Canter for starting the Mississippi CRSAA).

Camp Rising Sun alumni in Texas earlier this year

Camp Rising Sun alumni in Texas earlier this year

During this time, I was introduced to the current ED, Judy Fox, who planted the seed in my head to join the B&G committee. This was the opportunity I had been waiting for and my way to give back to camp. Since then I have been pretty involved with the B&G committee, recently donating around $10k hours worth of pro-bono time to do an engineering study of the Clinton campus as well as peer reviewing other reports to keep the Clinton campus up and running and how to preserve the Redhook campus. The outpour of support and validation that I received from the community about how welcome and appreciated my volunteer work was put a smile on my face and pushed me to be even more involved.

Together with other alumni here in Texas, we are trying to get a CRSAA chapter started, get some movement, and perhaps at some point start getting campers from here too. The last two years have been fantastic in terms of being involved with Camp.

Alex: What advice do you have for people that are in a similar situation here you were a few years ago?

1. Don't give up on Camp. CRS is a family, there are good times and bad, but don't let the bad outweigh the good. As in any family, there will always be a home for you if you choose to be part of the community.

2. Pick up the phone, or send a text, or connect on Facebook. When I was doing my road trip, campers with whom I wasn't that close would message me randomly, "Hey I know it’s been 18 years, but I see you are doing this amazing thing so would you like to stay in our house for the weekend or grab a coffee." Active and passive communications is very important.

3. If you feel a need to give back, or if you feel like you have lost touch with camp, join a committee to get more involved as we all have special skills to contribute. Now is the time to become re-engaged with camp and help out where possible, whether it is through donation of hours or financially. This is the time to shine and for the alumni to give back to the foundation that gave us so much. LAJF and Camp are more than welcoming to anyone that wants to help out.

Jon: It's not been long since you were out of camp, what have you seen as the challenges of staying in touch with LAJF or challenges with post-camp depression and that sort of thing? 

Alex: For me, a challenge of being a younger person who has a more recent departure is that you go through this awkward phase between high school, university and early career, you want to travel and see friends but you are not able financially. I wasn't able to study abroad, so I had to do it virtually. That's why I remained mostly in touch with friends in the US or go to alumni events and find other outlets to find camp.

That's why I find sustainability so appealing, it's not just a principle applied to science, it's a way of life. You can apply the principles of sustainability to everything. One factor I think of a lot is that sustainability implies slow gradual change, as an alumna that's how you evolve with Camp. At first, you think things will happen really quickly and you will be able to donate a lot etc. but it really is slower and organic.

Jon: What have been some of the most helpful things that Camp has given you for High School or college, career?

Alex Heim

Alex Heim

Right now camp just helps me as an American to stand outside of what is currently going on and examine the state of global affairs. Camp has really rounded me into someone that I wouldn't have been otherwise. I grew up in an area that is very close minded and conservative. Camp helped me question reality and realize that there may be another side to every story. Montreal is a super multicultural city, it's bilingual, and just having that desire to be open minded has opened better opportunities to find other things in life. It has helped me seek out different perspectives.

I have also learned smaller scale things: Camp breeds leaders that are a part of the team, not the head of the team. I have a relatively strong personality and inherently want to be front and center so learning how to take a step back has been really important. I have grown into someone that takes pride in seeing others succeed, not just through my own accomplishment. It is not just a skill, it's a gift. When you get into suitability you are not in it for yourself, you are in if for everybody.

Jon: I don't know if camp teaches being humble or not, but I think many alumni get a lot of benefit from learning that leading everyone else to a greater good is better than being the leader.

Jon: If you had one or two bits of advice to give to the younger alumni, what would it be?

Alex: The most recent piece of wisdom with landing this job is to be stubborn about what goals you set for yourself, people kept telling me to just apply for whatever because this was my first job. But I stuck with my goal, I didn't sacrifice my desires and principles and I ended up exactly where I wanted to be. So my advice is to have the mental strength to push through, find the opportunities and chase them. Once you do that the payoff is much more.

My last piece of advice is to never stop reaching out and making camp connections and of course on other networks. Find a different type of food, new movie, new book, never stop learning about the world. It's the most enriching thing you can have in your life.

Jon: Finally, can you tell us a bit about your job?

A: I work at Integral Group too. I am a Junior Building Analyst, I work with the commissioning team in Toronto and we assess everything from design, to when the building is running, to further optimizing. I love the job.



Camp Rising Sun alumni at United World College: Q&A

By Cristian Mendoza, Sadie Cooley, Sonia Wargacka and Chiazo Agina

Cristian Mendoza, CRS '15,'16

Cristian Mendoza, CRS '15,'16

For many people, Camp Rising Sun is the first time they leave home for a long period of time, away from their friends, home, and family. When young teenagers are given this opportunity to collaborate with people from all over the world, make life long friendships, and start to discover themselves, they often find a sense of freedom and realize they are capable of more than they ever thought. For a young teenager this experience is truly remarkable valuable. I know this is what it was like for me. There's a saying that camp starts when it ends, and I find that to be very true - younger alumni give, it some time.

I wanted to pursue those values of a global world, a strong sense of community, and personal growth. When I heard about United World College, I was very interested, but my family didn't want me to leave home for that long. It was a hard choice to make but I decided that UWC was the place for me, and I have been admitted to the Class of 2019 at UWC-USA in Montezuma, New Mexico. I hope that for those seeking to continue with their Camp Rising Sun experience in a different way find these excerpts from current and past UWC students who are CRS alumni useful. If you're considering applying to UWC, best of luck!

What made you want to apply for UWC? Did CRS influence your decision?

Chiazo Agina, CRS ‘15,’16.  UWC-USA ‘18

Chiazo Agina, CRS ‘15,’16.  UWC-USA ‘18

Chiazo: I thought there was nothing to lose and I really missed the time I had at camp and the people I spent this time with, so CRS definitely influenced my decision.

Sadie: A friend that went there and my parents encouraged me to apply. CRS made me want to get in, there were also a group of girls in my session who all planned on applying and I had a lot of support from them.

Sonia Wargacka, CRS ‘10,’16. UWC Mahindra ‘14

Sonia Wargacka, CRS ‘10,’16. UWC Mahindra ‘14

Sonia: CRS only made me more convinced that I want to be a part of international community for longer than 7 weeks (length of CRS when I attended). I used to explain it to my Camp friends: “It’s like CRS, but for 2 years and with schools all around the world!”. Similarly, when I explain CRS to my UWC friends, I say “it’s like a UWC short course that you go to in a summer and make connections for a lifetime”.

How are/did you enjoy your experience?

Sadie Cooley, CRS ‘15. UWC Adriatic ‘18

Sadie Cooley, CRS ‘15. UWC Adriatic ‘18

Sonia:I was 17 and sent to India to live for 2 years without my parents - I thought that’s the best thing that can happen to me. Soon I realized that it’s also challenging as hell. Best and worst moments, intensity of the experience, IB pressure and high academic standards were balanced by life-long friendships, cultural evenings and most exciting travels and adventures. It’s been a wild ride: challenging, wonderful and intense.

Sadie: It’s really incredible, I feel myself growing more and more thankful for being selected everyday. I have the opportunity to see a lot of beautiful things and to travel. I recently spent some time in Montenegro and Albania for a project week. I also learn things pretty much constantly about other people’s countries and cultures.

Chiazo:  I have never gone to school with Nigerians, other Africans and Californians all at the same time. These are all parts of my identity that I strongly identify with and it has been amazing to see just how much of a difference it has made in my life. I feel more proud of my heritage, culture, and state. I feel more free, just like I was at Camp Rising Sun but maybe with more homework! It is amazing to have so much autonomy and feel the camp spirit all year round.

In what ways are UWC and CRS similar? How are they different?

Chiazo: UWC and CRS are similar in terms of improving the world and learning about different cultures. They both are interested in shaping the next generation of leaders and often dabble in the same types of activities: instructions, cultural meals, leadership tracks/days. They also both have to struggle with issues like funding. They are different in terms of environment. UWC mixes boys and girls and gives more freedom to their students. However both do often have to deal with promoting leadership while immersing those they wish to empower in bubbles.

Sadie: They both really focus on how important it is that young people from around the world are given the opportunity to interact with each other; it gives people a very global mindset and even teaching one person the importance of working conflict out through means other than violence can have more impact than you would think. They also are both very intense programs fit into a small time frame, which to me makes the experience all the more intense. The big difference is that the students at UWC are expected to be much more independent, we don’t really have things like evening programs,instructions, or projects unless we plan them ourselves. UWC is also more challenging for me, it feels less like a gentle teaching experience and more like a trial by fire. I think another big difference is the time and the combination of boys and girls, these two things provide a completely different experience.


They share the same values, but some UWC people are distracted by the academic aspect of it. I have never been too focused on academia, and it just seems that it puts a lot of stress on UWCers that CRS campers don’t have. CRS is a safe space from all the academic stress, while UWC is strongly related to it.

What is the UWC community at your school like?

Sonia: I made a film about Bald For a Cause, charity event that takes place in my school every year. It shows the community spirit more than words!

Sadie: It is a small community of 180 students in total, so you really do get to know everyone, which has it’s good and bad sides.  I think the community here really helps build up people’s sense of adventure. The people here are really independent for the most part. There’s also a lot of love that gets passed around, it’s not unusual to see people busy with hushed conversations or long hugs when someone needs a little support.

Chiazo: It is very diverse with students from more than 80 countries. There is strong sense of school spirit here. It is very normal to see everyone visiting each other or participating in class and sharing their personal experiences. When we get angry, we get passionate about any issues that affect us but only because we realize the potential of our school and community. It is very close knit and everyone knows each other. It does feel like home.

How is the education at a UWC different from your educational background prior?

Chiazo: I have never been the only American in any of my classes before. I have never had such a liberal schedule. The classes are very much like college with less busy work and less assessments that do weigh more for our overall grade. I feel less pressured in terms of grades but I know that some people feel more pressured here. I also have way more opportunities to involve myself in both my school and the local community. Everyone has a voice here, it’s just about finding it after so many years of not having it.

Sadie: My old school was very basic in its education and expectations compared to this school.  Teachers here really emphasize the importance of knowing the subject completely. I found it extremely challenging in the beginning and I still struggle sometimes. The teachers are really wonderful though, so they’ve helped me to get into the swing of things.

Sonia: The Polish education system is based on memorizing and very eurocentric. Not really thinking or processing. On history classes in MUWCI we first talked about Arab-Israeli conflict, then about Juan Perón in Argentina, and after that about Hitler’s rise to power. Having students from all over the world makes the experience so much richer. Never have I spoken about World War II with students from Germany, Israel and Jordan in the same class. What an experience!

What are some things that surprised you or didn’t expect once you were there?

Sonia: I lived on campus where 5 out of 5 most venomous snakes in India have been present. And we had cockroaches (during monsoon) and scorpions in our rooms if we forgot to close the door. The craziest thing is that… you get used to it!

Chiazo: I have gotten into confrontations here but have found myself really taking the time to work out my differences with people here because it is uncomfortable to hold these things in. It has helped me grow a lot. 

Are there any negatives that you’ve discovered once at UWC?

Sonia: Of course, but that’s highly year/school/batch dependent. There is no institution that would not have its flaws, so I’d like to emphasize here UWC is not a paradise where there’s no problems.

What advice would you have for recent CRS alumni considering applying to UWC?

Chiazo: Do it! UWC is very similar to camp in it’s mission statement but also a pleasant change. It’s a great place to grow among both boys and girls and an amazing environment to let your ideas be heard. Make sure to research the campus you want to attend!

Sadie: if you feel like stepping way out of your comfort zone and embracing a lot of independence, I highly recommend applying!

Sonia: Go for it! Be yourself,  there are so many people who try to be someone they are not on the selection: Disagree, think critically and make sure you ask THEM questions as well!
Also, don’t get upset if you don’t get in. There’s so many different opportunities out there for you, that’s certainly not the only one.

If UWC wasn’t an option, what other opportunities, possibly like UWC/CRS, would you have applied to?

Sadie: Most likely a study abroad year, I really wanted to test my limits and leave my comfort zone.

Sonia: EMIS - great initiative in Israel (originally was supposed to be a UWC school) And has plenty of opportunities too.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Reunions (But Were Afraid to Ask)

By Carl Schoenberger '66-'67


Last year, on the 50th anniversary of my first summer, 1966, I helped organize a 50th Reunion, and this coming summer, I am again helping put together a 50th for the campers and staff of 1967.  What are some of the motivations which might lead someone to undertake this task?  And what are some of the challenges and rewards one might discover along the way?  After all, organizing a reunion of any type involves a fair amount of time and effort.  There should be some expectation that an organizer will find satisfaction in the task him- or herself, in addition to any possible benefits to the institution involved.  

The 2017 Camp reunion this summer will fall between the two sessions, allowing alumni to relive their memories as if they were going back to Camp again. If you choose, you can even sleep on tent hill and have your meals in the dining hall. This new model is much more like the World Reunions which take place every 4-5 years in different locations around the world.  I have attended a number of these since 2000, and they have all been outstanding.   In addition to getting to see a city and country which many attendees have never visited, the World Reunions offer a chance to meet alumni from all age groups and all parts of the world.   It's almost like going to CRS all over again as the range of viewpoints and backgrounds is truly staggering.

Organizing a CRS Reunion involves a number of steps. The biggest challenge for us is finding all of the alumni from a given year.  Those of us for whom CRS was a critical experience in our young lives tend to maintain a close connection not only to some fellow alums but also to the institution itself.   We update our contact information, we participate in the CRS Forum, Facebook group, email lists, as well as things such as camper selection and Foundation Committees.   But there is a significant fraction of alums who drift away after Camp.  Putting together a reunion requires a big effort to try to locate all of these lost sheep.  

I have started with the contact information within the LAJF database, which provides email or snail mail addresses, as well as phone numbers, for many alums.    Many of these turn out to be incorrect, as they have not been updated.   But sometimes an old address or phone number can strike paydirt as a long lost alum voices their excitement at hearing a voice or reading a note from a long lost campmate.  For those whose contact information is not correct, the digital age provides a number of other options.  Web searches can often locate someone through their professional life or organization.  Searches can reveal publications, web postings, listings on such platforms as Linked-In, etc.  Searches can also sometimes provide home or business addresses and phone numbers.  Sometimes, obituaries turn up.  

Some of the phone calls and emails are brimming with enthusiasm.   I know from my time working on the LAJF Board and in various Board Committees that nearly every year, there are a few alums who have been out of touch for years, and become highly engaged with the Foundation, donating time and money with great personal generosity.    They want to hear what is happening at Camp, how we are facing our current challenges and difficulties; what we plan for the future; and how they can help bring it to fruition.  There are some who are polite, who are happy to hear from me, but who are nevertheless too heavily engaged with other priorities and other commitments.   That is certainly understandable.  There are also a few who have fallen completely out of touch and are unreachable.

Institutions such as CRS, just like most schools, can only survive in today's environment by doing substantial fund raising.  Fundraising requires alumni engagement, and reunions are one of the most effective means of engaging alumni.   Working on a reunion for one's own camp year provides one of the easier ways to help engage alumni who have been out of touch for some time.   Most people are happy to hear from one of their old friends, even someone with whom they may not have been close at Camp.  Calling about a reunion can be less stressful that simply calling to solicit a donation, since the conversation revolves more around shared memories and mutual acquaintances.   Once they begin to hear about current events at Camp and the importance of future viability, the stage is set for converting that distanced alumnus into a potential donor.  I have had great fun attending reunions and working on them myself.   I would strongly encourage others to consider trying their hand at this highly worthwhile task.  

Dutch Alumni Volunteer at Spring Service Event

By Koen Roskamp, Merel van Helten and Gerrianne Pennings

While it was still freezing at Clinton, the first days of spring weather had arrived in the Netherlands. For a couple years, the Dutch alumni enjoy that lovely spring weather together. Not only at the spring gathering to welcome the new campers, but also during the National Day of Community Service, called NL Doet, which can be translated to ‘the Netherlands Acts’. The idea behind this day is to come together as alumni and to apply what we learnt at Camp Rising Sun to our own country. A little bit of project time on a Saturday in March. Our youngest alumni organise this yearly event with support of a board member of the Dutch Alumni Association. This year the task was up to Merel van Helten and Koen Roskamp (CRS ’16). More than 15 alumni that attended camp somewhere between 1971 and 2016, including family and friends participated this year. We had an exciting day of building and digging.

NL Doet started fifteen years ago. The foundation behind the organisation sponsors all kinds of projects in the whole country. This year more than 350.000 volunteers participated in 9.500 projects. This year, the Dutch alumni came together to help in Utrecht at a public garden that grows vegetables and fruits for the neighbourhood, local restaurants, and volunteers.

With help of Gerrianne we contacted the people from “food for good” in Utrecht. Luckily they still had place for us. Last Saturday we planted some apple trees, various kinds of berry bushes and we build a large wooden cage around the bushes to keep the birds and other animals from stealing the fruits in the summer. We also got to know some other people. All in all, we had an amazing day with a lot of fun and some hard work!
— Koen Roskamp
Even though it was challenge to find a project that had space for 15 alumni, I would encourage every alumni association to be active in your local communities. It is a wonderful way to spread the Camp Rising Sun message beyond the borders of our own alumni community. Family members and other volunteers in the project get to know Camp Rising Sun better and for alumni it is a nice way to catch up with each other. Lastly, hammering nails and digging holes brings back a bit of project time spirit in all of us, and who doesn’t love that?
— Gerrianne Pennings 

Maple Syrup Day 2017

We had a wonderful time making maple syrup last weekend at Camp Rising Sun. 30 alumni spanning  4 decades braved the cold weather and joined us at Clinton to learn how to make maple syrup from scratch. We had our biggest turnout yet for what has become a Camp Rising Sun tradition.  

volunteer weekend col.jpg

Maple syrup magic begins when Cameron taps the trees to collect the sap in the weeks leading up to the day. On Saturday, volunteers took turns to boil the sap outdoors until the excess water evaporated. Other alumni gathered around the fire for warmth and conversation.

Inside, alumni were busy filtering the syrup multiple times until the golden elixir was ready to be bottled. Meanwhile, kids and adults alike cut out labels for the bottles. It was a great opportunity to step into the spirit of teamwork and project time.

Once the hard work was completed, we all enjoyed a delicious lunch and great conversations followed. We were excited to see alumni from different generations come together, some meeting for the first time.

If you are in the New York area, we would love to see you in our future events. Camp Rising Sun events also occur around the globe so remember to get in touch with your local Alumni Association to join their events.

Upcoming events:

  • April 29th: Board Meeting, New York Camper Welcome Session followed by Alumni Cocktail Reception hosted by NYAA.
  • May 20-21: May Volunteer Weekend. Join us at Camp to help set up tents and reconnect with alumni. Let us know if you will be joining us here.
  • June and July: Camper Hosting. What a better way to revisit your CRS experience than to host campers before the they head off to camp?
  • Alumni Weekend 2017: The reunion will take place between sessions and alumni are welcome to stay on Tent Hill and join in for the Board Meeting, Alumni Council,  projects, instructions, and much more! There will be a special welcome for alumni celebrating 5th, 10th, 20th, 25th, 30th, or 40th, 50th & 60th reunions, who will be able to join the reunion free of charge.  Click here to register now!


If you would like to stay in touch with the CRS community, here are a few great ways to do so:

  • CRS Facebook page: Updates, alumni interviews, events and much more are posted weekly on the Camp Rising Sun Facebook page.
  • Newsletter: Are you receiving our monthly newsletter with the latest updates and future events? If you are not, email
  • CRS Alumni Forum: The forum is a virtual meeting place for our CRS community, it is moderated and run by alumni. Join the conversation!
  • Linkedin Camp Rising Sun Alumni Group: Connect professionally with Camp Rising Sun alumni across the globe.

Connect professionally with CRS Alumni: Forum and LinkedIn

Often around the Council fire, we hear stories of alumni providing a life-long connections and support. There are countless examples of alumni offering a first job, free advice and when lucky, mentorship. These connections can happen organically through alumni associations and word-of-mouth or more directly with the help of LinkedIn. We encourage our alumni to share job opportunities and career expertise to make our community even more vibrant.

There are two easy ways to make meaningful professional connections with Camp Rising Sun alumni.  Back in the day, Freddie and Vera Brophy would send alumni questionnaires asking about job and apprenticeship opportunities that they could share with younger generations. Today we have the internet!

1.     Join the CRS Alumni Forum to talk at length about different career paths

The forum is the perfect place to ask people about their careers and to explore different options. If you want to share your personal experience and share your insight, this is your place. Current threads include: Employment at the UN, Sustainable Design, careers in the business world, becoming a pilot, Medicine, Humanitarian Aid, Teaching and many more!

2.     Join the Alumni of Camp Rising Sun group on Linkedin

This group is the ideal place to share job and internship opportunities. If you or your company are hiring, let the CRS community know. If you are looking for new opportunities, don’t be shy introduce yourself. You will be able to see other group members’ profiles to learn more about their experience. 

Meet the Program Committee

Are you interested in learning more about the Camp Rising Sun curriculum? Have you ever wanted to join the summer visit team? Did you ever wonder how each camp season gets evaluated? Then, you might be interested in joining the Program Committee.

The Program Committee is responsible for providing guidance and setting priorities for the camp program. The Committee primarily does this through the CRS Curriculum Document, which serves as a guide for the implementation of the camp program year after year. Members of the Program Committee include a variety of educators, former counselors, and other alumni who are interested in getting more involved in the ins and outs of camp programming.

Each year, the Committee reviews what aspects of the previous year’s camp season worked well and provides suggestions on how best to improve for the upcoming summer. These discussions are based on feedback from counselors and staff, as well as on first-hand observation of the camp program by Committee members who spend a few days at camp each summer on the Visit Team. The Visit Team collects campers surveys and interviews a variety of campers and staff members to learn more about how the goals of camp are being implemented each year.

The Program Committee is also interested in more formal research and development through the pre and post camper surveys, which have been conducted each year since 2011. The results of these surveys help us track and evaluate the impact of our experiential learning model for campers. We hope to publish the findings of our research in the future.

In 2016, we welcomed Bianca Rey (‘07, ‘12), Jose Javier Saenz Crespo (‘01, ‘02, ‘12, ‘13), and Torben Smidt Hansen (‘75) to the Program Committee. If you are interested in joining the Program Committee, please contact us!

Registration open for 2017 CRS Alumni Reunion

Come back to camp for the 2017 Alumni Reunion, July 21st -July 23rd. This is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with alumni, LAJF Staff and the Board of Directors.

Reunion leaders are hard at work connecting with our major anniversary years. We are expecting major turnouts for these significant milestones. If you attended Camp in one of these years please use code REUNION2017 for complimentary admission.

CRS 1967: Celebrating 50 years

CRS 1977: Celebrating 40 years

CRS 1987: Celebrating 30 years

CRS 1992: Celebrating 25 years

CRS 1997: Celebrating 20 years

CRS 2007: Celebrating 10 years

CRS 2012: Celebrating 5 years


The reunion occurs between our two Camp sessions allowing our alumni to step back in time and be campers again. Relive your favorite activities, connect with old friends and make new ones. You can even sleep on tent hill with your campmates or your whole family.

On Friday evening, join us in the Campers Lounge for cocktails, conversation and hors d'oeuvres followed by dinner and game night in the Dining Hall. On Saturday participate in the Board of Directors meeting, followed by Libby and Mandy Day lunch and activities. In the afternoon you can join an Instruction or Project. Saturday evening, stay for dinner and alumni council. On Sunday after breakfast participate in an alumni community meeting and break out for off-campus activities at a local golf-course, vineyard or exploring Rhinebeck.

Student and Committee Member discounts

20% Discount for active committee members. Use code COMM2017 when registering to redeem your discount if you are currently serving on a committee.

50% Discount for all full-time students! If students use the discount code, they will be asked to volunteer 3 hours of their time at the reunion. Use code STU2017 when registering to redeem your discount.  

Camp season staff will receive either a free individual package or meals only package. Use code STAFF2017 when registering.

No one will be turned away if they cannot afford reunion. Please email Helene at can elyem’s address be used? or an alias?

Cannot attend the reunion but wish to join in the celebration? You can make a donation here.

A conversation with Paula Souverijn-Eisenberg (CRS ‘95,’96, ‘98), Administrative Officer at the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals and member of the LAJF Board of Directors

Paula (CRS ‘95, ‘96, ‘98) first joined Camp Rising Sun as a counselor in 1995, and has since spent several summers as staff and a visitor, and is now a member of  the LAJF Board of Directors. She currently is the Administrative Officer  of the Hague Branch of the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT). Inna Kuvich (CRS ‘01,’02, ‘06) chatted with her about the work of the UN, the impact CRS has had in her life and her work at the Board of Directors.

Inna Kuvich: What do you do now and how did you get there?

Paula Souverijn-Eisenberg: I am theAdministrative Officer at the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, which is a successor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. We have  branch in the Hague which deals with cases related to the genocide in the former Yugoslavia and a Branch in Tanzania which deals with cases related to the Rwandan genocide. It is one of the few international criminal tribunals in the world, and I am very happy to be part of this. For victims as well as our international justice at large, it is incredibly important to ensure that justice is served where it is due, even if it takes decades.  

I started working for the UN 13 years ago in the area of gender, and quickly moved to knowledge management and best practices in the New York UN headquarters’ Department of Peacekeeping Operations. I then went to Sudan to do peacekeeping work in the field for 2 years. There I became interested in how those big missions are managed, specifically from a support side, how logistics work. It is a big puzzle that really interest me. Back again in NY HQ, I joinedthe Department of Field Support where our work involved ensuring the timely availability of human and financial resources, as well as logistical matters such as rations, accommodation, aviation, troops movements, etc. for peacekeeping missions.

Inna: How did you get interested in this type of work and what was the first job that got you to the UN:

Paula: I have always had a very strong interest in developing countries. I wanted to become a doctor and join Doctors Without Borders, but med school was not in the cards. I studied Development Studies, with a focus on man-made disasters, linking relief and development, from emergency aid towards more sustainable development. How can you move away from an emergency situation towards a more sustainable one? Out of this interest, during my studies I conducted research in the Tamil region of Sri Lanka, spent some time in Somalia and Nairobi doing research for my masters thesis, and also interned at the UN HQ in NYC.

During my university studies I worked at Camp Rising Sun and met Ian Eisenberg, who is now my husband, and moved to NYC after graduation. I spent some time working in different fields, volunteering for the Red Cross after 9/11 and heading the leadership department of a small NGO working with people with disabilities, when I was told about a UN position in a gender related project which I applied to and got.

Inna: Can you give an example about a mission for the UN?

Paula: It depends on what part of the UN we are speaking about and it depends on the mandate by the UN Security Council. UN Peacekeeping missions today include:  DRC, Central African Republic, Darfur, South Sudan, Haiti, Afghanistan, couple in Middle east, among others. They can cover  anything from the really traditional monitoring of ceasefire agreement like in Cyprus, Kashmere or the Golan Heights. And then other much more active ones in war zones, like in Congo or South Sudan, where the mission actively contributes to making peace, not just keeping peace.

In short a mission is a combination of a military component, a police component and civilian component. The civilian component includes substantive functions (political affairs, humanitarian help) and a support side (administration, logistics, and just about everything to make sure that the military, the police and the substantive civil component have the means to carry out their work).

Inna: Why do you find most inspiring about what you do?

Paula: There are two basic things that I love about my job. On the practical level, sorting out logistics and everything that is needed to support a UN entity is a big puzzle, we keep a million balls in the air at the same time, which I find very exciting. But at a much higher level, what I do contributes to something that I find valuable. An international Tribunal is an organization that brings justice and that purposefulness really drives me.

Inna: How does the current political climate impact your work?

Paula: Since the Former Yugoslavia and the Rwanda tribunals have been around for 20 years, and they have a solid mandate that we implement, the current political climate does not immediately affect my daily work. However, it brings a whole lot of questions at other levels: will the US stay in the UN? Will it pay its dues? Will the UN be undermined?  

Another aspect is the current political climate in Europe. See the refugee crisis, for instance. Many of the people arriving in Europe come from countries where the UN works. We must understand the circumstances that are making people flee. While I understand to some extent some of the frustrations feeding dislike of refugees, there seems to be very little understanding by many in Europe or the US of the situation that causes people flee. I don’t understand how we can be so hard refusing entry to people who are fleeing war.

In the case of Syria, one could imagine that acts committed there could very easily qualify for an international tribunal, but this would have to be agreed upon by the Security Council and would likely be vetoed by 1 or more of its permanent members, so it is not very likely.

Inna: How has your experience at Camp Rising Sun shaped your worldview?

My experience has been different to that of campers, given that when I started working there, I had already chosen my field of studies and was already at university at the time. However, I remember very clearly that in 1996 we visited Washington DC and the World Bank. I remember holding very strong opinions, and some of the campers disagreed with me in a discussion we were having, which was one of the first times I realised that views held by others are equally valid. This made me open my mind. I was initially taken aback, but in hindsight I was very impressed by the knowledge these campers had and their ability to articulate and defend their arguments. It was a good lesson for me to accept and truly internalise that there are other points of view out there.

Inna: Why is Camp Rising Sun important today?

Paula: I just find the Camp Rising Sun community very inspiring. Especially in today’s political climate, irrespective of where we stand in the political spectrum, the atmosphere has become very polarised, and very crude and rude. Where in the past getting a Palestinian and an Israeli camper together was a big achievement, now the challenge is also getting campers from different political backgrounds to foster this understanding and promote communication at a young age.

It is also becoming harder for campers from certain nationalities to enter the US, and the harder it becomes the more important our mission becomes.

I believe that humanity is not intrinsically bad, and that Camp Rising Sun contributes to making the world a better place, in some way. Times are grim today but we need to keep pushing forward, and bringing different people together is a way to do so.

Inna: Why did you join the Board of Directors and the  New York and Dutch Alumni Associations?

Paula: Firstly, I love, respect and desire to see LAJF succeed for many generations to come. I want LAJF and CRS to live a healthy and long life. I’d love my kids to be legacy campers in 2025 and 2027. I wanted to take a more active role and contribute to the very interesting discussions that are going on about the future of Camp Rising Sun. On the other hand, being a board member contributes to my own professional development. I have been on the Boards of small Dutch NGOs, but never of  a US or international organization.

Also, it is important for me to highlight that my only CRS campus has been Red Hook, and that I have a lot of love for that campus. That was my first camp, I spent 3 summers there, met my husband there, I was proposed to in the Council Ring at Red Hook. That campus is important to me, as it is to many of our alumni. That’s why the Board’s strategic plan, including its commitment to try to re-open RH, is important. We also have to be realistic though. Contributions will have to significantly increase. It’s good to take a breather to assess the possibilities available to us. 

Inna: What is the most important value that Camp Rising sun has given you?

Being open to other points of view. And the importance of getting people of different points of view together, to break out of our bubbles. It is hard to force ourselves to be open irrespective of which side we stand on. The opportunity to be amongst a group of people from different backgrounds is incredible.


There is a discussion about careers at the UN in the Camp Rising Sun alumni forum that you can contribute to here.

If you found this conversation interesting and would like to be interviewed or interview another CRS alumnus/a, let us know. We would love to hear from you.