Our interview with Rick Richter

Today, we would like to share with you an interview we had with Rick Richter (‘50-’53). We met up with Rick this past summer to find out more about why he stays involved in CRS and what advice he has for future applicants. You can view the interview in the video below. 

Rick has been part of the CRS community since 1950 when he first became a counselor. Over the years, Rick has stayed involved as a staff member, a visiting Instructor at Camp, and has volunteered to sit on various LAJF committees and the Board of Directors. Rick remains an active member of the Program Committee and Members Advisory Council (MAC). Furthermore, he has devoted his time to writing and updating a thorough compilation of our program’s history dating back to 1929. Not only is Rick an invaluable resource for questions about Camp’s history, he has also proved to be a devoted mentor to dozens of alumni over the years, eagerly providing advice on college admissions and other opportunities to help students achieve their academic and career potential. He’s a mentor to many, loves interacting with alumni, campers, staff, and friends of CRS, provides the community with annual updates about the ongoings of Camp and the Foundation, and graciously provides us with his thorough history of Camp Rising Sun.

Here’s what some of our alumni have to say about Rick:

“Rick has been my mentor and has shown me the value of intergenerational friendships, paying it forward and the commitment it takes to nourish and do one's part in fostering an institution from which we have benefited so much so that  it can continue to serve others.” - Marlene Losier, ‘94
“I’ve gotten to know him better since joining the board, and reading his thorough history of Camp Rising Sun, and I’ll tell you this: Rick has a special way about him. It took me a while to recognize the extent of his generosity and amazing memory.” - Joseph Riddle ('88, '95, '97), Alumni Relations Committee Chair
“At Camp, [Rick] always found me when he visited, and took some time time to talk about the future- about schooling and careers. He was the first person in my life to talk to me about research and what it is all about. I’m proud to say that research is what I’m doing as part of my career today, and I’ll probably be doing it for a long, long time. It all started with [Rick].” - Harry Samaroo ‘00

We are thankful for Rick's continued support on various committees and the Board of Directors, through the meticulous documentation of our program's history, as a college and life mentor to countless alumni around the world, and a continued guest of honor and visiting instructor during the summer camp program. We hope to welcome Rick back to Camp once again this upcoming summer to share his knowledge and advice with the incoming group of 2018 campers.

Please take a moment to view our latest interview with Rick from LAJF Videography Fellow, Sonia Wargacka (‘10, ‘16, ‘17).

During the summer of 2017, we visited with Rick and asked him questions about the Rising Sun Program. Please take a moment to view our latest interview with Rick Richter ('50-'53) from LAJF Videography Fellow, Sonia Wargacka ('10, '16, '17). For more information about Camp Rising Sun or The Louis August Jonas Foundation, visit our website at www.lajf.org.

ICYMI (in case you missed it), we’ve provided Rick’s annual letter to alumni below.

November 2017

To all alumni/ae of Camp Rising Sun:

At the Clinton CRS campsite, boys had their camp in July and girls in August. Next summer girls will come first. This arrangement works out well although many staff and campers have scheduling problems. I was surprised to learn how many campers had to miss several weeks of school in order to attend camp. This problem is unavoidable since school calendars are quite different in different places. And some counselors could not remain for the entire season because of their college schedules.

Anyone who knew Camp at Red Hook in the early 1950s (when I was there), and who returned to visit Camp at Clinton in 2017, would have found most aspects of camp life to be fully familiar. The schedule is basically the same, there are several Assemblies every day with tent checks and announcements, teamwork (once called "squad work") after breakfast, instructions and projects, a rest period after lunch, evening programs, Formal Council, and singing at meals. I was there when the boys were learning songs to be sung at Council -- The White Dawn, Lean On Me, Rise Up O Flame. "The Ants Go Marching" was an especially popular song. Various camp traditions are still followed -- holding up two fingers to ask for silence, saying "how how" to express approval, having campers sing (or put on a very brief performance of some kind) if they receive a package. The old Thunderbird rug brought over from Red Hook still hangs on a corridor wall at Clinton, facing the girls' Council tapestry. Campers still play chess in the Campers Lounge. On the bulletin board in early July I found a table list, tent assignments, ping-pong tournament information, blank forms for Instruction Proposals, Project Proposals, and Cultural Meals, trail maps, and a pouch for "publication submissions" for the CRS Times (with some advice -- "Don't be shy").

Instructions were offered on a wide variety of topics in both girls' and boys' programs. Sample topics included Introduction to Tennis, Fishing, Ethical Principles in Journalism, Swing Dancing, Physics and Metaphysics, Sikhism, Stand-up Comedy, and my own instructions on History of Camp and on the American College System.

Facilities Manager Cameron Rylance set up two hives of Italian honeybees at Camp, each hive containing 20,000 bees in a wooden box, and he introduced campers to bee-keeping. The bees will forage up to two miles away, with honey ready for harvesting in late August. Cameron also runs a talk-show program on a local radio station, and campers visited the radio station as featured guests on his program.

In summer 2017, for the first time in three years, CRS campers visited the old boys' campsite on the banks of the Sawkill at Red Hook. Both boys and girls camped out there, instead of taking the traditional Catskills trip. They could not enter any buildings at Red Hook so it was a real outdoor experience, less strenuous than climbing the Catskill mountains, although they did explore the entire campground. Because the Red Hook campsite is not sprayed for ticks as the Clinton campsite is, campers visiting there had to check themselves for ticks every hour. One group of boys planned to camp out near the Sawkill but they had to move away from there when counselors received phone messages telling them that a flash flood warning had been issued for the Sawkill. (Incidentally the entire "Big Field" as we called it in the early 1950s, or "Long Field" as more recent campers at Red Hook call it, is included in the Sawkill's "100-year flood plain.")

Tents at Camp are very gradually being replaced with lean-tos. One lean-to has already been set up on tent hill. It is occupied by staff of whichever gender is not having its current camp program -- thus, male counselors sleep there during the girls' camp season, and female counselors sleep there during the boys' season. The relative advantages of tents and lean-tos are too complicated for this letter to discuss. However, the change from tents to lean-tos is taking place only very slowly, one tent at a time as the individual tent canvases need replacing, so there will presumably remain tents on tent hill for several years to come, and if lean-tos turn out to be less advantageous than expected, this will presumably be discovered and the transition from tents to lean-tos could be halted or reversed before it has progressed very far. One tent, called Froggy Hideaway when the girls are there and Byzantium when the boys are there, needs replacing, and will be replaced by a lean-to. I am not aware of any other tents that need replacing now.

The lake at Clinton, very much larger than the pond at Red Hook, remains exquisitely beautiful, although it cannot be used for swimming (but there is a fine swimming pool nearby). Fish of many species live there, including some 20-pound carp and large-mouth bass. Two beaver dams have raised the level of the lake.

There were 122 campers in 2017, from 14 US states and 34 countries including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan, now maintaining after-camp contacts among themselves using communication technologies that could not have been imagined when I first came to Camp 67 years ago.

Now some announcements. I have been writing letters like this one, for alumni/ae, every few years beginning in 1991. At age 87 I do not know how many more years, if any, I can continue to do this. Perhaps someone else will do it after my final letter, whenever that will come.

Meanwhile, if any alumnus/a wishes to receive a copy of the most recent (February 2017) version of the history of Camp that I wrote, or if anyone wishes to receive the document that I wrote for CRS alumni/ae in other countries who wish to return to the US for college, send an email to me at mauricerichter@gmail.com and I will be glad to send you either or both of these.

And, as always, I would be pleased to hear from any of you!

Best wishes, Rick (Maurice Richter)