#TBT to Lots and Lots and Lots of Old Camp Videos!—by Ben Fink
As Mike Dorwart and I went down the stairs to Albert’s old house, across the street from camp, I told him a lot of people won’t go down there, because they think it’s scary. “People who think basements are scary are missing out on life,” he replied.
One of many reasons why Mike is one of my all-time favorite people. His family has been connected with Appel Farm from the beginning, and he and I go way back. We were campers together back in 1997 when he was a CIT and I was a shy, awkward thirteen-year-old. (This past summer he reminded me of a story I had forgotten, involving performing together in dresses. Needless to say, he was an essential part of getting me out of my comfort zone!)
But no such persuasion was necessary to go down with Mike into that not-so-scary basement. Because at the bottom of the stairs lay a vast treasure — boxes and boxes and boxes of old Appel Farm videos! VHS tapes mostly, from back in the days before we went digital. From the late ’80s through the early ’00s.
We both found videos we’d helped make, from the infamous CIT Gong Shows to the 1996 silent movie “Silent But Deadly,” featuring Eli Wing as the romantic lead and me as a SWAT Team officer, complete with a fly swatter. And there was much more, too — Friday Night Concerts, dance shows, theater performances, pretty much all the performing arts made by Appel Farm campers in a decade-and-a-half period.
And that’s not all! We went across the street to the camp office and found binders and binders full of…slides! Old slides of all kinds, from decades of camp life. Then we went on the computer and found digital (and digitized) pictures from more recent decades, including some less-than-flattering pictures of both of us. Needless to say, we had a fantastic afternoon.
We also started planning a big project. We want to digitize all this stuff — to let other alumni can look at it and have as great a time as we did, and to preserve it from the wear and tear of time and the South Jersey climate. The plan is to start working on it this spring and summer, to have as much done as possible before the big 55th Anniversary Reunion this fall. Then at the reunion, with lots and lots of alumni around from all the decades, we can do a whole lot more!
It’s a really exciting project. It’s also a really huge one…
Are you interested in helping out? Let us know! Mike is another member of the team that’s working together to plan and publicizes the 55th Anniversary Alumni Reunion coming up this September. If you want to get involved, in the archive work or in any other part of the project, contact me (Ben Fink, firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. And if you want more info about the reunion, or to sign up, just click here!