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The First 100 Years (Part 3)

From the 100th Reunion’s Event Program; Presented in Three Installments

In case you missed it - here's Part 1  and Part 2

After spending years directing Camp Torymca, former Mohawk Waterfront Director and second-oldest son of Fran & Sally, Patrick Marchand, was appointed to the Camp Director position in 2009.  Baking was introduced to camp the same summer and remains wildly popular with all campers.

Using an instrument developed by the American Camping Association, Mohawk began surveying camper outcomes in 2010.  The assessment focuses on four key areas: friendship-making skills, personal responsibility, problem-solving skills and independence.  Positive ratings were in the 93% to 97% range for all campers.  Nadine Thompson was promoted to Director of Financial Development and Human Resources.  Her first-year efforts resulted in a 98% increase in contributed funds. 

In 2011, Nadine Thompson Kostak resigned after eleven years with Mohawk, beginning as a Ute counselor.  Her contributions to camp are too numerous to list, but her passion, joy, humor and energy will long be remembered by those who worked with her as well as the camper lives she impacted.  The first sewing classes and American Sign Language classes were instituted to great camper approval. 

Mohawk lost a true Mohawker with the passing of Mary Humeston Coutant in 2012.  Mary began working at Mohawk as Senior Unit Leader in 1960 and is remembered most for her direction of the CIT program.  She followed her staff time with decades of service as a Trustee.  She was a huge advocate of Mohawk, but was also passionate about serving disadvantaged youth throughout Northwest Connecticut and left a legacy of service to those in need.

The remnants of Hurricane Sandy hit Mohawk hard in the Fall of 2012, resulting in thousands of dollars in damage to infrastructure with many repairs needed. 

An additional camp week was added in the summer of 2013, session 5.  It was well received with over 90 new campers enrolling.  The sailing program was chosen by campers to be the best program in camp for the 10th consecutive year (good job, Sailing Director Jeremy Marchand!). 

As camp continued to grow, more space was needed.  In 2014, a new maintenance building was approved and constructed on the site of the sawmill.  A complete renovation of the Lighthouse was completed using suggestions from a camper planning committee.  Many thanks to Trustee Bill Mascetti for his help with these projects. 

2016 saw additional construction with the Moore Lodge being added as a new program venue.  The building is named for legendary Mohawk Director Tom Q. Moore, who guided Mohawk from a distressed state to a superior program and organization for twenty years.  The Peter Wallach Outdoor Center was completely rebuilt, as well.  Log rolling and public speaking were added as camper activities. 

After thirty years of dedication to Mohawk, Fran Marchand and his wife Sally Marchand retired after the summer of 2017.  Over those thirty years, Mohawk saw many changes.  The main reason Camp Mohawk stands today is due to Fran’s perseverance, vision and commitment to making Camp Mohawk the best camp he could.  The accomplishment involved countless sleepless nights, busy days and constant communication with advisors, Trustees and advocates of camp.  Fran and the Board of Trustees had a grand vision for Camp Mohawk, even at its lowest point, and pushed for its successes more than anyone could have expected.  Camp’s success is also owed to the entire Marchand family’s willingness to pitch in at every opportunity. 

Prior to Fran’s retirement, camp saw more capital improvements completed on the property.  The replacement of the very outdated septic systems was completed allowing future facility growth.  The new support staff housing was completed, which can house sixteen staff.  This building was dedicated during the Alumni Weekend of 2017 as Coutant Rising in recognition of the exceptional service to Mohawk by Roger and Mary Coutant.  The new changing hut at the waterfront was also completed, providing restrooms as well as changing rooms and storage—a great addition to camp. 

The Alumni Weekend of 2017 was also dedicated to Fran and Sally’s tenure at camp, showing pictures throughout their years, with great stories of their time at camp with their wonderful family.  Many alumni travelled great distances to thank Fran for being an instrumental part of their childhood and adulthood alike.  The store at the Rec Hall was dedicated in Sally’s name, the garden dedicated to Pepere (Fran), and a commemorative plaque was presented to the entire Marchand Family for their influence and dedication to Camp Mohawk for the last thirty years.

In the Fall of 2017, the Board of Trustees selected Patrick Marchand as the new CEO and Executive Director of Camp Mohawk.  Patrick interacts in an amazing way with campers and parents and has a new vision for Mohawk, one that will be a true testament for Mohawk in years to come.  Patrick took the role of CEO of YMCA Camp Mohawk for the first time in February 2018.  Since then, enrollment has maintained its high numbers and camper experience continues to be at a high level.  There has been a complete overhaul of full-time staff, which has improved employee, camper and parental experiences.   

Since the Summer of 2017, there has been a stronger focus on board and committee-level activity.  The Camp Mohawk Alumni Association (CMAA) was reformed with its initial focus on planning the 100 Year Celebration.  Once the Labor Day Weekend 2019 reunion has passed, the CMAA will be introducing more fun and exciting ways to connect with alumni and stay apprised of happenings at camp. 

The Financial Development Committee was also reformed with the goal of revitalizing fundraising as camp moves into its next 100 years.  As a result of their work, annual giving has increased by 65%, an endowment program called “The Next One Hundred” was started and Project 80 was created with the goal of providing scholarships for 80 girls with financial needs to be able to attend Mohawk.  Project 80 saw great success in its inaugural year, increasing our financial aid average from 62 campers to 74 campers this summer.  These committees have encouraged alumni from all generations to rekindle their interest and involvement in their beloved Camp Mohawk. 

In 2018, the Board of Trustees approved an adjacent land purchase for future camp use, the summer office was razed and rebuilt to modern standards, the stables were rebuilt and improved, and the Director’s house received a complete renovation. 

2019 brings with it a targeted focus on Mohawk’s strategic plan for its future 100 years.  As a result, the Facility Committee has been newly formed and is interviewing potential site plan firms to help us develop a comprehensive plan based on future needs and goals.  We are excited to see where the site planning process takes us and how else we can strengthen Mohawk. 

A by-laws task force was created to review and amend our by-laws.  These changes allowed us to stay protected as a non-profit and give us the legal ability to start these standing committees.  The next step will be the creation of the Governance Committee, which will be formed soon within the Board of Trustees to help with updating policies and procedures.

Camp was able to purchase a new database called CampMinder, which is a one-stop program for all things camp related.  It is a tremendous upgrade from the old system and has greatly simplified record keeping in the office.  The alumni database is now all in one place, along with camper information such as health forms, enrollment and contact information.  CampMinder allows parents to interact with one-way emails to their campers during the summer, pay for camp store, pay for fees and deposits, and select camp sessions for their girls. 

This year, three other staff quarters projects were completed, plus the addition of a new basketry shed, sewing shed, nature building and a new Oscadee unit leader cabin.  With all the changes and upgrades happening, we are thrilled about the full-time team that is currently in place and the committee work that is happening from our volunteers, many of whom are our board members. 

Looking back on the history of Camp Mohawk’s last one hundred years has shown that this little camp in the Litchfield Hills indeed has a spirit that lasts a lifetime.  With everyone’s continued support, the Next One Hundred years are sure to be just as bright! 

Happy 100 Years, Camp Mohawk!


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