Posted by John D. Aldrich camper 1941-49
A Summer Camp for Boys
Camp Marienfeld, in Chesham, NH. was one of the first Boy's camps to open in this country. In 1941 this summer camp had no electricity, no modern bathrooms and was situated high on a hill overlooking Silver Lake. During WWII and we helped the war effort by planting “Victory Gardens” and picking blue berries for .25 per bucket full. At age ten I obtained my social security card.
This is a view of the camp from above. The main lodge is in the center and the smaller cabins are scattered about.
The water tank supplied water to the camp for daily cold showers. My mother and sister are up on the tower.
Marienfeld was founded to give boys healthy, up building summers in comradeship with counselors having zest for outdoor life and talent for friendly leadership. This camp pioneered principles and practices now accepted, or adapted, by most summer camps. It offered a gamut of sports, crafts, arts, work projects; tutoring-but has never been obsessed with activities per se. Marienfeld set a measured, pleasant tempo, always remembering its duty and its ideal-to give each boy all it can for his individual needs and tastes-to stand with his family and his school, a basic factor helping him towards a life of health and true success.
My cabin: "KILLINGTON" (1948) From Left to right; Cabin master, Mike Murphy, David McGrath, Paul Hood, Paul Belluscio, John Aldrich and Harry Zorbas.We lived in canvass-covered cabins with crude wooden bunks. We were required to send letters home every week. The other boys soon learned how to get my attention. They would taunt me by calling “HENRY ALDRICH”. I wrote home to my parents, “Take me home they call me Henry!" Eventually I learned to ignore the other boys and returned to the camp for another eight years. It was a wonderful Camp with swimming, outdoor sports, crafts, gymnastics, hiking and much more.
View of Silver Lake and Mt. Monadnock
In the 1950's the camp was abandoned and the local town's people tore down the main cabins to prevent local children from being injured in the ruins. I visited the remains of the camp in the 1970's and I was shocked to find most of the old buildings were no longer standing.
- The Camp Today!
Buckingham Browne & Nichols, a coeducational day school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offers an opportunity for overnight camping to all enrolled Day Campers entering grades 3-6. Based at BB&N's Camp Marienfeld, in Chesham, NH, offers an opportunity for overnight camping to all enrolled Day Campers entering grades 3-6. Based at BB&N's Camp Marienfeld, in Chesham, NH, the site includes 200 acres of fields and mixed forest.. For the past 52 years, BB&N Freshmen have been ‘meeting' their new Upper School teachers in a most unconventional way—on an outdoor camping, hiking, bonding, learning, cook-your-own-food, dig-your-own-latrine experience called Bivouac. A pivotal bonding experience, Bivouac is a twelve-day outdoor education and team-building program at Camp Marienfeld, BB&N's New Hampshire retreat.
Today, students still build their squads on separate sides of the Camp Marienfeld property, but their classes, hikes to Mt. Monadnock, ropes courses, and everyday experiences are co-ed. For more information Click Here! http://www.bbns.org/ac_us_bivouac.htm
MY LIFE AS A CAMPER by John D. Aldrich
I was a camper at Camp Marienfeld from 1941 to 1950. I started at age 9 years old and continued for the next nine summers. This was a wonderful experience for me, as I learned not only how to swim, how to defend myself and develop much self-confidence, as I grew older. Camp Marienfeld was located on a hill one half mile from Silver Lake. It was an outstanding camp for boys. We lived in cabins with canvas sides, no electricity nor inside plumbing. There was much emphasis placed upon physical development as we had daily physical activities in the gym and we hiked to the lake for swimming once or twice every day
Ball Field Activities
BOXING IN THE GYM
The Camp had a full-time Doctor, Dr. Bradshaw.
I learned boxing and wrestling from professional instructors. Wrestling was my favorite, as I did not like it when I was hit by the boxing gloves. I took pride in being able to defend myself. As I grew older I knew not to be afraid should I ever need to defend myself. I developed woodworking and carpentry skills that were very useful all my life. In summer camp I made two model sailboats and a Chippendale style mirror as a gift to my mother. All my life I have enjoyed making things out of wood including many reproductions of colonial furniture.
Here I am standing outside the woodworking shop with my dad, Duane Aldrich.
My sailboat today
Uncle Kent Harper in the Woodshop - My Chippendale mirror frame is to the right.
Every Sunday we had an inspection by the head masters. Here is Uncle Shorty (Camp Owner), Uncle Bob Howard, Doc. Bradshaw and Uncle Duke Miller.
The camp councilors were all called “Uncle”. The headmaster Mr. R.J. Shortlidge, was “Uncle Shorty”. My wrestling instructor was, “Uncle Louie” Andrews. He was the wrestling coach at Milton Academy. I remember him now very clearly although I have not seen him now for over 57 years. Another favorite counselor was “uncle” Bob Howard. He was the counselor for the “midgets” or younger boys. I fondly remember him playing Finlandia on his violin at chapel on Sunday when we all dressed up in white shirts, shorts and attended Sunday Chapel service. 'Uncle Swampy" was the outdoor naturalist. He taught us about snakes, frogs, mushrooms, etc..
Bob Howard near Radio Tower My Wrestling Instructor "Uncle Louis"
An activity I enjoyed as I became older was that of “square dancing”. We had square dancing at camp and we “imported’ girls from the neighboring girls camp called, “Hill Camp”. Later we piled into a truck and went off square dancing in one of the nearby towns. “Uncle Duke” Miller from Gloversville, NY, the boxing coach, was often the dance caller. Uncle Duke was also a professional wrestling referee. Sometimes some of us went to Keene to watch the professional wrestling where Uncle Duke was part of the show!!
In 1970 I decided to return to the camp once more and take a look around. I was completely devastated to find that all the camp buildings with the exception of the infirmary had all been removed and most of the camp area was all over-grown, returning to nature.
I often wonder what happened to all my camp friends. I have not seen nor heard from anyone in all the years that have passed. The memories of Camp Marienfield are still very much with me. Much of what I have accomplished during the rest of my adult life I owe to those wonderful summers at camp.
My 1949 Tent-mates. I am on the far right. Duke Miller from Gloversville, NY on far left. David Nims is second from left.
End of Season - Tug of War
View of Campers outside Dining Hall (1940)
I have copies of many old camp brochures, pictures of campers and camp councilors. All the councilors were called "uncle". See Uncle Shorty, Uncle Swampy, Uncle Duke, Uncle Louis and Uncle Kent. A copy of all the pictures and original brochures have been placed with the Historical Society of Cheshire County, Keene, NH. To view the 1941 Camp brochure CLICK Here.
I am anxious to find any old campers who attended this camp. For information with respect to this page please contact me "John Aldrich" at firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEASE SIGN MY GUEST BOOK-
Oh, Camp Marienfeld, I'll think of you When
I am far away and feeling
blue 'The silver mists above Monadnock's brow I'll see in fancy as I see
'The birches sing again at break of day.
Once more return the hours of work and play 'to run, to laugh, to sing, to climb the height, and then to gather in the campfire's light.
Oh, Camp Marienfeld, your spell will be through all my life a cherished memory.
And when at last I leave these woods and streams, I'll take the light of boyhood's happy dreams.
To be sung to "The Old Refrain" by FRITZ KREISLER
Given through RICHARD C. FERNALD. Marienfeld 1929.
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