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A Letter From Our New President, John Meyers

John Meyers in a tuxedo at the Conservancy Ball in Avalon

I recall this as clearly as though it happened yesterday. It was the closing week of Camp in August 1991. We Staff had gathered at the campfire circle, arm in arm, to sing the EB Hymn. On this occasion, however, there was a profound difference. Most of us thought this would be the last time we would be singing the Hymn around the campfire.  Ever.  Grown men were openly weeping. It was the most solemn ending campfire I had ever been a part of. 

Nineteen Ninety-One was the year that Camp’s lease was coming to an end and the property was to be handed over to a group who would turn it into an “Environmental Resort.” Camp would become a place that would cater only to the few who were able to afford it.

Even now, I vividly recall a particular young man at this somber gathering. He was a football player at Westchester High School, as tough as they come. Yet there he was, sobbing in another’s arms.  He cried out, “They can’t take Camp from us!” 

Us. Not “my camp” or “their camp,” but us. Our Camp.

I have said this on countless occasions: Camp Emerald Bay is the people.  Yes, Camp has all the incredible infrastructure and equipment – the dining hall, the campfire circle, the kayaks, the bicycles, the SCUBA gear, the boats, the cabins, incredible ocean vistas, and on and on. But without the Scouts, the Scout Leaders, the Staff, the friends of Camp – without any of us, Camp is nothing more than another place with a nice view.

We are the ones who provide the life-enhancing and life-changing experiences. We are the ones who show others how to row, swim, shoot, sail, lash a tripod, identify plants, explore the ocean depths, gaze into the heavens. 

I think about 1991 when Camp was forced to close in 2020. It was taken from us by a virus. In 2020, Camp stood as empty as the middle of a wasteland. Where there is usually unbridled happiness and exuberance, there was nothing but silence. 

To be sure, not having Camp during the summer pales when one considers the unimaginable grief the pandemic has caused, the loss of life, the loss of livelihood, the fear and anxiety. Twenty Twenty was a year we will not ever forget (and pray we don’t repeat)!

Still, even in the face of such tragedy, Camp soldiered on. Program Director Linnea Heinstedt took on a monumental online project, bringing Camp Emerald Bay and our sister Camps Whitsett and Josepho to scouts all over the country. The project was called “Tri-Camp” and by all accounts was a rousing success. There were innovations such as having related merit badges grouped in clusters, such as Communications, Music, and Theatre Arts.  People from the entertainment industry served as guest speakers, lending the Scouts their expertise.  Another innovation was a virtual campfire where Scouts made avatars of themselves to tour the “Campfire” area. 

One huge advantage over an in-person Emerald Bay was that Scouts from Hawai’i to Maine could take part without having to travel. (As we couldn’t have in-person Emerald Bay, this was almost the next best thing.) Tri-Camp was so popular that it was held again in 2021.

I am delighted to say that Camp Emerald Bay returned to a genuine in-person experience in 2021.  There were some mandated COVID-related modifications ranging from mask requirements (indoors), occupancy limits, and a few program changes, such as a “parade” that brought the Campfire to the Troops sitting by their campsites. 

Still, if you stopped by Camp in 2021 it would have looked nearly identical to Camp in any other year: Young people learning how to row, swim, shoot, sail, lash a tripod, identify plants, explore the ocean depths, gaze into the heavens. Yes, Camp Emerald Bay returned!

Twenty Twenty-One was a landmark year in other respects – for the first time in the 96-year history of Camp Emerald Bay, the Camp Director was female: Linnea Heinstedt, who in the year before had worked her magic with Tri-Camp. Linnea’s EB resume is incredible. Beginning in 2007: C.I.T., Waterfront, High Adventure, C.I.T./Activity Director, Nature Co-Director, Kitchen Compliance Manager, Waterfront Director, Program Director, and Camp Director. Emerald Bay could not be in better hands with Linnea and her leadership team!

There have been changes in the EBA as well. After four years as the EBA Board President, Andrew Kilgore has stepped down. Andrew and his family have relocated to Tacoma, Washington. We thank Andrew for his selfless service as the EBA Board President and are grateful that he will stay on as an EBA Board member. (Attending meetings by Zoom does have its advantages!)

The Emerald Bay Association elected me Board President at our November meeting. (Yes, I will still be at Camp, doing the announcing bit and singing Superchicken.)  The biggest reason I am taking this on is that I will most assuredly not be on my own! The members of the EBA Board are in equal measures talented and devoted to Camp Emerald Bay. Any President or Chair would be delighted to have such an incredible group of friends to work with.

My number one priority as President is to bring in more Staff and friends of Camp into the fold of the EBA.  As most of us in Scouting know, new members are the lifeblood of not just the EBA, but any organization. We welcome all who are friends of Camp.

As we emerge from the pandemic, the EBA looks forward to re-establishing what was missed. We look forward to renewing our support for Camp, sponsoring camperships, and staging events for fellowship. We especially look forward to returning to Camp in late summer, 2022, at the EBA Reunion!

Don’t ever forget – WE are the Camp. 

In Fellowship and Comrades Lasting,

John

John Meyers
President
Emerald Bay Association

The EBA provides fellowship for Alumni and Friends of Camp, volunteer support for Camp, and direct financial assistance to support Camp.   We typically fundraise across three initiatives:

  1. Camperships to provide access to Camp for those who might not otherwise be able to go;
  2. Capital Campaigns to support the physical development, facilities, and infrastructure of Camp itself; and
  3. An Endowment to build and sustain the EBA with an eye to the future of our mission.

Please consider go here to donate today to support these efforts!

13 Comments

  1. Jim Coady
    Jim Coady December 29, 2021

    Congratulations John! The EBA is is great hands.

  2. Tom Gould
    Tom Gould December 29, 2021

    Congratulations John!

  3. Linnea Heinstedt
    Linnea Heinstedt December 29, 2021

    Congratulations, John! Can’t wait to learn more from you and work closer in this next year.

  4. Peter Haslund
    Peter Haslund December 29, 2021

    I join with others to offer congratulations and good wishes for the coming year! You are quite right in suggesting that your term of office will be successful to the extent that you are working together with dedicated board members. Have just finished my term as President of the Santa Barbara Community College Board of Trustees, and I can assure you that this was true for me.

    What you do for this next generation of scouts will be pivotal to many. Those many skills, combined with a clearer sense of ethics, will be a source of influence for a lifetime! I am still able to amaze my grandchildren with my ability to tie a bowline! Hopefully, I have shared a lot more.

    I also remember writing letters to the editor in 1991; so glad we prevailed at that time.

    My check will be in the mail!

    • Scott Nussbaum
      Scott Nussbaum December 29, 2021

      Peter,
      What a wonderful note and sentiment!
      F&CL

  5. Kieran Coghlan
    Kieran Coghlan December 29, 2021

    Congrats, John!
    I was staff (Ranger) in ’88 and a camper in ’87 and ’86. I remember only a few of my fellow camp comrades from those years and you are top of that list. I remember not only the super chicken singing but the echo voice announcing, and just your wonderful, welcoming, kind, friendly, demeanor. You were the first staffer I met (on the boat to camp in ’86) and the last one I said “until next time” to years later when I visited as an adult backpacker passing through one summer (’99 or so). As others have said the camp couldn’t be in better hands. I agree with you that EB is the people not the facilities and gear, and no other person embodies what EB is better than you. I’m very happy to hear this news!
    Until next time,
    Kieran “KC” Coghlan
    Troop 121 Santa Rosa (northern) CA

  6. Thomas Pilla
    Thomas Pilla December 30, 2021

    John–Congratulations! Your energy and dedication to camp has been extraordinary and consistent. It is always a pleasure to see you at camp and know that campers and staff will be enthralled during their stay. An amazing run to date with many more years to come. Ciao, Tom Pilla, The Elder.

  7. Bob Hawkins
    Bob Hawkins December 30, 2021

    Congratulations John. It has been a pleasure seeing and hearing you at camp. My tenure was on waterfront in 1951 and then from 1956 to 1971 serving as program director, camp director and Dir of Camping until I left the BSA professionally. Have had many years since doing construction work at EB. My love for camp will never end Now at 90 I don’t know how much longer I will be doing much but we are looking at doing some deck work on the cabins and the MSC. Rebuilding the stairs up to cabins 5&6. Hope to see you there one day.

    • Ryan Langton
      Ryan Langton January 2, 2022

      Thank you so much for all you have constructed at camp, Mr. Hawkins!

  8. “Basic” Bob Marak
    “Basic” Bob Marak December 30, 2021

    Congrats John- living the dream!

    I was reflecting that this 2022 summer will mark 50 years since my first year on staff as a Ranger living in the old Royal Hawaiian. Although many new buildings have been added and the trees have grown taller, the “spirit” of EB still remains as it did back then!

  9. Bob Henszey
    Bob Henszey December 31, 2021

    Congratulations John, and thank you for your many years of service to EB. Your letter (and alumni comments) brought back fond memories of EB and how close scouting came to losing EB.

    I am so pleased with EBA and the opportunity EBA provides for me to give back to EB through camperships, the endowment, and special projects, since I live too far away to offer my time (currently living in Fairbanks, Alaska). I did however, get a chance to visit camp as one of the leaders from my son’s Nebraska scout troop in 1999 and 2002. You, Bob Fenton (my maintenance crew partner), and a few others from my time on staff from 1971-78 were there. Many changes, but nice to see many familiar things too. My last visit was in September of 2018 with my wife thanks to a quick boat ride from my niece who has been camp director for Camp Fox for several years. It was great to see kids at camp after Labor Day, but the recent demise of the Eucalyptus tree reminded me that time marches on. Since that trip, my wife now understands what EB meant to me, so we may make a special trip to spend more time at EB.

    Thanks to you, the Board, and all EB alumni!
    Bob

  10. Steve Joyner
    Steve Joyner January 6, 2022

    What a treat to hear this news, albeit a bit late.

    Congratulations John!

  11. Steve Ogg
    Steve Ogg March 25, 2022

    Wow, there are a lot of familiar names on this page! Bob Hawkins, Bob Henszey, Bob Fenton, Bob Merek, all here to honor and revere John Meyers’ asention to president! And I too, along with the Bobs would like to congradulate you John for becoming president of the EBA!
    Yeah, I remember you singing and your quizzes about TV show tunes. I also remember you dedicating time to educating scouts about the Civil War, by getting into full authentic costume in the corner of the parade ground. Your knowledge of the Civil War and the detail of the costume was so authentic and interesting. You “tricked” us into learning!

    Thank you for taking on the responsibilities of president. I’m confident that you will be a great fit.

    Steve Ogg, 71, 73, 75, and 91
    (not to be confused with the other Steve Ogg rumored to also be a staffman in other years)

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