About Brant Lake

My Introduction to Brant Lake

Dan with his wife, Ann
Dan with his wife, Ann

They were two elderly men with strands of white hair blowing in the breeze and, in retrospect, they inspired my life, although I was only 13 at the time and could not have known the importance of this ordinary encounter.

My parents and I were driving on Route 8, skirting Brant Lake, and searching for a summer camp I could attend. From the age of seven I had spent summers at a boys camp near Old Forge, snowmobile capital of the world. However, in the spring of 1950 the director fell ill and the camp closed. Frantically my family contacted camps. Idlewild, Cayuga, Androscoggin, typical Indian names for camps without a single Native American camper. Filled. Every camp was filled. So we drove 80 miles north of my home in Albany, New York to visit a final recommendation, Brant Lake Camp for Boys. And, in case you consider Brant a non-Indian name I would note the real name of this Mohawk leader was Thayendanga—thus the camp qualified as a legitimate summer way station for a Jewish boy!

As we approached the camp we spied two man wearing bathing suits and terry cloth robes crossing to the beach. My father stopped our brown Plymouth coupe with the canvas roof that became a convertible a week later when it blew off in a heavy windstorm.

“Excuse me,” my father said to one gentleman. “Excuse me, we are looking for Brant Lake Camp, could you give directions?” The man waved his towel towards a green sign embedded in a stone gate. “Brant Lake Camp” and replied, “This is it.”

“And,” my father beamed,” Are you the owners?” For certainly the two appeared mature and the exact image of camp directors. The only response was a laugh that went on and on and on.

“The owners? Hardly. But we can give you the owner’s phone number. He lives in New York City. Mr. Gerstenzang.” Equipped with this information we returned to Albany and called Mr. Gerstenzang.

“Sir,” my father explained, “we were visiting Brant Lake in search of your camp and met two distinguished men who we thought owned the camp. They said you were the director.” My father described them and Mr. Gerstenzang laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

“That was Casper and Irving. They clean the toilets at camp in the summer and you can find them in their role as bookies outside Madison Square Garden in winter.”

Well, I went to Brant Lake, built a home on Brant Lake, met Ann at Brant Lake and over the years the community at Brant Lake has become a treasured aspect of my life as I return over and over and over.

Therefore, I am indebted to that brief meeting with Casper and Irving by the side of Route 8 and a laugh that expanded into years of fulfillment. I was granted the rich gift of a lifetime, garnered in a seemingly insignificant moment–––like so many of the defining moments in our life.

8 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Dear Dan, I’m so happy to hear from you again with your beautiful and heart touching stories which I’ve missed. I called you a couple of times in NYC but never heard back so now I know you have been at Brant Lake and what could be better in this crazy world we now live. I’m so glad you escaped from the city and all the sickness there and probably there is not much virus in your present world.
    Life is quite challenging out here in Ca.. As if the pandemic is not enough, we are surrounded by scary fires, a recent power outage of 36 hours and now a sky of most unusual colors and foreboding darkness filled with smoke and making it difficult to breathe and to be outdoors at all. In the senior community where I live, we can have no visitors. We are encouraged not to go out but I do occasionally. Life is very challenging and quite stressful at the moment. But I am well and managing to stay afloat with a lot of support from my wonderful family and friends here. Dan, I just love hearing from you again after a long absence and I hope and trust that you and Anne are well and that all her family are well and safe.
    I can’t access your blog on my IPAD so I hope you will continue to send it to me and I hope you find it within yourself to continue blogging.
    Love to you and Anne, Adele

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  2. Hi DSW! Beautiful stories, photos!!!! So glad to see a photo of you & Ann! (She is breathtaking!) We go back 50 years. You are still teaching, I am still learning. (Sorry your tennis wasn’t as good as your prose………!!!!!!)

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  3. Dan, reading your stories on this blog is like slipping into a favorite old sweater — they are so comforting and familiar, and make me feel warm and happy. I even hear your voice and intonation as I read them. Thanks for sharing them in this new medium! Well, new to you…and perhaps a dozen other folks who missed some major technological developments since IBM introduced the Selectric (you may place my usual smiley face here).

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  4. Dan, I think I know more about you than anyone, but maybe I will discover a few stories and adventures we have not, to date, shared.

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  5. Dan, your stories are insightful and inspiring. Remembering your sermons from over 30 years ago and the impact they had, I would have expected nothing less! I look forward to future posts.

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