By Cory Hermann, Alum 1984-1988, former faculty member, and current Machon Director
Yesterday was Crane Lake’s annual alumni day! Approximately 100 alumni, spanning four decades of CLC history, spent the day playing basketball, relaxing at the lake, catching up with friends, and checking out the expansions and additions to camp since the last time they were here.
The day was made all the more special by the presence of the family of Ed Ulanoff, former owner and director of Crane Lake Camp. Ed and Barbara Ulanoff purchased Crane Lake Camp in the 1950s, and were the owners and directors until 1997 when the camp was purchased by the URJ. Ed passed away this year, and alumni day was the perfect occasion to honor his memory and the legacy he created here. At the end of Shabbat morning services, our director, Debby, presented Ed’s wife, Barbara, with a beautiful plaque that will hang on the Rec Hall in memory of Ed. I had the honor of sharing a few thoughts about Ed, from my perspective as a former camper and staff member. I told the community that many of the traditions we enjoy today – Fight Song night, bunk plaques, many Color War events (including rope burn, sing, hatchet hunt, and Apache relay), the firefly candle lighting ceremony, and scroll – began during Ed’s tenure as director. Following services, several former staff members, as well as Ed’s family members, shared their own reflections on Ed’s contributions to this community and the wonderful man that he was.
I’ve been a member of the Crane Lake community since 1984, when I spent my first summer here as a Camper Worker, or CW, now known as Olim. I went on to work as a counselor and assistant group leader (unit head), and in my professional life to serve as a faculty member, and today as the Machon Director. I have been privileged to watch the Jewish soul of this camp blossom, and to see how Judaism has added a very special, unique, and meaningful element to camp. While so much growth and change has taken place, so much has remained the same. I was a Color War general in 1986, and my name still hangs on a plaque in the Rec Hall. Two of my sons are current campers at Crane Lake, and I love being able to show my children my name on that plaque, knowing that one day they may be generals themselves, and have that same experience.
While being able to share and reminisce about my personal camp memories is an annual experience for me, as a staff member and camp parent, yesterday I had the pleasure of watching other members of our community share their camp experiences with their loved ones. Two married couples, who met at camp, were here. Parents of former campers came to experience the Bubble of CLC first-hand. Herb May, past director, joined us yesterday with his wife, Joyce. Campers and staff from the 1970′s through the 2000′s all came to honor this place, their memories, and to see what the future has in store. All were greeted with “Welcome home,” because for our alumni and past staff members, no matter how long it has been since they stepped foot on camp, this is their home, and they are part of our family.