When you speak to any alum about FLC, you often hear them refer to FLC as their “second home”. It is this community that FLC has built and nourished over the past 90 years that makes FLC so unique and special to so many of us. In this vein, we have decided, with the help of Gary Confer, to reach out to some of our alumni to highlight their role at FLC and to learn what they are up to these days. This month we are featuring two prominent FLC leaders from the boys’ camp and the girls’ camp.
Ralph Ferrara was a career camper and a staff member at FLC from 1955-1963 back when nearly all campers attended for the full eight week season. Ralph ventured to camp each summer from Hempstead, NY (Long Island). Ralph attended the St. Paul’s School in Garden City, NY where he was a fleet running back on the football team, a diver on the swim team, and a catcher on the baseball team. Ralph was “branded” a Blue at FLC and was a force to be reckoned with in all the Red and Blue competitions and particularly on Rush Day. Most summers as a camper, Ralph was part of a group that went through camp together year after year. Among his cabinmates were Eddie King, Jerry Seidenwurm, Rance McKenna, Jimmy Pulito, Andy Ponzini, and Tico Cano.
Ralph’s college career was interrupted by the Viet Nam War and he enlisted in the US Army in which he served from 1965-1973. He served two tours in Viet Nam – the first with the 101st Airborne Division as a platoon leader and the second with the Military Advisory Command Viet Nam Corp as a level staff officer. Ralph amassed a host of military honors including two Bronze Stars for Valor, two Purple Hearts, Combat Infantry Badge, Paratrooper Wings, Air Medal, and two Army Commendation Medals – and this is only a partial list.
Upon returning to civilian life, Ralph graduated with honors from the University of Minnesota. Following that he worked in the Human Resources field for 25 years at General Mills in Golden Valley, Minnesota as the manager of Employee Services. As in the military, Ralph’s abilities were recognized and honored. He was the recipient of the General Mills Chairman’s award for 10 consecutive years. He was appointed as a board member of the National Kidney Foundation of the Upper Midwest, a board member of the Child’s Play Theatre in Minneapolis, selected as president of the National Employee Services Management Association (NESMA), and he was co-founder and president of the Minnesota Employee Recreations and Service Council (MERSC).
As a camper, Ralph is always remembered as scrappy, fun-loving, athletic, and enthusiastic. He not only enjoyed all sports (and was good at them all) but he also enjoyed horseback riding and wilderness trips. Among the fondest memories that Ralph mentions, when asked, are the Mt. Marcy trip with Al Shaler, galloping on horseback on the camp road with Fred Olds, nights off in Lake George (as a counselor), chasing Batman but never catching him, his Cabin 12 campers (Joe and Frank Anfuso, Billy Meyer, Gary Confer, Peter Davidoff), Saturday Night Boxing matches with Kenny Cappy, being a “waiter”, Bob Blanck as his “ Big Brother”, the Counselor Show, Red and Blue, Timlo competitions, Niaweh dances, the Watermelon Baby story, all campfires, and the 33.3 rpm bugle recordings and Perry Como.
The camp personalities that Ralph recalls fondly include: Sally and Phil, Tom and Marie Allen, Ollie, Scholly, Ethel and Roosevelt, Mary Harvey, Jess and Marie Bonde, Clif and Dolly Combs, Johnny Hobbins, Lenny Utz, and Blaney Blodgett.
Ralph is proud of his 38 year marriage to his wife, Kathy. They have two children, Susan and Ralph (RJ). Ralph and Kathy divide the year between living in Shoreview, Minnesota and Hernando, Florida. They enjoy golf, bocce, fishing, pickle ball, reading, and traveling. A final example of how deep Ralph’s roots are with FLC is that his nephew, Austin Ives, attended FLC and met his future wife (Heidi Ness) at camp. Heidi was also a staff member and her father, Bob Ness, was a counselor along with Ralph back in the 60’s.
Nicola Jamison is a Forest Lake Camp for Girls original. She joined the FLC staff as a general counselor in the maiden camp season of 1990. Nicola and Judith Christiansen shared cabin counselor duties in Cabin 3. She continued as a general counselor for her first three summers and conducted all manner of activities including field hockey (expertly), mountain biking, and tennis. Jane Bernstein, girls camp head counselor, was so impressed with Nicola’s abilities that she recommended Nicola as her replacement for the summer of 1993.
Nicola hailed from Holywood, Northern Ireland and pursued her higher education at Dugdale McAdam in Edinburgh, Scotland. From 1991-2013 she worked in the ski trade buying and selling goods and equipment for the Irish market.
For the years 1993-1997 Nicola served as the girls’ camp head counselor, and she expanded upon the excellent program and traditions she inherited from Jane Bernstein. During Nicola’s tenure, the girls’ camp grew in leaps and bounds and, by 1997, the girls’ enrollment reached parity with the boys’ camp. Not surprisingly, Nicola was a Golden Arrow recipient.
Nicola is married to Peter Jamison and they have two daughters – Maddy (11) and Toni (10). They currently live in Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland. Since 2013, Nicola has become a “full time mum” and stays busy with their daughters’ activities of horseback riding and competitive swimming. Nicola has taken up road cycling and has competed in long distance racing. The family skis together and also take part in “stand up paddling”.
Nicola sites her fondest FLC memories as watching the first girl campers arriving on opening day 1990, seeing two of her former campers – Kendy Dwenger and Regan Lyons become FLC staff members, plus returning to FLC for the pavilion dedication. What Nicola left out was her famous staff orientation hike that made the new counselors more familiar with Warren County than was intended.
With the advent of social media, Nicola remains in touch with a number of FLC alum – namely, Heidi McDonald, Sue Burke, Jane Bernstein, and Kate O’Rourke Wilson.
Energetic, talented, and enthusiastic, Nicola lead by example and made a significant lasting impression at FLC.
Would you like to connect or reconnect with other FLC alumni? If so, we have a great Alumni Network Database – you can establish an account or update your account below.
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