Alumni Outreach to Board

Bruce Douglas '40-'42 letter to the LAJF Executive Director, January 2, 2018

On Tue, 1/2/18, Bruce Douglas wrote:
Subject: Re: Stand by us and donate today !
To: “Helene Mattera”
Date: Tuesday, January 2, 2018, 3:59 AM

HELENE:
I DON’T AGREE WITH EVERYTHING THAT COMES OUT OF THE SAVE CRS “MOVEMENT”, BUT i CAN’T HELP BUT WONDER IF YOU PAY ANY ATTENTION TO IT AT ALL! YOUR UPBEAT EMAILS ARE IN SUCH SHARP CONTRAST TO THE ONES THAT I RECEIVE FROM SETH FRANK, JC CALDERONE, AND OTHERS, THAT I CAN’T HELP BUT WONDER IF YOU’VE BEEN COMPLETELY DUPED BY THE LIKES OF O’MALLEY AND BRENNAN, WHO HAVE GONE OUT OF THEIR WAY TO INSULT AND DEMEAN THE EFFORTS OF SO MANY OF US, I GUESS, “OLDER” ALUMNI.
DO YOU THINK WE HAVE ULTERIOR MOTIVES, OR DO YOU THINK AT ALL ABOUT OUR FEELINGS ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OUR CAMP? DO YOU WANT TO BE A LEADER AND STRIVE TO BRING THE TWO FACTIONS TOGETHER? OR ARE YOU ACTUALLY DOING THAT, UNKNOWN TO MANY OF US? HAVE YOU BEEN PRIVY TO SETH FRANK’S AND JC CALDERONE’S NUMEROUS ADMONITIONS ABOUT WHAT THEY FEEL HAS HAPPENED, AND IS HAPPENING, TO CRS? DOES IT MATTER TO YOU WHAT THEIR FEELINGS ARE?
DOES IT BOTHER YOU THAT SETH FRANK’S HUGE FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS HAVE BEEN WITHHELD BECAUSE OF CLANDESTINE ACTIONS TAKEN BY O’MALLEY, BRENNAN, LUIS & COMPANY? AND THAT MINIMAL EFFORT HAS BEEN EXERTED BY THEM TO COME TO A MEETING OF THE MINDS? HAVE YOU ATTEMPTED TO BRING THEM TOGETHER, AND FOR YOU TO SERVE AS A MEDIATOR IN DEALING WITH A MAJOR DISPUTE, WHICH IS UNDERMINING, AND PROBABLY DESTROYING, YOUR ADMINISTRATIVE GOALS? OR DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU WERE HIRED BY THE PRESENT BOARD, THAT THEY ARE YOUR BOSS, AND YOU HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO DO THEIR BIDDING?
HAVE YOU PUT YOUR OWN IDEALS ABOUT THE MISSION OF CRS, TO WHICH I’M TOLD YOU ARE WEDDED, ASIDE AND BECOME A PUPPET OF THE BOARD, TO THE EXCLUSION OF HUNDREDS OF ALUMNI WHO ARE BEGGING (AND I FEEL SHOULD BE DEMANDING) TO BE REPRESENTED AND HEARD)?
Sincerely,

Bruce Douglas, ’40, ’41, ’42 (who reveres the memory of “Freddie” Jonas, and who believes that he has been turning over in his grave the last few years!!)

Seth Frank '48-'49 open letter to the LAJF BOD, December 30, 2017

From: “Aliki Perroti” <alikiperroti@yahoo.com>
Date: Dec 30, 2017 10:26 AM
Subject: Re: Materials for January 6, 2018 Meeting of LAJF Board of Directors
To: “Board” <board@lajf.org>, <mac@lajf.org>, <emeriti@lajf.org>, <alumnicouncil@lajf.org>, <commchairs@lajf.org>, <office@lajf.org>, “Helene Mattera” <hmattera@lajf.org>

Dear Helene, Board and All Concerned about the future of CRS:

This is an open letter to the Board:

With 2018 fast approaching, you face a challenge, wrapped in a crisis, looking toward cardiac arrest.

First, a light and lesson from History:

In 1914 a Serbian extremist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Archduchess Sophie of Austria-Hungary in Sarajevo, thus setting off the beginning of WWI.  By September, 1914, the war was in full blaze, with the beginning of trench warfare and the first battle of the Marne.  The efforts of Kaiser Wilhelm and General Ludendorff to defeat the nations led by the Kaiser’s cousins would end in defeat, in 1918, after four years of conflict, during which Europe was decimated and millions of soldiers and civilians were killed or wounded by munitions and poison gas.

Fast forward 100 years to September 2014, when Kaiser O’Malley and General Luis unleashed on an unsuspecting CRS Community an equally toxic, surreptitiously conceived and misbegotten “New Dawn”, which would rend the CRS Community, poison its atmosphere of peace and harmony and prolonged affection, and kill or wound the interest of countless Alums — among them the most committed and most affluent — in supporting the Camp which they had known and loved since their halcyon summer days at the Red Hook campsite from the 1930’s onward and at the Clinton campsite since 1989.

WWI concluded after four years in an armistice in November 1918.  The 21st Century conflict of CRS is now also in its fourth year, marked by continued damage to the legacy, well being — both financially and spiritually — and future of CRS, with no tangible sign of let-up in the intransigence of the creators of the “New Dawn”, who control the Board of LAJF.  It will soon be 100 years since the armistice that concluded WWI and peace loving, CRS loving Alums are yearning for an armistice that will restore peace and prosperity to CRS.

The historic parallels are not insignificant or coincidental.  Their lesson, in the words of our current Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan, a disciple of our venerable CRS Alum Pete Seeger, is “blowing in the wind.”  And their relevance, in the well known dictum of the philosopher George Santayana, is that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.


You, the Board of LAJF who are about to meet, may well be buoyed by the effect of the recent surge in the stock market, which has swelled the endowment (although still several millions of dollars below the $14 million high water mark in nominal amount and millions more than that in real money amount, which was reached some years ago, before it was eroded by the profligacy of the Board and Judy Fox administration).  But you would be benighted to believe — and contrary to Vanguard, your investment advisor — that the recent past is prologue to an eternal, glorious future.  (Just call to mind the ironic opening lines of Shakespeare’s Richard III, if you are wavering in realism.)

And, yes, you have done some tidying up of expenses, including perhaps most substantially eliminating unnecessary investment advisory fees, without crediting me who alone advocated that for years while you slept or scoffed.  Well and good.  But the big threatening conditions — the potential cancers — are the shortfall in Alum contributions: over $70,000 below goal most recently.  And with the large segment of alienated Alums who will not contribute, you are facing the more likely — and prolonged — winter of discontent, than glorious spring.  And add to that, the fact that your expenses are — and will continue to rise — and will not be contained by rationalizations that it’s only a little here, a little there, a nonrecurring cause, an employee’s maternity, etc., while you continue to invade the endowment at a too high and unsustainable rate — Beware the siren song of Judy Fox all over again.

Climate change is more apt to affect you with an upward tornado of expense and an inundating tsunami flooding the endowment assets, than the reverse.  Wise to remember Dickens that a penny more of income than expense equals happiness, while a penny more of expense than income equals misery.


So, how do these two strands tie together: the historical and the financial?

You can continue as you have, blinded by the “New Dawn” and whatever further mischief it may be looking to hatch, and ride off like Roy Moore on his high horse into a pathetic sunset, with a banjo on your knee and water on the brain, toward further reductions in Camp programs and the roster of CRS contributors, with the prospect of insolvency and shutdown growing more and more — not less and less — real with every repeated day, or you can seek to leverage the lessons of such unique thinkers as Freddie Jonas, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela and offer peace and reconciliation and a rebirth of the spirit of CRS.

It’s not about control or a false sense of superiority.  If it were, you would be operating 7 week seasons simultaneously at two separate camps.  It’s about accommodation and giving, things you should have learned while you were Campers at CRS.  It’s not too late for a refresher course.  But if you don’t act soon you’ll be left to recite Robert Frost’s poem The Oven Bird and wonder about what to make of a diminished thing.

Happy New Year,

Seth Frank ’48 & ’49 etc.

Seth Frank '48-'49 email to the LAJF Executive Director, December 21, 2017

From: Aliki Perroti
Date: Thu, Dec 21, 2017 at 4:16 PM
Subject: Re: Materials for January 6, 2018 Meeting of LAJF Board of Directors
To: Board , mac@lajf.org, emeriti@lajf.org, alumnicouncil@lajf.org, commchairs@lajf.org, office@lajf.org, “Helene Mattera” <hmattera@lajf.org>
Cc: hmattera@lajf.org

Dear Helene,

Thank you for furnishing me with the materials for the January 6, 2018 LAJF Board of Directors Meeting.

I have the following comments:

RH Sprint Committee Report: In my opinion, the charge of $5,015 for legal services re property tax should not have been made to this restricted fund, but should have been charged to LAJF generally. The charge arose from negligence on the part of LAJF in not filing for the annual exemption from property tax, and was not for the purpose of reopening the Red Hook campsite, which was — and is — the restricted purpose of this fund.

Strategic Plan Update: Mention is made in the Finance and Investment portion that the switch from an actively managed fund (to Vanguard) has reduced investment expenses by about $80,000. With all the encomiums bruited in the documents, it would have been nice to see a footnote crediting me with having alone recommended and persisted in this change over the course of several years in the face of indifference or opposition from the Board.

Alumni Relations Committee/Fundraising Committee Reports: A serious omission is the absence of any awareness or undertaking to initiate an outreach to the older Alums, the “Old Guard” who have been neglected — and at times denigrated — to the detriment of LAJF, its fundraising capability and general health and well-being, the spirit and unity of CRS and its Founder, Freddie Jonas, and pioneers, without whom the self- satisfied Board members would never have even seen Camp Rising Sun or occupied their positions of governance. Something to think seriously about and even more to take sincere, concrete steps to rectify.

Ad Hoc Committee on Governance: In my opinion, the termination of the Ad Hoc Committee on Governance, without any tangible accomplishments of which I am aware, is a failure of opportunity, an abdication of responsibility and a perpetuation of the status quo and endemic disease which has infected LAJF and alienated such a substantial core of Alums.

As a matter of information and enlightenment for the CRS Community: Can you please clarify the basis for the apparent continuing status of Nita Luis as a director, apparently beyond the expiration of even her extended term under the tortuous provision of the By-Laws; and let us know when, if ever, her term will end, or whether she is to be anointed with the sobriquet of “Fredericka, the Eternal” or the like. The same information is requested as to the expiration of the term of Pat O’Malley.

I do not wish to parade before you as Scrooge, so allow me to extend to you and all my very best wishes for Joyous Holidays and a Healthy, Peaceful and Productive New Year,

Seth Frank ’48 & ’49 etc.

Seth Frank '48-'49 email to the Selection Committee Chair, December 17, 2017

On Sun, Dec 17, 2017 at 2:01 PM, Aliki Perroti wrote:

Dear Gus,

The residual CRS memories which forever reside in my heart, impel me to wish you well in your CRS Selection for 2018. Nevertheless, I must observe that you and your colleagues, particularly the LAJF Board, are going into the fray without the full resources you need and could and should command. Your forces are denuded of the experienced veterans of countless golden summers whom the Board has alienated by its foolish, needless and reckless arrogance. It has turned away those who can enrich it, without reason or plausible explanation. It has — and continues — to betray the spirit of Freddie Jonas and those stellar CRS leaders who assisted him over the years: Pete Seeger, George Ames, Mandy Mascia, John Litsios (a fellow Greek praiseworthily still living at 95 — and χρονα πολλα to him — whom the Board has denigrated), Irwin Nydick, Rick Haynes and others. Without them you would not occupy the positions you do. That the Board and its minions behave like Humpty Dumpty is pathetic and suicidal. But that they transform CRS into Humpty Dumpty is indefensible homicide.

I hope there is at least one ear that will catch my drift and seek to change direction, to extend a hand and a heart of understanding and revived unity. Perhaps that ear is yours. It would be nice if it is.

I pray that the New Year may restore sight to the Cyclopses who huddle in the cave and bring them out into the Rising Sun. Surely, the boat Odysseus sails will sail on, with or without their help and friendship.

Good luck,

Seth Frank CRS ’48 & ’49, etc.

Seth Frank '48-'49 email to the LAJF Board of Directors, December 26, 2016

From: Aliki Perroti
Date: Mon, Dec 26, 2016 at 11:18 AM
Subject: Re: Fwd: FW: Board Meeting Packet- January 7, 2017
To: alumnicouncil@lajf.org, emeriti@lajf.org, “Janessa Schilmoeller” <contact@lajf.org>
Cc: “Save CRS” <save.our.crs@gmail.com>, “J.C. Calderon” <jc@calderonarchitecture.com>

Thank you, Helene, for your report and for your earlier information about the latest recipients of the George E. Jonas Scholarships. I found them to be very fine choices and it keeps an avenue — the only one — open to me for future support, which I may furnish shortly in the New Year. I believe the record should be adjusted — not that I’m looking for credit — but in the interest of accuracy to reflect that I conceived of the GEJ Scholarship Fund and have contributed to it personal funds of mine over the years, as well as monies from The Georges Lurcy Charitable and Educational Trust.

I commend you for voluntarily offering to take an ED salary at a reduced and reasonable level, far below the profligate amounts which your immediate predecessors Judy Fox and Richard Enemark were paid. The rest of the minutes, including the bald attempt to rationalize the status quo of governance and the continuing grasping of power by Nita Luis and Pat O’Malley, based on an untenable technical ground, are disheartening and offensive to me, to say the least and are responsible for the response which will follow, as I found no reason to restrain it. CRS/LAJF cannot be compared to any run of the mill not-for-profits. It was uniquely conceived and flourished for decades as a magnet for the best and the brightest because of its unique character. To drop it in a basket of self-perpetuating governance with other not-not-for profits is to betray its history, undermine its future and wear blinders for ulterior purposes. Serving the few in order to disenfranchise and disserve the many will only continue the downward spiral CRS/LAJF has been suffering, with predictable, disastrous results. Freeing CRS/LAJF from the chains of the multitude of not-for-profits is a necessary first step to restoring it to grace and hope for broad Alumni support. Rather that Nita Luis and Pat O’Malley had followed your lead of institutional altruism — in the very spirit of CRS — and foregone an undeserved tenth year of directorship, rather than selfish consideration of their own personal ends. And I fear that the Las Vegas odds may well be moving toward them trying to sell themselves and CRS/LAJF a future bill of goods that they are too invaluable to retire, alone indispensable among those who have served on the LAJF and withdrew gracefully when their terms were up. I hope I am wrong on this, but I fear I may not be. At least stand up and be steadfast should that time come.

So, let me cut to the chase of J’Accuse: A Decade of Debacle and Disgrace under the Oligarchical Control of Nita Luis and Pat O’Malley, lately joined by Damian Brennan, during which I and countless loyal and faithful Alums were robbed of Camp Rising Sun — a decade marked by destruction, deterioration and dissipation of the physical, financial, human and intangible assets of CRS/LAJF to a shocking and perhaps irremediable extent:

Physical — During the last ten years, the RH physical plant was deliberately allowed to deteriorate, beyond any excusable limits of benign neglect. A marker of this occurred in 2010 when, from the six figure contribution I made for the sole purpose of repairing Sawkill hurricane damage, thousands of dollars of these restricted funds were feloniously diverted with the active connivance of Judy Fox and Christina Busso — and the knowledge, if not from the outset then clearly later of Nita Luis and Pat O’Malley — without my knowledge or consent or any admission, acknowledgment or restoration at any time — an egregious breach of law and fiduciary duty and basic human decency, unworthy of the lowest degree of human misconduct, unthinkable at CRS/LAJF and compounded by their efforts to suppress the truth by having the then caretaker falsify the record to say the money was spent at Red Hook, when they all knew it was not, which he refused to do. Such conduct was criminal — as Christina Busso and Nita Luis, being lawyers, well knew — and enough to cause nausea and revulsion in the CRS Community, especially in one who in good faith has been, after Freddie, its most generous supporter over the years. Even today the matter remains unaddressed and unresolved and no one has had the courage or integrity to step forward, clear the record and remedy the wrong. Is this behavior appropriate for Nita Luis, an officer of the Court, or Pat O’Malley, a U.S. military officer, each of whom has sworn an oath to uphold the truth?

I point out the above, not only for the sake of the record, but to alert those contributors who gave to the 2015 Sprint for RH and have chosen to leave their contributions in the custody of CRS/LAJF, ostensibly in a segregated, restricted account. Beware and be vigilant, lest you be victimized, as I was, by bait and switch tactics or blandishments. In cold fact, those custodial monies will never be used to reopen the RH Campsite, as there is no will to do so by this Board, and it skews the balance sheet to regard these contributions as evidence of Alumni participation in CRS/LAJF fundraising beyond the one-time spontaneous outpouring of those who were committed to reopening Red Hook. The Board continues to indulge in magical thinking.

During the last decade, it is indisputable that both Campsites were closed in 2009 (which should have very materially reduced expenses, but instead they strangely ballooned in that year), while Red Hook also has been closed in 2015 and 2016 and remains closed with no prospect of reopening. These woeful developments took place against a history that saw CRS RH remain open and functioning throughout the Great Depression and the Second World War — a proud history that began in 1930 and has been interrupted not by war or disease but by administrative mismanagement, compounded in 2015 and 2016 by the Board’s betrayal of the 2015 Sprint, which raised the required amount of funds in record time — both dictated by the Board to reopen RH — and reversal of its promise to reopen RH in 2016. In the meantime, the RH Campsite, including the Revolutionary legacy Robert Livingston “Old House” continues to deteriorate, in breach of the Board’s fiduciary responsibility to maintain the physical plant and its value and the to be expected sensitivity to the history, tradition and importance of the Campsite to Alumni, whose ages stretch into their 90’s and CRS experience dates back to the very early years of CRS.

Additional physical malfeasance is attributable to the unaccounted for disposition of items of tangible personal property, including furniture and equipment, which as property of a tax exempt charitable organization could not be given to private recipients, but only to like organizations, such as local boys and girls clubs, or sold for reasonable value, and the cultural treasure of the Arthur Rubinstein Collection of 95 CD recordings and a catalogue and biography, which I gave to CRS RH in the 1990’s and was enjoyed by the Camp Community for several years until it mysteriously disappeared without a trace.

Financial — It is a tragic fact that in the last decade, due to profligate, imprudent spending beyond accepted not-for-profit guidelines, including excessive executive salaries, travel and Sundial costs, unnecessary and unrewarded investment advisory fees, an unauthorized New York City foundation office, rather than one in Dutchess County as mandated by the LAJF Certificate of Incorporation and poor investment performance in contrast to a substantial rise in the securities markets during that time, among other things, compounded by a stubborn refusal to reign in expenses, reduced summer camp expense while the Campsites were at least partially closed or functioning with reduced seasons and a dramatic falloff in Alumni contributions due to the fracture in the CRS Community caused by the Board’s surreptitious, shadowy hatching of a “New Dawn” in September 2014, with proposed sale of one or both Campsites and relocation of the entire CRS Summer operation out of New York State, to Pennsylvania, or elsewhere — all engineered in the dark by a secret core headed by Nita Louis and Pat O’Malley — the endowment has declined from about $14 million in 2008 to about $9 million in September 2016, in nominal terms, without taking into account that in real terms, with prudent spending and investment performance, the endowment would have risen to $20 million, as Tom Corcoran has ably demonstrated. This has brought the endowment below what I regarded and told Judy Fox some years ago would be a tipping point of $10 million and it is highly doubtful, in my mind, that it can ever recover, certainly not without a fundamental makeover, if then. The belated reforms and spending reductions — which are not cast in stone, but are shaky and under question by some from within — are realistically too little, too late. Too much structural damage has been done to believe that CRS/LAJF can ride off into a comfortable fiscal sunset on a bicycle, when one needs a supercharged Ferrari to generate sustainable revenue.

The over the top spending, dragged down by poor investment performance and an alienated Alumni body, especially in the older and wealthier population, has received no input in recent years from professional fundraising, since Ruth Ellen Rubin departed and her gracious, voluntary offer of assistance was summarily rejected by the Nita Luis/Pat O’Malley surrogate Richard Enemark. Until the senior Alumni body is won back — and by whom and by what combination of what effort is blowing in the wind — there is little realistic hope of regaining traction in contributions, and any thoughts to the
contrary must be dismissed as fantasy.

Human — The essence of an institution, and particularly CRS/LAJF, inherently and historically, has been its culture, its spirit, its collection of talented and diverse human beings whose sum has far exceeded its parts. Under the guidance of Freddie, George Ames, Mandy Mascia and their successors CRS/LAJF bestrode the human spectrum, like a colossus, full of excitement, enthusiasm, anticipation and achievement, with the financial underpinning to sustain it in recurring 7 week traditional programs at the two traditional venues — enough time and place to exercise, to experiment, to exploit the individual and collective potential of the two genders of Campers. Within the last decade, with the financial decline in the fortunes of CRS/LAJF, a decline has necessarily set in in the length of the Camp season and with it the nature and extent of the program and the opportunities mentioned above. You simply cannot shoehorn a 7 week program into 4 weeks and to pretend otherwise is to do a disservice to the nature and character of CRS and the hopes and aspirations of the Campers, most of whom admittedly may not have known any different or better (except perhaps anecdotally from elders), but whom, in good conscience, are not entitled to be shortchanged.

For better or worse, but realistically nevertheless, the human factor and financial factors are inextricably intertwined. Unless and until the humans are reconnected to CRS/LAJF, the money will not be forthcoming; and without the money the unique human project that is CRS will wither and die. It is past time for the self-perpetuating arrogant father knows best oligarchy exemplified by Nita Luis and Pat O’Malley to retire from the stage and let other, more open, flexible and trusting young folk to take the reins. They can’t do worse than you and the odds are they will do a lot better. If CRS/LAJF will put its faith in open, universal suffrage, directors will be elected by vote of the entire CRS Community, the members of the CRS Community will feel energized and engaged and their contributions will begin to flow back in. The O’Malley mantra of give before you can participate is backwards, perverse and at fundamental odds with the inclusive spirit of CRS — did Freddie ever demand payment in order to attend Camp? It is even conceivable that enough money may be raised and prudently administered to permit CRS RH to be reopened. Wouldn’t that be something to celebrate?

Intangible — An essential intangible element is trust. In any relationship, individual or institutional. Regrettably, trust was seriously breached in the past two successive years at CRS/LAJF: in 2014 with the secretive, destructive “New Dawn” and in 2015 with the Board’s turnabout and betrayal of those who had sweated and striven to raise the necessary money to reopen RH in reliance on the
Board’s promise and the financial figures and timing they had supplied. The extent that that trust was breached — not once, but twice — and the extent of the damage it caused, has not been fully measured and certainly — and unfortunately — not properly acknowledged by the Board, much less sought to be repaired in a forthright, meaningful way. Until that happens, and tangible efforts are made to
restore the essential intangible of trust, the Board will continue to engage in a charade in which it listens only to itself and makes the Court of Louis XVI at Versailles, by comparison, a model of sensitive understanding and response to its subjects.

And as a combined postscript to the Financial and to Trust, where Nita Luis is the balance of your pledge of $500,000 — the pledge you made with so much ballyhoo on the glossy pages of the old Sundial? The last I knew, you had ponied up about $110,000. By my Neanderthal math, that’s far short of $500,000. Three years is my recollection of your time frame for payment. 2017 is fast upon us. What are you waiting for? Godot? CRS/LAJF is owed an explanation. More than that it is owed the money. And I don’t have to tell you, as a lawyer, that your pledge is legally enforceable. Your minions made that perfectly clear in the documentation for the RH Sprint to 2015. And the fiduciary duty of the Board of LAJF is to enforce and collect your pledge. Sauce for the ganders is sauce for the goose.

My wishes for the CRS Community in 2017 are all and only for the best.
My hope is that events will give my wishes concrete reality,

Seth Frank
CRS RH Camper ’48 &49
LAJF Director 1980’s, 1990’s
Presently LAJF Director Emeritus

Letter to the Board from Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP
Buildings & Grounds Committee Statement

September 26, 2014

Dear Members of the Board,

Thank you for your efforts regarding the CRS Summit presentation made on September 6, 2014. As an advisory committee to the LAJF Board of Directors, the Buildings and Grounds committee submits this “Statement of Recommendations” for your consideration as you meet this weekend in relation to the current issues at hand.

On Saturday September 20, 2014 the B&G committee held a conference call to formulate these recommendations. A quorum was reached with 5 of the 8 active members present. We hope you will find our recommendations helpful. The meeting was attended by:

Stephen Bang ’65, ’66, ’80C, ’81C, ’82C (former Red Hook Caretaker & retired master carpenter, Vanderbilt Mansion, National Park Service)

J.C. Calderon ’81, ’82, ’84K (Registered Architect, AIA member & B&G Chair)

John Litsios ’35, ’36, ’37, ’38, ’46 CD (former Board member, former B&G Chair & 1946 Camp Director)

Jonathan Robertson 97, ’98, ’05C (Professional Engineer – Mechanical)

Mickey Seabrook ’70 (former Board member, former B&G Chair & Professional Engineer – Civil)

Not in attendance were:

Kathy Flynn ’74M, ’75M, ’76M, ’04M, ’05M, ’06M, ’07M, ’08M (Red Hook Medical Director)

Rick Rodgers ’02C, ’03C, ’04S (Former Red Hook & Stendis Caretaker)

Michael Saratovsky ’98, ’99 (General Contractor)

Statement of Recommendations to Ensure the Camp Rising Sun Legacy

The materials developed as part of the Board’s current “Strategic Plan” and submitted at the CRS Summit on September 6, 2014 were distributed to the committee members prior to the meeting.

The options the Board is considering including the sale of one or both camp sites was extensively reviewed.

The following include our main concerns and recommendations:

  1. In general the committee urges the Board to not make an irreversible decision at this time. We are not convinced that the situation requires a decision such as the sale of assets. We believe the annual expenses can be lowered even more than the noted $150,000 decrease. Upon further clarification with past Board members including Steve Lorenz ’79, ’80, ’84C (former Chair of the Finance & Investment Committee, Treasurer & Board Member), it was noted that the Board’s annual expenses have more than doubled since the 1990s. Yet no major change in the program or properties has occurred in that time. We believe something has gone severely wrong with the current approved annual expenses. We request a further review of the spending practices with a 20 year analysis to see how spending can be decreased to meet the precedent of the 1990s.
  1. We are not clear where the stated “necessary deferred maintenance” costs originate from and would like more clarification on the basis of these numbers. The stated million dollar backlog for deferred maintenance ($650,000 at Red Hook & $350,000 at Clinton) does not correspond to our assessment of what is necessary for the properties. It may be a wish list, but we do not believe that it is a necessary amount. These numbers are new to us as a committee and we do not understand why these numbers were determined without our input.
  1. There are currently no major repairs or construction projects urgently needed – not even one roof. We believe the $3-6 million plus estimated cost to renovate Red Hook is overstated. This amount is suggested as a renovation cost yet it includes new facilities which have not been considered since 2007. The basis of the $1-3 million renovation cost for Clinton is also unknown to us. Again, while we recognize there are some legitimate deferred maintenance needs, we believe these stated amounts largely overestimate what is needed for the program to succeed and should not be the justification for the selling of assets.
  1. We recommend more examination by the Board to diminish current annual expenses. It is our understanding that the Madison Ave office real estate has not provided a return on investment in terms of outside donations. If not, we recommend that the Board reconsider relocating the office to the camp sites. What are the current plans for the NYC office? We would like more clarification on the current expenses in general (combined costs including NYC office, staff salaries, benefits, etc). As noted previously, we recommend a 20 year analysis to indicate how expenses and endowment spending have changed. The materials submitted did not provide information prior to 2009.
  1. The facility is not a class A facility but it need not be to run legally. John Litsios ’35, ’36, ’37, ’38, ’46 CD pointed out that the founder’s intention was never to provide a “plush” facility. Stephen Bang ’65, ’66, ’80C, ’81C, ’82C noted that the founder’s intention was to have a facility that was “of and by the campers – it is yours to mold”. Jonathan Robertson ’97, ’98, ’05C stated that the condition of the facilities is not as “dire” as suggested in the Summit materials based on the committee’s physical review of the grounds on June 21, 2014 at the last B&G site meeting. See attached report.
  1. The committee believes the association and memory of “place” is directly related to the continued and potential donations by alumni. We believe the sale of those assets can adversely affect those connections and may have the unintended effect of decreasing alumni donations.
  1. To reiterate, we recognize that change is necessary but we believe the maintenance costs required at this time are substantially less than presented. We also feel a large part of the change needed at this time is a review of expenses and a sincere belt tightening of such expenses.
  1. We also feel part of the long term solution could be to sell part of the Red Hook site that has never been used for the program. See attached map of Red Hook property. We would be happy to further review parts of the site that could be sold in the future. However, it was agreed that now is not a seller’s market in the Red Hook area and we would not support such a decision until the real estate market improved substantially.

We all agree it is a critical point in CRS history. As you discuss a new dawn for Camp Rising Sun, we hope you will reconsider your assumptions, carefully weigh these recommendations and anticipate the unintended consequences of your actions.

For your reference, attached is the B&G site report of our last visit on June 21, 2014 completed by Jonathan Robertson, PE. Also attached are Forestry Surveys for both sites and the Red Hook septic plan shared by Mickey Seabrook, PE.

We are also sharing this email with some CRS friends with the hope that more alumni contribute to these discussions.

The B&G’s next site visit of both camps will be held on October 25, 2014 at 9:30am starting at Red Hook. Please join us if you can.

Thank you again.

Very truly yours,

J.C. Calderon, AIA, LEED AP BD+C ’81, ’82, ’84, B&G Committee Chair

Stephen Bang ’65, ’66, ’80C, ’81C, ’82C

John Litsios ’35, ’36, ’37, ’38, ’46 CD

Jonathan Robertson, PE, ’97, ’98, ’05C

Mickey Seabrook, PE, ’70

Buildings & Grounds committee

Louis August Jonas Foundation, Inc.


Response from the LAJF Board

From: O’Malley, Patrick

Date: Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Subject: Re: Statement of Recommendations from the LAJF Buildings & Grounds committee

To: J.C. Calderon

Dear JC,

This is actually not at all helpful to us, and indeed is counterproductive to the work of the BOD and the LAJF. We did not specifically seek committee input on this, though I understand and appreciate all the concerns and intent. We did seek, as you know, broader input from the entire alumni committee and alumni associations already. And, we have taken all feedback SERIOUSLY in the context of the broader issues.

As a Chair of a major committee that serves the board, it is inappropriate for you to be engaging your committee in activities that are not concordant or in concert with the board or staff. Worse, it is inappropriate to be copying others who are not members of your committee or the BOD on such important and sensitive matters.

Please cease and desist in this email communication on this topic. In the future, please coordinate all committee activities and communications with staff and me. We need to be working together as a unified foundation. Your role as Chair is to serve the Executive Director and staff in carrying out the work directed by the Board. If you do not feel you can follow these expectations, please let me know ASAP. I’d be happy to chat more if you like (301-437-9357).

Pat

German Alumni Association Position Paper

Position Paper on the Current Situation of Camp Rising Sun
German Alumni Association


Date: 27. November 2014

Contact: info@camprisingsun.de

Homepage: http://www.camprisingsun.de


To the LAJF Board of Directors and the CRS Community:

During our annual reunion from 21. November until 23. November in Monschau, Germany, we, the German Alumni Association, discussed the current situation of Camp Rising Sun (CRS). With this paper we wish to summarize and share our joint position derived from this discussion.

First, we want to position ourselves regarding a number of general issues.

  • We endorse a respectful and constructive discussion style, in both face-to-face and digital exchanges in social networks, such as Facebook. We respectfully ask the entire CRS Community to do the same.
  • We fully support the LAJF Borad of Directors’ (henceforth referred to as ‘the Board’) chief objective of seeking and securing the financial sustainability of CRS. In this regard we endorse the special executive role of the Board, particularly if decisions must be made swiftly, as well as our advisory role as an alumni association.
  • We want to thank the Board for putting the sale of the camp properties on hold and for reacting promptly to alumni concerns in this regard.
  • We expect the Board and the Petition Group to contructively work together towards a common solution, and to be aware that compromises will have to be made by all parties.
  • We acknowledge the requsts by some members of the CRS Community to critically assess the organizational structure of the Board, but propose to postpone any such discussion until the current crisis is overcome.
  • We call upon the CRS Community to seek a strategy that will allow us to mutually secure the future of CRS.

Second, we conclude that we cannot formulate a definitive position on the current situation of CRS, in large because of lacking or unclear information. To this end we kindly ask the Board to respond to the following questions.

  • How reliable are the figures presented in the financial documents on the current state of the CRS programme? More specifically, how reliable are the renovation cost estimates for the Red Hood and Clinton campuses? Additionally, how reliable are the property valuations of the Red Hood and Clinton Campuses?
  • As of now, are there alternative properties which could be purchased besides the camp ground in Pennsylvania, which, to our knowledge, is no longer on the market? If yes, when could these be purchased and at what prices?
  • How has the Board ensured that all available resources by the wider CRS Comunity have been fully harnessed to address the present crisis? Can some renovation measures be executed by our own resources?
  • Which renovation measures are most urgent? Can certain measures be postponed? Would it be possible to involve volunteers from the CRS Community to carry out parts of the renovation measures?
  • Why did professional fund raising efforts fail to increase annual donations to LAJF?
  • In an email from October 17, 2014 we were informed that expenses have remained flat for the last 15 years, when adjusted for inflation. We were also informed during the World Reunion in Hungary that LAJF did not lose any funds as a result of the 2007/2008 financial crisis and the consequent collapse of Lehman Brothers. What remains unclear is why has the alarming financial situation emerged now, not earlier? Furthermore, what is the basis for the Board’s claim that costs have increased while expenses have remained flat? This crucial point requires a more detailed explanation.

Third, we nevertheless take the following stance based on the information available to us.

  • Many of us sense a danger of drifting apart as a community, at a time when standing shoulder to shoulder is imperative. We must all accept that there will have to be concessions to find a long-term solution.
  • Many of us feel that, at least up until recently, there has appeared to be a lack of transparency and communication. Many of us, for examply, are of the impression that the way the current financial situation of LAJF is presented in the last Sundial publication does not reflect the apparent urgency of the underlying situation. This is why the crisis caught many of us by surprise.
  • Some of us are also dissatisfies with the way the Board has dealt with questions regarding the underlying assumptions and projections of the quantitative figured. Concerns were voiced that the Board may have appeared somehwat unwilling to question its own assumptions. Numbers are never merely ‘the numbers.’
  • We recognize the severity of the current situation, and will support measures deemed absolutely necessary to secure the future of CRS. More specifically, we would back a decision to relocate the programmes to different campuses of to sell one campus and operate the programmes in altering seasons, if CRS could not survive otherwise.

Fourth, there are, however, the following measures which we strictly oppose.

  • We cannot support measures to raise tuition, even in the form of Need-Blind Admissions, and reject the idea of reforming CRS into a coeducational programme. Both of these measures, we feel, would undermine important aspects of the CRS programme.
  • Additionally, we vehemently oppose permanently reducing the duration of the programme to four weeks, in part because four weeks are insufficient time for non-native speakers to fully integrate into an English-speaking community. That being said, we acknowledge that next season, which, to our understandning will be two consecutive four-week programmes, will have to be an exception.

Finally, because we belive in transparency, we ourselves want to be as transparent as possible. Currently, our endowment is US $17,000. We endorse the goal to double fund raising efforts by alumni, which could substantially contribute to closing the foundation’s annual financial gap. Although we unfortunately do not have the financial means to cover the total costs for both German campers next season, we do not want to double our dontation efforts and therefore pledge to give a minimum of US $5,000 (US $3,000 from our endowment, plus an additional US $2,000 from private donations, the CRS Lemon Challenge matching grant and Christmas CD record sales).

Camp Rising Sun means a lot to all of us. We call upon the CRS Community to bond together in these difficult times, and to face the current challenge “entschlossen” and “geschlossen,” that is to say, decisively and jointly. After all, we are all campers for life and in pursuit of the same goal: to secure the long-lasting future of Camp Rising Sun and our unique global community.

–The German Alumni Association

Email from French Alumni Association

From: Olivier Gillet

Date: 2014-11-24 14:52 GMT+01:00

Subject: Financial situation of LAJF

To: Christina Busso

Dear Christina,

As I told you earlier last week, we held an Alumni meeting in Paris yesterday. Those attending this meeting were:

Samy Bessais, RH 2014

Nicolas Cervoni, RH 2007

André Dos Reis Pires, RH 2013

Auréia Dreux, S 2006 2007

Léonard Grellier, RH 2012

Cyrille Hanappe, RH 1985

Ophélie Larcher, C 2010

Lionel Sadoun, RH 2005

Inès Sahoun, C 2014

Steven Shirek, RH 1957

Olivier Gillet, RH 1957

Aurélia Dreux and Ophélie Larcher went to the world meeting in Hungary last summer and Cyrille Hanappe attended last July Alumni weekend.

Of course we discuss about LAJF financial situation and this is how we feel.

It’s at the world meeting that some of us first learnt about the difficult financial situation and it was such a surprise that the meeting agenda had to be changed to allow to give some more information.

I first heard about the problem on September 1st through a mail from Julie Schwarch, one of the French Alumni who is on Facebook which is not my case.

According to us, this situation didn’t occur within a night and we regret that suddenly «enormous» changes have to be made to Camp organization. Although we don’t know LAJF board members, we are sure that they have tried to work as best as they could in the interest of LAJF but some of us are questioning their management up to now. I know that a French proverb says «la critique est aisée mais l’art est difficile» but never the less…

We assume that board members recruitment is done by the board itself without the Alumni having to say anything and this may also be a problem.

We would like LAJF to stick to basic CRS values: diversity, friendship, leadership, compassion for others.

But we include in CRS values: scholarship, a seven-week camp (a four-week camp is not long enough to allow for a good comprehension of basic CRS values) and at least Red Hook.

We are ready to accept to have only one camp for boys and one camp for girls alternatively every two years in the future rather than selling Red Hook and moving to Pennsylvania.

On these bases, why don’t LAFJ keep only Red Hook with a 7 week camp for boys and girls alternating?

Kind regards,

Olivier

Statement from Polish CRS Alumni Association

Warsaw, December 17, 2014

Dear Board Members of the Louis August Jonas Foundation,

On the 14th of December, 2014, the Polish Camp Rising Sun Alumni Association held an extraordinary general meeting. The document below contains a jointly developed position relating to the recent activities of the Board of LAJF, as well as recommendations concerning the future of LAJF and CRS.

Our position is based on the following three objectives:

  • Efficient fulfillment of program goals (diversity, education, leadership, service);
  • Ensuring the continuity of CRS;
  • Ensuring the financial stability of LAJF and CRS during the decades to come.

In our opinion, it is impossible to fulfill the first of the objectives if the following changes to the CRS program are introduced:

Permanent shortening of the camp season to 4 weeks.
We believe that such a short period of time is insufficient to:

  • organize all activities necessary to successfully integrate the participants;
  • create a lasting sense of brotherhood and sisterhood;
  • overcome the language barrier faced by non-English speaking camp participants (on this issue we fully agree with the German Alumni Association)

Co-location (and/or co-education).
We believe that:

  • it will be impossible or extremely difficult to create powerful social bonds which are fundamental to the functioning of CRS;
  • this solution will be very hard to implement in practice and will require additional time and energy from counselors.

Whereas we appreciate the work that Board has been doing for many years, including the efforts it has made up to date in order to save CRS, and we respect the personal opinions of the Board members, we would like to turn your attention to certain issues presented below. These are extremely important to us, and in our opinion, make it hard to reach an effective agreement between the associations of CRS alumni and the Board. Although we are looking at the situation from the outside, using our best knowledge and will, we would like to submit for your consideration the following recommendations.

Communication and Alumni Engagement

As active alumni (campers for life) we would like to have a real influence on decisions concerning the CRS program. However, reaching an agreement between alumni and the Board seems impossible in a situation where no constructive debate is taking place and we are presented with a fait accompli. We are also astonished by the fact that in the fundraising letters, which have been sent out, there is absolutely no mention of changes that are to be introduced into the CRS program. We believe that all alumni deserve to obtain regular trustworthy and up to date information about the organization which they generously support in a number of ways.

We greatly appreciate that on 16th December, the Board announced a series of decisions, which acknowledge the position of alumni concerned about the sale of assets and modification to the program structure. We find this new approach most encouraging and we are awaiting more.

  • We postulate that fixed platforms ensuring successful communication between the Board and the alumni associations are established, and that we are given the possibility to efficiently express our opinion on the activity of the Board;
  • We suggest that the Board should consider accepting help offered by the alumni, as they definitely constitute a significant base of intellectual capital and of financial resources, the capital which is now insufficiently used;
  • We believe that excluding older alumni, who are capable of offering to CRS the largest amounts of money, as a consequence of the decision to sell the camps in Red Hook and/or in Clinton and of limited communication, may result in a reduced income from donations; recent months have seen an unprecedented mobilization of elder alumni which shows to what extent they are emotionally bound to the sites where the camp operated for so many years.

Financial outcomes and transparency

As campers for life, we would like to know what exactly is happening to our second home… Therefore, we postulate that LAJF makes public its finances to date, as well as the financial analyses (including their exact sources) that convinced the Board to introduce changes to the CRS program. In particular, we postulate that the following information is published:

  1. Data explaining the consistent rise of administrative costs during the last years, while camp maintenance costs have remained at the same level (Annex 1.);
  2. Data explaining the high costs per camper (c. $15,000);
  3. A detailed description of the “alumni programming” costs;
  4. A detailed analysis of Clinton and Red Hook renovation costs, describing all the necessary renovation works, on a breakdown basis;
  5. Evaluations showing unequivocally whether selling the original camp(s) ground and creating a camp in a new location is the optimal solution and would solve LAJF’s financial problems in a sustainable way;
  • We believe that at this point we should look for a solution that will guarantee LAJF/CRS long-term financial stability; we would like to express our fear that the proposed sale of camp(s) ground may be a temporary solution and result in the end of CRS;
  • We think that the Board should consider reviewing and reducing administrative spending effective immediately, since according to our knowledge it is administrative spending that to a great extent underlies the current significant budget deficit; we believe that LAJF should seek all possible ways to keep the endowment intact;
  • We suggest that reducing the costs of hiring counselors (and other staff) may be reached through the efficient promotion of volunteering (or part-time employment) among alumni from the US (summer job) and from abroad (work and travel programs); we are against the reduction of positions and we emphasize the crucial role of counselors and their relationship with the campers.

Conclusions

We are deeply concerned about the quality of the new camp program and its organization. We are also greatly worried about the other announced changes. We are hoping that our suggestions will be considered by the Board and we are hoping to hear from you soon. We believe that our opinions and concerns are shared by many international alumni that we collaborate with and that have already presented their statements to LAJF.

In 2015, we are planning to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the new CRS program changes based on the experiences of Polish (and international) campers. In the assessment we will focus on the 4 fundamental goals of CRS which are the core of Freddy’s vision, as well as on the financial aspects of running the camp in the new form. However, we expect the at least 7-week program to be restored in the 2016 season, separately for girls and boys. Should the Board continue with the 4-week program, we will discuss our future support for and participation in LAJF/CRS.

Polish Camp Rising Sun Alumni Association (PCRSAA)

The PCRSAA gathers 83 CRS alumni and a dozen supporters. Due to the commitment and hard work of the Management Board and CRS enthusiastic alumni, the Association has been very active for 20 years. Despite our limited resources, we manage to cover selection costs and plane tickets for Polish candidates with the help of member contributions. Furthermore, several Polish alumni living abroad (e.g. US) regularly donate considerable amounts directly to LAJF. We believe that Polish campers are a valuable asset to CRS, greatly contributing to Camp’s diversity, and we have always been very proud to be part of the unique community that is Camp Rising Sun!

Dear Board of LAJF,

We fully appreciate the gravity of LAJF’s current financial situation. We consider it a shared problem of the entire Camp Rising Sun community. We strongly believe that together we can create a platform for understanding and combine our efforts to reach a consensus about optimal solutions for the organization. Please, let’s keep the fire burning!

Best wishes,

Polish Camp Rising Sun Alumni Association

Statement from CRS Alumni Association of Finland

Camp Rising Sun Alumni Association of Finland
CRSAAF statement

The Camp Rising Sun Alumni Association of Finland (CRSAAF) has discussed the New Dawn plan introduced by the Board of Directors by the L. A. Jonas Foundation in its annual meeting on December 4th, 2014, in Helsinki. The CRSAAF has been dedicated to supporting the Camp Rising Sun summer program for more than six decades through camper selection and other activities. We, the members of the CRSAAF, wish to see the CRS program continue in the future for decades to come.

We deplore the divisions and bad feelings, which have emerged as a result of the poor communication by the Board of Directors in regard to the decision to sell the current campuses. However we are glad that the Board of Directors decided to postpone the sale of Red Hook. We urge the Board of Directors to pledge a commitment in engaging the alumni organizations in the strategic decision making of the LAJF activities in an advisory capacity. As has been strongly discussed in the past weeks, the communication between the alumni organizations and the Board of Directors has been non-existent. The information regarding such drastic changes should be well communicated to all alumni associations and this should be done well in advance before making such big decisions.

While we understand that there may be a need to relocate the camps in the near future, we are gravely concerned of the consequences that such a drastic move, executed in overly urgent manner, will have on further alienating many alumni/ae. The historical and emotional value of the current camp sites, especially that of the Red Hook campus, must not be disregarded. If the camps must be relocated, let it be done in a way, which allows for the necessities to be accepted by at least the large majority, if not all, alumni/ae.

We strongly recommend the Board to examine all the counter-arguments, which have recently emerged, questioning the unfeasibility of continuing activities in Red Hook campus (i.e. need for new facilities, traffic safety, and risk of Lyme Disease). We recommend the Board to engage all its committees and advisory bodies fully in this process. We expect the Board to communicate the results of these examinations in a transparent manner to all.

The CRSAAF does not at this time support experimenting with new programmatic options, such as shortening the season to four weeks or enlarging the number of campers from the current 60. We are afraid that a shortened (4-week) camp season would offer a much inferior experience for the campers, which would in turn harm the public image of the CRS program and weaken the dedication of the alumni/ae to support the alumni/ae activities. We understand that the decision of shortening the camp season has already been made yet we strongly emphasize that in the future decisions like these should not be made as fast as this was made.

A common opinion within the Finnish Alumni Association was also to ensure the continuum of the program as Freddie imagined. We are afraid that drastic changes might affect the program. It is crucial to clearly list the goals and the manners of working which must continue in the future. Before making any strategic decisions which could impact the future of the CRS program the Board of Directors should gather feedback from a larger group of alumni/ae in order to maintain their continued support and in order to create a stronger feeling of ownership towards the program. We understand that collecting opinions from thousands of individual alumni/ae is difficult, and therefore suggest instead that the best way of collecting alumni/ae views is through the existing alumni organizations.

Currently, the main function of the alumni associations is camper selection. This is a crucial function for the future of the CRS program. Linking the alumni associations tighter into the strategic decision making of the LAJF in an advisory capacity would strengthen the engagement of the alumni associations which would be beneficial for fund raising purposes, as well. With committed alumni associations the Board of Directors would also widen its horizons and most likely create a more unified alumni/ae.

The CRSAAF respectfully offers these views for consideration of the LAJF Board of Directors, and in the spirit of transparency and cooperation wishes to make them known to the entire Camp Rising Sun alumni/ae body.

Passed at the Camp Rising Sun Alumni Association of Finland annual meeting on December 4th, 2014.

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