Oral Histories

Oral histories are one way that the museum honors the stories of its community and preserves institutional memory. The interviews featured on this page were recorded by Ed Hamblin between 1986 and 2005. Audio editing was completed by Kawanhee counselor Forrest Weihe. Eventually, we aim to publish transcriptions of each interview. If you are interested in helping the museum with this process, please contact us by email.

Clarence “Bates” Bateman, 1978

Bates worked at Kawanhee from the late 1920s until the early 1970s, making him one of five staff members who have spent over 50 summers at camp. As the longtime head of the tripping department, Bates was instrumental in establishing Kawanhee’s annual trip to Monhegan Island. He is also remembered for driving Bates’ Bouncing Buggy, the iconic camp van used until the late 1990s. 


Charles “Chuck” Windle, 1986

Chuck began at Kawanhee in 1936 as a day camper in Falcon Lodge, ultimately spending 13 years at camp as both camper and counselor. Many of Chuck’s relatives were also Kawanheeans: his grandfather, Ralph Marshall (interviewed below), portrayed Chief Kawanhee for many years; his father, Hal Windle, worked in range; his uncle, Bob Studebaker, worked in the shop and another uncle of Chuck’s was a riding instructor.


Hal Myers, 1986

Hal Myers was a longtime Kawanhee camper, counselor and staff member. He attended Princeton University where he was a drum major in the marching band. Later, he became a minister. He occasionally gave talks at Kawanhee’s Sunday Services. His daughter, Judy Hoffhine, briefly worked in the archery department.


Ralph Marshall, 1986

Ralph Marshall was one of Camp Kawanhee’s original counselors, likely beginning in 1921. He portrayed Chief Kawanhee for many years and, for this reason, was nicknamed Chief Marshall. 


Walter Estabrook, 1986

Walter Estabrook began as a camper in the late 1930s and and later worked in archery. As an adult, he sent his three sons—John, Richard and Jimmy—to Kawanhee and his daughter to Camp Kineowatha in nearby Wilton, ME. In 1969, Walter and his wife Jane, along with a group of investors, bought Camp Kawanhee from the Frank brothers. The Estabrooks served as camp directors for over 30 years. 


James “Jim” Kurtz, 1992

Jim began coming to Kawanhee during its very first season: the summer of 1921. He had grown up only three blocks away from George Frank in Columbus, Ohio and his father had come to know Mr. Frank through their mutual involvement in the Columbus school system. Jim’s older brother, Charles, also came to Kawanhee. In his interview, Jim reminisces on day off trips to Québec with the camp nurse and the year that camp weathered an outbreak of scarlet fever.


Peter Strachan, 1992

Peter first came to Kawanhee in 1941 as a 10-year-old in Panther Lodge. According to Peter, every camper in his lodge that year was new and his two counselors, both from Columbus, “had their hands full.” The Strachans were from Tenafly, New Jersey and family friends with Raymond and Franny Frank.


Peter Van den Honert, 1998

Peter was Kawanhee’s swimming director from 1974 – 2006. In the off season, he was a Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He also directed the choir at Kawanhee. Peter’s wife, Nancy, worked as Kawanhee’s baker for many years. Later, she taught herself archery and became an assistant in the archery department. 


Dick Miller, 1999

Dick first came to camp as a camper in the 1940s. He was captain of the Maroons in 1948, which is the only year that there has ever been a tie in the Grey and Maroon competition; both teams earned 16,632 points. In the off season, Dick was a Professor of Economics at Wesleyan University, teaching for over 40 years. Dick’s father was Dean Miller, who worked at Kawanhee from 1925 to 1964 and is remembered for his inspirational talks at Sunday Services. Excerpts from these talks are available in Maine Echoes. Dick Miller’s brother is rumored to have been responsible for the disappearance of both boxing and horseback riding, after getting injured in both activities. 


Reed Murphy, 1999

Reed, hailing from Englewood, New Jersey, first came to camp in 1929. He was 9 years old and placed in Falcon Lodge with Van Eakes as his counselor. By his third year at Kawanhee—1933, as he has missed the 1931 and 1932 seasons due to the depression—he earned the high point award. Reed’s brother was also a longtime Kawanheean. He began at camp in 1926 after a doctor recommended that he travel to Maine to relieve his asthma. He returned for the next 11 years, ultimately leading the Dramatics department.


Robert “Zeke” Zechiel, 2005

Zeke started at Kawanhee in 1965, as a camper in Bear Lodge. He eventually became Head of Archery and also wrote the Log for many years. His wife, Candy, worked in Nature. Together, they were Camp Parents and lived in what is now the Camp Mother’s cabin.


George Frank, 1977

George Frank and his brother Raymond founded Camp Kawanhee in 1920. More information on the brothers can be found in the virtual exhibit To Be Frank(s).


Stephen “Steve” Yale, undated

Steve started at Kawanhee as a camper in Polecat Lodge in the late 1960s. He was a talented wrestler, competing both here and at the University of Maine at Orono. He also worked in tripping before being named Director of Activities in the 1980s and, later, Assistant Director. He served as the first president of the Frank Foundation and remains on the Board of Directors today. Steve and his wife Diana’s generous contributions helped establish the Camp Kawanhee History Museum.


Mike Altmaier, 1998

Mike started at Kawanhee in 1964 as a camper in Badger Lodge. He and his brother B.A. Altmaier continue to be active camp employees today, making the pair two of the five staff members who have spent over 50 summers at camp. Though Mike has occupied a variety of roles, including Director of Activities, he is currently tennis director and the author of the Log. He also runs trivia, ping pong and board game tournaments, and a trading card club. Most noteworthy, however, is Mike’s vast knowledge of all things Kawanhee; he serves as a camp historian, curating exhibits in the Museum and delivering a history presentation at the beginning of each summer.


Mark Standen, 1985

Mark started at Kawanhee in 1960, as a camper in Eagle Lodge. He continued to attend camp for the next 23 summers, progressing to wrestling instructor, trip leader and Director of Activities. From 2003 to 2005, Mark served as President of the George and Raymond Frank Foundation. Currently, he and his wife Liz are Executive Directors of the George and Raymond Frank Foundation. Their sons, Jed and Alex, have attended camp for many years as campers and counselors.