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November 15, 2007
Open Exhibition at River's End Bookstore
"Camp Hollis: Stories from a Child's Heart"
Discussing the production of "Camp Hollis: Stories from a Child's Heart" is Jim Arnold, AmeriCorps; Alysa Koloms, SUNY Oswego and Jim Farfaglia; Oswego City-County Youth Bureau. The exhibition takes place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 29 at the river's end bookstore in Oswego.
Oswego - The river's end bookstore is hosting an open exhibition celebrating the history of Camp Hollis on Thursday, November 29 at 7 p.m. at West First and Bridge Streets in Oswego. AmeriCorps, SUNY Oswego, Friends of Camp Hollis and the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau worked together to create the retrospective exhibit, "Camp Hollis: Stories from a Child's Heart."
"One of the most satisfying parts of this job is being able to take part in cooperative efforts like this project," said Jim Farfaglia, Senior Youth Services Specialist with the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau. "Creating this lasting document for the camp has been one of the greatest experiences. This material is necessary to have as a tool in order to see the richness of the camp, including the changes we've gone through and where we'll go from here. It is so pleasing to have another tribute to Camp Hollis."
Farfaglia has long envisioned the development of this historical perspective, but time and effort stalled its progress until Alysa Koloms, an intern from SUNY Oswego, came to Camp Hollis. Wanting to be involved in this project, Koloms focused her internship on it and devoted herself to seeing it through.
Last summer, Koloms began contacting former campers, counselors and staff to talk with them about their experiences at Camp Hollis. In each interview, the former residents expressed sincere gratitude in having had the opportunity to go to camp and participate in the recreational programs that were offered.
"They never would have been able to do that without the involvement of the county and community. Those institutions worked so hard to make that possible," said Koloms. "One of my goals was to represent Camp Hollis as part of the larger community and show why it existed. The purpose of the camp is primarily altruistic and the fact that it still exists demonstrates the staying power that it has."
When the news of Koloms' work began to spread, many former residents came forward and wanted to get involved. In total, she interviewed over a dozen people who attended Camp Hollis between 1946 and the early 1960s.
"I loved everything about it," said Pat Pritchard, a former camp counselor from Oswego. "Whenever someone tells me they're going to work at Camp Hollis, I tell them, 'You'll always love it and you'll never forget it.'"
Koloms recorded each interview and the audiotapes became the soundtrack of the DVD being created by Jim Arnold, an AmeriCorps volunteer. To craft the visual portion of the DVD, he used video footage taken by the late Justice Eugene Sullivan, who re-opened the camp in 1946. Sullivan's daughter, Jane Sullivan Spellman, provided the archival material.
"This was such an exciting and amazing project to work on," said Arnold. "The video material was really relevant to the piece and it was a joy to put it together with Alysa's audio. I loved the way it came out. It looks and feels really great."
The DVD is a montage of cherished memories that includes learning archery, dance steps and the buddy system. Playing on the playground, swimming at the beach, singing around the campfire and taking part in ball games and boxing matches were all part of the experience at Camp Hollis. Most importantly, the DVD captures the camaraderie of the residents as they shared laughter, meals and prayer.
Keith Greeney, who attended Camp Hollis during the 1950s, may have said it best, "It did have a long-lasting impact on me. When I look back on my childhood, of all the various positive experiences I've had throughout my life, the one that stands out the most is Camp Hollis." Now living in Rhinebeck, N.Y., Greeney was happy to share his time and memories to see this project realized.
If you would like to obtain a copy of the DVD and booklet from the project, "Camp Hollis: Stories from a Child's Heart," they are available through the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau or at the river's end bookstore during the exhibition. While there is no fee for this commemorative material, a donation to the Friends of Camp Hollis will be appreciated.
If you have any questions or would like more information please call Jim Farfaglia of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau weekdays at 349-3450 or 1-800-596-3200 ext. 3450.
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