My Tyler Hill Family
My name is Eric (Above, on the left), and I am a Tyler Hill Alum. As you can see, my whole family is Tyler Hill! This is my story:
My father worked as one of the doctors at camp back in the 1960’s for a week or 2 each summer. I was a Wayne Hall baby and that was my 1st introduction to Tyler Hill. My parents were very close to the original owners, Bill Heft and Joe Bernstein. As my father’s medical practice grew, his availability to work at camp became more and more difficult. By the late 1960’s we stopped going to Tyler Hill altogether. But that didn’t last long! In 1970, I returned to THC and began my camping career at the age of 8 in Bunk 4 – The Rovers. My sister Ellen, who is 2 years younger than me, followed right behind in 1972. I continued on as a camper through 1977, was a waiter for 2 years ’78-’79, a counselor from ’80-’83 and the waiter group leader in ’84. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to be a Color War officer 3 times! 1981 – Lieutenant for Blue Mariners; 1982 – General White Rhythm and Blues; 1983 – Lieutenant White Fantastic Animals.
As a musician and songwriter, I wrote many songs for Boy’s Sing and Color War over the years at THC. It’s always a blast when I see a former camper of mine come up to me and start singing a camp song that I wrote.
After the summer of ’84 it was time to start my “real life” professional career. However, I still managed to return to THC every summer during the 1980’s to judge Color War. Then in 1990, I received a phone call in early July from Sy Sundick, the long-time girls head counselor, who was also a close family friend/mentor to me. He wanted to know if it was possible for me to come to camp for the last 6 weeks to replace their music director. I managed to work it out and returned to THC as their music director working with Bette Weisenthal who was the Drama Counselor that summer. Let me tell you, we had a blast!
I met my wife the following January and we got married in March 1992. While we were starting a life together, we continued to visit THC every summer. We were always welcomed with open arms by Franko and Karen, Bette, and the Leibowitz family. In 2005, my wife was hired to be a THC nurse and my kids would be going to camp, starting out the same way as I did. I couldn’t believe it. This was a dream come true. My son would be a Freshman in bunk 3 and my daughter would be a Freshman day camper. I soon learned that being a camp nurse was a tremendous undertaking and I had a newfound respect for the entire Health Center Staff at camp.
After that 1st Summer, Andy and Wendy took the reins over at THC and Andy asked me if I would be willing to play the piano in the dining room during dinner on Friday nights. He said he loved camp, the old camp songs, and camp spirit. I was SO honored. To this day, I still play on Friday nights at camp!
My wife is still a camp nurse at Tyler Hill, my daughter will be a Senior this summer, and my son will be a JC. It’s hard to believe that my son will be a counselor. Both my children love Tyler Hill so much. It has been such a joy to watch them grow-up at camp and have their own camp experiences.
I have cherished so many relationships that I’ve made at THC, both new and old. Andy and Wendy have been 1st class all the way. I’ve known Franco and his family since 1974 and every day I get to spend with him means the world to me. Bette and I have known each other since her 1st year in camp in 1979, and we still laugh about our time working together in the social hall. Mark Shale had been there almost as long as me, and he taught me how to waterski! Bill Lalin and his family have been so wonderful to us as well. And my friendship with Nick Williams is very special too. He started the same year we did as a family and I see how THC is now in his blood too. Chris Belz was my son’s 1st division leader and I remember my 1st conversation with him. He called to introduce himself before camp and I told him a little about my history. We still laugh about that conversation because I think we spoke for an hour. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, while Tyler Hill is a special place, it really comes down to the friendships you make. To this day, I still talk to so many of my Tyler Hill friends. It’s safe for me to say we love each other.
My involvement on the Hall of Fame committee has also been a source of tremendous joy to me. I was honored to be inducted a few years ago and I will never forget Andy’s speech at my induction. It brought me to tears because Tyler Hill means so much to me. One of my favorite responsibilities with the Hall of Fame committee is to call an inductee to notify them of their induction. Then, on Alumni Day, it is so heartwarming to see how much it means to those inducted, and to their friends and family.
If I had to name one favorite moment for me at camp, it would have to be in 1982 as the winning Color War General. My sister Ellen attended camp for many years also and she was a General on the opposing team Blue Country and Western. She would have you know that she won sing that year but I won the war. I will say, however, that my sister is a very talented singer/songwriter in her own right and did a fabulous job that year writing an alma mater that a lot of old THCers still sing to this day. She’s also in the THC Hall of Fame. It’s now become a ritual that my old camp chums make the trek to THC for Alumni Weekend every summer. It’s a big group and I can say without hesitation that no matter how much time goes by, we all share that common love for each other and for THC.
I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of Tyler Hill Camp. It has given me SO much and it’s my pleasure to give back any way I can. From Bill Heft, Marion and Jimmy Bongino, Sy, Selma and Paul Sundick to Steve and Karen Frank, Al & Arlene Liebowitz to Andy and Wendy Siegel, and Nick Williams and Mike Davidowitz, they have all been amazing and they have all made my life and my family’s life at THC something we wouldn’t trade for anything in the world!