Jacques (Jack) Steinberg: The Impact of CWW On My Life
So much of who I am, and what I value, I can trace back to my first summer at CWW and the nine summers that followed.
It was during my first summer at Walt Whitman, in 1976, that I had my first byline in a newspaper – Walt’s Weekly. I happened to be on the scene at the waterfront as a bunk counselor named Eddie Schneider joined a maintenance team attempting to help relocate a long, heavy stretch of pipe. Suddenly, the rusty pipe slipped, cutting Eddie’s hand badly and drawing more than a little blood. Eddie may not have been in the right place at the right time, but I was. I got the story, wrote it up and soon had the thrill of seeing my name and words set in type. I was 10, and I was hooked.
I would continue to work as a journalist for the next four decades, graduating from Walt’s Weekly (which I edited as a counselor) to the monthly paper at my high school and the daily paper at my college, and, finally, The New York Times. At The Times, I served as a reporter, blogger and editor for nearly a quarter century, ending in 2013, when I embarked on a second act as an executive at an education nonprofit.
But camp didn’t just put me on the path to a career. Camp also provided me with a pool of mentors on whom I rely to this day, including Steve Cohen (the acting camp director for most of my summers, and the best teacher I have ever encountered) and Jon Elsen (my editor at Walt’s Weekly and later a colleague at The Times), as well as Jon Moskin (my Bunk 1 counselor) and Ed Redlich (my counselor in Bunk 4). At age 13, after a five-day traverse from camp to Hanover along the Appalachian Trail, I decided that it would be fun to go to Dartmouth someday if I was fortunate to gain admission. After celebrating that hike with my brother, AJ, and our other bunkmates with an oversized sundae at the Ice Cream Machine in Hanover, Dartmouth seemed, at least to my adolescent eyes, the equivalent of going to camp year-round. I went on to graduate from Dartmouth in 1988, and I also got to share a dorm room all four years with Jon Danziger, whose bed was across from mine in Bunk 1 and who was on that same traverse.
In addition to lifelong friends, camp also instilled in me a love of the outdoors and of being on the water, preferably in a kayak on a lake like Armington. And, happily, camp continues to be a part of my life. In 1984, their first summer as owners of CWW, Bill and Jancy tapped me for the high-profile assignment of being Jed’s bunk counselor. Jed and I not only remain good friends but also neighbors, in Larchmont, NY. In the summer of 2012, as I weighed whether to leave my dream job as a Times education journalist for a new adventure in the nonprofit world, Jed and Carolyn invited me back to camp for a week to think things through – provided I would take on my old job, as editor of Walt’s Weekly. Much to Jed’s chagrin, it turned out to be a big news week, as the camp’s freshwater well suddenly went bone-dry after decades of reliable service. I am proud to say that the team of camper investigative journalists we assembled got to the bottom of that story – and that they made deadline, with copies of the paper, literally hot off the press, handed out to parents as they arrived for visiting day.