Monday, November 7, 2022

The Place I Live: Silver Lake Camp/Hawkeye

silver lake camp in hawkeye
I have loved the Adirondacks since I was a camper at Silver Lake Camp in Hawkeye, NY in the 1960s. Though to be honest, I didn’t know how much I loved it until I realized at age 15 that unless I applied to be a CIT ( Counselor in Training), I couldn’t come back – I would be too old.
So maybe for the first time in my life, I really thought about what mattered to me.

silver lake camp brochure

And this is what I learned: I loved climbing the mountains, I loved the cold lake water, I loved the quiet (I grew up in New York City), I even loved what we ate when we reached the summit – triscuits, an orange, a slab of American cheese, a melting Hershey bar. And no water – we carried no water. No hiking boots – sneakers, usually wet after falling in a brook. Eventually I wore work boots. Things were different then but I loved it. I grew stronger and more nimble and more aware of the woods, the water, the sky, the rocks, the need for caution, the glorious joyful shout when I reached the top! I loved all this and much more.

I could go on and on but suffice to say, I did become a CIT and then a counselor and, years later, a 46er.  Most importantly, all my children love the Adirondacks too. I am deeply grateful to the late Betty Hicks and Hazel Kinzly, owners of Silver Lake Camp, for giving me this gift of time and place to grow up.
Thanks for this opportunity to reminisce.
— Ruth Gais

Editor’s note: Share what you love about your part of the Adirondacks. What makes it special? Send your “The Place I Live” commentary to Melissa Hart:

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at

9 Responses

  1. Bob Meyer says:

    With another heartfelt homage to the Adirondacks, this thread is becoming a
    wonderful testament to our great park!
    Thank you Melissa for creating it.

  2. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “I have loved the Adirondacks since I was a camper at Silver Lake Camp in Hawkeye, NY in the 1960s.”

    The Adirondacks have loomed large in my head ever since my mom and dad drove us kids up from Long Island way back in the early 1970s. That sacred haven may have slipped away from my mind once I started progressing into my teens and the girls started getting into my head, then the drugs……but the Adirondacks were never far away from me even if it were I was separated from them by two-thousand miles. This is especially more-so as the years creep up on me, as gray hairs and wrinkles, and a hobble in my gait, become more prominent theme’s about me. If I never step foot on Adirondack soil again they will remain forever with me so long as my mental faculties stay intact…… what fond memories are all about!

    • Bob Meyer says:

      My advice is to make sure you DO set foot in our sacred Adirondacks, from wherever you are. I’ve never missed a calendar year in the Park, even if it was a cold rainy day in November; even if it was a quick trip while living in Jerusalem, Israel. You owe it to yourself.

  3. margot fassler says:

    Beautiful essay! I would very much like to be in touch with the author, Ruth Gais.

  4. Lovely essay. I was a counselor at Silver Lake Camp for three summers from 1970-72 and have many fond memories of both Misses Hicks and Kinzly, as well as Gladys Pasel. I moved to the Adirondacks after graduation from college in 1974 until I left in 1990 to move to Alaska, where I still live. From an early age, the Adirondacks instilled in me a love of wilderness. I enjoyed many adventures in the Adks, from hiking in the mountains, to cycling and canoeing, as well as x-country skiing. I miss those Adk. lakes!

  5. Marilyn Cook Hirt says:

    You brought a tear to my eye. I also was a camper and then a CiT at Silver Lake Camp. My last year there was 1971. I have the best memories from my years there. One of the things I told my parents was the best gift they gave me.

  6. maria alesse says:

    Women involved in Silver Lake Camp can come together on Facebook in a group created to share memories through shared her-stories. A fellow camper created the group. Search Silver Lake Camp, Hawkeye, NY; est. 1911 or follow the link.

  7. Nina Stark-Slapnik says:

    Hello, I too went to Silver Lake Camp for girls, but in the early 1960’s. What ended up happening to the camp? Is anything still there? I would love to go visit….

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