“This is how I want to spend my summers.” Peter Chantiles does not have a typical West End House Camp history. As a youngster, he spent his time at the West End House Boys (now Boys and Girls) Club every day after school. He swam there, played ping pong, and became a good pool player. There were not that many boys from the Club who went to WEHC back when the Club first opened in Allston in 1972. “The only kid I knew that went to camp was from the swim team and he worked in the kitchen. Absolutely, I wish I had gone as a camper.” Peter had his Lifeguard and WSI certification (Water Safety Instructor), and in 1977 Bill Margolin hired him as a Senior Counselor who would also be the Waterfront Director. Peter fell in love immediately with the lake and was at camp until 1984.
One of the perks about being the Waterfront Director was he got to be the Senior Counselor in 1A, with the waterfront view (Kevin Lustig is probably wondering why this ended). “I had a great Junior Counselor (Jimmy Cohen), so I didn’t have to do too much.” For a kid who grew up in the city, getting to live in a naturally beautiful setting by the lake was a welcome change. “I enjoyed going down there all day.” He loved waterskiing and driving the boat with Andy and Barry Lenick. Peter enjoyed sailing and brought up his SCUBA gear to teach the kids in the 1st pool. He would also fix the motorboat when needed. At a recent Old Timers Week, Peter admired the water Bongo in the deep end. He BUILT the original Bongo, a wooden raft in the 3rd pool. Sources say that Peter was one of the only people capable of assembling the old waterski “T dock” near the tennis courts.
Like most alumni, the Pizza Barn, 30 minutes from camp, was a favorite spot. One of the other perks of being the Waterfront Director was getting most nights off. He loved making Pizza Barn runs and would drive the van there occasionally. “Andy Lenick was into hiking as was (current board member) Evan Hack.” Together they hiked Mount Washington and Mount Chocorua. Then he started doing day trips and overnights with individual cabins. “We hit the Go Karts, then Pizza Barn on the way home.”
Peter first decided to come to camp because “Yogi (Alex Berger) called me personally and sold me on coming.” In the summer of 1983, Peter had graduated from the University of Michigan with an Engineering degree, then spent the summer biking the West Coast instead of coming to camp. Then in 1984, “Yogi talked me into going back.” Alex Berger and Peter Chantiles will forever be linked by one of the camp’s most revered projects, THE COLOR WAR PLAQUES. Along with the Time Capsules on the last night of camp, it was one of the many creative visions of Alex Berger. With the help of some counselors, Peter painted all of the plaques. “We did it in the evenings. I enjoyed doing it.” Peter Chantiles painted all of the 30 or so plaques that existed at that time (there are roughly 70 now). There is no more sacred or beloved spot at camp than the Color War plaque wall and we have Peter’s labor and Yogi’s vision to thank for it!
He did dabble as a Color War coach in 1978 for the winning Blue Rebels and again in 1979 in a losing effort on the Blue Cavalry. “I wasn’t very good at coaching; it was new to me.” He seemed more comfortable refereeing waterpolo and leading the swim meet.
Peter enjoyed running with Bill Margolin in the early morning. “He is a solid guy, smart, sharp, funny.” But when I asked Peter what was his favorite part of camp, he enthusiastically said, “CAKE AND MILK,” much like his mentor Bill.
Peter’s upbringing from the Allston Club is special to him. “I have fond memories of the Club.” He played on the flag football team and was thankful for the college scholarships he received. He vividly remembered the private “Alumni room” at the Club from his younger days. Legends like Hy Escott and George Kane would stop by to enjoy a massage, a soak in the hot tub, and then would play poker. Who knew the club was the Ritz-Carlton?
After his camp days, Peter bicycled through Europe and then began his career as an Engineer. He had graduated Boston English High School as the valedictorian, lived in South Boston, San Diego, and then raised his kids in Sudbury MA, where he remembered running into future Waterfront Director Mark Lustig. As a General Manager at Interventional LLC, Peter now leads and devotes his time to improving, educating, and distributing an FDA approved cancer treatment device.
Peter Chantiles was born for a life of building and swimming. In his WEHC years, he worked on camp projects like the water flotation device in the 3rd pool, the T-Dock, and the storied Color War plaques. He was drawn to the swimming pool at the Boys Club in Allston, then to Long Pond in Parsonsfield, and now he resides next to the Atlantic Ocean in Ogunquit, Maine. Thank you, Peter Chantiles for “Remembering” West End with me. Peter, any chance you could swing by camp and design a heated first pool?