“The Spirit of the House DEFINITELY never dies.” Bobby and Jimmy Musiker’s love for and ties to West End House Camp are deeply rooted. The Musiker brothers have an incredible camp legacy. Their grandfather, Benjamin “Tom” Krivitsky was one of the first campers ever at West End (the Ski dock is named in his memory). “He went to Old Timer’s Week until the day he died.” Their uncle David Krivitsky was the Program Director during the WWII era (he donated the Rec Hall electronic scoreboard). David’s sister, Judy, naturally was going to send her two boys, Bobby and Jimmy to West End. In fact, Judy is still a great friend of the camp. She recently pledged to donate the money needed to cover the cost of the 2020 WEHC Spirit yearbook. THANK YOU!
Bobby and Jimmy Musiker are about 2.5 years apart, but both started coming to West End in 1970. Coming to camp from New York was not easy. Along with the Eggert boys from New Jersey, (Michael and Bobby), the Boston area campers made fun of their accents. The Musiker family had owned a sleepaway camp in NY until 1966, so they were used to the camp life. Jimmy’s first memory was going up and down the inner path, which seemed like it took forever. Bobby remembered being in awe of the Council Ring and loving the “Rip, Rip, Rip” chants and the crazy Boston accents. “We want Kennards” on a hot day was his personal favorite chant.
Jimmy’s favorite activities were Watermelon League, Capture the Flag, and “Bombs and Missiles,” which was a game like Capture the Flag, but in the woods and with tackling” (this activity is long gone). Bobby loved the Rec Hall. “Most camps didn’t have an indoor court.” He took great pride in beating the other camps at the Robin Hood tournament. Jimmy also liked the 1-on-1 Basketball ladders, which Steve Lepler brought back to camp in recent years. Bobby happily calls upon all of his senses when he puts himself back at camp. “The wonderful sound of the rain on Gottlieb’s tin roof” and “the smell of the bunks.”
The boys narrowly missed out on the famed Ralph Haliburton cooking era. So, when asked what their favorite meal was, they were quick to say “Golden cake with chocolate frosting” during Cake and Milk. However, since their parents could not come up for Visiting Day (because of their own summer business), the boys were clever enough to mail their grandparents letters with a long list of food items they desired. Their grandfather must have been thrilled to see his grandchildren enjoying camp as he had 65 years earlier. Jimmy remembers the outdated concept of the “laundry box.” The boys had to ship home their laundry box (brown with black straps) to their grandparents, who would ship it back clean and folded.
Jimmy enjoyed a good game of rafter ball. He also remembers playing “hours and hours of wiffle ball.” Bobby liked being a waiter. He also remembered when his counselors came back on a night off with extra pizza (probably from Pizza Barn which opened in 1971). Jimmy remembered watching history, as President Nixon resigned from the Presidency on August 8, 1974 while the camp watched in the Mess Hall on the black and white TV. Now we watch big events like the World Cup final on the big screen color TV.
The Musiker boys claim to West End fame is truly unique. Having never actually met the Musikers, I was very excited to bring up the fact that for over 30 years I have made the unofficial observation that “Musiker” is the most commonly written name in the rafters. The Musikers were very proud of this fact and spoke eloquently of their rafter signatures like Michelangelo must have after completing the roof of the Sistine Chapel. “We brought our own markers,” Jimmy pointed out, “and toothpaste worked well too.” Jimmy wrote his name in his locker cubby when he was in 5A. 2 years later, Bill Margolin made him go back and sand his name off. I suppose it was an easy investigation to figure out who had written the name “Jimmy Musiker.” When I mentioned that Bill’s current policy is to fine a camper $1 per word (and $5 if the word is misspelled), Bobby said “I’d still be paying that off.” They claim that they had a contest with Jay Cohen and Bobby Eggert as to who could write their name most in the rafters. They were no match for the Musikers. The Musikers are the Usain Bolts of rafter name graffiti. When I mentioned that they are like West End’s version of Bansky, Bobby Musiker quickly responded “No, Bunksy.”
Like most people, the Musikers loved Color War. They remember their bunk rearranging their cubby spots so that campers on blue were on one side of the cabin and the campers on white on the other side. Jimmy remembers being chosen to complete 3 consecutive free throws in the ApacheRelay, a nerve-racking job. Jimmy enjoyed playing goalie in Waterpolo so he could hold onto the dock when the ball was on the other side. In 1975, Jimmy was chosen as a high senior captain for the White Sensation, which lost an excruciating 3 point war to the Blue Raiders. Steve Lepler was his head coach. Bobby enjoyed song night and found it odd that one of the teams used songs from West Side Story. They both thoroughly enjoyed coming back to judge song night about 20 years ago.
The Musikers have gained so much from their experience at West End. Jimmy said, “It has been an integral part of my life. When I went back, it was like I never left. Bruce Balder, Gos (Peter Gosule), Neal Shrier, Jay Cohen, Boltz (Brett Barenholtz) were all there.” Bobby is most impressed with the loyalty. “I was incredibly impressed with every staff man being a former camper.”
Jimmy Musiker claims to have one other impressive accolade. He believes he is the only person to have both Bill Margolin and Steve Lepler as his counselors. He had Bill the first year he came back from service in 1970 and Leps when he was in 4B and Gottlieb in 1974 and 1975. He also fondly remembers other counselors like Tank Sherman, Peter Nason, and Jeff Kublin. Jimmy has kept in touch with Bill for years. He remembers Bill wearing his military jacket. “He is incredibly kind and understanding. I have never been mad at Bill.” The Musikers were very proud that their family was able to attend the opening of the new West End House Boys and Girls Club in Allston in 1971.
Jimmy Musiker has 2 children, Casey and Ashley, and Bobby has a son Jake. The Krivitsky/Musiker family has camp in their blood. Their parents started Musiker Student Tours back in 1966. The family businesses evolved into Summer Discovery Pre-College Enrichment programs, which the Musiker brothers have owned for over 40 years. They organize trips for high school kids who want to take courses and immerse themselves at colleges such as UCLA, Penn, and Georgetown. Their mission is “To provide the best experiential, university-based summer academic programs that positively change the lives of students from around the world.” West Enders always are eager to help West Enders. They hired Steve Lepler’s daughter, Lexi, who worked for them for 4 years. In fact, they were present at Lexi’s memorable wedding in the Council Ring and remember sprinting to the Rec Hall when the skies opened and interrupted the proceedings.
“In the Mess Hall there is a picture of our grandfather on a rock from like 1908.” The Musiker/Krivitsky legacy is all over the beautiful camp in Parsonsfield. When you look at the Ski Dock and the Rec Hall Scoreboard, you can see their history. And to Bill Margolin’s dismay, on a relaxing moment before bedtime, you can look up into the rafters and probably see the names of Jimmy or Bobby Musiker in the rafters as well. Thank you, Musiker brothers for “Remembering” West End House Camp with me. And don’t worry about paying the $1 a word in fines. Our camp lawyer has advised us that 40 year old crimes are long past the camp’s statute of limitations.