“I moved a lot as a kid and never felt I had a place for myself. Camp was home. I moved, but camp was never going anywhere.” In 1980, Kevin’s Aunt Harriet (who sadly passed away on March 17th) was working at Randolph Savings Bank, in Stoughton, where a frequent customer, Bill Margolin, would come in from time to time. Bill had convinced Harriet to send her son, Bruce Dolinsky, to West End House Camp in 1979. Kevin and his younger brother Mark were living in Morris Township, NJ at the time. As a family, they moved around a lot, as Kevin’s father Steve bounced around for work. Kevin had always gone to day camps. When his mother, Lee, told Kevin he was going to camp with his cousin, Kevin replied, “No, I’m not.” The decision was already made. Back then there was a waiting list to get into camp, but Kevin said, “We skipped the line.”
Kevin came to camp as a 13 year old in 3B, for 3 weeks. He was 1-2 years older than his bunkmates. His counselors were Scott Resnick and Mark Sands. The only people Kevin knew were his younger brother, Mark and cousin Bruce. He remembers the bus ride, when the bus drove past Little Ossipee Lake, about 30 minutes outside of camp. The bus erupted as the new campers thought they had arrived. They had not. 30 minutes later, Kevin saw Kennards and thought “Thank God, we are here.”
As a new camper, Kevin was surprised how well he did during the Superstars competition on July 4th. “I never thought of myself as having any athletic skills. I was good at softball, volleyball, swimming and tennis.” The activities Kevin liked the most were the ones where all campers were involved. He didn’t like Gold Rush, because he felt that only some kids were involved. But, he loved Monte Carlo Night. In 1981, Kevin came for the last 5 weeks. He got to camp and they were conducting the Senior League Draft. The captains were in the Mess Hall and the League Commissioner, Eric Resnick was running the draft. Someone picked Kevin and Eric said “that’s a clutch pick.” Kevin never thought of himself as an athlete, so that stuck with him and gave him some confidence.
Kevin wasn’t that into the food. “The pizza wasn’t good, but everyone liked it. A few times we had barbeque. The deli platter spread made me mad, because that’s just lazy. Although one time I beat Matt Bloch in a 5 set tennis match and ate a head and a half of lettuce afterwards.”
After being a 3 year camper, Kevin joined the staff in 1983 and was a 6 year counselor, through 1989 (he skipped 1987). In 1988, Kevin had graduated from the University of Virginia and had no plans over the summer, before he started Law School. “Gerry Walsh called me and asked if I wanted to come back and he put Bill on the phone.” In 1989, Kevin was living in Brookline and decided to come back for one last summer. He was again the Waterfront Director, a position he had for 4 summers.
Kevin loves to talk about Color War. After winning as a camper on the White Syndicate and the famous, Blue Lords, Kevin became a 4 time Head Coach. In 1985, there was a young, inexperienced staff and Kevin was made Head Coach of the Blue Defenders, a team that had zero Color War coaching experience. He chose the name Defenders, because starting in 1976, with the Blue Family, the winning team of Color War alternated between blue and white through 1984 (Blue Dynasty). That was until Blue Defenders ended that trend with a victory over the White Express. In 1986, Kevin was the Head Coach of the Blue Brotherhood, who got whooped by the all-time great, White Vice. Kevin always points out that they had 5 waterfront coaches and 1 land coach. However, he fondly remembers his High Seniors, led by Michael Andelman and Andy Zinman. In football the Vice High Seniors seemed to average 6 inches more in height per person. Still, “Michael and Andy guaranteed a win.” They won 32-6 and the undersized group went 3-3 in their split.
The 1988 Color War is viewed by most as the greatest of all time. Kevin and David Andelman were the Head Coaches of the White Empire. “Everything about 1988, I can’t say enough.” There was a point in the war where it was dead even after the Spelling Bees. Kevin turned to Blue Machine Head Coach, Lee Rappaport and said “We are tied, this is what is supposed to happen.” But, Blue Machine took the lead on Day 4, after going 3-2 in both the morning and afternoon splits. On day 5, “We were down 20, won the 1st Omelet game and lost the 2nd one.” The Blue Machine were celebrating as if it was over, taking a 20 point lead into song night. “I remember Animal (Marc O’Connor) was with me and I smiled, this is NOT over.” Kevin also sat next to Animal when the song night results were read in the Mess Hall. The White Empire’s song night was incredible, so everyone knew it was going to be close. “I lost track of the score. For 30 seconds, I had no idea if we won. The final song night score was announced “White 108…,” it was over. Empire needed at least 110 points in song night. “I was deflated.” The Song Night judges were “The Doctor (Alpert) from across the lake, he had us winning by 28, Jeff Goldstein had us winning by 16 and Gerry Walsh only by 4.” The 4 point differential upset Kevin, from his friend Gerry. “Are you kidding me!” Gerry said, “You blew smoke in my face.” The White Empire had a cool smoke machine, like you’d see when the Miami Hurricanes enter the field. They apparently used it one too many times.
Kevin came back in 1989 and was the Head Coach of the winning Blue Fever. One of the traditions he loved was the winning team’s coaches jumping into the lake after they secured victory. In 1989, he wanted the kids to remember the winning feeling, like he had as a camper. One of Kevin’s favorite stories came during a coaches meeting before that Color War. “We were in the Mess Hall and someone did a Peebs (Pizza Barn) run.” Lane Davis (Soccer Coach) got a stall and he had 1 piece left. Matt Winer (Softball Coach) spit on Lane’s last piece. Lane screams at him, chases Winer with the slice, catches up to him and tackles him and slapped him across the face with the slice.” Bill walked in, as Bill always seems to do during an embarrassing moment and said in a calm voice, “Lane, GET off of him.” There was another time, Kevin remembered Bill walking in, as he was flipping a camper’s bed, while the camper was on top.
Bill and Kevin are great friends. In 1989, Kevin was standing next to Bill when the campers left on the busses. Bill said, “This is my favorite moment of the year.” There is such a satisfying feeling of knowing the campers had a fun and safe summer (I can attest to this). “I once heard Bill swear. But, he was telling a story of someone else swearing. You know someone is respected when I still won’t swear in front of them and I don’t even need to think about it.” When asked Bill’s influence on his life, Kevin stated:
“I can’t quantify that. Fatherly guy, but more like an older brother looking out for everyone. As good of a person that exists.”
But, everyone knows Bill has a hysterical devious side, especially when it comes to securing sweets. “His favorite candy is peanut M&Ms. He knew which camper got them in their care package. So, Bill calls me over and creates a plan to take them from the camper.” He tells Kevin to go up to the kid on the H-Dock and say, “If I throw Bill into the lake, will you give me your M&Ms?” The camper agreed and Kevin pushed Bill into the lake. They had outsmarted the camper. It’s unclear if Bill shared the M&Ms with Kevin after executing the heist.
One year, during Spring Break as a Senior in High School, Kevin and his brother Mark went to visit their grandparents in Florida and then they went to Disney. “We walked into Tomorow Land and we saw Andy and Jeff Cohen.” Andy was in Kevin’s bunk as a camper. “He was 0-5 (in Color War) as a camper until I let him coach with me and we won (on Defenders).
For about 5 years, Kevin was the Secretary of the Board of Directors before he moved to Las Vegas. Kevin runs into camp friends all the time. When he lived in Las Vegas, people would call him to go to dinner and hang out. In fact, Kevin and I started a yearly tradition where I would pick him up and drive him to Old Timer’s Week in the early 2000s. He has been back in Brookline for the last 8 years working for RSM, which is a CPA firm, working on mergers and acquisitions. In recent years, Kevin was happy to see his nephews, Max and Stuart attend camp. “I got to live vicariously through them.”
Kevin absolutely loves Old Timers Week and is often one of the first people to show up, early in the week. “We do everything the campers do, but as adults.” He likes to come early for a little “me time,” before his friends arrive. “Seeing people you haven’t seen in forever. Corey Peyser came this summer and was a great addition. I am better friends with (bunkmate) Eric Marder now than when we were at camp.” Other 1A Old Timer’s Week friends include John Zinman, Lee Rappaport, John Stoller, Andrew Hurvitz, Dean Goldberg, Greg Harper, Jimmy Klapman, Eric Liebman, Lonnie Elfbaum and Jeff Seifer.
“It’s my favorite place in the world. I can go there and have nobody there and be happy. The people, the place, what it meant to me when I was younger.” When asked what he learned most all these years at camp, Kevin was quick to say “You belong. Be you, it’s all good.” Thank you Kevin Lustig for Remembering with Ryan. Can you ask someone during Old Timer’s Week “If I push Ryan in the lake, will you give me your Color War shirt?”