May 2005 article from the New Rochelle Soundings        

A History of Happy Campers
By Martin Friedrichs, Chairman of the Campership Fund

In 1957 the New Rochelle Campership fund was started to help needy New Rochelle
children enjoy a summer camp experience. My mother, Nellie Friedrichs, decided this was
just the cause she wanted herself and her five children to support. In June of 1958 our
family held a small fundraising fair in our backyard on Lester Place, raising exactly
$105.61. By the next year it had become a block event “ a precursor to today's block
parties. Only a few years later the entire Beechmont neighborhood was actively involved.
In the days before eBay or even tag sales this was the time to clean out your attic and
donate your unwanted items to the giant white elephant sale. Many neighbors contributed
food, time or talent. Money was raised with bands, puppet shows, raffles, fortune telling,
chess tournaments and back yard games. Others just donated their faces, allowing local kids
a dreamed about annual opportunity in the ever popular sponge toss event. Over its 10-year
run the Lester Place fair was usually the largest single contributor to the Campership Fund.
In it final year, in 1967, an astounding 600 neighbors crowded into our backyard, raising
over $1,500 dollars“ much of it from nickels, dimes and pennies“ in the days when pennies
were still counted.

Almost 50 years later I have found myself as the Chairman of the all volunteer Campership
board. Over that time, well over 20,000 New Rochelle children have been giving a summer
camp experience, but every year there are more children hoping for this chance.

The Campership Fund is a non-profit community agency, annually raising funds to give
hundreds of New Rochelle children a happy and healthy summer experience. It also
provides welcome relief to the parents from some of their family, peer and financial
stresses. There are day and sleep-away camps, as well as special camps for children with
AIDS, asthma and learning disabilities. Unfortunately the need is greater than ever. Find out
more at If you would like to continue New Rochelle’s long
tradition of support please send a tax deductible donation to The New Rochelle Campership
Fund , PO Box 255, New Rochelle, NY 10804.  If you would like to contribute in some
other way - or start your own backyard fair - feel free to call me at home (914) 632-8798.

P.O. BOX 255, NEW ROCHELLE, NY 10804
Helping Our