How to name your child


When I first came to the United States in 1985, it was to work as a camp counselor at Camp Burgess, a YMCA summer camp in Sandwich, Massachusetts. I had just finished my junior year at the University of Ulster in Ireland where I was studying – and I use that word quite loosely – and I was looking for something to do for the summer months. I can remember being incredibly excited to see what life was like on this side of the pond, but little did I know how much that summer on the Cape was going to shape my life.

Anyhoo… a summer spent listening to Billy Ocean singing Carribean Queen on the radio (remember radio?), learning to waterski on Spectacle Pond, being introduced to the Red Sox through the Boston Globe, making lifelong friends, and generally having the best time of my life all went by in a flash, but I can still remember it as if it were yesterday. My cabin at Burgess was Mohawk… nearest to the dining hall and home away from home for the summer. Here’s a rare photograph with me in front of the camera… I’m sitting on the steps of Mohawk reminiscing about the great times spent there with my crazy campers and the three times in the first session that my nightmare camper Russell Brogle ran away.

Sam is working as a camp counselor at Burgess this summer, and here’s a shot of him and Jack right before we left home to drop him off on the Cape. I hope he enjoys camp life, and when it comes time to share stories about why he chose to work there, he can tell everyone that he was named after the camp where his mom and dad met. So, Samuel Burgess Patterson is now following in the footsteps of his parents, and I am sure that if he has half as good a time there as we did, he will make memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Both Camp Burgess and Camp Hayward (the name of the sister girls camp and what Sam’s middle name would have been if he were born a girl) looked remarkably similar to what we remembered. There were some new buildings in places, but many of the old familiar scenes looked the same, including the Camp Burgess waterfront above. As we wandered around camp, waves and waves of wonderful memories came flooding back for the two of us, and we drove away feeling very proud of our oldest boy and new summer camp counselor… Samuel Burgess Patterson.


4 thoughts on “How to name your child

  1. Great stuff, David, I can understand how proud you are. My 10 year old is off for a week at the camp where I met my wife next week – that means so much to us.

  2. Joe Russo

    First of all I would like to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. It is in a bookmark folder on my computer titled “Regular Reads” and I find myself checking in about once a week or so to admire your photographs of Acadia National Park. I can’t remember how I found it but being an amateur photographer, a multiple time vistor to Acadia and native New Englander probably contributed highly to my success in locating the blog.

    When I read your post today about Camp Burgess today it brought back a lot of memories as well. I never attended ‘camp’ there but I did spend a fair amount of time there. The father of a friend of mine used to be on the board of the Quincy YMCA which I believe either owned or had a large interest in the camp. He was granted permission to use one of the camp buildings (usually the lodge) for a bi-annual fishing trip that occurred just before camp opened and just after camp closed each year. A number of us were regulars on the trip (I was part of the regulars from the late 70’s to the early 90’s) which started on Friday afternoon and ended Sunday afternoon and basically consisted of eating, fishing and poker. Many a good tale (some NSFthis blog 😉 ) came out of those trips. Fishing in Spectacle Pond was tremendous. We would either fish from the shore in front of the lodge or launch a small boat and troll around the pond catching trout for dinner. The evening meal and poker game was a great way to wind down the day with all the guys on the trip.

    One year the camp was looking for some volunteers to paint a number of the buildings prior to the opening of camp season and a couple of guys from the fishing crew went down for the weekend to lend a hand. It was a small way to repay the camp for letting us use the lodge a couple of times a year.

    Sadly my friend’s father passed away in the early 90’s and he took the fishing trips with him. It was not too much longer after that I had been made aware of a large fire at the camp that consumed a number of buildings and if I’m not mistaken the lodge was among them. It was a sad moment.

    I’m glad to hear that camp is back in full swing and that your son will be there as a counselor. I’m sure you have regaled him with stories of your time there. And now he’ll start to build his own set of stories and memories that he will pass on in the future.

    Thanks for bringing back some old memories for me.

    • David Patterson


      I am glad you enjoy the blog, and thanks for taking the time to share your story. My three summers spent at Camp Burgess were three of the best summers of my life, and I obviously have some very fond memories of my time there. I hope Sam enjoys life there as much as I did. Sunset Lodge burned down a few years back, and I think they lost some cabins when the tail end of a hurricane hit. Although the waterfront now has a different look and there are some very impressive new buildings, the camp still maintains the same feel as I remember. When I worked at Burgess I used to get there a week or so early to help with maintenance and preparations for the season, and I used to stay a week or so after camp was over to work in the kitchen for the “Red Raider” football camp that would use the facilities for their preseason… maybe I was even there when you were fishing! Anyway… thanks for sharing about a special place 🙂


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