Rob Gross: Ramaquois Memories | Camp Ramaquois

Rob Gross: Ramaquois Memories

Posted by on August 1, 2013

My name is Rob Gross and presently, I am an attorney working in Southfield, Michigan. Although I have lived in Michigan for some time now, I constantly tell anyone who will listen that the best days of my youth were spent at Camp Ramaquois. I was a camper from age 9 to 15, and then I was a counselor until 22. My wife often gets frustrated with me for saying that the “Ramaquois Days” were the best of my life, because it makes her feel as though our wedding day and the days of our children being born “take a back seat!”

The bottom line is that even though I have lived in Michigan for almost 20 years, my best friends in the world are still the people I met at Camp Ramaquois. I primarily attended the camp in the 1980s, so I know a lot has changed since then, but I feel like the experience at camp was the best thing that ever could have happened to me. There are so many moments of joy from that time period, but just a few that I remember very fondly are as follows:

*Constantly making fun of Marvin Portnoy (the most senior of counselors), and in return, Marvin always getting back at me in some fashion.

*Playing Softball on the Counselor Team and remembering how great it was that so many campers and counselors came out to watch, especially for those intense championship games.

*As a camper, playing in Bunt and Steal games, which was a league that was set up with the help of Marvin Portnoy.

*Remembering how thoughtful and nice all of the counselors and staff were, especially Paul Shapiro and Fred Weisman.

*Unfortunately, I was a General in Rama-Games one year and we didn’t have anyone musically inclined on our team. Going into the final event (Song & Cheer), we were leading and it was up to me to write the song and cheer. I think I actually wrote a great song and cheer (Summer of ’89 instead of Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams, and Feelin’ Groovy by Simon and Garfunkel). However, I made a mistake and used the Bryan Adams song as our team’s song and the Simon and Garfunkel song as our team’s cheer. I mixed them up, and if I hadn’t, our team would have won Rama-Games that year. The best part of it all was Paul Shapiro putting his hand on my shoulder at the end and saying to me (taking out the curse words), “Congratulations, you just cost your team a Rama-Games victory”. It was one of the funniest things ever said to me because I knew Paul meant it lovingly and I probably smiled for a few days after that.

*One year, the counselors engaged in Jello Wrestling and I was partners with my friend Steve Brown. We were the “Americans” and we faced David and Jordy Hill who played pure evil, with Jordy pulling David around on a chain around his neck. Steve Brown and I came out to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”, while David and Jordy came out to Ozzy Osbourne. It was great because it was actually a great match, and the kids thought everything was real and were rooting for us like crazy. This was at a time when wrestling was very big, so the kids were just awesome. I still have the tape of that year (and the following year, which was oatmeal wrestling), and it never gets old.

*One year, I was awarded counselor of the year, and although at the time I didn’t think very much of it, today I am extremely honored that I received it.

I can probably think of fifty more funny moments from camp, but I know I have to be brief. The bottom line is that it was the best time of my youth, and I can’t believe it’s been over 20 years since I last worked there. I have 4 children and I have brought each of them to Camp Ramaquois to show them how I spent my summers. They really can’t understand everything that camp did for me, but in all honesty, it transformed me from a shy 9-year old, into a fun-loving man with a great deal of confidence. One thing I will never forget is when my wife and I went to Florida and were having dinner with some friends from camp, and my wife said to me afterwards that she had never seen me so happy. I was like a different person. I just looked at her and said that you simply cannot understand the wonderful experience I had at camp unless you were there!

Rob Gross (Camper from 1978 until 1984, and counselor from 1985 until 1991)

[Editor’s Note: Rob Gross was a longtime camper and counselor at Ramaquois.  He was a favorite counselor to many campers, and a great role model to all who knew him.  Rob often speaks of how Ramaquois impacted his future success in life.]

Do you have a Ramaquois story to share?  Email memories@ramaquois.com