We lost a special camp friend this week. Richard Mullins passed away this past Monday at the age of 87. He was fondly known as “Mr. Mullins” by both campers and staff.
He was one of Sewataro’s first Program Directors, going back to the late Sixties and early Seventies. He also served as Waterfront Director. He was fun, innovative and exciting to work with and was instrumental in shaping the Sewataro experience. Like Alba, Dick was ahead of his time in knowing children’s needs and making summers fun.
He stayed in touch with camp over the years through his children and grandchildren. They have been campers and counselors at different times, with members of the Mullins, Killian, Chelton and Pugh families joining us for several summers. We loved to see him and his wife Anna visiting during Open House right before camp opened for the summer. The tradition continues, as his granddaughter Carly will be on staff with us again this year – her fourteenth summer!
Mr Mullins to Camp Sewataro is like comparing Willy Wonka to the Chocolate Factory. He made the fun happen! He had a vibrant presence and a welcoming nature. He kept everyone on their toes, for you never knew what he might be up to….
I personally remember Mr Mullins best during my time as a camper. He taught me how to play Hawaiian jump rope using bamboo poles, which were set up in the Meeting Hall during rainy days. We would play the music from the Herb Alpert Tijuana Brass album. We forgot all about the rain – we loved mastering the routines of Hawaiian jump rope!
Mr Mullins is standing in the back row, last one on the right.
My sister Julie wrote her memories of Mr. Mullins:
One summer when I was around 11 or 12, Mr. Mullins taught me how to do a backflip off the diving board. One day he waited until I was out on the diving board to blow the whistle for a buddy check. At the end of the buddy check, he said, “Now you can all go back to swimming after we watch Julie do a back flip”. I was mortified! I still laugh about it today.
He also taught us to play jump or dive. You would have to jump off the board and then he would yell “jump” or “dive”. You had to change mid-air to go either feetfirst or headfirst which usually resulted in some funny belly flops.
Julie also remembers him swimming the moat from the tent area to the pond. And surprising staff and campers upon his grand entrance to the pond.
For those of you “newer” campers, I’m sure you couldn’t imagine that once upon a time there was a creek going through camp, separating what is now the tent area from the present day large basketball court area. There was a lovely log-type bridge we would cross over on our way to and from the tents. I remember Mr. Mullins would “hip-check” a counselor into the creek from time to time – much to everyone’s delight!!
Now, you are probably all shaking your heads in disbelief that these types of antics were ever carried out on the grounds of Camp Sewataro. Remember, this was the 1960s and early 1970s! To say “Times have Changed” would be an understatement!
The retelling of stories about Mr. Mullins could go on and on. And we hope they do! May those who were lucky enough to spend time at camp with Mr. Mullins take a moment to remember what a wonderful man he was and what a gift of joy he gave to all of us. Thank you, Mr. Mullins!