Bruce Beck is one of the legends. He has been all over the sports world and boasts an incredible resume of accolades and accomplishments. Where do you think this love of sports flourished? CAMP, of course! He attended his 8-week, co-ed sleepaway camp in Pennsylvania for 12 years (1964-1976).
Bruce is currently in his 16th year with NBC 4 New York! He is the station’s lead sports anchor, as well as the host and sideline reporter for New York Giants pre-season football. Besides the 10 Emmys, three national Cable Ace Awards, and being awarded New York State Sportscaster of the Year six times in a row, Bruce has covered three Super Bowls, the World Series, the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup Finals, the U.S. Open (tennis and golf), the NCAA Final Four, the Kentucky Derby, and five Olympic Games. Color War and Olympics clearly prepared him for the big leagues!
Does your camper dream of scoring that game-winning shot…learning the value of sportsmanship… how to partake in a healthy dose of competition…creating lifelong friendships? Then you gotta listen to Bruce on this one!
How has camp influenced what you do/your career path? Did your love of sports start (or grow) at camp?
Camp taught me about the essence of teamwork and the spirit of competition. It taught me about accountability. It taught me about cultivating relationships. It helped me learn how to become a gracious winner and loser. It taught me about humility. I learned how to kiss behind the social hall and I learned how to sneak on to girls campus without anyone knowing. I always loved sports – camp provided me an opportunity to compete on the field of play and learn how to do things like waterskiing. It was the first place where I fired a rifle and took part in archery. Oh, how I wished I had taken up golf at that age. I would have been a lot better today.
What are your top three essentials that you packed in your trunk?
Black, high Converse sneakers. My baseball glove. A flashlight.
What are three words to describe your camp experience?
Awesome, Amazing, Incredible.
Who was someone at camp that you looked up to?
Shelly Schneider – The Redhead – Leader of the Waiters. Builder of Men. A teacher. Great Basketball Coach – even better human being. Certifiably crazy. Parcells, Riley, and Coughlin rolled into one. He taught me life lessons and has become a friend for life.
Why do you think it is important to go to camp?
It is important to develop independence. It is important to learn on your own. It is a place where you can make friends and learn the value of friendship. It teaches you how to get along with other kids your own age and interact with adults. It teaches you how to accept discipline, and gives you the ability to flourish as a person. Structure is something that kids embrace and camp had that in every way. The owner ran a tight ship and parents knew their kids were safe and taken care of. That discipline was crucial for all of us. Let’s not forget – it was a total blast. We had so much fun and waited all year to board the bus. Eight weeks sped by as fast as the pace car at the Indy 500.
What is your favorite/most epic camp memory?
Us versus Damascus. A basketball game for the ages – Shelly Schneider’s waiters against Brad Norton’s (of Bluebird Bus fame) local boys. The year was 1970 if I remember correctly. We had never lost. The entire camp boarded buses to watch the game at a local high school gym. A capacity crowd was on hand. Our team included Jeff Greenman, Jack Eig, The Goo – Bob Gewirtz, and Bruce Epstein. We trailed by one with under five seconds to play. Damascus inbounded the ball from under their own basket. They threw a high arching pass near midcourt. Greenman, playing the role of center fielder, made the steal and threw a bullet to The Goo, who had been pressuring the inbound pass. And Goo laid it in at the buzzer for the victory. The game is part of our camp lore. An incredible one point come from behind victory on enemy soil.
How has camp affected your adult life? Is there something you learned there that you still do today?
Camp is still in my dreams. I still think about finding the hatchet. I still have dreams of The Apache Relay, Running the Marathon in Color War, The Rope Burning, Intercamp Games. But more than anything else it is the relationships that still endure. Those friendships are like a fine wine, getting better with age. Reunions are memorable and special.
Words of wisdom for current and future campers?
Go for it. Give it your all. Enjoy the experience. Embrace the experience. Try new activities. Reach for the stars. Cherish the moments because the moment is fleeting.
How do you keep in touch with your camp friends? What has kept you close through all of these years?
Yes. What keeps us close is our love for “The Hill!” It’s crazy but we still remember the campers; the games; the songs – like the 1964 Color War March for the Blue Colonials. “They talk of ancient heroes like Moses and the rest. Of Sampson and of David …these names ….” Or the Blue Hawaii March – “Hear the Blue…Hear the Blue…Hear the Blue Hawaiian drums…” Several people remain my best friends and others are still a part of my life, whether it’s meeting them for dinner or for a round of golf.
What is your favorite camp tradition?
Singing the Alma Mater on the final night of the summer as the year (cast in numbers) burn by the waterfront.
What was your favorite camp food?
French Fries – we nicknamed them “dump trucks.” That’s because the waiter would bring the fries to the table and dump them into a large dish so he could head back to the kitchen and get more.
What did you prefer – pool or lake?
The Lake – there was no pool. Hated to touch the bottom in the crib and was always worried about leeches, but swam 50 miles one summer to earn my card and lots of self respect.
Favorite canteen candy?
Pretzels … still to this day, I am a pretzel freak!
What was your favorite camp activity?
Basketball under the lights – inter-camp games or Color War! Pressure and intensity. It was the culmination of the season.
What is your favorite camp word/expression?
Schmegma … it was a nickname for the bug juice
Favorite camp memento?
Camp Hall of Fame plaque. And my achievement plaques. Pictures of former girlfriends – lol!
What were the biggest trends/must have items when you went to camp or representative of the time you went to camp?
High, floppy socks like Pistol Pete Maravich of LSU and converse sneakers! Hooded sweatshirt so when you crossed the road to girls camp Arbuse and Kasten could not see you. They always did.
What are your best “camp legend” stories?
As an 8 year old in Bunk 2 – we were the only group to beat the Knicks in 1964. They went on a summer caravan back then. But I scored 5 points and we beat the Knicks 5-4. I stole the ball from Emmett Bryant and got fouled by Neil Johnston. My tooth still hurts. After the game, Willis Reed put me on his shoulders and I dunked.
Scoring 40 points in two quarters in league play — and getting to lead the prayer at lunch in the mess hall.
Watching my brother, Steve strike out 18 batters in a 6 inning game.