The Author

A message from the author
Margaret Hawkins Matens


Margaret, on the porch of the then-new Nature Hut in Junior Camp, in the mid-1990s

Dear Camp Family,

Almost 50 years ago, in 1969, I was a new counselor at Nakanawa. Though I barely knew Amazons from Valkyries, I found myself part of the celebration of camp’s 50th Anniversary. Wearing bloomers and a middy blouse that smelled of mothballs, I re-enacted the role of a camper from the ’20s and sang “Everything’s up to date at Camp Nakanawa …”

From that year on, Nakanawa’s history and mine have intertwined. We owe much to Mitch – who, over 50 years ago, realized that the collected stories of camp’s early years would be treasured more and more as the years went by, and launched me into writing Nakanawa: The First Fifty Years.

As Nakanawa’s Centennial approached, the idea of a coffee-table history took shape, a book that would combine the updated narrative with wonderful photographs. Ann and Pepe commissioned me to take on the project, and I was honored to accept. It has been an extraordinary adventure, made more enjoyable by the many who assisted me in collecting, sorting, cataloging and proofing. The outpouring of support for the project from sponsoring Centennial and Legacy Families was overwhelming, another indication of the depth of feeling Nakanawa evokes. This history would never have come to life without Ann and Pepe’s leadership and the assistance of so many.

Even in a book of 192 pages, I could not incorporate all the great material. However, the detailed diaries and day-by-day accounts of camp in its early years can still be found in Nakanawa: The First Fifty Years, which will remain in print as a companion to this new history.

I hope The Spirit of Nakanawa: A Centennial History gives current and future campers an appreciation for the scores of traditions that date back to Colonel Rice. For “old-timers,” I hope your journey through these pages is as nostalgic as a walk to the Rock. I hope it makes you laugh out loud, brings tears to your eyes, and inspires you to pick up the phone and call an old camp friend.

I hope each of you will share this book with little girls who have yet to pack their trunk for a first summer at camp. Every one of us helped create Nakanawa’s history.  Therefore, it is up to us to keep the stories and memories alive, and pass them on. This book can be — “like a tiny spark of love” — one way of ensuring that Nakanawa continues to add marvelous chapters to this history . . . for a second century and beyond.

Smile, Pep!     Margaret H. Matens

Left to right: Margaret, daughters Murray and Morgan; sister Jugie and her son; and her mother, Julia, at camp in the 90s.

About the Author

Margaret, who has spent nearly 40 summers at Nakanawa in various roles, wrote Nakanawa: The First Fifty Years in 1981, and has been fascinated with camp’s history ever since.  A retired English teacher and school administrator, Margaret is also a published author and illustrator.  Her husband, Jack, spent a summer on the Nakanawa staff, and her sister Jugie was both a camper and counselor.  Daughters Murray and Morgan started camp at ages 4 and 7.  Even Margaret’s mother, Julia Hawkins (who, at age 101, recently set a world record in the 100-meter dash!) came to camp for two summers to help Margaret teach the Nature program she founded.  Clearly, Nakanawa runs deep in Margaret’s veins, and it shows in this amazing book.

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