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The Directors

For much of its life the camp had a director, Austin "Pop" Welch,  and an assistant director, Tony Balski.  But over time there were a number of people who played a major role in the operation of the camp.  This is an archive dedicated to those people.

The Directors:

The Assistant Directors:

Heads of Boys Work:

Austin "Pop" Warren Welch

1941: Founder

1941-1970: Director

1971-1973: Advisor

Austin as a boy.  He was

born in Newark, OH on

March 27, 1896.

Pop and John Bondarenko surveying

the camp's site in the spring of 1941.

Pop standing in

Section 1 by the

Eagles Cabin. 

Boot Hill is


Pop with pipe.

Pop in 1962 catching up

on the news while in bed

in the White Cottage.


A Poem written by Pop's sister, Marie Welch.  It appears to be about John Bondarenko and was obviously written during World War II.

John of the Berkshires

   Stalwart, strong, and humble he stands
  Before his house on the hill.
  Weather-beated from wintry blasts,
  Both he and his house instill
  A feeling of strength in humble things -
  Like his plot of land to till;
  Or perhaps - I do not know, but perhaps,
  His corncob pipe to fill.

  He has cabins to let at the end of the pond,
  Down the hill from the house where he stands.
  Where the dam turns the water well over the rocks,
  Laughing merrily down where it lands.
  He has rowboats to rent to fishermen, whom
  Of all men, he well understands,
  And his love for the land shines forth from his face
  As his honest smile slowly expands.

  I wish I could paint John;s house on the hill
  As seen through my hungry eyes.
  All the paint I need is a little drab,
  Some green, and the blue from the skies.
  A tumble-down house, but the lines are good,
  And the quaint picturesqueness survives,
  Reminiscent of pioneer days which made
  Such sturdy New England lives.

  The nearest call to his house is down
  To Algerie Road, and there
  His mailbox tells to the passerby
  That John has a cabin to spare.
  No telephone line has found its way
  To these hills where talk is rare,
  Where honest necessity causes their speech -
  And there's heart, and tang, in the air.

  The times are hard for him now, you see,
  As rationing keeps away
  Those lovers of wild and secluded spots,
  To await a more peaceful day.
  But John has visions all aglow
  With faith, and who can say
  These hills will not resound again
  With the quiet of the fisherman's play.

Pop in August, 1986. 

He has been living at

the Edgecombe

Nursing Home since


Appearing in the Arlington, MA Advocate newspaper on May 16, 1991:

Austin "Pop" Welch

Austin "Pop" welch, a volunteer for the Arlington Boys' and Girls' Club, died on May 9 at Eastman Nursing Home in Lenox. He was 95.

Mr. Welch, a resident of Arlington for more than 30 years, was active as a social worker for many Boston area clubs and organizations. He was also the founder and owner of Berkshire Boys Camp, a wilderness camp he built himself on Watson Pond in the Berkshires in the 1930s.

In addition to working for the Arlington Boys' and Girls' Club for more than 20 years, he worked for Fidelity House and a number of other local clubs for the benefit of Arlington youths.

He was born in Newark, Ohio and was a World War I Army veteran.

He leaves his close friend, George Faulkner of Arlington.

A funeral Mass was said in St. Agnes Church on May 13. Burial was in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Expressions of sympathy may be made to the Arlington Boys' and Girls' Club, 60 Pond Lane, Arlington 02174.

Pop's final resting place.


Bruno Durand

1971: Director

Workweek at the camp in 1971.


Camp Director in 1971.


Bruno at the October, 

2003 Camp Reunion.

Easter Lilies

Original artwork by

John Durand.

© Copyright John Durand.

All international rights

reserved. This picture may

not be copied or used in

whole or in part in any way

without written permission

from the artist's estate.

Filling the Cube

Original artwork by

John Durand.

© Copyright John Durand.

All international rights

reserved. This picture may

not be copied or used in

whole or in part in any way

without written permission

from the artist's estate.

Bob Gallant

1972: Director

Bob in the early 1970s.

Bob at the camp.

Bob working during pre-camp


Tony Balski

1948: Program Director

1950-1967: Assistant Director

1968: General Manager

1969: Camp Operator

Tony at his house on Cape Cod at the time of the 2004 Camp Reunion. (October, 2004)

Appearing in the Boston Globe on June 16, 2012.

Anthony John Balski, "Tony"

BALSKI, Anthony John "Tony" Of Harwich died on Sunday, June 10, 2012 at his home with his family by his side. Tony was married to the late Edna Balski and leaves two children, Diana McKanas of Salem, MA and Keith Dennehy of Billerica, MA. He is also survived by 8 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  Tony received a purple heart from injuries sustained during WW II, and a certificate of Honorable Service in the Armed Forces. He was the Associate Director at the Berkshire Boys Camp for 20 years and was a teacher in the Arlington, MA school system for 25 years. A Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 10:00 AM at Holy Trinity Church, Rte. 28, Harwich, MA. In lieu of flowers donations in Tony's name can be made to St. Jude Tribute Program, P. O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, TN 38148-0142.

Jim Sumner

Assistant Director - under construction

Jurgen Liias

Assistant Director - under construction

Art Fitzgerald

1972: Assistant Director

At the 2003 Camp

Reunion.  (October, 2003)

Jerry Denman

1950-1951: Program Director- under construction

1952: Camp Manager

Jim Sumner

1955: Associate Director- under construction

Barry Adams

1958: Head of Boys Work

Barry at the 2003 Camp

Reunion. (October, 2003)

Bill Wright

1966: Head of Boys Work- under construction

Jurgen Liias

1970: Program Coordinator- under construction

Richard Gropman

1970: Camp Manager - under construction

Gene Plasse

1967-1970: Head of Boys Work

Gene at the 2003 Camp

Reunion. (October, 2003)

Gene Plasse Obituary

Reverend Euggene J. Plasse 1940-2018

Reverend Eugene J. Plasse, 77, of Chicopee, was Called Safely Home on Saturday, October 13, 2018. He passed into Eternal Life at Centra Lynchburg General Hospital in Lynchburg, VA surrounded by all the memories he loved and cherished. He was born in Holyoke on November 18, 1940, a son of the late Hector J. and Irene (Racicot) Plasse. In 1948, he moved with his family to Wales where he was raised and graduated in 1959 from Tantasqua Regional High School in Sturbridge. Following his graduation from high school, he enlisted in the United States Army and attained the rank of Specialist Fifth Class. After his military service, he resumed post graduate studies at Saint Philip Neri School in Haverhill before beginning his studies for the Priesthood at Saint Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, CT. He continued his priesthood studies at Our Lady of the Angels Seminary in Albany, NY. He was ordained to the Priesthood in the Diocese of Springfield on May 20, 1972 at Saint Christopher Church in Brimfield by the Most Reverend Christopher J. Weldon, D.D., Bishop of Springfield. Father Plasse served as Parochial Assistant at Saint Anthony Church in North Adams from 1972 to 1979, Sacred Heart Church in Pittsfield from 1979 to 1982 and served as their Administrator from 1982 to 1983, and Saint Mary Church in Northampton from 1983 to 1986. He served as Pastor of Saint Thomas Church in Huntington from 1986 to 1995 and Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in Palmer from 1995 to 2016 while serving at both of the parish communities of the former Saint Bartholomew Church in the Bondsville Village of Palmer and the former Saint Mary Church in the Thorndike Village of Palmer. Father Plasse was named Assistant Chaplain for the Catholic Committee on Scouting in 1984 and became Chaplain for the committee in 1988, serving in that position in the Diocese of Springfield until the time of his passing. He was also appointed Chaplain of the Daughters of Isabella Palmer Circle in 1996 and the Knights of Columbus Palmer Council 376 in 1997. He leaves his two loving sisters, Marie I. Joly of Holyoke and Elaine A. Plasse of Bedford, VA; his loving brother, Ronald J. Plasse and his wife, Lou Ann, of Cotati, CA; his dear nephews and nieces, Armand J. Joly, III and his partner, Theresa Benoit, of Holyoke, Ann M. Knight and her husband, Rick, of Chicopee, Hope M. Plasse of Virginia, Ronald J. Plasse, Jr. and his wife, Lisa, of Roseville, CA, Amanda A. Plasse of Oswego, NY, Adam J. Plasse of Santa Rosa, CA, Rebecca I. Rains and her husband, Joshua, of San Leandro, CA and Luke E. Plasse and his wife, Ava, of New York, NY; his many cherished grandnephews and grandnieces; and his many dear cousins, brother priests, friends and extended members of the Plasse and Racicot families. In addition to his beloved parents, he was also predeceased by his dear brother-in-law, Armand J. Joly, Jr. who was Called Home on March 1, 2009. Father Plasse will Lie in State on Sunday, October 21, 2018 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. which will conclude with a Prayer Vigil Service at 5 p.m. at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, 1076 Thorndike Street, Palmer, MA 01069. A Pontifical Liturgy of Christian Burial will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield on Monday, October 22, 2018 at 11 a.m. at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, 1076 Thorndike Street, Palmer, MA 01069. The Rite of Committal and Burial will follow the Pontifical Liturgy at Sainte Rose Cemetery, 49 Olsen Street, Chicopee, MA 01020. His funeral arrangements are entrusted to the St. Pierre – Phaneuf Aldenville Chapels, (413-532-9806), 13 Dale Street, Chicopee, MA 01020. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Father Plasse’s memory to the Diocese of Springfield f/b/o Catholic Scouting, P.O. Box 1730, Springfield, MA 01102-1730. 

A special picture of Gene Plasse

and Tony Balski

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