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Moon campers: Readers share lunar memories made at campsites

Several who remembered event were outside when Neil Armstrong took his giant step
A paper plate "party invitation" campers used to invite neighbors to a moon-watch party on Caroga Lake on July 20, 1969.
A paper plate "party invitation" campers used to invite neighbors to a moon-watch party on Caroga Lake on July 20, 1969.

Several Daily Gazette readers who remembered the Apollo 11 moon landing of 1969 were outside when Neil Armstrong took his giant step.

They were camping. Here are their “Moon Memories:”


The summer of 1969 I was 17 and living at my family-owned summer camp on East Caroga Lake.

On July 20th, one of our camp neighbors sent five camps a paper plate invitation to come to a “Moon Bake”  at their camp.

We all attended, spending the afternoon outside their camp around the fireplace eating and drinking. One of the couples from that camp had their RV parked there and they had a small black-and-white TV.  They ran an extension cord out to the picnic table and we were able to watch as the lunar module landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong became the first human to touch and walk on the moon.

— Gail Girvin, Scotia


On July 20th, 1969, I was a camp counselor at Camp Arcady in Hague.

It was a sleep-away camp and we had been talking about the moon landing for a number of days. We had all the kids go to sleep at the regular time and then when it was almost time for the moon landing the fun began.

Everyone was woken up and the whole camp walked with flashlights in their pajamas to the main pavilion for this momentous event.

The excitement and wonder for everyone that night is a thing I will never forget!

— Sandra Wennar Kutil, Niskayuna


I was living with my family of a wife, two young children and one about to be born. We were in a small cabin in Bush River, where I was doing research at Edgewood, Maryland. The cabin had bunk beds and a black-and-white TV. I’m sure there were other beds but I only remember the bunk beds because the TV was sitting on the edge of the upper bunk.

As the landing was being covered by TV, my wife and I were relating it to the baby about to be born. Just a couple of days later he was born. It was fun bringing him in on what was happening but without the conviction he’d ever know what was happening.

The TV had a standard small screen and not very sharp picture, but I remember how it looked then. I recorded it with our Super 8 camera and have the film somewhere but it would be harder to find than the space shot itself.

We were just thrilled at witnessing the whole event.

— John R. Sowa, Glenville.   


For us, it was always a night to remember.

With five kids in tow, ages 8 to 3 months, my husband Tom and I rented a small trailer and took off for a vacation at a Virginia Beach ocean side campsite.

We took with us a small portable TV and lots of extension cords in hopes of seeing this historic lunar event. It worked. We set the TV on a rock and with all the other campers gathered around, applauded this marvel together. 

— Audrey Hughes, Glenville


When I was growing up, my family had a summer camp on Sacandaga with a group of about 40 other camps.

In the ’60s, very few families had televisions at camp, but one of our neighbors did. They invited everyone who cared to watch the first manned lunar landing and moon walk to come over.

I’ll never forget that small black and white TV with the rabbit ear antennas. All of us kids were seated on the floor in front with the adults behind us telling us we were watching history being made.

What I remember most from that day was my first true emotion of overwhelming patriotism, at the age of 8 years old.

I remember it like it was yesterday!

— Sharon Clark, Schenectady 


I was 16 years old working with the kitchen crew the summer of ’69 at Camp Boyhaven. We had a small, portable TV set up in the dining hall next to one of the big fireplaces on each side of the large balcony overlooking the swimming pond.

The dining hall was packed and pretty quiet as we watched and listened to the moon landing.

— Gary Kilinski, Glenville

More moon memories:

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