The Rodger and Candy Popkin Harmony Garden

Shana Tova to our Blue Star family!

In our first blog post of the off-season, we want to acknowledge that it has been a difficult couple of months with several natural disasters impacting many of our camp families. Our hearts go out to all those affected by the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean, and the earthquakes in Mexico.

Furthermore, we are deeply troubled by the acts of terrorism in our country and abroad and are keeping the victims of recent acts of violence in our thoughts. As we reflect on those events, we in turn consider the work we do at camp. Why is it that the camp experience is so important? What do we really hope to accomplish each summer when we have the unique privilege of working with the young people who will eventually lead and make their marks on the world?

Every year at camp we embark on a hopeful endeavor: to help heal the world through creating a peaceful, harmonious little universe where children and staff can discover their best selves, form meaningful connections with others, and ultimately build upon those experiences in ways that benefit the world around them. It was in that spirit that this summer at camp in honor of our 70th season, we created a Harmony Garden. At the start of this New Year, we wanted to take a moment to share more about this summer’s Harmony Garden project with you. It was designed intentionally to be a place of reflection, simplicity, play, and peace that would highlight our goals and hopes for the camp experience. It is meant to serve as a microcosm for that which we can create in the larger world that we will, both individually and collectively, “plant trees, under whose shade (we) do not expect to sit” (Nelson Henderson). It is our hope that this small act or offering can serve as a prayer for the planet, bringing more balance, joy, and peace to our world.

Given our collective intention for this project to recognize our camp’s rich history and bright future, we named the Harmony Garden in honor of Rodger and Candy Popkin, Lauren’s parents and long time Blue Star Owner/Directors. Rodger and Candy have always believed in and been devoted to the potential of camp to make the world a better place, knowing that the magic that happens at camp helps to create the changers, dreamers, and doers who heal the world. The Harmony Garden is an expression of our gratitude and a way to say thank you to Rodger and Candy on behalf of generations of campers and staff members.

Surrounded by old and new camp families during a beautiful Havdallah ceremony in our 70th season Alumni and Family Camp Weekend, we celebrated our “camp with purpose” by unveiling the Harmony Garden. Additionally, in both first and second session, we held camper-led ceremonies to introduce the Harmony Garden to our campers and staff. Campers and staff made significant contributions to our garden throughout the summer. Their participation in creating and molding parts of the garden in their image is, to us, the most meaningful part of this endeavor. We know that the love our campers and staff feel for camp will help to make this garden even more special, unique and lovely as it grows and is shared by our camp family in future summers. May our garden and our camp always be a place of harmony, and in this New Year, may it serve as a prayer for a more peaceful, harmonious planet…

14 thoughts on “The Rodger and Candy Popkin Harmony Garden

  1. Fantastic and moving. Very much needed during this trying time in our world. Thank you for making magic and peace for our 3 children

  2. It is really great to see you celebrating the wonderful contribution that Rodger and Candy has played in the camp movement in the US and the impact they have had on so many lives. Even though my last visit to BS was in 1988 I still have many fond memories of my 4 summers at Blue Stat best wishes

  3. This is the most beautiful and selfless project you could have possibly involved the Blue Star Camper population in creating.

  4. Rodger and Candy,
    A fine example of that which we have come to expect from our alma maters.

    I’ve decided the heat is way too much in Columbia so I’ve retired and will move up to greenville around the first of next year,

    If i can be of service to you,,,,in any way,,,I’ll only be 45min away.
    Hope to see you
    Take care and my very best to …I still do love that place.

    1. Sylvan,
      If you will send me your email address to “hlevittATpoboxDOTcom”, I have a photo from 1970 at camp that I would like to forward to you.

      Harvey Levitt
      1969 – bookkeeper
      1970-71 – runner

  5. My Brother Dan, is a professional potter , D. Lasser Ceramics; in Vermont. The 3 of us, including our sister Stacy, went to blue Star pack in the early70s. Dan learned his trade from one of the specialists, David Rossenow, & has turned it into a very profitable and interesting business for himself. Dan’s pottery is renowned around the country. I just wanted to mention this for those who think camp is just about fun, it also teaches perseverance and business sense. Yes It fun but is part of the building blocks of life.

  6. Very moving. I have no words to desecrive how moving and wonderful Blue Star is. What a wonderful way to create a peaceful place for our children. Thankful for all of you.

  7. I had the honor and wonderful opportunity to be at the seventieth anniversary and at Havdallah in the Harmony Garden. Any time that the occasion presents itself for me to talk about Camp Blue Star, I joyfully seize the chance to speak of the happiest, most satisfying and utterly blissful days in my memory. I have so very much for which to be thankful and grateful, and CBS is always in a prominent position in what I count as the blessings in my life.

  8. The Harmony Garden is a beautiful place for reflection and peaceful enjoyment! I was the camp tutor during the summer of 1966 and the camp owners at that time were Herman and Harry Popkins. I have fond memories of escorting campers from New Orleans by train to camp! I also remember the family who hosted me in their lovely New Orleans home. Camp Blue Star is a wonderful place for making a difference in the lives of the campers.
    Brenda Bolt Artemes

  9. Fond and happy memories of Camp Blue Star (1981) I made some wonderful friends. Adults and Children find their own level of strength, ability, skill and friendship sharing these in a safe and happy environment.
    My 2nd year (1982) should have been just as memorable but just hours away from joining up with my Blue Star family for the summer, I was involved in a near fatal accident near Atlanta GA and my life changed dramatically.
    Even though disabled and using my own levels (as above) I found happiness, love and togetherness.

    Thank you Roger and Candy

  10. It’s great that the fourth generation of the Popkin family is still involved at CBS. I go back almost to the beginning. My first summer there was 1951 along with quite a few of my cousins from Orlando, Florida. I attended in1951,1953,1956,1957 as a camper and 1960 and 1963 as a staff member running the Camp Store along with ” Aunt Sarah” Popkin. How well I remember the three original Popkin brothers and many of their relatives. During the Summer of 1963, I met my future wife. After 53 years, we are still together-a kid from Florida and a young lady from Indiana

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