Share Your Ashokan Story
The Ashokan community brings people together – for nature, music and dance, blacksmithing, history, and more.
Many people have sent us stories about the powerful impact Ashokan has had on their lives. Below is a letter from a man who visited Ashokan as a fourth grader nearly 40 years ago. Last August he shared the magic with his father and son by bringing them to our first Summer Hoot. His story and many others that we’ve heard throughout the years inspire us to continue to offer life-changing experiences in nature, history, music and art. Enjoy the story, then share your own at the bottom of this page!
I couldn’t tell you which room I slept in, what I ate, or who I roomed with all those many years ago on my first trip to Ashokan. But I can tell you one thing–where the fire poker I made now sits. It’s at my parents house, next to the one my sister made a few years later. To me Ashokan was a powerful introduction to the olde way of doing things, and the value of doing something with your own two hands. It brought alive the realization that idea that an object made by hand was something to be cherished. And that the many irregularities of a handcrafted object were not imperfections, but were actually visible signs of the character and charm of the person who created it. They enhanced rather than detracted from the value of the object.
The lessons I learned on that 4th Grade class trip (circa 1975) are still with me today. I take pride in the things I do with my own hands, and I value the handiwork of others. Our world of mass produced assembly line products can be cold, and hand crafted goods make an impersonal world a warmer and more personal one. I now have a son of my own and I was overjoyed at the opportunity to take him with my parents to Ashokan for the first time this past summer. He too got the opportunity to make his own fire poker, and experience the joy of creating. Actions are so much more powerful than words and bring to life ideas in such a vibrant and lasting way. I imagine the studious look of joy on his face as he created his own is an echo of the same look I had on my face so long ago. I remember creating my fire poker all those years ago like it was yesterday, and can tell you where it sits today. I can also tell you where my son’s fire poker now sits, it sits beside my fireplace–300 miles as the crow flies and a generation away from my own.
I am Lt Col William Bergman, active duty Air Force aviator with 24 years of service to our nation and I’m glad Ashokan was a part of two generations of my family’s life.
Our hope is that many more generations of kids will be able to have such profound experiences. Please consider making a gift to help Ashokan continue to create lifelong memories.
Share Your Ashokan Story!
We know there are many more stories to share from people in Hudson Valley, across the state, and across the country who have had powerful experiences here at Ashokan.
Our vision is to connect with generations of people who visited Ashokan and how the experience impacted them. Whether you’ve been coming to Ashokan since it opened as the Ashokan Field Campus in 1967, or visited for the first time at the Summer Hoot, we want to hear your story. Tell us what makes Ashokan special to you? When did you first come here? What friends did you meet? What did you learn? Where is your favorite place? Send us your Ashokan Memory in the form below.
We’d love to see photos of you, too. Do you still have the fire poker you made at Ashokan? Hold it up and take a picture. You can email it to us with “Ashokan Memories” in the subject line.