Pathfinder Alumni - What Are They Up To?

January 4 - Brian Brunsing
January 12 - Mike Witmore
January 19 - Mohammed Darewish
February 2- Tom Unger
February 9 - Bob Ludwig

Pathfinder people of all ages are out in the world, doing amazing and fascinating things. Here's a snapshot for a few of them, in observance of Camp's 105th anniversary year. It's very touching to see how many of them attribute so much of their motivation and perspective in life to their Pathfinder friends and experiences.

Alumni - What Are They Up To?

Bob Ludwig
February 9, 2018

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[Bob with pal Bob Roggow at Pathfinder's Centennial Reunion 2013]

Name – Robert Jay Ludwig

Age - 73

Location – New York, NY

Occupation - Associate Director, Nurture Science Program, Columbia University Medical Center, New York.

First Year at camp – 1954 Chipp

Last year at camp – 1963 Head Man

Hobbies/ Favorite things to do? – Writing

Proud of an accomplishment? – Creating a new theory of emotional behavior.
In partnership with Dr. Martha G. Welch, I am creating and publishing a new theoretical basis for her therapy for emotional, behavioral and developmental disorders (Calming Cycle Theory). I have a goal of publishing 10 journal articles and three books on the theory within the next decade.

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[Ludwig, far right, Indian Council Fire, Bob Roggow center]

What advice you would give to your younger self or a new camper enrolling? – Be nice to your fur-bearing friends.

Favorite camp memory? – Camp shows in the 1950s. (staff skits and Tom Dodd hypnotizing Jack Haney.)

Favorite place on the island? Indian Council Fire.

Biggest lesson that camp taught you? How to bear pain for long periods of time without complaining.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? I hope to co-author a book entitled “The Science of Nurture”

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[Bob Ludwig, far right, Cree Row]

More on Bob and Martha's work at Columbia:

'We created Columbia's Nurture Science Program ( Our program ranges from molecular biology (our lab discovered the oxytocin receptor in the baby gut), to animal studies looking at the effects of maternal separation. We’re also conducting clinical trials on families with premature babies in the NICU, as well as trials on families of preschool age children ages 0-5 with emotional illness. We have studies underway in Texas, Florida, New Jersey and New York City. We’re facilitating parent/child emotional connections. This approach is more effective than cognitive theories and self-regulation practices. Our program is trying to address the problem of children arriving at school not ready or able to learn.'

Alumni - What Are They Up To?

Tom Unger
Feb. 2, 2018

Tom Unger spent his first summer at camp 17 years ago, in 2001. After 12 seasons of climbing the ranks from camper to staffman and becoming famous for his outgoing personality and goofy antics, Tom is now a computer science PhD candidate at Boston University . Throughout high school Tom competed and was a national qualifier in Strongman events, surely preparing him for the summers spent on long trips paddling and portaging the days away. 


Name: Tommy Unger

Age: 26

Location: Boston

Occupation: PhD candidate in computer science, Boston University.

First Year at Camp Pathfinder: 2001, 1st year M&C.

Last Year at Camp Pathfinder: 2012, 2nd year Headman.

Hobbies: Meditation, biking, rock climbing, camping, roasting coffee, podcasts.

Recent accomplishments: I'm building an operating system!

Tommy is doing a research project that asks what it would look like if you could watch a program run as if you were watching a physical system evolve in time. Essentially this will help make systems' next steps predictable and therefore able to run faster. He uses a trick called "speculative execution". Serious stuff. Tommy explained it to us in a way that we could better understand... 

"Speculative execution is like a portage with wacky rules. On a normal trail, you AND your friends have to walk every step of it, but here only you OR your friends do. You've been doing switchbacks up a hill for a while. You can't see the next switchback, but you have a good guess of where it is, so you call your buddy and he promptly parachutes down to that point, leaves a magic breadcrumb on the ground, and starts walking up the hill. When you arrive at that point later, you eat the breadcrumb and are immediately teleported forward to wherever he made it to. Now he can be beamed back up to the mothership. The more friends you have, the more teleporting you can do, as long as you're good at predicting where the trail will go in the future." (See more below)


What advice would you give to a new camper enrolling? Have fun, be nice, & carry heavy stuff!

Favorite Camp Memory: Building a tree trunk deck across 4 plastic boats on the Attawapiskat river. Cooking dinner on the raft while a lazy current subtracts kilometers from our next day's work. Joking around all evening and falling asleep on the river. Waking up in the middle of the night to see northern lights like crazy green curtains across the sky. I think Conor Peterson summed it up nicely: "It's like TV, but way sicker."

Favorite spot on the island: Bunderflap.

Biggest lesson camp taught you: How to enjoy a good sunset.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  Who knows? Hopefully working on a fun project with friends.

Favorite trips you took as a camper and staff? Attawapiskat, Rupert, Dumoine & Groundhog Rivers. Temagami Park.


(More from Tom on speculative execution) If you made it this far, maybe you want the other side of the analogy. I start a program running on one machine and my system studies the trajectory it carves out through space. When it feels confident, the system guesses a point in space where the program may be at in the future (this is the speculation). I then start a second computer at that point and let both computers run in parallel. If the first computer eventually reaches the speculated point, the first computer can immediately jump to wherever the second computer has executed forward to. From the perspective of the first computer, it gets to "skip" all the steps the 2nd computer did in parallel. The second computer can now stop executing and be used for a new speculation. Ideally, this scheme could be used to run a program in half the time on two computers, in a third the time on three etc.

Alumni - What Are They Up To?

Mohammed Nour Darewish
January 19, 2018

Mohammed Darewish experienced his rookie Pathfinder summer in 2017. He came to us from Toronto, but was born and raised in Syria. His parents fled their home city of Aleppo when Syria’s Assad regime began bombing the civilian population there, in response to a popular civil uprising opposing the government. Years of adversity as refugees from the Syrian conflict finally ended when the family was welcomed to the safety of Canada in 2016.

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Joining us for D-Session, Mohammed set foot on Pathfinder Island August 8, not yet a year newly-arrived in Canada. He was one of ten Syrian boys invited to Pathfinder without charge, through a private initiative undertaken by Camp with refugee family sponsor networks in Toronto.

Mohammed conquered his first season at Pathfinder as a 2nd year Cree, living in the heart of Cree Row in Tent 11.  Having never seen a canoe, he trip-trained and ventured out on a six-day trip, from Opeongo Lake through Happy Isle to Otterslide, on to Misty, and home to Source. His headman Oren Karp shared his eval: “Mohammed tripped well for a first-year camper! He pushed through difficult portages. He stayed very positive and meshed well with his trip-mates.”

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Although a bit shy in answering our questions, Mohammed is happy to be among our featured alumni in this web series, ‘What are they up to?’

Age: 12

Hometown: Aleppo, Syria

Moved to: Toronto, Canada

School: Kensington Junior Public School

First year at Camp Pathfinder and age group: 2nd year Cree, 2017

Hobbies: Soccer and chess

Recent Accomplishments? 
"I made the chess team at school"

What advice would you give to a new camper enrolling?
"Camp is fun!"

What are you most looking forward to when you come back to camp?

What is your favorite memory from last season?
"Kayaking and FTOW"

Favorite spot on Pathfinder Island?
"The Flagpole before meals."

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Biggest lesson that camp has taught you so far?
"Don't be afraid of anything."

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
"As a 1st-year Secondman at camp."

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Mohammed fully embraced his camp session and is signed on for another Pathfinder adventure in the 105th season!

Alumni - What Are They Up To?

Mike Witmore
January 12, 2018

Mike is a Pathfinder camper, staff, alumnus and parent. He and brother Chris, (hailing, as Lance would often announce, from 'historic' Acton, Mass) attended and worked at Pathfinder in the 1980s, notably co-leading the camp's first James Bay AA trip in 1986. That Missinaibi River adventure with Jon Benjamin, Simon Mortimer - and joined by owner Mac Rand en route - set CPI on a path to today's northern AA explorations.

Mike has been an avid alumnus and camper parent, helping to introduce many Washington friends to the Pathfinder experience.


Age: 50 (shown above 3rd from right, at Moosonee train station with his 1986 AA trip.)

Hometown: Acton, MA

Location: Washington, DC

Occupation Director, Folger Shakespeare Library

First year at Pathfinder and status (i.e. 1st year cree)? AA

Last year at Pathfinder and status? 1st Year Head Man 

Hobbies? Canoeing, music, reading.

Recent or proudest accomplishments?
I just completed my sixth year as Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, one of DC's great cultural institutions, and the world's greatest source for Shakespeare.

In 2016 we observed the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. To celebrate, we sent a copy of the 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare's plays to fifty states and two territories around the US. About 750,000 people saw this rare book from our collection, or took part in our programming. This tour was a landmark moment for us, and a source of pride for our supporters.

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(Mike with his wife Kellie Robertson, dropping off son Silas for his 4th Pathfinder summer.)

What advice would you give to your younger camper self or a new camper enrolling? 
Learn more about the history of Algonquin Park and the native peoples who first explored and lived in these amazing areas. Pathfinder is part of that long tradition, and those of us who attend or work at the camp can play a role in preserving that history and explaining it to others.

Favorite camp memory?
Paddling into James Bay on the first Pathfinder trip to reach that far north. Unforgettable.

Favorite spot on Pathfinder Island? 
The Dining Hall, since that's where everyone comes together. I love seeing the history of Pathfinder Award and Tripping Award winners on the wall. There's incredible continuity at our camp, and it means that everyone who spends time on Pathfinder Island is part of that larger history.

Biggest lesson camp taught you? 
You have to keep an open mind about people. Canoe tripping puts you in challenging situations, and truly resilient people may not show that quality until they face a challenge.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 
I hope that I am still working with inspiring people and collections that bring history, art and literature to life.


Alumni - What Are They Up To?

Brian Brunsing
January 4, 2018


Brian spent ten camper/staff years with Pathfinder in the early 2000s, bringing high energy and fun as a camper and staffman. During 2007-10, he was a favorite staff man in Mic-Chippville and an avid trip Headman. Brian was an early Meanest Linker, and built interest in whitewater kayaking. Also proficient with announcements, pocket sand and mischief sticks.

Age: 28 

Camper Hometown: Buffalo

Location:  Tokyo Japan, traveling around the world 

Occupation: Co-Founder of Banana Phone with Pathfinder alumni Charlie Katrycz and Max Brown ( Banana Phone is a bluetooth phone handset banana, selling for about $50 with portion of proceeds donated to Mountain Gorilla conservation.

First Year at Camp: 2001, 2nd Year Cree

Last Year Camp: 2010, CIT Director 

AA Trip: 2004, Missinaibi R.

Headman notable trips: Meanest Link 2008, Kip-Dumoine 2009, CITs Pet-Barron 2010

Hobbies/ Favorites: Snowboard, Mountain Bike, Backpack, Kayak, Travel 

Recent Accomplishments: 

  • Started an hilarious company with two of my best friends from Pathfinder
  • Traveled to 5 different countries in Asia + South America in the last 6 months 
  • Learned a ton of new things / Met a ton of new people 
  • Got outside my comfort zone 
  • Committed to making the most out of every single day! 

Advice for your younger camper self? Or a new camper enrolling? 

  • Focus on doing the best job you can today and don't take yourself too serious!  
  • When the going gets tough, put a smile on your face even if you have to fake it
  • Drink at least 3 nalgenes of water everyday 
  • No matter what he tells you, don't EVER let Finn McCance borrow your underwear. 


Favorite Camp Memory: One that comes to mind is a sunrise on Little Otterslide after 20 hours of Cedar-to-Source.

Favorite spot on the island: HMR

Biggest life lesson learned at Camp: A tailwind is most appreciated after many days of headwinds. 

Where are you in 5 years?: Surrounded by great friends and family in cool places, working hard and enjoying every moment.  Carpe Diem! 


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