Moe Steinberg (“Uncle Moe”) holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and a Master’s Degree in Education from New York University, with advanced graduate preparation in Elementary and Secondary school administration.
After teaching 5th and 6th grade for a few years, Moe decided to teach Fine Arts, and earned a second Master’s Degree in Art Education at Pratt Institute, after which he taught major art students in middle school and high school. His art classes included sculpture, graphic arts, drawing and painting, and cartooning at Jamaica High School in Queens, NY. Moe was faculty advisor for the Jamaica HS yearbook for many years, and still found the time to contribute his inimitable stage designs for annual plays and musicals. (Occasionally he was even caught crooning a Frank Sinatra fave onstage!)
At Chickawah, along with his responsibility for hiring staff and signing up campers, Uncle Moe introduced numerous innovations in camp life. In the dining room, he recognized that having waiters serving every table was becoming time-consuming and inefficient—and he decided that one camper from each table could pick up the platters of food; another could clear the table. (Of course, kitchen staff would still carry hot soup to the tables and stack the dishes and silverware out before each meal.)
Then, Uncle Moe figured out a one-way circular “route” from the tables to the serving windows and back around to the tables, so that the trip back and forth could run even more swiftly and safely.
Also in his “COO” (Chief Operations Officer) capacity at Chickawah, Moe eliminated the yearly family chore of camp trunks—the packing; the labeling; the pick-ups; the trucking—and introduced another of his myriad innovations: duffel bags. Duffels could be shipped by parcel post and later easily stored in a storage area outside the bunks.
Using his wealth of Navy experience, Uncle Moe issued duffel-bag packing instructions to everyone about how to roll everything—clothing, sheets, blankets—down to compact, space-saving dimensions. World War II left its mark on Uncle Moe—and he, in turn, left his indelible mark on Camp Chickawah.
Never one to coast on previous successes, Uncle Moe then cooked up “Uncle Moe’s Canteen,” an after-hours snack-bar where boys having a “Late Night,” after Taps, could come up and buy pizza, hot dogs and other treats.
Of course, Moe continued the “Letters of Chickawah” Sunday-morning chats, where his legendary “we will turn adversity to our advantage” motto originated!
Chickawah alums everywhere recall Uncle Moe’s “adversity-to-advantage” phrase to this day.
Uncle Moe’s vision for Chickawah also included converting the familiar camp concept of “color war” — our end-of-summer Blue and Gray competition—into the Blue and Gray “Olympics,” the same competition with a new tone: “Bringing the best of our skills.”
Another competitive innovation would be the new Tribe plaques to be hung on the dining room wall. Using his art education background, Uncle Moe directed each Tribe to designate a Tribe artist who would have the honor of designing the Tribe logo.
Then, asking each camper to bring to camp a plain white T-shirt, Moe created a silk-screening operation early in the summer—one of his famous large-scale, carefully coordinated production-line events (remember Moe’s big outdoor roast-beef barbecues?)—at which each camper would participate in getting his Tribe logo silk-screened onto his own T-shirt. The T-shirts were then worn on Tribe mornings.
Other new plaques Moe added between 1967 and 1985 to the traditional Riflery, Junior Shield Boy, and Shield Boy plaques on the Social Hall wall included Chickawah Mountain Boy, World Cup Soccer, Swimming Aquateer,
Biathlon, Tennis, and Golf—and, of course, the big Blue and Gray Olympics plaques.
As a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Moe writes the VFW’s monthly newsletter, and runs the prestigious annual Voice of Democracy scholarship essay/audiotape competition for his local VFW Post in Long Island, New York.
In this contest, students compete on the county level, then those winners move on to the State level, ultimately competing for the national first-place honor, including the first-place scholarship and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, DC.
Created in 1947, the Voice of Democracy (VOD) scholarship program is an audio-essay contest for high school students in grades 9-12 that annually provides more than $3 million in scholarships. The first-place winner, who competes with all the first-place VFW Department winners, receives a $30,000 scholarship that is paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school.
In addition to the VOD, Moe heads up his local VFW Patriot’s Pen competition.
Patriot's Pen, a youth-essay writing contest endorsed by the National Association of Secondary School Principals' contest criteria, is a nationwide competition that gives students in grades 6, 7 and 8 the opportunity to write essays expressing their views on democracy. Annually, more than 115,000 students participate in the contest.
Contestants write a 300-400 word essay based on an annual patriotic theme. The first-place winner receives a $10,000 savings bond and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, DC. The top national winners each receive a savings bond anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. (The 2007 deadline for these contests will be November 1.)
Students can enter the Voice of Democracy or Patriot’s Pen contests by submitting the required entry form, along with their essay (and audio recording for the Voice of Democracy) to a local VFW Post. To find a post in your area, look in the white pages of your local phone directory.
For information, you can call the VFW National Programs office during normal business hours at 816-968-1117. Mail entry form and essay (and audio essay for the VOD) to the local VFW post. Further directions are listed on the entry form. For more information or questions, contact VFW National Headquarters or your local VFW Post, or visit www.vfw.org.
To kick off these events every fall, Moe visits the schools in his designated VFW Post area, speaking to teachers and principals and delivering the official applications and rules, then collecting and submitting the students’ essays to the judging committees. With this annual initiative, Uncle Moe continues his involvement and connection to education.
A major interest for Uncle Moe is his artwork, which finds numerous places of honor on the walls of family, friends, and esteemed colleagues everywhere. Moe regularly displays his pieces in art shows in his area as well. His good buddy Johnny “B” Bakowski never stops trying to influence Moe to enter his works into local Arts & Crafts fairs.