Directors Moe and Betty Steinberg

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

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.

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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.

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Betty Saltman Steinberg (“Aunt Betty”), a camper and counselor of many summers, is a graduate (Bachelor of Science) of the Women’s Department of Physical Education and Health, New York University (NYU, where she and Uncle Moe met in their freshman year). Aunt Betty holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Betty taught for 25 years at Jamaica High School, Queens, NY—thirteen of those years coinciding with Moe’s tenure at Jamaica (a situation that encouraged a number of “camp-style” pranks—all harmless, of course).

Aunt Betty’s classes at Jamaica included Modern Dance (an elective choice), regular Gym, Health, Child Psychology—an elective offered as a Social Studies credit—and in later years, a Yoga elective which became very popular.

In her travels, Aunt Betty often meets former students who remember the close of every Yoga class when, to students sitting cross-legged with hands palms-up on knees, in Yoga style, Aunt Betty would say, “Wherever you go, all day, may a loving hand rest lightly on your shoulder…” and then all would say, “Shantih, Shantih, Shantih…”  (Hindu for “Shalom.”)

At Chickawah, Aunt Betty planned and coordinated all outgoing trips, and in the tradition of Uncle Chick, was always available for song night at the piano. She also had many program ideas, her favorite being the change in Chickawah’s “free swim” and “instructional swim” system.

In earlier days, the A.M. swim was for instruction, and each afternoon was free swim. To facilitate a swim lesson for every camper, Aunt Betty devised a system for all campers to be matched to swim groups according to their level of ability. After that, at every swim, some groups met for instruction in designated areas, and some groups had “free swim.” The result was an instruction class for every camper every day, and a free swim every day.

“Free play” days (which, in the early days, were Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) became “Elective Days,” which were structured more carefully with sign-up sheets for campers to sign up for the electives of their choice. That way, Betty, Moe and Mickey would always know where everyone was, and counselors could see at a glance who would be arriving for each activity period. And if parents called, Aunt Betty always knew where she could find you!

A writer par excellence, Aunt Betty was always available to help write verses for Blue & Gray song contests—and comedy was (and still is) her specialty. For example, in the late 60s, one Harvey Schwartz—of the Harvey Schwartz Memorial Buffoon Award and legendary camper and counselor—brought two fraternity brothers with him from Tulane University to be counselors. One verse went like this:

“Here they come, one by one, and they’re here for the sun and fun, because they’re… HARVEY’S BOYS!
Every one is a joy—and a sure-fire American boy…. What happened to ROY??”

“He’ll get you a job and recommend you high,
If you’re a friend of Harvey’s and an A. E. Pi!
So come and bring your tennis shoes… Be sure to pay your union dues…
Go with Harvey—he’s kosher and he’s par-vee! Go with Harvey’s boys!”

But Aunt Betty’s talents didn’t end there. She was always available for sewing… Island Swim Patches, torn bathing suits, even costume-making for Chickawah’s fabulous dramatic and film extravaganzas! (Who could ever forget those coffee-dyed teepees and loincloths she and Susan helped make for the on-location shoot of the Native American epic, “Natonka”?)

Last but not least… Aunt Betty is the original and one-and-only Doyenne of the Chickawah Chirps! She tirelessly coordinated and almost always personally typed (on special mimeograph stencils) all the campers’ reports from the field, and creative writings, and saw to it that all cartoons and drawings made their deadlines—while Uncle Moe ran the mimeograph operation (those were the days—long before computers!) on those long sheets of colored paper.

Then, interested campers would come up to the house and help collate and staple the printed sheets together for the latest issue of our beloved Chickawah Chirps, hot off the press! (Betty always had a treat waiting for devoted Chirps helpers after long hours of newspaper assembly.)

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In retirement, Aunt Betty’s major talent and interest in music, and in Barbershop quartet harmony in particular, have kept her a longtime and actively performing member of the Greater Nassau chapter of the Sweet Adelines. (“Sweet Adelines” are the female counterparts of all-male Barbershop quartets… did you know that male Barbershop singers and female Sweet Adeline singers never sing together, because of the difference in the sound-wave properties of male and female voices?)

Aunt Betty regularly travels to different cities for some serious choral performances and competitions. In fact, the Greater Nassau chorus is currently still Number One!

Booma Lacka Choo, Uncle Moe and Aunt Betty!


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