Buck's Rock

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Buck's Rock Performing and Creative Arts Camp is an educational summer camp located in New Milford, Connecticut. The camp was established in 1942 by Dr. Ernst Bulova and his wife Ilse, Austrian educators who had studied under Maria Montessori.

Early history[edit]

Ernst (1902–2001) and Ilse Bulova were Austrian educators living in Germany in the early 20th century. Dr. Bulova ran an educational radio program in Berlin, but following the Nazis' rise to power he and his wife were forced to flee to England, where Dr. Bulova became co-director of the Beltane School in Wimbledon.

With the help of relatives who owned the Bulova Watch Company, Dr. and Mrs. Bulova emigrated to the United States in 1940 to find a refuge for British children during World War II. The site chosen was hilly farmland in the Merryall region of New Milford, but since crossing the Atlantic had become too treacherous, the plan was abandoned and Ernst and Ilse convinced their relatives to sell the land to them. Thus began Buck’s Rock Work Camp, where the Bulovas put into practice some of their Montessori-based principles on how children learn and grow.

The earliest campers came from two of Manhattan’s progressive schools, The Dalton School and The Walden School. In addition to learning about New Milford’s small-town governance, the children worked on neighboring farms to alleviate the wartime manpower shortage. Once the war ended, the camp really took off and a unique program of creative and artistic endeavors evolved.

Later history[edit]

Buck's Rock Road

In 2001, coinciding with a memorial ceremony following Dr. Bulova's death, a group of alumni spanning the camp's 50-year history founded a non-profit organization called Friends of Buck's Rock (FOBR),[1] to promote the educational ideals and philosophy of the camp's founders. In addition to sponsoring alumni events, FOBR has served as a fund-raising organization, partnering with Buck's Rock's current directors to make it possible for financially disadvantaged teenagers to attend camp on full or partial scholarships. In the 1970s the Bulova's sold the camp to 3 couples who ran the camp together for many years.


While many campers believe that the camp was named for a large boulder that sits behind the Actors Studio building, the land on which the camp sits was part of the Buck’s Rock district of New Milford, John Buck having been one of its first settlers. In addition, the road that runs through the camp is called Buck’s Rock Road.

Camp life[edit]

Campers hang out on the Gong

Campers at Buck's Rock range from age 9 to 17. If a camper is 15½ or older by December 1 or entering 10th grade the following year, they may apply to become a Counselor-in-Training (CIT) in an area of their choice. A CIT spends half their day working in their shop area, and half the day as a camper. Many CITs go on to become Junior Counselors and full staff in later years; Buck's Rock staff is made up of 50% returning staff each summer.

As dictated by the Montessori system, there is no specific schedule for when campers may participate in shop activities. However, a basic daily schedule does exist, denoting mealtimes, special activities, and bed time. This schedule is marked by the ringing of the gong, an old railroad locomotive wheel that can be heard throughout the entire camp.

Every evening there are activities for campers and staff to participate in, including movies, performances, recitals, and exhibits of camper work. Buck's Rock puts on more than two dozen performances each summer.

The culminating event of each summer is a Festival Day during which relatives, friends, and other guests visit the camp to view the artistic work and attend the various performances that the campers have created.

Shops and activities[edit]

Ceramics Studio

Buck's Rock offers more than 40 shop areas (listed below), performance settings, and other activities in which campers can choose to participate. In addition to more typical camp activities such as athletics and swimming, Buck's Rock has full facilities offering expert instruction in the manual arts and crafts as well as in the performing arts. Each area at Buck's Rock is staffed by professional artists, performers, and teachers.

Shops: Animal Farm, Batik, Book Arts, Ceramics, Clown, Computers, Costume, Culinary, Dance, Digital Photography, Fleen, Glassblowing, Lampworking, Leather, Lighting and Sound Design, Metals/Jewelry, Mushed (Music Shed), Painting/Drawing, P.A.S.S. (Printmaking and Silkscreen Studio), Publications, Radio, Set Design, Sculpture, Sewing, Sports, Studio 59, Theatre, Video, Weaving, Wood

Notable staff and alumni[edit]

The camp has hosted a number of prominent folk performances, including ones by Simon & Garfunkel, Pete Seeger, Reverend Gary Davis and Dar Williams. Canadian teen sensation Pamela LaJoie performed as a camper in 2008. Lectures and workshops given by prominent artists have been a staple of the camp since its inception, with visits ranging from Leni Riefenstahl to Maury Yeston. In more recent times, the camp has hosted alumni parent Kevin Bacon's band The Bacon Brothers. The camp has also hosted Canadian staff band Hunter Valentine.[3]


  1. ^ Welcome. Friends of Buck's Rock. Retrieved on 2007-11-11.
  2. ^ Clarissa Explains It All Clarissa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarissa_Explains_It_All
  3. ^ Andrew Horan (November 11, 2007). "Leaving town: Hunter Valentine drops everything after signing record deal to work summer camp". SceneandHeard.ca. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°35′28″N 73°23′43″W / 41.5911°N 73.3952°W / 41.5911; -73.3952