In Memory of Mary Bayes Ryan

by on Dec.23, 2018, under Letter

Mary Bayes Ryan, Feb. 15, 1933 – Sept. 21, 2018

Mary Bayes Ryan, an artist who in the 1970s purchased the former Fire Place Lodge summer camp in Springs, opening it for use by local farmers, pop-up summer camps, and an extended community of family, friends and neighbors, died at home overlooking Gardiner’s Bay on Sept. 21. She was 85.

Many from that group gathered in October to remember her, filling the 19th-century oak barn she had moved to the property in the mid-1980s. 

“There are times in my life when I meet someone, and I’m aware there’s going to be a long relationship. There’s some spark,” recalled Scott Chaskey of Quail Hill Farm, who farmed the property through the 1990s. “I was completely aware of that happening at my first lunch with Mary.”

“She had a gift for having fun that was absolutely contagious,” said Judith Hope, a former East Hampton Town supervisor. “She was just a joy to be around.” 

Ms. Ryan was born in Surrey, England, on Feb. 15, 1933, to American parents, Ross Bayes and the former Marian Hopkins, both of New York City. With war looming, the family returned to the United States in 1939, and she attended the Fieldston School, and then Sarah Lawrence College, from which she graduated in 1954 — and for which she would later serve on the board of trustees. In her freshman year in college, she met the writer J.D. Salinger at a tea. Salinger, 30, offered her a ride home. The two were soon dating, and then engaged. 

“We all worked in the theater department,” said a friend, Penelope Hall, “and he was always around. We would want to go to the local greasy spoon. He had this little car, and we would all pile in, much to his horror.”

She eventually broke off the engagement, however, and drove cross-country to California after graduation, intent on pursuing an acting career. Landing in San Francisco, she took a job as an EKG technician at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, where she met a young doctor, James Ryan, whom she would eventually marry in 1960. The couple’s first date was an overnight trip to Slate’s Hot Springs in Big Sur. This made such an impression that they returned to spend summers there in the late 1960s, befriending their neighbors, including the writer Henry Miller, with whom she developed a regular table tennis game. 

The couple returned east to New York in 1958, and Ms. Ryan attended the Neighborhood Playhouse acting school, but the arrival of two sons in the late 1960s complicated her acting plans. By then, however, she had discovered painting, which would become her lifelong passion. 

Over 50 years, working primarily in oil and acrylic on canvas, she developed a style marked by abstract landscapes done in warm colors, often featuring dreamlike objects or creatures. She worked mostly out of a 900-square-foot studio on East 75th Street, originally rented for $250 — a rent that went up very little over the years.

“We went to see our landlord, Mr. Cardon, toward the end,” recalled Faith Stern, her studio mate. “When we left, she kissed him on the cheek. He was just madly in love with her.”

She showed her work infrequently, though her paintings were well received by the critics and buyers. She was a regular at annual Guild Hall Artist Members Exhibition, and in group shows at Ashawagh Hall in Springs. 

“She painted for herself,” said Barbara Groot, one of four women artists who met in the early-1970s classes of the Hungarian artist Victor Candell, and who showed their work together over the years. “Her work was really personal. It was so much her — perhaps more than the rest of us.”

The Ryans first arrived in East Hampton in 1966, joining the Maidstone Club and purchasing a summer house on Dunemere Lane. When the couple separated in the early 1970s, however, Ms. Ryan rented cottages in Sagaponack and Springs, and then began looking for something small of her own. She found something big: an out-of-use 19-acre former summer camp along the water at the very end of Fireplace Road, being sold in two parcels. Captivated by the possibilities, she risked her financial stability to buy the whole property, closing on the second parcel in 1979. It was a prescient bet, paying off not just financially, but opening a whole new chapter in her life. Under Ms. Ryan, the property became host again to farmers and campers, as well as a steady parade of weddings and other events of family, friends, and neighbors. 

Paul Hamilton, founder of the Springs Farmers Market, has farmed the land off and on since the early 1990s, first with Quail Hill Farm, and then on his own. He remembers discussing his vision with Ms. Ryan. “She listened, and then she just said, ‘Sure. Have at it.’ It was a handshake. Old style.” 

“She was extremely generous,” said Lisa Tanzman, founder of Camp Erutan, which began running a program on the property in 1993 providing a country getaway for kids caught in the New York City foster care system. “She was a gazzillionnaire in the karma bank.”

In recent years, the property has also hosted a summer camp run by the Our Sons and Daughters School of Sag Harbor. One thing the property hasn’t hosted: new houses. Ms. Ryan granted much of the development rights to the Peconic Land Trust in 1996, and the property remains open, and largely wild. 

“In many ways she was a mentor to me,” said Idoline Duke, who married her husband, Biddle, on the property. “Showing me how to live authentically among all the trappings of privilege in this place we all call home.”

Ms. Ryan had split her time between East Hampton and New York until 2014, when she moved to Springs full time. In the city, she is remembered as the longtime president of her block association, which she co-founded. “The block association became a popular thing,” said Jim Levett, a neighbor. “It was Mary who gave it its character. She had all of these wonderful people that really, really like her, and she really liked them.”

While she never remarried, Ms. Ryan had two long-term relationships, including more than 20 years with John DePoo, a well-known raconteur of East Hampton and Florida, and Chester Hopkins, with whom she lived for 14 years in New York and Springs. 

In recent years, her health had been fading. She suffered from chronic nausea since 2014, and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2016. Though frail, she continued to love the summer in Springs, and managed to hang on for one more. She developed a cold the day after Labor Day, and died at home of pneumonia just a few weeks later. 

She is survived by her two sons, Maxwell Ryan and Oliver Ryan, both of New York, and two granddaughters. She was cremated and the family intends to scatter her ashes on her land. Camp Erutan has established the Mary Bayes Ryan Scholarship Fund, which will support the purchase of art supplies for campers, not just during camp sessions but whenever and wherever they are.


Leave a Comment more...

2018 Message from the Founders

by on Oct.09, 2018, under Letter

It is with a heavy heart that we write to tell you about the best session (8/13 – 8/25) of camp in 31 years.  Mary Bayes Ryan, the lovely lady who owns the property in East Hampton where we have been camping since 1993, passed away on September 21st.  We are so grateful to have had one last summer together but very sad about her passing shortly after camp ended.

Mary represented many things to everyone involved with Camp Erutan:  friend, mentor, grandmother, mother, hope, love, light.  She took the time to look directly into your eyes and give you her undivided, nonjudgmental attention and love.

Mary’s sons Maxwell and Oliver have also been a part of Camp Erutan throughout the years and Mary’s granddaughter Ursula, Max’s daughter, was a responsible assistant during camp this summer.  Max and Ursula invited us to swim in their pool and hosted movie night in their theater.  Oliver put together a silent disco for us on the bluff one evening.  Everyone wore wireless headphones and Mary sat in her golf cart where she kept the beat and greeted campers.  While listening to the song Havana, we set up a soul-train that grooved towards Mary’s golf cart.  We laughed, smiled and swayed with the moon in the sky above the bay, fireflies dancing in the trees, and campers experiencing another first.

Campers had many new experiences on a daily basis this summer.  Not surprisingly, everyone’s favorite day was the day we were guests on a beautiful boat that left from Sag Harbor on an adventure no one could have imagined.  We anchored just off Shelter Island where there was a jet ski and jet boat waiting for us.  The driver of the jet ski gave rides to 2 campers at a time, and the jet boat came complete with a floatation device that 3 people were able to stand on at once while being pulled by the boat.  We were invited to the owner’s house after docking for lunch, swimming, rock climbing, basketball and freshly baked cookies.  This amazing day ended with a shopping spree where each camper picked out a new outfit, shoes included, to be worn the following week when we were to be guests of The Palm restaurant in East Hampton.

Other activities enjoyed during the session included horseback riding camp, dance class, swim lessons, stand up paddle boarding, book making, collage, painting, making happy beads, ropes course, drumming, playing ukulele, chess lessons, farming and our 1st Annual Luis Colon Camp Erutan Challenge held on the last full day of camp.  Luis first attended Camp Erutan when he was 6 years old, 18 years ago, and has been a counselor at Camp Erutan for the past 6 years.  Luis is an incredible role model for current campers, working not only as a physical trainer but also towards completion of his master’s degree.  The challenge started with campers having their feet in Gardiner’s Bay, picking up a rock the size of a large potato, running to the barn, exchanging the rock for a piece of ice from Oliver, running to Max’s pool, jumping in the deep end, swimming to the shallow end and giving Luis the piece of ice to end the race.  The campers loved retelling the story of this event to Mary later that evening.

When the challenge was finished, the campers were excited to put on a Gratitude Show for Mary.  It was an amazing performance filled with song, dance, gymnastics, jokes and most of all, love.  Each camper hugged and thanked Mary, saying goodbye knowing this may be the last time they would see her.

Mary was a talented artist and loved the art projects campers created while at Camp Erutan.  In her memory, Camp Erutan is setting up the MBR Scholarship Fund to provide campers with art supplies so they may continue to create.

As always, we appreciate and thank you for your support of Camp Erutan.  With your continued support, we are all able to make a difference in the lives of our campers.

Lisa Tanzman & Elaine Mermelstein

In addition to online donations, you may also donate via Amazon Smile by naming Camp Erutan as your preferred charity.

Leave a Comment more...

Rare Joys for Campers in Springs, NY

by on Jul.25, 2017, under Letter

Please enjoy this PDF article link from the East Hampton Star:

Rare Joys for Campers in Springs | The East Hampton Star

Leave a Comment more...

2017 Message from the Founders

by on Jun.09, 2017, under Letter

Summer 2017

Camp Erutan is proud to be celebrating our 30th anniversary!

To kickoff the first session of the season, we were invited to stay on the Arfa property where we used to camp in Cayucos California.  The Arfa’s have turned their property into a beautiful retreat, www.wellspringranch.com, and welcomed us as their guests.  All of our meals were prepared for us, campfires going day and night, s’mores fixings, luxurious accommodations, and loving hospitality.  Former campers who are now young adults attended this session and were very touched that the photo album at wellspring ranch included pictures of them as young campers.  A great time was had by all of us.

In July we will be holding an extra long session of camp in East Hampton New York.  For this session of camp, it will be the campers 4th year attending Camp Erutan at Fireplace Farm where the Ryan family has graciously invited us back again this year. Our wonderful host Mary Ryan lets us store all of our gear in her attic and is the grandmother figure all campers adore. Maxwell Ryan (www.apartmenttherapy.com) put up a yurt for Camp Erutan in 1993 and we have been camping there ever since.  Oliver Ryan (www.countit.com) shares his barn with us so we have a fantastic kitchen and lovely outdoor shower to use.

None of this would be possible without our amazing volunteers.  Karen is the other responsible adult at East Hampton camp who takes the train with the campers and plans great art and science projects.  Luis, who has been coming to Camp Erutan since he was 6 years old, graduated college last year and will continue his tradition of helping us set up and breakdown camp.  Peter, who has been a part of the Camp Erutan family since he was 3, will be coming to NY from CA to be a camp counselor – Peter is now 29.  Izzi has been coming to Camp Erutan since she was 3 and will return as a counselor this summer.  Eva will be joining our counselor staff for her 3rd year in a row.  Isabelle, our newest champion, has found a donor to pay for extra activities this summer like horse camp, stand up paddle board lessons, and a fancy night out to dinner.

It is because of your continued generous support that we are able to offer Camp Erutan free of charge to kids in need of an opportunity to be a kid, and to also stay connected and offer additional programs to former campers as they become young adults.  Making a donation is as easy as clicking on this link www.camperutan.org/donate.php or sending a check to CAMP ERUTAN, PO Box 6730, Los Osos, CA 93402.

We wish you and your family and friends a happy, healthy and peaceful summer.

With heartfelt appreciation, we thank you for caring.

Lisa Tanzman & Elaine Mermelstein


Leave a Comment more...

2016 Message from the Founder

by on Aug.20, 2016, under Letter

August 2016

Dear Friends,

We just finished an amazing session of Camp Erutan in East Hampton, NY that marked our 29th year!  I have to say this was the best week we have ever had, although Elaine is quick to remind me that I say “this was the best week we have ever had” every year!  This is a good thing since if camp didn’t continue getting better and better, I’m not sure it would still exist.

There were many contributing factors to this year’s success.  Mary Ryan, owner of the property in EH, graciously greeted all of the campers and invited us to dine with her on her deck at the beginning and end of the session.  Scott Chaskey of Quail Hill farm, who introduced us to Mary Ryan, met us on his tractor and not only remembered our returning campers, but he and his interns made a lovely lunch spread for us in the Quail Hill Farm apple orchard.  Jim Turner, a local musician, joined us to give harmonica lessons.  Christine Clark of Black Sheep Knitworks, taught the campers how to knit scarves using their arms instead of knitting needles.  Local volunteer Danae, made the most delicious macaroni & cheese for dinner again this year.  Isabelle taught our campers how to make zucchini bread from zucchini we harvested at camp and also invited Jimmy, head East Hampton lifeguard, to join us in the pool at John & Jenny’s (local supporters), where he taught all of the campers how to float on their backs.  Isabelle also invited us to her pool on another day where she and her daughters not only had an awesome snack buffet waiting for the campers but also had Alyssa, a swim instructor, there to give our campers swim lessons.

The biggest shout out goes to our extraordinary volunteer counselors.  Karen has been committing her time, resources and talents since 1999.  Luis started out as a camper when he was 5 years old and has come back year after year – he’s now 22 and a senior in college.  Izzi first attended Camp Erutan when she was 3 years old and this year returned as a counselor.  Eva was happy to come back as a counselor again this year and she loved doing the dishes so much that now all of the campers want to help with the dishes too.

Campers who attended this summer, returned for their 3rd year in a row.  Smiles, laughter, stories, songs, dancing, swimming, exploring and listening to each other were just some of the memorable moments.  These kids are very special individuals who are kind and compassionate.  They love their time at Camp Erutan and everyone shed tears when they boarded the train to head back to New York City.  We’re excited we will see them again later this year when we all get together for a Camp Erutan holiday party.  We are also looking forward to hosting a session of Camp Erutan on the Central Coast of California this fall.

Thank you very much to all of our supporters for your continued support.  Your contributions have allowed Camp Erutan to continue for 29 years and we’re still going strong!

With heartfelt gratitude and appreciation.

Lisa Tanzman
Founder & Director

Leave a Comment more...

2015 Message From the Founder

by on Dec.10, 2015, under Letter

Dear Friends of Camp Erutan,

The world is a very crazy place right now for everyone.  Many of us have an emergency action plan – people to call, places to meet, emergency bags to grab.  Imagine what it is like for our campers who don’t even have a family they can turn to.

For most of our campers, Camp Erutan is their only anchor.

Earlier this year we held a session of camp on the central coast of California for some young adults who have been a part of the Camp Erutan family since they were very young.  Now, ranging in age from 20 – 30 years old, they were in need of a safe environment to speak about what’s been going on in their lives and to face some of their fears.  It was very emotional and quite enlightening for all of us who were there.  We talked, made journals, collaged, hiked, laughed, cried, cooked and sat fireside beneath the stars.  By the end of the session, spirits were high and old baggage was discarded.  For most campers and former campers, Camp Erutan is the only safety net they have and I am happy to report that the session was a turning point for all who attended.

East Hampton camp was equally intense and uplifting.  We reunited last year’s campers and also invited some new children to join the group.  The new campers fit right in and together with the returnees were able to pick up where we left off last year.  One camp highlight was the squashes the campers planted in our garden last summer were ready to be harvested.  The campers were able to pick what they sowed, which was a gratifying experience for everyone.  Farming at camp allows the campers to be part of a community where they feel important and appreciated for their participation.  This is an important aspect of what camp offers these children; an opportunity to feel valued, self-confident, and like they belong.

We continue to hear from former campers who attended Camp Erutan as far back as 1988.  For many, we are the only positive link to their childhood and as they grow up and have children of their own, they want to share with us what is happening in their lives.

Your continued support allows us to make an impactful difference.  Camp Erutan could not exist without you and your financial contribution.  We hope we can count on you again this year so we’re able to continue helping children in need.

Please visit our website to donate online at www.camperutan.org or send a check to our office at 2005 10th Street, Los Osos, CA 93402.

With heartfelt appreciation, I thank you for all you have done and continue to do.  I wish you and your family and friends a happy, healthy and peaceful holiday season filled with love.

Lisa Tanzman
Founder & Director

Leave a Comment more...

Summer 2014 Newsletter

by on Jul.27, 2014, under Letter

Dear Friends,

This summer marks our 27th year offering a summer camping experience to children who otherwise would not have an opportunity to “be a kid”.  Whenever possible, we reunite siblings who have been split up in the foster care system and give them a week to be together.

We missed camp last summer due to my back surgery.  This year we are beginning our camping season in East Hampton New York reuniting 3 sibling groups who do not live together.  My staff includes Luis who is in his second year of college and will be volunteering as a counselor.  Luis first attended CAMP ERUTAN as a camper in 2003 with his older and younger sisters.  Karen has been a counselor since 1999.  In 2003 Karen and her husband adopted Izzie at birth – Izzie will be coming out to camp as a junior counselor.  Izzie has been attending CAMP ERUTAN since she was 3 years old.

For most of our campers, CAMP ERUTAN is the only positive influence in their lives.  In addition to giving these kids an amazing fun filled week jam packed with positive experiences and unconditional love – we become an anchor in their lives if they choose to keep in touch with us.  We have a number of former campers, now with children of their own, who stay in touch with us and reach out for both advise and support.

CAMP ERUTAN continues to exist because of you.  With heartfelt appreciation I thank you for your support.

Warmest Regards,

Lisa Tanzman
Founder & Director

Visit www.camperutan.org to make a donation online.

Leave a Comment more...

2014 Message from the Founder

by on Feb.19, 2014, under Letter

February 2014

Recently Elaine told me CAMP ERUTAN only raised $9,000 in 2013. I reminded her that I never sent a letter asking for money in 2013.

2013 was a challenging year for me, culminating with back surgery in May. I’m happy to report I am doing great. Full recovery is 1 year, so I am making plans for camp as soon as I’m cleared to erect tents and sleep on the ground.

Our CAMP ERUTAN activities for 2013 primarily consisted of me counseling past campers who are now young adults at crossroads in their lives with nowhere and no one to turn to. I feel very honored and humbled that we have campers who reach out to me when they need someone to talk with and share what is going on for them.

CAMP ERUTAN is an anchor in a safe harbor for all who have attended. Thank you for making this possible with your continued support.

With heartfelt appreciation,

Lisa Tanzman
Founder & Director

Leave a Comment more...

2012 Message from the Founder

by on Sep.20, 2012, under Letter

Fall 2012

For 26 years we have been offering CAMP ERUTAN sessions for free – campers attend free of charge and all of our staff and counselors volunteer their time.  None of this would be possible without your generous support.

This summer we held sessions of camp in June and July in San Simeon, California.  The campers invited to these sessions were repeat campers who needed a break from their day to day lives.  The campers told me that CAMP ERUTAN is the only vacation they ever get.  I never thought of camp as a vacation, but clearly this is the campers’ experience.

The end of August we held a session of camp in East Hampton, New York.  We had the best east coast weather we have ever had.  The mosquitoes were even kind to us this year!  Lots of laughter, sharing of stories and a warm sense of community is how I would describe our time together.

Please check out the following posts to look at camp photos from this summer. San Simeon Camp; East Hampton Camp. (You can also click on Summer 2012, CA, and Summer 2012, NY at right to get to these same pages.) We also have 3 videos from campers, telling what CAMP ERUTAN means to them. Check these out here, or click on What Camp Means to Me at right.

My gratitude for you can not be overstated.  This was a year of great loss of family and friends; however, one can not compare sorrow.  The loss I feel can not be equated to the loss one of our campers feels without a family.

Christina turned 19 on August 31st.  Her father was murdered 11 years ago.  Her mother passed away last February after being on dialysis for 9 years and diagnosed with cancer 3 years ago.  Christina is now completely on her own.

Christina graduated from high school in June and was accepted to a 4 year college.  When Christina contacted social services to ask for financial assistance and/or food stamps she was told she would have to drop out of her 4 year college and attend a 2 year school or have a baby.  These were the only options available to her if she wanted help from the “system.”  She’s sticking with the 4 year college and attempting to make it work on her own.

Christina’s is a very sad story with many more gruesome details that I will not go into but hopefully, it will also be a success story if she stays on her chosen path.

CAMP ERUTAN is a glimmer of hope for Christina and all of the other campers who have had the opportunity to be a part of the CAMP ERUTAN family.  I ask for your continued support so we can continue to help kids in need.

With heartfelt appreciation I wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful holiday season.

Lisa Tanzman
Founder & Director

Leave a Comment more...

2011 Message from the Founder

by on Jul.06, 2011, under Letter

Summer 2011

I just returned from the 1st camp session of our 25th year and it was amazing.  We reunited three siblings who have not lived together since they were 3,4 & 6 years old.  They are now 15, 16 & 18.  We took a ferry from San Pedro to Two Harbors on Catalina Island.  The only counselors were me and a former camper, who first attended CAMP ERUTAN when he was 4 years old in 1989.

Heading to Two Harbors the Captain invited us into the cockpit where we were given a navigation lesson and everyone had the opportunity to steer the ferry while dolphins jumped ahead of us.  If that was the only bit of magic the trip would have been great, only it continued getting better moment by moment.

Prior to camp, the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer for these kids asked me if I would consider allowing the 3 siblings to attend a week of camp.  I decided they should have their own family vacation.  I didn’t find out until our camping trip that there are actually 8 siblings – same mother different fathers, neither a part of their lives.

One sibling knew the names of all 8 siblings.  One sibling only cared about the 2 he was with on our trip.  One sibling considered his foster family his family and cared deeply for his 2 biological siblings he was hanging out with for the week.

We camped above Isthmus Cove, had campfires, swam, hiked, rode mountain bikes, kayaked, skipped stones, laughed, sang, danced, told stories, talked about love, life, respect and ate ice cream everyday.  Smiles and giggles were contagious.

I was reminded that unless you are taught something you just don’t know, such as: touching stray dogs, violence does not equal love, look someone in the eyes when you speak, saying please and thank you, respecting yourself.  All of these things came up during our time together and we discussed the importance of understanding how and why Awareness, Balance and Choice (our camp philosophy) help in our decision making process.

Saying goodbye at the end of the week is always hard for me.  For these kids it is something they are used to.

The amount of money we raise will dictate the number of camp sessions we have this year.  Of equal or greater importance is raising the big bucks so we can set up our first ERUTAN Community so siblings do not have to be separated in the foster care system.  I want to offer these kids a chance to start their lives fresh, not just give them a week.  In order to turn this dream into reality I need help fund raising.  Any suggestions?

Thank you very much for your continued support on so many levels.  With love, appreciation and gratitude I wish you and your family a happy and healthy summer.

Warmest Regards,

Lisa Tanzman
Founder & Director

1 Comment : more...