During the summer, Antonia Steinberg, who became the president of Buck’s Rock camp at the age of 22, received news that two campers had not returned by curfew. Concerned, Steinberg immediately set out to search for them. Buck’s Rock camp in New Milford, Connecticut, is known for its unique approach to camp scheduling, with the only non-negotiable requirement being the put-to-bed curfew. Other than that, campers are free to do as they please.
When the missing campers were eventually found outside the actors’ studio, one of them ran into the woods. The camper eventually stopped and decided to go home for a week to regroup. Steinberg expressed the overwhelming feeling of managing everything at the camp, stating that at times it feels impossible to carry the weight on her shoulders.
Steinberg’s connection to Buck’s Rock goes back to her childhood when she first attended the camp at the age of 10. She was drawn to the camp’s artistic resources and Montessori approach. Steinberg has been a camper, counselor in training (C.I.T.), counselor, and now the president of the camp. Her grandmother, Diane von Furstenberg, a fashion designer and philanthropist, once jokingly mentioned that Steinberg would run the camp someday. This comment ended up being prophetic.
Throughout her life, Steinberg has grappled with the implications of her family’s wealth and celebrity status. However, she believes it would be a shame not to use her family’s resources for a good cause. Two years ago, when the camp was facing a crisis, Steinberg made the decision to transform it into a nonprofit organization. Now, 43% of campers receive partial or full scholarships.
Buck’s Rock camp was originally established in 1941 by Dalton, a private all-girls school in Manhattan, to serve as a safe haven in case of a German bomb attack on New York City. However, it was later taken over by Ilse and Ernst Bulova, Austrian refugees who turned it into a summer camp with a Montessori philosophy. The camp focused on teaching campers practical skills, such as growing vegetables and taking care of animals.
Many notable figures have attended Buck’s Rock camp, including actress Paz de la Huerta, musician Ezra Koenig, and Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s. The camp emphasizes the arts and allows campers to explore various artistic disciplines such as painting, music, dance, and creative writing.
When Steinberg took over the camp, she faced numerous challenges, including a lightning storm that damaged the camp’s sound system, a chef who quit without notice, and encounters with bears. Despite these challenges, Steinberg remains committed to the camp’s mission and feels a sense of responsibility given her privileged circumstances.
On the opening day of camp, Steinberg walked the grounds, interacting with campers and their parents. The atmosphere was low-key and democratic, with campers excitedly discussing their interests and aspirations for the summer. Steinberg understands that her position comes with certain privileges but is determined to make a positive impact with her role at the camp.
Overall, Buck’s Rock camp continues to provide a unique and inclusive experience for campers, offering them the freedom to explore and pursue their artistic passions. Through Steinberg’s leadership and dedication, the camp has evolved into a nonprofit organization that prioritizes financial accessibility, ensuring that more campers can enjoy the transformative experience it offers.