Not many records survive from the first few years the Appersons spent in Schenectady, but we know that in 1906, John Apperson took an excursion into the Fulton Chain, with his younger sister, Nancy, from Virginia, and a cousin from Illinois. How do we know? Someone took photographs, and Appy later put them into a beautiful photo album, with scenes of camping, riding in a mule drawn wagon, and paddling a canoe. Soon John, or Appy, as he came to be called, was spending his weekends and holidays at Lake George, camping on Dollar Island, and inviting scores of his friends to be his guests. For many young employees at GE, who didn’t like being cooped up indoors, Appy offered a chance to get exercise and try out exotic sports, such as skate sailing and skiing, and even winter camping. These friends, mostly from Schenectady, began spending weeknights at Appy’s boardinghouse, too, where they started manufacturing the equipment they needed, including skate sails, tents, and sleeping bags. This is how the idea of preserving the forests and lakes took hold, and many of these enthusiastic outdoorsmen continued their love affair with “island camping,” even after they left Schenectady and moved to other parts of the country.
“For the Love of Island Camping” by Ellen Apperson Brown was published in Adirondack Mountain Club (March-April 2018) and in Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies, Vol. 22 (2018) (https://digitalworks.union.edu/ajes/vol22/iss1/10/)