Mary (Thoeny) Hench (1953-1960, S1961-1968, S1970)

Camp Lake Hubert (and Camp Lincoln) have been a part of Mary’s life for as long as she can remember.  Mary was first introduced to CLH in the summer of 1953, when her mother, Lenore Thoeny (Staff 1953-1969), was the Cabin Director of Clubhouse.  Mary traveled by car with her mother and sister, Libby (Thoeny) Woodward (Camper 1953-1959, Staff 1960, 1961), from Glencoe, MN, to Lake Hubert.  Lenore, who had lost her husband Matt, in WW II, was determined to offer her daughters experiences outside the small town of 3,000, just west of Minneapolis.  This would be the first of 17 summers that Mary would spend on the shores of Lake Hubert.  “Mother was Cabin Director her first summer and then returned the following summer as Program Director,” Mary recalls.

Lenore assisted Dr. and Mrs. Rogers for a handful of summers, until she became the Director of Camp Lake Hubert in 1967.  Lenore directed Camp Lake Hubert for three summers, and Mary remembers her mother’s only irritation with her daughter was on Departure Day.  “I hated camp to end – I was the worst flood (crier)”, Mary remembers. Mary attended CLH as a camper for eight summers, and was a full-season camper for most of them. Her favorite memories are from her Counselor Training Camp years.  “Without a doubt, CTC was my favorite.  I loved the challenge of earning stars as a camper, and working to achieve enough proficiency in various activities.  I spent three sessions in the CTC Cabin and then the fourth and final session, as a Counselor Assistant in Windy Lodge,” Mary said.  Camp Lake Hubert’s Counselor Training Program has evolved a bit over the years, but yet has not changed too dramatically either.  The CTC Program has been re-named the LT Program, for Leadership Training, and still runs over a two-summer period, as it did when Mary went through the program.  Mary spent the majority of her time at the stables and on the water sailing.  She received stars in both of these activities, which is equivalent to “earning her Phase” in LT Terms.  When asked about her favorite events while at CLH, Mary recalled several, but her favorite was the Horseback Riding Trips to Pelican Lake.  “Overnight rides to the farmhouse on Pelican Lake were my favorite. Camp rented an old farmhouse on Pelican, and two counselors would take eight or so of the Advanced Riders for an overnight trip. The ride was 15 miles, and I remember riding by a turkey farm. When we got to Pelican, there was a pasture, we would unsaddle our horses and ride bareback. It was the best of times, it was the greatest.”  Mary held a variety of positions at CLH, and especially loved being the Sailing Director for five summers. “To this day, I still have this quote in my head,” Mary said.  “Only God can sail in the eye of the wind.”  Mary’s counselor years began in the early 1960s, where she met many girls that would become life-long friends.  During this time, Mary also learned to work as hard as you can, to be the best that you can be, and to play as hard as you can.  “With every day, you should look for a reason to laugh – it will brighten your day,” Mary said. CLH Counselors can thank Mary and Joanne Pearson (Staff 1961-1968), as the two of them, along with a few others, are responsible for writing the CLH Counselor Song. “We thought the kids have their cabin songs, the counselors need one. We were in the Counselor Room and began writing it. I believe it was the summer of 1967.”  Mary says the words have changed a bit over the years, but the song is essentially the same.  During our chat, Mary confirmed that Chuck, Fred and Brownie were still part of the legendary song.  The Summer of 1967, had another noteworthy event for Mary, as that was the summer she started dating Rod Hench (Staff 1966-1970), Senior Camp Director at Camp Lincoln.  “We hit it off during Pre-Camp,” Mary noted.  She was Sailing Director that summer, and during a trip to Lincoln to retrieve a part for one of the sailboats, Mary joined in on a game of football in front of the Lincoln Warehouse and the rest is history – well, almost.

In the Winter of 1969, Mary and Rod headed to Arizona to work at Tanque Verde Ranch, outside of Tucson. “Camp life is a dream World,” Mary said.  The couple tested out their relationship in the “real world” and were married soon after.  “Rod and I were married on June 12th, 1970, and headed to camp the next day. Our honeymoon was at Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert, and that was our final summer,” Mary recalls.  Mary and Rod have been married for 42 years, and have two daughters, Meghan (Hench) Roller (Camper 1988, 1989, Staff 1993-1995) and Melinda (Hench) Peacock (Camper 1988, 1989, Staff 1994), who were both campers and counselors at Camp Lake Hubert.  The couple live on a ranch in Hermleigh, Texas, where Mary still enjoys horses as well as woodworking, gardening and entertaining family and friends.  Mary and Rod consider themselves blessed to have many camp friendships that have stood the test of time.  Mary and Brenda Brown (Camper 1959-1963, Staff 1965, 1966, 1969) reminisce about their days at CLH on their yearly fishing trips to Canada, west of Thunder Bay, and in the last few years, winter trips to Maui.  The Hench’s ranch has also been a wonderful place to host camp friends over the years.  Gary Stewart (Staff 1967-1970) and Jim Anthony (Camper 1959, 1961, 1962, 1986-1991, Staff 1966-1970) and his wife, Rhoda (Zachary) Anthony (Camper 1957-1966, 1986-1991, Staff 1967, 1969), regularly visit Mary and Rod to hunt and fish at the ranch.  “I regret not keeping in touch with many people, but I have not forgotten about them. I still think of so many of my friends from Camp Lake Hubert,” says Mary.  Mary’s enthusiasm for camp is as strong today, as it was in 1953.  At the end of our conversation Mary proclaimed, “Camp did more for my character than anything else in life.”  Mary hopes that her five grandchildren will one day attend camp, and that they will continue the legacy that her mother started for their family decades ago.