A Tribute to Marc “Slip” Slippen: Counselor and Friend

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Click here to watch Blackbird – A Tribute to Marc “Slip” Slippen

By Matt Stamm

I remember my first day at Camp Harlam in 1988. I was 10. I was nervous. I was nauseous, mostly because of my tendency to get car sick, but the anxiety of my first summer away from home didn’t help either. We pulled up in our brown Oldsmobile station wagon, and I walked through the creaky-springed, flimsy screen door of Sharon 1 (now Carmel 2). I was overwhelmed by the chaos of parents and kids unpacking. As I turned to run right back out the door, I found myself facing one of the counselor areas. Instantly it all changed. My fear turned to…more fear. There was this gruff looking, burly dude introducing himself as one of the guys who was going to take care of me for a month. Marc Slippen wasn’t a tall man, but compared to my small 5th grader frame he was a giant. Five summers later, as my Chavurah Unit Head, my 4’8” self felt the same about him. But as it turned out he was a gentle giant. He truly cared about our well-being. He was a great role model and teacher. He filled the bunk with music. He hated when we woke him up early on Saturdays, but he hung out with us anyway. He scared the crap out of us with ghost stories. He held down the fort single handedly when his co-counselor suddenly departed camp part way through the summer, until some guy named Mat Zucker (one of the other all-time greats) stepped in for the assist. In Chavurah he hung out with us on the green, led us to Boston and back, and gave us a great last camper experience. He helped bookend my childhood at camp with fun and memorable experiences, and for that I will be forever grateful.

I’m back now as a parent of a camper, fortunate to have a job in the real world that still lets me escape for some time to the magic of Camp Harlam. Each summer I’ve been back as an adult, I’ve spent time talking to Dena Magid (Sackstein) and Josh Bomze about “Slip,” his love for music, and how appropriate it is for a beautiful fire pit area to be named for him. The more we’ve spoken about Marc, the more we’ve realized how many people currently at camp have had the good fortune to know him. So we all gathered around the fire at Slip’s Pit to sing one of his favorite songs, and to honor his memory; his wife, Carolyn; and his daughters, Julia and Abby.

Rabbi Peter Rigler had this to say about his friendship with Slip:
“Marc Slippen and his brothers Danny and Jeff each found a summer home within the gates of Camp Harlam as campers and staff. It was a place where Marc, or Slip as we all called him, made incredible friendships and also made a difference in the lives of so many he worked with. He was sharp, hilarious and he always was willing to be honest about what he felt. He was someone who loved to laugh and could easily get you to laugh as well!”

Slip always appreciated the simple things! Perhaps most of all he had a love for nature and music he shared with all of us. Outside of Camp he worked with animals for a while and was a teacher… we all remember visiting not only him but a huge snake he had as a pet. He brought that passion for the outdoors when he would tell us details about a turtle that went past or a frog that could be heard. When we think of him at camp it has to be with a guitar in hand… a Billy Joel song or a little Springsteen all around a campfire. He knew that the camp experience was at its best around a campfire, strumming a guitar and being together. That’s really all you needed! Around that fire in Shmungleland, or up at one of the other camp sites, when you were with him you felt that energy, and even more the power of his huge smile. As a camper, counselor and even leading a Harlam Israel trip that guitar was close and he could fill any space with joy. I can remember many times when Marc would play – either on guitar or piano – and people would gather. He was never doing it to be the center of attention, but to use words and music to bring people together. Knowing that Slip’s Pit has become a gathering space for the Harlam family and a place where singing, nature and friendships meet is the perfect way to honor his memory and spirit.

The following people are also featured in this video:
Dena Magid (Sackstein) – life long friend of Slip, growing up together at Camp Harlam from 1982-1993
Josh Bomze – camper and staff with Slip in the ‘80’s/‘90’s
Lisa David – camper while Slip was on staff and current Camp Harlam Executive Director
Rabbi Matt Soffer and Sarah Kanter – former campers and participants in the 1996 NFTY Israel trip, which Slip led
Stacey Alboum – Slip was her first unit head in 1991 and on staff during her next 2 years at camp
Emily Halpern and Lauren “Biebs” Hallenbeck – straight up great people who wanted to be there with their loved ones to help honor Marc


Special thanks to Jacob Sklar (his father, Peter, was very close with Slip) for shooting the video and Scott Alboum for shooting and editing. Also to Eli Weitzman for his tireless efforts to make the perfect campfire for filming.

Long live and love Marc “Slip” Slippen.