The Thoreau Club
275 Forest Ridge Road
Interviewed August 12, 1999
Concord Oral History Program
Renee Garrelick, Interviewer.
Cliff -- When we first came here in 1946 we got acquainted with people through the church, and then I was invited to join the Concord Recreation Commission, not invited actually because in those days we were elected. The members on the Commission at that time were an interesting group and a cross-section of the town of Concord. The members were Bernie Meghan who was athletic director, Ed Sheehan who was selectman at that time, Barry Higgins, Elsie Kennedy, Mrs. Ralph Webster, Anne McGrath, Rudy Currier and myself. I was voted to the Commission in 1948 and I was a member until 1954. I believe the year after that, the Commission was not elected by Town Meeting but appointed. It was an interesting cross-section of townspeople. The major issues at that time were the summer program which was directed by Bernie and staff and where we were going to swim. That made an interesting story because we went over to Walden Pond which was controlled by the county, and we were mixing with the general public. We had a place over near Thoreau's cabin. But we wanted a place for ourselves for the Red Cross instructions. So the Recreation Commission was assigned to find another place. The Commission at that time was not only recreation but it also included parks or grounds, school grounds, maintenance of all of them, playgrounds and tennis courts. So a lot of our time was spent in dealing with those programs and the maintenance.
Then there was a rifle range. That particular program took a lot of time. You know sometimes in committees you kick around these things and they are quite simple finally, but in the long run it seemed to drag out. We finally ended up by making it into a little park the same as the little park on Lexington Road.
There was an individual, farmer Frank Williams, who I will call the prodder of the Recreation Commission. He would call up in his inimitable way as a farmer and he would say, "Now, what are you doing about so and so in town?" He would call everyone on the Commission and some of the members got a little tired of this needling, but you know all that needling had a lot of common sense in it because he hit on some vital problems we were having. There were many other needlers besides him but I listened to him. A little later I'll have more to say about Frank Williams because he was instrumental in helping us get some property. So it was a very interesting experience being on the Commission.
Dot — When we came here in 1946, we found a town close to where young people moved in and were eager to resume living. We soon became involved with the Appalachian Mountain Club, hiking, skiing, camping and so forth. Among those friends with whom we did this, there were a group of children the age of ours. Through association with them and conversations, we decided the town was ripe for us to start a small day camp in Concord. There had been nothing like that in the area. That's really how Camp Thoreau got started. Those people were the ones who helped us out. They came in and had work days, I fed them so a lot of it was volunteer because they were very much interested in the program. We found a place to have the camp at Hayward Pond which was Elsie Kennedy's.
Cliff — Serving on the Commission gave me an insight of what the needs were for the children of Concord. At that time I had a job supporting my family of three small children. I was with the Red Cross. My work with Red Cross was in water safety and First Aid. That put me outdoors and when we came to Concord, I was very much active in Red Cross, and I was also going to graduate school at Harvard majoring in education. I had a lot of theory from formal education and I wanted to put some of that to work and apply it. It was exciting because school camping was coming in at that time. So while on the Recreation Commission talking a little bit about this as it might fit in Concord, Elsie Kennedy offered us the camp. So we leased the camp and that was the first year in 1951. I taught secondary level for several years before we went into camping full time. The transition was interesting because we had already started Camp Thoreau in 1951 and I got my degree at Harvard in 1954 so it was a nice transition. Much of the program which Dot and I both worked on came from some of those ideas.
Dot — We moved to White Pond after six years and we were there until we moved over to Old Marlboro Road in 1960. That was wonderful because that was our very own site. We could build and do whatever we wanted to. We jokingly say in the family we moved everything but the weather when we moved over here. That move involved townspeople. The Light Department had to lift up the wires on the street, it was quite a project to move Camp Thoreau over to the new site.
Old Marlboro Road was a dirt road then and not exactly where it is now. Coming from the hospital after you cross the railroad tracks it went off to the right which was also the entrance to Frank Williams' farm. There was no Deacon Haynes, no Blueberry Lane, it was just like roads in Maine and New Hampshire, only three miles from Concord center.
Cliff — The formal education at Harvard and my work with the Red Cross made me very conscious of bringing townspeople into our program, to the camp so we would feel the community would accept us. One of the innovations that we came up with was Camp Thoreau day and this was while we were at the first site. It was a great idea even though we say that ourselves. We conceived the idea of introducing the day by having a parade of one wagon. This was a surrey with a fringe on top and Ed Sheehan who was on the Commission played the role very nicely. He was instrumental in getting an old dobbin horse from the prison farm. I didn't know how to hitch a horse to a wagon so I went with him up to the farm early that morning on Camp Thoreau Day, and he hitched the horse to the wagon and we came down into town and we piled in children. I think we had Wheeler children and one of ours, and we proceeded from the Mill Dam out Sudbury road and on over to camp. The participation of the townspeople was great because Richardson's Drug Store had ice cream cups for us and we had cookies and other things that were donated. Mothers helped and pitched in as staff as well as our own staff and it was a great day. We did that for two years and it really got the community interested in camp.
This was the private sector of the town activities. We tried not to duplicate what we were offering from the Commission. They had their program, some of the arts and crafts might have been a duplication but it wasn't much. What we were trying to do was to give these children an experience out-of-doors which they would not get otherwise. That is what we tried to do.
Dot — After we moved here we tried to become part of the town. We could never become Concordians because we weren't born here, but we felt we should offer the town what we could. I taught Red Cross swimming at Walden from 1947 until 1950 when we started camp. I was on the League of Women Voters then helping to do a "Know Your Town" booklet which was published and given to newcomers, and part of my assignment was to visit a commission or a committee meeting so obviously I chose the Recreation Commission because Cliff was on it. They were discussing the various items which he mentioned. It was quite interesting. The culmination of this was having tour busses go throughout Concord to all the historical spots and locations with a League trained tour guide on each bus. I don't know if that still exists or not but it was very good at that time.
To us Henry David Thoreau and Concord were synonymous. We hadn't lived here very long but it became quite obvious. His love of the outdoors, and his simplicity of living appealed to us. There was a very active Thoreau Society in Concord so we approached Mrs. Caleb Wheeler, Ruth Wheeler, and asked her opinion. We told her what we had in mind. She very much approved of it. In fact she gave us a quote from Walden which I think is still used today. "Every morning an opportunity to make life of equal simplicity with nature." That was sort of our credo. She was one of our first guest speakers that we had speak. We had quite a few people from town come out and talk to the campers on various topics. What Henry David Thoreau saw when he walked those fields, for example, or a little history of the town. Roger Fenn came in. He held up a bird feather and talked quite a while of what that bird feather told him, what kind of bird, where the nest was. Some of the town librarians came in. We had an Indian dancer come in. So we tried to involve the town in our project as much as we could.
Todd — I joined the camp in 1967 when we moved to our property on Old Marlboro Road. Mother and Dad had commissioned a man-made pond to be built. That pond was used for our camp programs, for our swimming and boating very successfully for a number of years. Along about 1965-1966 the town decided to exercise the Jennie Duggan well site and began to draw on the well that they recently installed and when they did that, they drained the aquifer from around the area that was supporting our manmade, self-sufficient pond. It was a beautiful spring-fed pond with crystal clear water and it was just great for the program. At that time we had to make a decision as to what we would do for swimming. So Mother and Dad elected to put a pool in to maintain the swimming program for the day camp. In the meantime, over the years the neighbors in the area had encouraged and asked us if we would permit them to come in and swim in the afternoons after the camp and on weekends. For a number of reasons but mostly having to do with safety, we just didn't feel comfortable having people come in and swim in the pond. So when the pool came along, it was an opportunity for us to pick up on that need for the neighborhood. Concord at that time and until just very recently didn't have any swimming at all other than Walden Pond because there was a private association at White Pond. So there was really a need for swimming programs. I had always worked with Mother and Dad in the business doing lots of different things. I was very mechanically oriented ???? so this was a natural place for me to join. So along with their help I developed the Camp Thoreau Family Swimmers in 1967.
Cliff — To do a throwback here on the site on Old Marlboro Road -- the acquisition of that property was very interesting historically. We always considered ourselves professionals in camping. Day camping and camping in general was educational as well as recreational. The acquisition of the property came about going back to the farmer Frank Williams. So I was one of the ones who listened to him and what his suggestions were and I used to go over and sit on his front porch steps, he'd come out and say "Well, what are you doing now about the rifle range?"
So we would bat it back and forth.
When we lost the first piece of property and we had to move over to White Pond, I said to Dot, "You know maybe we better do something about getting our own property because you and I will always make sure there is a Camp Thoreau in Concord. It's got to be in Concord." I approached Frank Williams and asked him if he had some property he would sell us. He said, "Well, I have some property down where I used to grow asparagus." He wasn't farming then. As a good horse trader, Frank set up a situation for us and we hassled over the price and finally he agreed to sell us 40 acres of land. But as Todd said when the town needed the land around the well, we lost seven acres. When Sperry Rand bought the property around White Pond, we had a place to go. As Dot already said, the first time we had to move, it was hard enough. But that second time move every building had to go, and the town came in and helped us with removing the wires and so forth. But that's repeating what Dot already said.
Todd - Let me give you a perspective from a child's standpoint growing up back in the late ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. I can remember we were a very outdoor family. We would take camping trips in the summer time and during vacations to places like Mount Desert and places in New Hampshire and so forth. I can remember one morning at the breakfast table my Mother and Dad asking if we were to develop a children's program, what kinds of things would we like to do. I grew up in a camp environment as a child. It was a wonderful environment. For me I think I was a little bit of a maverick. I always enjoyed the programs but I was always interested in what made it tick and the business side and the mechanical side and so forth, but I grew up as a camper and was a counselor for a short period of time. One of the things that I guess I left as an older child before adulthood was the legacy of the nurse's cabin. Mother always had a tent that we used for her office and the nurse's infirmary. Mother being a registered nurse made sure that every child was checked every morning and that everyone was healthy. We decided to give her a present one year and we built her a cabin. I built that at age 18 when I graduated from high school. We actually moved that cabin from Breyerdale farm to Old Marlboro Road. Because it had been at Old Marlboro Road for so many years, it became in somewhat of an impossible stage to move so we brought pieces of it and we now have resurrected it on the new site for ????on ????? which is still used today and the nurse is Mrs. Click.
Breyerdale Farm, owned by the Frost family, fronted on White Pond, part of it in Sudbury and part of it in Concord. I believe that the small portion of land which extended to the edge of the pond was actually in Concord. Breyerdale Farm was the nice white sandy beach in Sudbury and everybody admires it today and wonders who controls it, but I believe the Town of Sudbury controls that as conservation land.
Cliff - One more throwback, I mentioned the importance in our professional life of considering camp as recreational and educational, and to actually acquire the land, we had to get permission from the town through the Board of Appeals to erect the camp there. To build the camp and have a camp there. I think when I met with the Board of Appeals I used one of my main arguments that camping was educational and I quoted from President Eliot of Harvard who was not present at that time, but had children who went to camp and he quoted from an educational journal or whatever. His quote was, "Camping is one of the important forms of education for children." I used that and I think it probably had some influence.
Todd - We also had Dr. Ireland who was superintendent of schools at that point give support for it. But an interesting point to pick up on -- throughout our life as an organization in town it has been necessary for us at every juncture for everything we have done to go back and seek approval of the town boards to be able to conduct our recreational business. When we moved to Old Marlboro Road it was zoned AA residential land, it was not commercial or industrial, and therefore being a quasi-commercial business, it was necessary for us to get approval. In the end that was probably the thing we never saw but which prompted our move to Forest Ridge. We operated by special permit from the Board of Appeals to operate our programs. Our day camp was actually grandfathered. As time went on and we began to understand the needs of the community for recreation, as Dad has pointed out, Concord had always said, I believe in the Town Report, that they were inclined to leave the development of recreation to the private sector. The town has done a great job with what they've done but they are very limited in this whole process so we were the one family in town that recognized that and understood the industry and developed what we thought were programs which the townspeople would respond to, and they certainly have.
In the late ‘60s-early ‘70s popularity of indoor tennis began increasing and we recognized that and incorporated that. With the Camp Thoreau for Family swimmers starting in 1967, we created a club or attempted to create a club atmosphere, and one of the things which was very popular for summer clubs was the tennis program as well. So in 1969 we added to our club program two outdoor hard surface tennis courts and that enabled us to become a swim and tennis club and offer tennis programs, instructions, tournaments, general play, things that people wanted as part of the club environment.
In 1971 I had been in industry and generally felt I wanted to pursue the family business more so than the industry that I was with, so we researched for some time the alternatives that we might use the property for in the line of recreation. It came down to several of which I believe indoor skating was one but we chose tennis because it complimented more our program. It was a major juncture for me because it was a commitment to forego the industry that I was in and join the family business. I quit my job and I designed and renovated the tennis courts for indoor use and Dad and I built the first clubhouse. One of the unique things that we introduced in Concord was the air structure. One of the reasons we did use the air structure was that as we looked at our property and not having a crystal ball and being able to assess where the industry was going, it was very young at that time from the commercial standpoint, we decided on the air structure so we wouldn't encumber the property and in the event we chose some other group, we wouldn't have this large metal building. In addition to that it allowed us to maximize the facilities as we could have an indoor program at the same time as we could have an outdoor program in the summertime. That was a very astute move on our part. Then the indoor tennis just took off for us. It was the right program in Concord at the right time. We developed a very strong program and a very strong following, a very strong lessons program. The programs could bring people together who had tennis as an interest. It also rounded out our club concept that we were then beginning to create. In 1973 the demand continued and we added onto our clubhouse. Let me not get too far ahead. I think there might be more on the camp that we should still talk about.
Dot - It's very interesting. You've brought us into a lot of nostalgia. One of the thoughts that comes to my mind is every January we had a reunion at the Girl Scout House. We started the day camp in 1951 and 1954 Cliff started Camp Eastbrook in Maine, a camp for boys, so he spent his summers in Maine directing that and I spent mine down here. In January we had a combined reunion every year and a lot of parents and campers came in and we had the usual activities, singing, refreshments. It was quite an interesting event and anybody who wanted to come in who was interested simply walked in. I think it was one more activity we offered the town too.
Then going back in my own interests, I was quite active in Junior Red Cross in Concord. I started the first Junior Red Cross First Aid program at the high school when Elaine Hardy was the teacher-coordinator at that point. I had always been active in Girl Scouts. I had been a coordinator and a leader. There was nothing for younger girls here so I started a Brownie troop with townspeople helping. So we tried in our personal lives to integrate ourselves with the town because the town had given us a wonderful place to raise a family, and we thought whatever we could contribute to others would be helpful also.
Cliff - I might mention that connection and it does show our enthusiasm for Concord from the beginning when we came here. You couldn't help but be patriotic to live in Concord. That's the way we felt about it. This was one year after World War II when we moved here. I remember Todd and I were members of the Concord Minutemen and we stood on the North Bridge and we were to present arms when President Ford came to the 200th anniversary of Concord. That along with, as Dot mentioned, the Henry David Thoreau interests of ours, it made us feel a part of Concord. To be in the community and to have the privilege of developing something as we did, the family, Camp Thoreau, it was very exciting.
Todd - Going back to our successes as a family business, we've always given a lot of ourselves both locally, regionally and even nationally. I remember Mother and Dad were on boards and members of the American Camping Association and played a very active role in that association. I remember Dad going to conferences and learning about different things regarding this business. As I matured in my business profession, I can remember attending because we had a resident camp in Maine, and Dad was part of a roundtable group and I remember attending that with him on Saturday and getting a flavor of how people thought, the kinds of things that were important in working with children, activities, facilities, the business aspect. That was probably a very early start for me. Then I remember early on in our tennis program, I came in early one morning and there was something missing. I knew we were doing a lot that was right but I also knew that there were others out there who had ideas that I hadn't even learned of yet. So picking up on something I learned in my youth, I picked up the phone and called a dozen or so club owners in a 50-mile area and invited them to our club and shared with them that concept. I was willing to share with them what I was doing and I was hoping they were willing to share what they were doing. We formed a very congenial group that lasted close to 8 years. We met regularly and we were called the Tennis Club Owners Roundtable. We had about 8 real staunch supporters of that group. We couldn't wait to get together each month. We were sharing very intimate business successes with each other. One of the members I remember was Dale ??????? He was probably the one person at the beginning who wasn't sure this was going to work. He became the strongest support of the group and to this day ????? I think from that point because my primary role was with the club, our club really benefited from that sharing. From there I formed a regional tennis association, and from there I went on to national and became president of the National Tennis Association. So we've all played a very important role within the community and our business has certainly benefited.
Other professional groups that I am involved with today are the Concord Rotary Club, a community service group, Concord Business Partnership, which is a very important part of my life working with the business community in the town and trying to make Concord a better place to live and have a better understanding between the townspeople and the business people. Personal interest groups that I'm a member of have to do with antique cars and aviation.
At the Old Marlboro site in 1991 we began to realize that the industry was still in its infancy and had an awful lot to offer. There were many things that we, and I say we because at that point my daughter, Faith, who is third generation, had joined us and had been with us for about five years at that point. Her husband Jerry was also very much involved with us. The three of us were the leaders at that point. We felt hampered and constrained because we recognized that there were a lot of opportunities of things that we could offer for the townspeople and community, such as we were constantly asked by our members if they couldn't come in and use the facilities on weekends for family outings or business outings, youth groups wanted to come in and use the facilities. When we approached the town and attempted to further develop that site to include this as part of our program, this would have been the third program, the camp and the club being the first two, we were met with significant resistance not only by members but also from the town. I believe the sense was that we were, without realizing it, rezoning the property we were on. Perhaps tacitly is the word you might use here. We kept pushing the envelope, we kept going back for special permits. With the resistance we began to recognize our days were numbered.
We came to the brink of a Board of Appeals hearing before we learned of the resistance. We knew nothing of it until that meeting. Our whole philosophy is one of cooperation and working with and not being confrontational. That didn't feel right. I can remember coming in one morning and saying to Faith and Jerry, "You know this isn't right. I'm tired of banging my head against the wall. There has to be another way to do what we want to do." That was the beginning of the turning point for the recognition that it was time to rethink what we were doing and how we were going to proceed here. It didn't take us long to realize the desire was to keep the family business going. I personally wanted to see it going for other generations to come. So we had a meeting of the minds and we agreed that we would keep it going and we would do what we had to do to make that happen. We started to research some of the opportunities in Concord and there weren't many opportunities in Concord for the type of environment that we were used to with the freedom and the open acreage. Through a quirk actually at a Business Partnership meeting I went to a fellow that I knew and asked if he had a map of the place off Route 62 that I didn't know the name of. That fellow was Kevin Hurley. He followed through and brought me a subdivision plan. I feel in love with the plan. I knew this was the place and somehow we had to acquire it. In my time it was the old powder mill site.
Having walked the property it seemed so vast at the time. It was like walking in the White Mountains or a state forest somewhere just wandering all over the place. I went to Kevin knowing that he had planning, and we started to develop and carve out on paper how we might have our facility look. This was a very unique thing in so many ways because it is not often that you get a chance to move an entire business within the same community and keep the same market and sustain the same customers and same suppliers. We were really only a mile and a half through the woods and 2 1/2 miles by road from our old site, so it was a very unique opportunity. As we developed the site, we learned each day. I remember that one of biggest concerns of Faith and I was how do we move an ongoing business which operates effectively year round to a new facility while we build a new facility and not let down our clients. This was a real challenge for us. The three of us took the challenge and we went before the necessary town boards and we gained approval for the facility and we found a buyer for the old facility, the Old Marlboro Road site, with some very unique strategies for exchanging for a lot of business reasons. We had to find a contractor to come in and develop the property for us. There were just so many things all at once, and we accomplished that whole construction and move in 7 months which is to many, even to this day, a wonder.
What was Camp Thoreau has become houses. Kevin Hurley played many roles in this. Kevin was the individual who decided he would go out on a limb in his own way and purchase the Old Marlboro Road property. In total with all the parcels it was about 32 acres. We may have had feelings about the way we were being treated on Old Marlboro Road but as a family, we forgive and forget very rapidly because you are a business. One of the things we wanted to do was to make sure we left it in some positive way and we felt that development was probably the best thing for it. It wound up to be a ten-lot subdivision with approximately half of the land as conservation land. It is Captain Miles Lane.
Faith - The Old Marlboro property before it was the Thoreau Swim & Tennis Club (can't make out) I was there in 1961 until 1998. That was my entire life. For me it was a bigger sorrow to move and yet know that we were really doing something that was going to be just as much a success, at least we hoped it would be, and it would continue on a tradition that had already started. It took several months after we moved from Old Marlboro Road to get the emotional courage that I needed to go back and see the facility after it had moved and homes were being developed. I knew I had to do it because I had to put closure on it. I remember one Saturday afternoon I decided I needed to go take a drive, and I took a drive and I went down into the new Captain Miles Lane and I parked in the cul de sac and I walked up on the hill right near where that pine tree would have been and when I looked out it felt to me that the entire company had come full circle because what I was looking out on was just as it looked like before we had the pool, before we had the tennis courts, it was all meadows and fields and I knew that just beyond the rise was where the dugout pond was. So for me even though there was the emotional aspect of leaving something that was so familiar, there was a peace and a calm, and I was able to walk away and say it ended just the way it should have, it ended the way it began.
We had had requests when we were on Old Marlboro Road from some of our members who were also business owners or in companies who were looking for spaces where they could bring their families for social events. Because it was a little bit outside what was in the camp and what was in the club membership, we really had to do it on a very limited basis and keep it kind of small so it wouldn't intrude on what we had already began. So when we found the Forest Ridge property and as we were walking around and trying to create in our minds how we would maximize a facility, it made sense to take a look at how we could integrate the requests we had had over the years with what we already knew, the camp and club. I think it was a natural transition for us because we knew a little bit about it and we did know that it was an interest. It was a nice way to bring the camp and the outdoor center together. The camp while it takes us an entire year to create and develop a successful eight-week summer program, the actual camp property isn't maximized 12 months out of the year. So by looking at the idea of a conference center where we could use some of the camp buildings and facilities on a year-round basis. It made economical sense as well and it also helps us kind of justify some of the needs that camp had.
One of the things was on rainy days camp is always challenged to its maximum when you have children running around and you have tents which are great but don't have electricity. Yet if it was a severe storm, that would mean not to be outside or run our traditional outdoor camp program. But it was hard to say let's create a building that would only be used on rainy days. So economically by creating the conference center and the ability to use the facility for companies or to have our own social events and wedding receptions, banquets, we would have that use 10 months out of the year and the camp would have one of its dreams come true, which was to have a space where we could put all our camp and staff on a rainy day for any type of assembly. So it seemed just like a natural fit. When we explored the Forest Ridge property and keeping in line with our tradition that the camp always have that open feeling and have the outside versus a permanent building, we were able to blend it all here because it is a nice wooded area. If you're bringing corporations in from their workplace, they don't want to go someplace which is another workplace. The reason they are choosing to go outside is because they are looking for that retreat. They need to be able to take that step away from all the interruptions in the office and be able to go to an environment where they can expand their minds and look at things differently and perhaps more openly because they don't have the constraints they have in their work area. Taking a walk in the woods is a great way to clear your head. The addition of the ropes course, which is an adventure program that we introduced in camp several years ago, is another way of being able to say to companies who are looking to do team development, here's an activity that we can do which you can do in a safe setting, safe because of the equipment that is available nowadays make it safe, and safe in that it is not happening in the work place, it's happening outside the work place, we can do some communication and we can talk about roles in the work place because it isn't tied back to that person or the office or the things that happen back at work. So it was based on that regard. Coming here for an offsite retreat they can be working on strategic planning or team development and they can do it here and they can be educated at the same time about how they can work better together.
There are many terminologies that exist today to try and explain a ropes course. It is referred to as a challenge program or experiential education or action learning. The ropes course itself is a tool, and in a ropes course there are traditionally several activities and elements that are put together that allow problem solving to take place. Problem solving that can be done in a group or problem solving that can be done individually. Some of the activities in a ropes course are around a group being able to come together to develop a plan on how they are going to solve the activity in front of them. It may be a rope hanging from a tree where there is an obstacle in the middle and they are not allowed to touch the obstacle and you have the get the group from one side on the rope to the other without touching the ground. So while it is a challenge to create what happens is team work and leadership and communication. It is a series of elements. They all have creative names to them and each one is different. Some are on the ground. Some are two feet off the ground and some are several feet or 20 or 30 feet off the ground. Each one challenges a group on a problem solving and decision making basis but it is also emotionally challenging. For somebody who is afraid of heights being able to be in a harness on a belay rope, which is a mechanism we have so that all our activities are safe, and then have your group on the other end of the rope that is around your waist pull you up into the air maybe five feet. Well, that group is controlling you being in the air, you know you're not going to fall, but it's a way to get your legs three or four feet off the ground knowing that the people you work with are there to protect you and to walk you through the fear you might have because you're afraid of heights. We never challenge people to go beyond their limits but people tend to see other people doing it and they will try it. They say, well, look their knees are shaking and I know mine are going to shake and I don't feel so bad because their knees are shaking and I'm going to try it. Some others require that you climb a tree to get to them. For some people it is just the act of climbing the tree that is the success. It isn't that they actually got to the top or that they finished something, it is that they stretched themselves a little farther than they might have. So everybody is a winner. It isn't competitive by any means. It's all group work. It's cooperation; it's team building; it's motivational and very rewarding. It is definitely a self-esteem builder and a confidence builder.
The industry is never static. It is always evolving and changing. We see that on the club side. We talked about the camp and the tennis and then moving to Forest Ridge Road one of the areas that industry has changed is the full health and fitness movement. The Surgeon General two years ago publicly announced that exercise would actually prolong your life and help you lead a healthier life. Our industry being recreational oriented whether it is swimming lessons for a child or whether it's recreational tennis or competitive tennis, in a way is the beginning of that healthy life style. Many took it a step farther from an original swim and tennis club and added fitness centers and aerobic studios into the components and made that part of their program. We did the same thing. As we grew, we realized that number one it is a lot of fun but number two it meant more variety and more diversity and more options that we could offer not only our members but the community and it just grew. Today as we sit here health and fitness is still a very young industry and it's still changing. Technology is changing. Equipment that is out there today is very different from the equipment that was out there 15 years ago when people were starting to talk about fitness. First it was aerobics, high impact, you know the Jane Fonda, the Richard Simmons, then it was jogging and now it's about weight training, not weight training so much to build muscle but for people as they get older, and our population is aging, it's about staying healthy, it's about reducing that risk of heart disease, it's about being able to combat osteoporosis, and a lot of the other diseases or illnesses that are out there that affect us. We're able to put together a program for our community. I guess what we're doing is preventative health care.
Todd - Forest Ridge is not the stereotyped image of a limited industrial park. It is virtually 100 wooded acres undeveloped, untapped. There are only six developable lots. The town of Concord has one for an electric subdivision, Camp Thoreau owns two, one other is being developed in a combination office building, and two others are being developed, but it is basically sold out at this point. We're very fortunate to be here. We now hold 46 acres of the 99-acre industrial park. It gives us the opportunity to expand but still have privacy.