Forget Appalachian Mountain Club. For the Barker family of Lancaster, N.H., it’s more like Appalachian Island Club. Since 1903, five generations of Barkers have held practically every volunteer and paid position at AMC’s Three Mile Island Camp (TMI) on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesauke. Larry Barker, age 58, first stayed at TMI in 1968, worked on the croo from 1976 to 1980, transitioned to managerial positions in the ’80s and ’90s, participated in volunteer work weekends for the past 35 years, and served several terms on the camp’s committee. And that’s just one generation of Barker—not including Larry’s great-great aunt Carolyn Copping Alden; grandparents Arnold and Katherine; parents, Ted and Conny; wife, Heidi; brother and two sisters, David, Lynn, and Julie; and two sons, Jake and Nick. AMC Outdoors caught up with him to learn more about the Barker family tree.
Who from the family was affiliated with TMI the longest?
My grandparents Arnold and Katherine “Kay” Barker spent many vacations at TMI, starting in the ’30s. In fact, they celebrated 40 consecutive years in 1976. They had a very interesting strategy when it came to spending time at camp. Arnold and Kay would drive up together from Peterborough, N.H. Kay would drop off Arnold for a week at camp and drive back home. Kay would then drive up for her solo week, and Arnold would retreat to Peterborough. Finally, for the third week, Arnold would drive up and join Kay for a week at TMI together. Their strategy must have worked, as they enjoyed more than 50 years of marriage.
What project at TMI has been the most significant for you?
If I had to pick just one, I think the most amazing project I have been involved in happened in September 2017. My sons, Jake and Nick, ages 24 and 21, and I volunteered on a team to replace the old Yellow Birch 2 tent platform with a cabin, the first new cabin to be built on TMI in 70 years. Incidentally, that platform was the first place I ever stayed at TMI, when I came as a camper with my grandmother in 1968. It was so rewarding to work with both of my sons and a couple of other fantastic volunteers on this build.
What’s most gratifying about having five generations of family history at TMI?
That’s easy. We live in a mobile society, and many of our connections and relationships are superficial. TMI is a place where I feel deep roots and an indescribable familiarity and connectedness. It’s like home. I walk the trails or sit on a bench and feel linked with five generations of family. The island is a magical place.
How does it feel to have both of your sons involved with AMC?
Jake and Nick both had the chance to spend several summers working and volunteering at Three Mile, and it’s hard to imagine a better first job. When I look back on my days on croo, it was truly a life-changing experience. Heidi and I want our boys to make their own decisions and to follow their own path in life. That said, it’s very gratifying to see our children decide to work for AMC and to develop a strong sense of place with many of the same experiences that have helped to shape four previous generations of Barkers.