Friends of Sargent is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt
non-profit organization incorporated in the
State of Vermont. We are a grassroots,
voluntary organization founded by people
with long-standing affection for and
commitment to Sargent Center. With a wide-
range of expertise in the non-profit sector,
we believe that our Sargent experience
speaks to issues as deeply meaningful
today as they were decades ago.
Friends of Sargent recognizes Sargent Center as a model of collaborative experiential outdoor education. In
honoring its unique 100-plus-year history, we are committed to creative programming, inclusionary practices, and
stewardship of its land that will ensure Sargent Center’s future for generations to come.
Friends of Sargent is led by its Board of Directors. Members of the Board are profiled below.
Jeffrey Benay, President - Jeff Benay was a camper at Sargent Camp from 1961-1969. He has been an educator,
community organizer, political activist, and consultant specializing in policy analysis and educational leadership.
Upon reconnecting with Sargent in 2000, he decided it was time to complete his waterfront tests so he could canoe
Half Moon Pond without a life jacket. Currently, he is consulting to a public school system about a hands-on,
experiential based alternative program that will focus on outdoor education. Many of the philosophical underpinnings
of this initiative come from the practices he experienced at Sargent. He lives in Vermont.
Judith Schechtman, Vice President - Judy was the last of the four Schechtman "kids" to fall under the spell of
Sargent. Beginning in 1953, there was at least one Schechtman at Sargent every summer, through its first closing
in1969. Judy was a camper from 1965 -1968, and was in her first year of the counselor training program in 1969.
Many of her life values and priorities were discovered/reinforced in those 30 weeks at Sargent. Judy has had a
lifetime career as a mental health professional, mostly working for private non-profits serving at-risk, underprivileged
youth and their families. As a licensed psychologist, she now maintains a private practice. Judy extends the core
Sargent value of being a responsible global citizen by co-chairing the tikkun olam ("healing the world") group at her
synagogue. She lives in Massachusetts.
Kim Merlino, Secretary - Kim Merlino attended Sargent Camp in the late1960s, her last year in the counselor
training program. While at Sargent, her awareness and reverence for the natural environment took root. Reinforced
by trekking in the Wyoming Rockies and an internship at a California science camp, Kim earned degrees in
environmental and science education and has worked as a park educator, public school science teacher, and editor
of science instructional materials. She is convinced that the land and traditions of Sargent are worth sharing and
nurturing. She lives in New Jersey.
Martin Thrope, Treasurer - Martin Thrope spent six summers at Sargent as both a camper and counselor during the
period from 1961 to 1967, including completing the camp's counselor training program. An early contributor to the
creation of what became the internet, he has held management positions in companies that provided computer
based products and services to the retail and financial industries, as well as numerous volunteer roles in municipal
government and not for profit organizations. Sargent Camp was an indelible experience from which he derived
lessons with lifelong value. He lives in Massachusetts.
Jane E. Barry, Director - Jane Barry (nee Applebaum) attended Sargent Camp mid-century with her younger sister,
Amy. She learned many skills that served her well throughout her life. In returning to Sargent for camp reunions, she
met others who were dedicated to preserving the important work of Sargent Center into the future and was invited to
join the Board. Jane has recently retired from a 40 year career in geriatric social work and is moving from NYC to
the Hudson Valley to be closer to her sister.
Kobe Biederman, Director - Kobe Biederman served as the Adventure Camp Director at Sargent from 2011 -
2016. Inspired by the rich history of Sargent Kobe looked to capture many of the same values of the original camp
as he designed and implemented a more modern version of the summer program. Kobe was blessed to live at
Sargent year-round for nine years with his wife Charissa and his two children Ivy and Miles. During these years
Kobe developed a deep love of the Sargent property and the natural beauty of the Monadnock region. Before
coming to Sargent Kobe was affiliated with The Orme School and Summer Camp for twenty-five years where he
was a camper, counselor, and Assistant Camp Director. Kobe continues to follow a love of education and the
outdoors and currently works as the Director of Sustainability Studies at The Orme School of Arizona where he
teaches sustainability, environmental science, and serves as the school’s Summer Camp Director. Kobe continues
to learn and grow as he attends Prescott College’s Ph.D. in Sustainability Education program.
Miriam Weinstein, Director - Miriam (Mimi) Weinstein was a camper from 1955 through 1961. She has been a
documentary filmmaker, journalist and writer, with a specialty in families. After re-connecting with Sargent in 2000,
she introduced her son to the daughter of her old Sargent bunkmate. They are now married, with two kids, and can
sing the Climb Mt. Monadnock song. She lives in Massachusetts.