From the 1940s to Now
The idea for Encore/Coda began in the 1940s when Phil Saltman, eminent Boston area jazz pianist and educator, was invited to visit Camp Robin Hood, a boys’ sports camp in New Hampshire. Robin Hood’s director, Andy Friedman, heard Phil playing at a private party and invited him up to play for the Robin Hood boys. Phil loved it and went back for several summers with his wife, Ruth, a mezzo-soprano.
How It Began
Ruth and Phil saw what a good time the boys at Robin Hood had and decided to put together a similar summer program, but with an emphasis on music instead of sports. They initiated this program – which they named “Camp Encore” – in the summer of 1950 at their home in Marblehead, Massachusetts with just two students. They had a lot of fun that first summer and made it an annual event. By 1959, they had 30 kids a summer studying at their house, and realized they needed to find a bigger site.
In 1960, Ruth and Phil purchased the current Encore/Coda site in Sweden, Maine – which had previously been called Camp Katahdin, established in 1902 – and made a new beginning there: “Camp Encore – for Musical Boys.” With a small group of boys, they filled up the summer with lots of music, sports, trips, campfires, and community. In 1969, the camp became coed, and the name was changed to “Camp Encore/Coda.”
Jamie and Ellen
Jamie Saltman, one of Phil and Ruth’s children, grew up at the camp and continued as a staff member through his college years. Upon finishing graduate school, Jamie went to work full time for the camp, seeking to continue the development his parents had begun. Ellen Donohue-Saltman “married into the business” in 1982 and became a vital part of the team. Their daughter, Hannah, was born into camp life in 1990, just as Jamie was in 1957, and grew up there throughout her childhood summers alongside Cara Bergantino, our new owner/director. Ruth, Phil, Jamie & Ellen all worked together until Ruth & Phil retired in 1993, and Jamie & Ellen continued to run the camp together up until 2021. They will still be at camp in coming summers as Directors Emeritus.
Cara Bergantino started attending Encore/Coda in the 2003, as an Intermediate camper. Over the years, she rose from camper to CIT to counselor to Head Counselor to Assistant Director, becoming an integral part of the Encore/Coda community. Our returning campers now have never known an E/C summer without her. In 2021, after several years of Cara working closely with Jamie, Ellen and Andrew Neyer as a director, ownership and principal directorship of the camp passed from Jamie and Ellen over to Cara. Cara now works as director of Encore/Coda year round and will be heading her first official summer as owner this coming season.