October 2001

I cannot adequately express my deep sorrow that the first bit of Alumni News on this website must be so unfortunate and sad. Many of us have already heard of the sudden and tragic death of Mike Tosti, who came to camp for about ten summers beginning in 1977. All we really know is that he was found in his home by his girlfriend on October 15, and arrived D.O.A. at the hospital. (This according to Rob Estrella.)

Mike was one of the first people I met and came to know at Natchez, way back in 1978. We were in Bunk 2 that year, and in Bunk 4 the following year, but we were in different bunks after that.

I remember that first year in Bunk 2, Mike had a set of "Speed Burner" racing cars, little Matchbox-sized wind-up toys that ran on modular plastic tracks. As a seven-year-old I was greatly enamored of toy cars in general, and this set in particular, and I remember sitting around the bunk watching him play with his "Speed Burner" set, practically begging him to let me try.

I certainly wasn't the most worldly little kid in camp, and Mike liked to take advantage of that. When I was eight he had me convinced, among other things, that there was some sort of treasure buried in the lake, so I worked half the summer of 1979 to pass my Dolphin test so he and I could go dig for it. When I finally passed, he agreed to help me find the treasure, but only if I let him borrow my Super Ball. He promised to give it back as soon as we found the treasure. So together we swam to the bottom and dug, collecting rocks and placing them on the dock like pieces to a puzzle, never finding anything (as I'm sure he already knew we wouldn't), but I enjoyed the search nonetheless. Heck, I was eight.

I remember one day I found a hunk of white quartz, about half the size of a baseball; Mike took a good look at it and suddenly became excited.  He shouted, "Oh, my God! This is a piece of the treasure!" and ran to show it to one of the waterfront counselors. When I finally got a look at the rock, I saw that the quartz had a hole in it, and inside there appeared to be a gold-colored metal (iron sulfide, probably; I never really found out). It actually looked like a gold nugget was hidden inside the rock. I've never seen anything like it since.

So much for any doubts I might have had about the treasure.

My memories of Mike are mostly of those first two summers in camp, 1978 and '79, in Bunks 2 and 4. We were in different bunks from 1980-85, and by the time I returned as a counselor in '89 he was no longer going to camp. I saw him briefly (for the last time, as it turned out) when he visited camp for a day during the summer of 1992.

I'm sure we all remember Mike in our own ways, and that our hearts go out to his family.

For our bunk picture in 1979, Mike sat on top of the bus (which couldn't have made Marc too happy…) while the rest of us climbed onto its hood.

Mike Tosti and me in Bunk 2, August 1978.

Bunk 2, 1978. That's me in the center with the yellow Batman shirt. Mike's got his arm on my head and you can see him sticking his tongue out. My brother Peter is on the extreme left; the others are Isaac Keselman, Barry Fein, Jeff Scheichet and Craig Levine.

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