Putnam Blodgett loves to walk in the woods.
"If you wander through the woods long enough you see a lot of interesting pieces of wood," he said.
The 84-year-old has been doing it on this 670 acres of land since he was a little boy. But like everything in life, things change.
Reporter Joe Carroll: So this looks a lot different than when you were a kid?
Putnam Blodgett: Oh, yes.
Putnam, or Put as he prefers to be called, grew up 3 miles outside of the village of Bradford.
"Every place brings back memories of the past," Put said.
His father ran a dairy farm on the property. Now, much of the land is forested with white pines and hemlocks.
Joe Carroll: You're a caretaker for the land, right?
Put: Steward, I call it. We're only here a short period of time; try to leave it a little better than we found it.
The transformation of this land has been dramatic.
"As a boy I always had a dream of a pond here because it used to be our young cattle pasture," Put said.
The farm boy went to college down the road at Dartmouth.
"I often thought that they were looking for a country hick to balance out the suburban sophisticates," Put said.
His first semester was rocky, but he soon flourished, participating in the Dartmouth Outing Club, skiing and any other activity that involved being out in the elements. He graduated in 1953 with a degree in economics.
Put Blodgett: Gives you an idea how much I learned because I started the farm the day after graduation.
Joe Carroll: What's that all about?
Put Blodgett: Well, I didn't study economics hard enough, I guess.
That's right, while his classmates went out to take on the world, he went back to the farm. Soon Put had more plans for the land.
"I called it Challenge Wilderness Camp," he said.
Put said it was a camp to toughen up boys to be men with physical fitness training, getting them out of their comfort zone. In a way, he was reliving his youth. For three years he ran the dairy farm and the camp, rarely taking a day off. He says the stress ended his first marriage, but he later married Marian. They will be together 35 years this month.
"A lot of memories," Put said inside a cabin. "A lot of memories sitting at a desk back there planning trip menus and planning trips."
The campers were mostly suburban kids from the East Coast.
"They're scared of the woods; I'm scared to go to the city. So, depends to what you’re used to, I guess," Put said.
Put ran the operation for 21 years. He now leases the land to another organization that runs the camp. He calls this land a place to get away.
"Every place I go there's a memory," he said.
When Put was a little boy, many of the now towering trees were only 10-feet high. In a way, Put has grown up with the trees.
"Well... it's certainly outgrown me," he said.
Both tree and man have become tall in stature.
Put was just inducted in the Vermont Agriculture Hall of Fame. He has also been the Northeast Region Tree Farmer of the Year.
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