Gay Regan: Basking in family connections at Thompson’s Point

Gay Regan was 13 when she first visited Thompson’s Point in 1955, and she never outgrew her summer home.

There were a few years when she wasn’t able to visit, but it was still a constant in her life. She inherited the camp from her mother and fully intends to pass it down to her children.

Gay Regan
Gay Regan

Regan notes that in some ways, Thompson’s Point has changed. These days, the camps are more likely to be occupied by local people whereas in the past, there were more visitors from out of state. Years ago, it was also more common for wives to spend time at the camp with their children, while their husbands worked in New York or Boston. Another change is a more structured life for the visiting kids.

“When I was a teenager, we had a group that would just hang out,” she said. “Some worked at the marina or the farm, but these days, kids seem to have more structured jobs or internships, or they go to camps to acquire skills. The ability to have a free summer and knock around on the water isn’t as prevalent.”

There is one Thompson Point change that Regan wholeheartedly embraces. “The Country Club used to be quite snobby,” she said. “You had to have two letters of recommendation and then be interviewed, but now anyone can join.”

In other ways, however, Regan is pleased to see that some things haven’t changed. “The roads and the camps are the same,” she said, “and it’s still very generational.”

One of Regan’s joys is seeing people whose grandparents she knew. “It’s lovely to know families that go way back, even if you weren’t close,” she said.

Regan is also pleased that the annual Fourth of July tradition has been maintained. “We walk to the end of the point, and someone gives a speech, and we sing the Star-Spangled Banner,” she said.

The celebration also involves food and is attended by as many as 200 people. Musicians play for the crowd and there is dancing. Regan said that since the clubhouse is roughly 100 years old, the floor sometimes bounces a bit.

A graduate of Middlebury College, Regan spent years teaching high school English. She served on the board of Champlain Valley Union High School while raising her three children, which allowed her to stay connected to the world of teaching. She subsequently taught students with learning disabilities at Pine Ridge School.

One constant in Regan’s life has been travel. As a child, she spent time in Europe with her parents and later travelled to South America, attending school in Mexico City for a year.

One memorable trip involved taking the Trans-Andean Railroad from Argentina to Santiago, Chile, through deep snow. “It was an amazing mountaintop experience” she said. “We spent a month in Peru including a night at Machu Pichu before there were so many tourists.”

Regan continued traveling when she was married and one daughter, Happy, picked up the travel bug and spent some time in the Peace Corps. Happy married a man from Satawal Island and that led Regan to travel through a chain of islands called Yap which includes Guam.

Regan has also been to China twice. “Travel has been an exciting thing for me,” she said. “I also like to read about where I travel, and I think it’s given me a broader world view.”

Regan is also connected to Charlotte through a writers’ group which is run by Sandy Detwiler. The group meets every week for memoir writing. “It’s fun but it’s also helpful,” Regan said. “It gives us something to work towards with a deadline, but it also makes for intimate friendships.”

Regan’s affection for Thompson Point is influenced in part by her love of the water. Her ex-husband was a sailor, and they also had a motorboat.

Regan recalls waterskiing as a teenager and being allowed to pilot the boat to Essex, N.Y., because there was no gas for sale on the Vermont side of the lake.

“Our camp isn’t fancy,” she said. “There is no air conditioning and only a little heater. It can be miserable when it’s cold but it’s very much a part of nature.” Regan has seen raccoons, foxes, and owls and recalls one neighbor who saw a moose walk down her driveway and into the lake.”

Regan hopes Thompson’s Point will be part of her family for many future generations. “There is that community with the lake,” she said. “It pulls family in.”