Author: jtphelps

Why We Try To Make A Difference

Nobody has to explain why they donate money or time to a non-profit, right? It just makes sense, the person is trying to help. What you find when you dig in though is that the reason and the story of why someone does these things is where you find the very special, human moments that make their actions so important. Whatever this story is has spurred action and led to real help being offered. That is powerful, but it isn’t all of it. Their story can also inspire. 

A few months after my cancer treatment in 2003 Margot and I began participating in cancer fundraisers. We wanted to help. We felt lucky that my story had gone as well as it had so far, and with a great prognosis for the future it seemed like a way to take my returning energy and passion and pay it forward. And boy did we get a chance to do that!

Over the next few years we got involved in the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the Relay For Life. We organized a team of fundraisers, hosted rallys, and made a lot of noise on event days. We stoked the community around these events to crank up their work and also pay the challenge forward. It was great fun. We got involved in planning and day-of-event logistics for some of these events as well. Lots of early mornings emptying trucks of their equipment and supplies. A little less fun (sometimes), but also rewarding. We’ve always been thankful for the opportunity to give back. It seems weird to think that way, but if you are feeding your soul in these moments, that is a benefit worth being thankful for. 

Last year during the pandemic we hosted a mini Relay For Life outdoors at the meadery. This was a great way to Relay safely, but also keep “feet on the track”, one of key symbols from the history of this incredible event.  Along the way we’ve met a lot of other people just like us. Their first hand experience prompted them to step up and make a difference for people they’d likely never meet, and their stories continue to inspire us and others.  Unfortunately we’ve also lost some of these people along the way to cancer, including my Father who used to take lots of late night laps around the track with me at many of our past Relays. Because we also remember when we celebrate and fight back, we have always found ways to make sure we never forget how these people were fighting for something bigger than themselves. We make them legendary when we continue the fight.

Some of the people we’ve met also challenged us to tell our story and inspire others with our efforts. As the years progressed we’ve been recognized as passionate fundraisers and volunteers, energetically fighting back against something that impacts all of us. To date we have directly raised over $150,000 for these cancer focussed organizations. 

We’ve since added other organizations like the New Hampshire Food Bank, Manchester YMCA, the Green & White Mountain Girl Scouts, FIRST, Rockingham Meals on Wheels, the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation and the New England Red Cross, raising an additional $20,000 to benefit their missions as well. 

So here we are telling you about our journey in hopes of inspiring you to help us once again. Just like us, you have a story. We’d love for you to add yours to the collection and help us change these kinds of stories forever. 

For the 19th year Margot and I are participating in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. If you would like to make a donation to our team click the link below. All funds go directly to the American Cancer Society.




Name/Age: Colleen M, 31

Role: Camp Counselor, Camp Orange

Bio: Hi, the name is Colleen. I am the newest to AF, when it comes to being behind the bar but, I have been coming here for the past few years with a group of friends who just happen to consistently get recruited by Jay and Margot. I think that’s due to our charming personalities! I am down for any adventure and enjoy my time creating cocktails and being a mom. I am looking forward to having a great summer here at camp AF! Orange you glad I came?

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Name/Age: Faith J, 36

Role: Camp Counselor, Camp Red

Bio: Yes, my name is Faith and yes, I know the song (I’m a little more Limp Bizkit than George Michael). It’s been fun going from avid customer to employee a little over a year ago. The tap room is always a place full of interesting and hilarious conversations. I love helping new customers experience the variety of products AF has to offer. You can find me in the tap room serving up some shrubs and assisting my husband, Arin (a PE teacher and veteran summer camp counselor) with Camp Olympics. I’m not a huge fan of the sun, but winning IS everything. So join team Red. However, if you choose another team, be ready to Dread the Red.

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Name/Age: Lisa M, 34

Role: Camp Counselor, Camp Green

Bio: Sassing, I mean serving AF customers since 2019. When not at AF I am lifting things up and putting them down or spending time with my pup. If you’ve come in on Friday you know it can get weird, and I’m here to make it weirder. I’ll be here either serving you drinks, instigating weirdness, helping with the MaidMakers series, or helping with all camp activities. Can’t wait to see you all soon!

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Name/Age: Laura P, 31

Role: Camp Counselor, Camp Red

Bio: I have been hanging out at Ancient Fire since 2018. It started with hanging out for drinks, to celebrating my birthday here, and now working here. I am excited for a summer of activities, and will most likely be in on my days off to help cheer on Team Red!

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CAMP AF – Meet Your Camp Counselors – Melissa

Name/Age: Melissa K, 27

Role: Camp Counselor, Camp Green

Bio: What started as a joke with Jay and Margot about an employee discount has resulted in my working at Ancient Fire for 2 years now. That’s okay though because I enjoy working at Ancient Fire and serving you fine folks almost as much as I enjoy drinking at AF….and that’s saying something. If you’ve been to the taproom on a Thursday or Friday I’ve probably served you a pint or two with a sassy remark. I’m always down for shenanigans as long as they wrap up by 9pm so I can get home to my dog (yes, I will show you dog pics). I’m so excited to lead the green team and instigate the chaos. I am certainly ready for the birds and bees, the apple trees, and a whole lotta foolin’ around!

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CAMP AF – Meet Your Camp Counselors – Krystin

Name/Age: Krystin W, 31

Role: Camp Counselor, Camp Orange

Bio: I’m a long time AF customer, turned meadery assistant. You might have met me in the taproom already, but if not I bet you’ve seen some of my contributions in the new art on the menu boards. I’m a cat mom, illustrator and painter and couldn’t be more excited for all the fun crafty camp things and mead releases we have planned! Can’t wait to see y’all at Camp AF! This summer is gonna be a blast.

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CAMP AF – Meet Your Camp Directors – Margot (Sweet)

Name/Age: Margot P, 48

Nickname: Sweet

Role: Camp Director

Bio: I have been enjoying the tasty beverages made by Ancient Fire’s meadmaker for over 20 years since I was the #1 taste tester when he was home brewing. Since opening Ancient Fire I have been most recognized as the crazy lady who makes the videos with very questionable singing and acting talents. I am so excited for Camp AF as it was the first marketing plan idea I created before we even opened. The idea was inspired by one too many viewings of the classic Bill Murray film “Meatballs”.  And yes, I am indeed ready for the summer, ready for the sunshine and a whole lotta foolin around!

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CAMP AF – Meet Your Camp Directors – Jason (Salty)

Name/Age: Jason P, 48

Nickname: Salty

Role: Camp Director

Bio: As the mead and cider maker for Ancient Fire for the last 3.5 years I’ve had the immense pleasure of sharing my art with our community. I can’t wait to share some of the new meads we are getting ready for summer release!

Are you ready for the summer?!?!?!?!? As one of your Camp Directors for CAMP AF this summer I am here to help you participate in all of your favorite events, get your stamp card updated and otherwise make sure you have fun. I’ll also be making CAMP AF announcements with a bullhorn at the camp lodge (tap room), so make your plans and come join in the summer camp fun!

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Now Hear This!

Several times recently friends and fans have remarked that they were out of content and asked if we had any suggestions for cool new podcasts for them to listen to.

Because there are literally hundreds of different genres for podcasts out there and I don’t keep up with even the most popular ones, my responses have largely been constrained to local podcasts that I know of because I’ve been on them.

With that in mind I’ve rounded up a list of podcast episodes I and/or Margot have been over the years, forgive me if I have forgotten anyone, and we hope you enjoy the exploration.

A couple of important programming notes:

  • Don’t listen to any of these podcasts looking for wit and wisdom from me, I’m just a fun loving guy who makes mead and cider for a living.  This has always been about having fun.
  • At least one of these episodes involved a classic Margot moment where she tells a great story about something she learned from the Urban Dictionary. That is worth the price of admission alone.
  • The point above can be translated to, some of this content may be NSFW, so listen in private or with headphones so you don’t risk questions about your tastes.

The most recent podcast was the Maidmakers on Got Mead Live where Margot, Lisa, Melissa and Kayleigh shared the stories behind the series of meads made by the ladies of Ancient Fire.

Happy Listening!


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