North Country Camps Newsletter
Whippoorwill and Lincoln
July 7, 2011
A week ago Sunday we left the Horace Mann School in good cheer, with the smiles and waves of parents urging us on our way. Campers, full of anticipation, quickly settled in for the long bus ride, passing the time by meeting new friends and becoming reacquainted with old ones as we stopped at our various pick up locations. By the time we pulled into camp, the buses felt like a straining levee, trying to hold back the floodwaters of excitement. When the waters finally broke through, a torrent of happy boys and girls, many of them new to camp, poured out into their summer home. Counselors and older campers helped the newer, younger children to find their cabins and move baggage. Soon, everyone was moved in and after a quick visit to the health center, many headed down the hill for a much needed dip in Augur Lake. A delicious dinner at both camps was followed at Lincoln by a high-spirited coucil fire, with plenty of singing and introductions, rounding off the long day. At Whippoorwill we rejoined each other in the Nest, dressed in pajamas and ready for bed. Here we were introduced to the staff and led in song by the Work group. It’s so wonderful to have everyone here again, as we look forward to the adventures and experiences that we’ll be creating in the coming weeks.
Somehow, the first day of camp triggered a remarkable change in the weather, from the wettest spring on record in this region to an almost unbroken string of blue skies and warm, sunny days. Health in both camps is excellent.
At LINCOLN we’ve been busy with all sorts of activities and trips. With so many options, it can seem a little overwhelming for kids who are new to camp and so the Cubs and Juniors spent the first day rotating through many different areas of camp, getting a taste for what each activity is like. This made it easier for them to make informed choices for the rest of the week!
Boys have been speedily checking off their basic four swim tests and then celebrating by taking a leap off the Lincoln tower. Many have since signed up for various boating activities. Sailors and windsurfers have already had some great winds, but not strong enough to keep the canoers and kayakers on shore. They’ve been paddling all over the lake, learning strokes, canoe over canoe rescues and even Eskimo rolls in the kayaks The fishermen among us have already landed several fish, and rowers have bent their oars in unison, skimming across the lake in a tandem rowing canoe or in our beautiful Adirondack guide boat. With the warm and dry weather swimming has been very popular! The Work Group has even built a new water slide, which is attached to the floating raft in our swim area. It promises to be a popular addition to our regular swims. Up the hill, boys have visited the stables, learning to care for and ride the horses; ridden mountain bikes around the camp property; played tennis and baseball; aimed arrows at multicolored archery targets; and used their hands and minds creatively at our wood and art shops.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Lincoln boys have jumped right into the 2011 trip season. While it has only been a week, groups have already summited Pinnacle, Poko, Jay, Catamount, Cascade, Porter, Street and Nye. One very ambitious group set off to climb McNaughton, a remote mountain that was overlooked by the original 46r’s, but is actually over 4000 feet in elevation. With no trail, it was a challenging hike, but they came back happy and proud of their accomplishment. A group of sailors has taken the Orion, our 25 foot sail boat, out on Lake Champlain, where they enjoyed a good stiff breeze and some zippy sailing. Another group of canoers paddled down the Ausable river to its mouth, for a picnic dinner on the sand bars, for which the river was named. You can be sure that we will continue to offer a wide range of trips and that eager boys will fill them up!
Sunday, as is tradition, was our annual Pioneer Meet. The red team and the blue team squared off in a host of events, including the bucket brigade, the fire building contest and the egg toss! Everyone had a great time and though the teams competed vigorously, the cheers and shouts were all encouraging and good natured. We believe it’s possible to play hard and compete, without losing sight of good sportsmanship and an emphasis on fun. This was evident in the pioneer meet and will continue on into our baseball and soccer seasons in weeks to come. Sunday afternoon saw an all-camp capture the flag game on the field and then a post-dinner council fire in the council ring. There were many commendations from campers thanking their friends and counselors for a great first week, help in an activity, or some other good deed. Campers were also recognized in good numbers by the staff, for their helpfulness and their accomplishments in each activity.
During the first full day of camp at WHIPPOORWILL, we met as section groups to share information about upcoming trips, discuss how we intend on making our community the greatest it can be, and give out safety information and advice about living in the woods. Campers then went on to take part in a field game, an art project or to swim their 16 lengths and Basic 4. These swim tests, when passed, allow a camper to be in a boat without a counselor, so many girls try to work through them early on, in order to enjoy water sports with their friends. It was impressive to see the dedication and determination campers displayed as they worked their way through their tests. A huge number of girls were successful at getting this milestone behind them on the first full day of camp!
It’s been incredibly busy during our first week, with a range of morning activity choices that included horse riding, sailing, kayak, swim (many levels were passed already!), drama, art (where the campers made journals), tennis, archery, windsurfing and canoe. In morning activities, a focus is put on learning skills. Afternoons tend to have slightly more creative options, so our choices ranged from the traditional to the whacky!
Due to the beautiful warm weather, we’ve made great use of the lake. Sailors guided their frisky boats into the Augur and also spent an afternoon doing sealed order sailing, completing maneuvers prepared in advance by Liz. Many swimmers enjoyed Nutty Craft, where they played with noodles and tubes in the swim area, and a rowdy water snowball fight took place using sponge balls and swamped canoes. In the craft house, we’ve seen projects such as yarn sculpture and mobile making. We had an exciting tennis tournament one afternoon and also a biathlon, where girls swam to Lincoln then ran back.
In addition to all this activity, we’ve seen many girls head out on trips to explore local areas, strengthening hiking legs and paddling arms in preparation for a summer full of outdoor adventure. Megan took a group up Pinnacle with Lindsay to scout out the blueberry situation, while Phoebe and Kitty checked out the crop on top of Rattlesnake. Robin led a vibrant group of Birdies to the summit of Coon Mountain, where they reported fabulous views. Corey and Nora took a group of canoers out to the sand bar on Champlain, cooking burgers on the beach and having a smashing time. One afternoon the Birdies went strawberry picking, providing the kitchen crew with more delicious fruit for our salad bar. During the second week of camp Birdies look forward to cookouts and sleepouts at our lean-tos. Juniors went on cookouts last week, learning and practicing the campsite skills they’ll be using on overnight trips in the coming weeks. Senior girls started heading out on overnights, with a service theme – so far they have succeeded in re-marking the trails on Cub and Skyline mountains.
The day of our Pioneer Meet (celebrating the Fourth of July) started out with the Work group careening around camp banging on pots and pans, alerting us all to meet on Birdie Beach, where we got to see the huge American flag hanging on the cliff. From there we were led up to the field, forming a massive snake to the lodge. Here we sang songs together before learning which teams everyone would be in, and then enjoying breakfast. Our events got off to an exhilarating start with a bucket brigade to put out an imaginary fire. The ‘Whips’ and the ‘Wills’ competed in a crosscut saw event, Lincoln logs, a nail drive, obstacle course, dress the Birdie and the Hunker Holla, to mention but a few. The final event was the very exciting egg toss! As a tiebreaker, we held a huge game of human croquet on the field, with counselors costumed as lake monster characters acting as wickets. The relay was as close as it’s ever been and made it truly difficult to decide a winning team.
Saturday evening, the BOYS and GIRLS enjoyed a picnic together on the Whippoorwill field. It was great to see brothers and sisters checking in and catching up, while friendships began to form or get re-established.
Summer is still young and it stretches out in front of us like a sweeping mountain vista; the hills keep going right off into the horizon. We’ve got over six weeks left to play, hike, paddle, sail and to make new friends. Everyone is eager, excited and we’ll keep you updated as our adventures unfold!
Doug and Kate