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Archive for August, 2011

Final Bulletin of the Season

Posted: August 25, 2011

               North Country Camps Newsletter

                     Whippoorwill and Lincoln

                             August 22, 2011

After a long and productive summer of activity, friendships and adventure, the camps are suddenly quiet today. We can still sense the rustlings of movement in the cabins, laughter lingers in the branches of the pine trees, and it’s easy to imagine that we hear a cabin door banging shut.  As our summer experiences become wonderful memories, and. before we let the 2011 season sleep, let’s just fill you in on our action packed, last couple of weeks.

At WHIPPOORWILL, in addition to the standard archery, tennis, riding, swim, sail, windsurf, kayak, crafts and biking, some new additions to the offerings included making banquet decorations, practicing racing techniques and learning rules before the Farrington Cup sailing race, horse show practice, felting, swims to Whip Island, board and tower diving at Lincoln, kayak rolling, initial board carving, and writing articles for “Whipperscraps,” our annual publication.

Trips continued in abundance throughout the different age ranges. On a second culinary overnight trip the girls cooked all kinds of goodies, but were most excited about baking bread and a pie in a reflector oven. A few more groups climbed Pinnacle for breakfast, where they enjoyed blueberry pancakes, which seems to have become Katie’s signature dish. Our final Rock-climbing trip headed out for the day with Nora and Emily. The Cold River trip led by Kathy returned successfully, having hiked all seven peaks they had aimed to summit. A second group of Workgroupers spent the night on their solo experience at the cliff property, and two groups of Orion sailors enjoyed a night on Valcour Island on Lake Champlain. Weathering a short but exciting storm, they made it back in one piece and not too sea sick from being tossed about in large waves. Day trips continued to be very popular, so full vans left each morning to transport campers to the trails up Colvin and Blake, Cascade and Porter, Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge, as well as Allen – the longest day hike that we do. All hikers returned to camp weary, content and satisfied with their accomplishments. It’s so exciting to see the love that our campers have for such adventures and to see them learning to become such good stewards for this wonderful environment. This summer has seen not only a continued passion in our campers for the wilderness, but also some big achievements.  Seven Whippoorwill campers became forty-sixers this summer, having hiked all 46 of the highest peaks in the Adirondacks. They were joined by two Whip staff members who also reached this milestone. We congratulate them all.

We’ve had a lot of extra excitement back at camp, too, as a favorite event took place one Saturday morning, where  senior campers arrived at breakfast dressed as a Counselor for a Day. It was a riot watching them imitate the staff, make announcements and help teach in their activities. The next day we had a great afternoon dressed as either Pirates or Ninja’s, trying to acquire puzzle pieces from the opponents’ territory. The difficulty lay in smuggling the pieces back to make a map that would inform you where the treasure lay. The day of the Farrington cup race brought perfect wind, and the heats began at a cracking pace while committee boats monitored buoys and the start/finish line. After some phenomenal sailing by all, Hannah  succeeded in pulling ahead to be this year’s Farrington Cup winner.

For our “Holidays” final banquet we congregated in costume by the Nest for picture taking, before heading towards the lodge for the opening skit. We were greeted by a ground hog (for groundhog day), cupid (for valentine’s day), a leprechaun (for St. Patrick’s day) and a mother (for Mother’s Day) . It turned out that an extra month was being created and the Board of Holidays were voting about who would get to have their own month. Quickly, it became clear that this little group of holidays would not be able to stand up against the big hitters like Christmas or New Year’s, so they decided to join forces and invited the campers to come into the meeting and help vote for them. We streamed into the lodge through the mouth of a giant groundhog,  to find the dining hall had been transformed into four different seasons of holiday decorations. We had a feast of melon, tofu stir fry for vegetarians, chicken fingers with barbecue sauce and ranch dip, mashed potato, corn on the cob and freshly baked bread. This was followed by brownie sundaes. Cheers, chatter and singing continued throughout the meal and when everyone had had their fill, we headed to the barn where each cabin performed a ‘Holiday’ themed skit. It was a lovely evening that ended with the Work Group giving their bittersweet, last will and testaments, when they pass down their love of favorite aspects of camp, to younger girls.

Our final and perhaps most poignant ceremony took place during final sing. As we gave each other commendations and sang camp songs, everyone took turns presenting their peanut presents. It’s such fun watching the surprise on people’s faces as they give and receive the gifts that they’ve been making for one another. The following morning we were up early for a breakfast of cinnamon buns.  The initial board was unveiled to a great drum roll and final goodbyes were said as the buses rolled into Whippoorwill.

LINCOLN boys have been furiously working on activity skills, trying to master kayak maneuvers they’ve been working on, trying to get their sailboat moorings down pat, their aim at 30 yards dialed in with bow and arrow and their summer projects finished up in the wood shop.  It’s incredible to look back at where they all were on day one, and how much they’ve learned; how many life skills have been internalized.  We’re amazed each year to see just how competent the boys become in their chosen activities!  In addition to standard activity choices, we’ve offered up some new and exciting options as well.  Many boys have cheered the return of a “nature exploration” activity and its focus on wilderness survival skills; boys have built shelters from sticks and forest debris, made fires, learned new ways to move silently through the forest and camouflage themselves (this skill was put to the test by seeing how close they could get to the players on the volleyball court without being noticed).

Many trips have gone out in these final weeks.  Two different groups of boys have packed into the Avalanche Pass area to camp for three days and climb Gray, Skylight and Mt. Marcy, the highest peak in New York State.  There’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment that you feel on top of this particular mountain and of course, the view is spectacular!  Another group, led by Ted and Miles, made the long pack in to Lake Colden, where they stayed four days, for what may be the most difficult hiking trip we send out.  Over those four days, they climbed Herbert, Cliff, Redfield, Colden and Allen, a distant and very remote peak, whose name has always been synonymous with a long day on the trail.  They had a fantastic time and one member of the group was able to finish his quest to climb all 46 Adirondack high peaks.  Day trips also continued at a good pace.  Emily and Will led a group on a long and adventurous bushwhack up Lost Pond mountain.  Will took a group on a bushwhack up Fordway, which has not been climbed in many years.  Barry and Matt took another group up Bluff mountain, a Camp Lincoln first.  Matt led a group up Big Slide and Frau took another group up to Owls Head lookout.  Barry also took a group of boys up the trap dike on Mt. Colden; a narrow canyon of rock that ascends the steep mountainside and empties out on to a large rockslide that brings you all the way to the summit.  It’s a spectacular hike!

As always, many special events have occurred in the final week of this camp season.  Last Saturday, the Workgroup organized and ran a giant camp monopoly game for the campers.  Groups of boys were running all over camp, trying to collect properties by accomplishing various feats.  Along the way they met Workgroupers and staff members who tried to help them as “chance” and “community chest” cards, or hinder them with a trip to jail (and yes, there were “get out of jail free” cards.  The 2011 High Peaks Open tennis tournament wrapped up with three great finals (Cubs, Juniors and Seniors). Three skippers and their crews sailed an excruciatingly close series of races for the Chief’s Cup.  And, the annual pinewood derby was great fun to watch; the competition was fierce and the cheers/groans could be heard all around camp.  Awards were given not just for the fastest car, but also for the best looking and best designed.

Preparations for the Final Banquet were underway throughout the week, with boys readying decorations for the lodge and creating their own costumes as well.  The “zombie apocalypse” theme made for some very funny costumes and the lodge had a great “haunted house” feel to it.  The food was outstanding and it was a very fun night for all, concluding with the unveiling of the 2011 initial board emblem, carved by Jason.  Before we knew it, it was time to start packing up belongings as well as activity areas.  After their own gear was readied, all of the boys helped put away boats, cover up tennis courts and batten down the camp for a long, cold winter.  Monday night we gathered in the lodge for a last council fire together.  Many awards were given out, some of them the culmination of years of work and dedication to various areas of camp activity.  We sang songs together and watched a slide show of photos from this summer.  There were laughter and tears as we looked back over an incredible summer.

GIRLS and BOYS met together for an afternoon of archery.  Emma joined Matt at Lincoln for a leisurely paddle with a mixed group across to Cub’s Point, from where they hiked to the summit of Cub mountain for lunch. .A final concert in the big Red Barn was enjoyed by both camps on last Saturday night, with many funny skits and impressive musical performances. The Work Group has continued to go to the local Fledging Crow Farm on Monday evenings and Friday mornings before breakfast, to help weed and harvest vegetables. It is quite impressive that throughout this busy summer, every available Workgrouper has chosen to give service in this way. This has also been apparent with this season’s building project, David’s clay pizza oven.  When the clay finally dried, they fired up the oven and celebrated with delicious wood-fired pizza, declared excellent by all who consumed it.

Horse riders practiced diligently throughout the last week for Sunday’s horse show, where those girls and boys who have been riding all summer get to show us how much they have learned.  The weather was ideal, and spectators took their seats around the edge of the ring to watch friends take part in musical sponges, barrel race, obstacle course, jumping over wooden fences, fancy dress relay and the crab-apple relay.

Thank you all for sharing your children with us during such a wonderful summer, it’s been truly terrific. And now……. Let the countdown begin!

Kate and Doug

Third bulletin of the season

Posted: August 9, 2011

                                                              North Country Camps Newsletter

                                                                    Lincoln and Whippoorwill

                                                                              August 6, 2011

It was fantastic to see so many of you at our annual parents’ visiting day this past weekend!  The boys and girls were all up early, eagerly awaiting the chance to reconnect with family, show you their cabins, introduce new friends and show off some of their activity skills.  As always, we greatly enjoyed speaking with each of you and sharing a fun sing on the beach at Whippoorwill.  Everyone came back to camp refreshed and ready for two more action-packed weeks.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

 At the beginning of each summer, seven weeks seems like a long stretch of time, in which there will be endless opportunities for activities, trips and hanging out with friends.  However, after six weeks, everyone is aware that time is growing short.  We’re taking full advantage of the time that’s left!

At LINCOLN all of our regular activities have continued on without let-up and it’s exciting to watch and see how much progress has been made over the past six weeks.  Many boys who started the summer holding the jib of their sailboat are now steering with the tiller.  Arrows are hitting closer and closer to the center of the target and the matches on the tennis court are getting more and more exciting to watch.  In addition to old favorites, we’ve seen some new activities offered recently, including Australian-rules football, foot tennis, inter-galactic destructo ball, shelter building, water cricket and yesterday, a group of Cubs, led by Emily, went over to Whippoorwill to wrangle up some chickens.  They were able to catch five of the young birds that were born at Whip this spring and these, all named now, are currently living in our animal pen.

Some of our activity areas are starting to look towards major events that will happen during week seven.  In the wood shop, most work is now centered on the construction of pinewood derby cars that will be put through their paces in the big race next week.  At sailing, one can feel the excitement brewing and there’s quite a bit of speculation about who will be the skippers in the annual Chief’s Cup regatta.  Things are even picking up in the Lincoln vegetable garden, where campers harvested 15 pounds of green beans this past week, in addition to numerous peas and cucumbers.

The big story, however, at this time of the summer is trips!  We’re sending lots of three, four and five day trips out into the woods each week now, as well as day trips.  In the past two weeks, we’ve sent out two trips to the Gill brook region, two trips to climb in the Dix range, a trip to the John’s Brook valley to climb the Great Range and one stalwart crew to the Cold River area for five days of backpacking and mountain climbing in the Seward and Santanoni ranges.  A group of Juniors and Cubs spent three days climbing around Heart Lake, ascending Algonquin, Wright, Iroquois and Phelps!  Another group of Cubs spent two days there later in the week, climbing Phelps and Mt. Jo.  The Cubs also went out on a canoe overnight to Franklin Falls this week.  But those are just the extended trips!  In addition, the boys of Lincoln have also climbed Noonmark, Catamount, Giant, and Rocky Peak Ridge; and Emily and Will took one group of adventurous boys up the “Poko gut”, a narrow gully that goes up between two of Poko’s large cliff faces.  To round out the day, they then bushwhacked over to Chief’s Peak and back.  Not to be outdone, Ted and Jeremy led a group of very ambitious climbers who wanted to climb the two highest peaks (both over 5,000 feet) in New York, in one day!  The sun had not yet risen when they started up the trail to Mt. Marcy, but they made good time and managed to climb Algonquin as well and still made it back to camp in time for dinner.

Our second annual kayak polo tournament has recently concluded, though boys are still playing this fast paced and challenging game regularly.  And our annual tennis tournament, the “High Peaks Open,” is just getting started.  We’re not slowing down a bit here at Camp Lincoln.

After the most tremendous Parents visiting day, our life at WHIPPOORWILL has returned to a more normal pace of skill building in the mornings, fun-filled afternoons and trips coming and going every day!  We jumped right back into important business on Sunday morning, beginning with a very welcome breakfast of ‘Eggs Amler’ – a post visiting day tradition. A dedicated crew of staff and camp family arose early to prepare the famous toast, egg and cheese delight. We were hugely grateful to everyone who helped prepare the sumptuous feast. With happily full bellies, we met as a community on Birdie beach to pitch ideas for our final banquet, then vote on our favorites. After much thought and discussion, it was agreed that the 2011 final banquet theme will in fact be “Holidays!”

We have seen further skill development in activities as campers become a little more capable of navigating the varied winds of the Augur, controlling the horses, paddling the canoes, riding the bikes and working on art projects. Last week saw us shift into a week of daily choices. This gives campers a chance to try new activities, work on particular skills and finish up projects or ranks. During this time, there were plenty of opportunities for the Birdies to try windsurfing and learn the basics in quieter winds, while more experienced windsurfers learned some tricks. Sailors have started practicing racing in preparation for the Farrington Cup race next weekend.  Youthful farmers have harvested peas, green beans and beets from the garden, and are eyeing a ripening crop of squash, cucumbers and tomatoes.  A group of girls took part in a full morning activity of “Iron Chef Trip Food,” where they are able to choose from a selection of typical trip food ingredients, build a fire and invent delectable meals and morsels. Older Seniors planned an evening scavenger hunt, everyone racing around camp to complete different tasks such as weeding the garden, picking up pine cones with your elbows, and coming up with answers to camp song trivia.  And now that we have a banquet theme, artists and crafters are working hard on brainstorming and making decorations for the big day.

Trips continue to come and go. Three separate groups of Birdies have ventured out on a canoeing overnight at Follensby Clear Pond, and a fourth group of Birdies headed into the Gulf Brook lean-to, where they spent the night and hiked Hurricane Mountain.

Seniors headed out on a St. Regis Canoe trip and the Work Group spent an afternoon and night alone on their “solos” at the cliff property, under the supervision of Phoebe and Jess. Seniors completed Marshall, Marcy, Skylight, Grey, Cliff and Redfield on a Lake Colden trip last week, while this week a group is hiking in the Cold River region. The Gucker women (Robin and Lindsay) spent the night on Rattlesnake Mountain for their Culinary overnight, the point of which is to cook fabulous trip food. The mixed age group had an amazing experience and gave reports of such delicious foods, including chocolate Fondue!

A successful group of hikers, led by Jordy and Jess, completed the Great Range, and enjoyed camping near John’s Brook Lodge, while our first 46er of the year finished her quest by climbing Whiteface and Esther. There may well be more girls who accomplish this feat in the coming days.

In special event news, our staff finally reached the point of madness last Sunday – it seems to happen at least once a year!  But happily, the campers assisted the counselors in regaining their sanity during a Mad Counselor Hunt.

In addition to in-camp activities and trips, BOYS and GIRLS stayed busy with special events of all shapes and sizes.  Since we last wrote, we have enjoyed the staff-written play called “The Creations,” a fable featuring fairy tale characters.  Chris and Kitty worked tirelessly with the cast and crew, who were diligent about going to rehearsals and learning their lines. With a Sunday matinée performance, we took the opportunity to dress in our finest threads for the big show.   It was a huge success and everyone was impressed at the quality of the production put e in a few short weeks!

We had perfect weather for our “outer space” themed county fair.  Each cabin created and staffed a booth.  “Dunk the counselor”, a waterslide, and the soda slide were all popular, as were old favorites such as the marriage booth, Cubby Jail, face painting and pony express, plus plenty of other games of skill, too!  Later that night, Bruce Hennessey stopped by to call an all-camp square dance on the Lincoln field.   Everyone who tries it loves square dancing, and all of NCC went to bed tired and happy that night.  Sunday evening after visiting day campers from Lincoln and Whip were lucky enough to enjoy a concert in the big Red Barn, put on by the father-daughter team of Todd and Caroline Mack, camp alumni who were up visiting for the weekend.  They are talented musicians and the kids loved the concert.

Barry led a group of older campers from both camps on a four day backpack expedition from Newcomb Lake to Heart Lake, passing through some very remote and beautiful country, as well as making a bushwhack ascent of Little Santanoni.   Workgroupers have continued to put in volunteer time at the neighboring organic farm and they’ve also been hard at work building Adirondack chairs with Frau at Lincoln and helping David with the construction of an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven at Whip.  We’re all looking forward to the completion of that project!

We’ll be seeing many of you soon, but we aim to use every remaining moment we have together. So, although it’s not too long until the buses pull into camp, forgive us for not even thinking of saying goodbye just yet….

Doug and Kate

Leave No Trace

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