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Archive for September, 2013

2013 Parent Bulletin Excerpts

Posted: September 19, 2013

Each year, at the end of the summer, Kate and Doug condense that season’s parent bulletins into one document, which we give to prospective families.  It’s a great way for them to get a sense for what’s happening at camp over the course of a summer and we thought you all might enjoy seeing this year’s version.  It will be a nice trip down memory lane for some of you and perhaps a good link to send to any friends you think might like to join us next summer.  Enjoy!

     The beginning of another camp season is much like a birth.  There’s anticipation, nervousness and above all, a lot of excitement for what is to be!  Each summer is different and this one certainly has spirit!

      The thrum of excitement at Horace Mann was unmistakable as the buses arrived to transport our campers to camp. Good cheer assisted parents as they slung their children’s bags onto the van and buses, and wished their offspring good luck. Children waved goodbye with anxious joy, but quickly turned their attention to catching up with chums old and new.  After a long drive up the Northway, we eventually pulled onto Frontage Road and spilled out onto the field at Whip and the driveway at Lincoln.  The boys and girls streamed off the buses, full of that spirit and ready to begin the fun.  They met quickly with the camp nurses, picked beds and moved into their cabins.  Many took a refreshing dip in the lake before heading up the hill for a delicious dinner.  After a month of setup work around camp, with just a handful of counselors around, it felt great to see, hear and feel the full dining halls again!

    The weather has been less than perfect, with periodic rain storms coming through our area.  We set new records for rainfall in June and so the ground has been soggy.  A few particularly wet areas of camp have trails of “wood cookies” (sawed from logs) leading through them, but any inconvenience we feel seems to be lost on the kids, who see these trails as little adventures!  Indeed, the weather does not seem to be impacting the happiness and excitement of the campers, who rightly point out that all this water just makes more lake for swimming and boating!  As I sit and write today, the weather is perfect; warm, sunny and the forecast looks good for the next few days, so hopefully we’re turning a corner.  

    What a difference a couple of weeks can make when it comes to the weather!  From the record-smashing rains of June and early July, we’ve moved on to dry, sunny days, perfect for camp.  The mud is gone and the girls and boys are hard at work (the work of having fun, that is).

 WHIPPOORWILL pulses with vibrant energy, constant chatter, cheer and singing as the morale is quite high. Our weeks have been jam packed with adventures, entertainment, learning and creativity.  Campers choose their morning activities on a weekly basis, which allows them the opportunity to really develop some core skills that will provide a foundation for being proficient. We have offered many of the classic activities such as Kayak, Windsurf, Archery, Riding, Ropes, Drama, Sailing and Tennis. For some of our other traditional activities, we included a unique spin by making it possible to take “swim team,” which focused on speed, racing strokes and techniques. In dance, campers learnt ballroom steps, including the waltz, which they choreographed to more contemporary music. Girls practiced Ultimate Frisbee for an upcoming game with a neighboring camp, and crafters worked on making Clay Mobiles throughout the week.

   In addition, Birdies went to help pick out our new animal additions, baby dwarf rabbits – you can only imagine how cute they are and how much attention they are getting!  Artists are also busy making nature installations around camp, in the form of camp emblem designs made out of wood and leaves. Others have spent time in the craft house working on glazing clay projects, making heart shaped candles, newspaper poetry and Origami mobiles.

     Despite all the activity we’ve already mentioned, there have still been plenty of trip adventures, and at this point everyone has been out on overnight excursions. Junior girls headed out to spend the night at Giant Washbowl (they were assisted by a rugged few Work groupers, who helped sherpa water to their campsite) and rise early in order to hike Giant and Rocky Peak ridge successfully the following day. Another group hiked into Round Pond to camp, then hike Noonmark Mountain and enjoy its most beautiful views! Other girls enjoyed the natural beauty and wildlife that is so abundant on Keenan Pond, where they watched a great blue heron! Junior hikers backpacked into Gulf Brook after hiking Big and Little Crow, then hiked up Hurricane Mountain the next day. The Birdies followed their lead and have also been camping at Gulf Brook, while taking in the scenery from the Crows. Some senior girls ventured to Valcour Island for a service trip to collect garbage – with plenty of foresight, they packed an extra lunch, which came in handy when the winds picked up to make the waves impassable until later in the evening.  We also managed to squeeze in a range of day trips throughout the past few weeks, including hikes up Street and Nye, Catamount and Tabletop. Blueberry hunters on both Pinnacle and Poko harvested enough fruit for the kitchen crew to make delicious Blueberry pancakes for everyone!

 


    At LINCOLN we’ve continued with the full array of activities each day, on the field, in the woods and on and in the lake.  Ropes course, horseback riding, art shop, wood shop and mountain biking are popular and the field is quite busy, too.  Our junior and senior baseball teams played several games against Camp Poko, as did the soccer and sailing teams.  They were great, friendly competitions with lots of exciting moments.  Both teams played hard, but good sportsmanship was evident throughout.  In the end, the games were split right down the middle between the two camps; a perfect result even though it’s fun to win!  We’ve had groups out on the field playing ultimate frisbee, capture the flag and rugby as well.  The archery range and tennis courts are full of activity, and of course, with last week’s heat wave, the lake was the place to be!  Kayakers paddled, rolled and played polo almost constantly under the guidance of Matt and Phil.  Canoers and swimmers have been enjoying the weatherand sailors and windsurfers were treated to some very strong winds recently.  Our resident fishermen are out as well and have boated many sunfish and bass! 

   Activities and trips are the meat and potatoes of camp life, but perhaps special events are the cake!    Last weekend, we held what has recently become our annual “final four” competition, where the camp splits into 4 groups, each representing a member of the NCC leadership team.  This year’s event had teams representing Frau, Emily, Doug and Pete.  Contests ranged from blindfolded tent set-up to soccer and culminated in an all-camp relay race, the final leg of which involved eating pudding from a bowl with no hands!  It was a really fun day for everyone and, of course, each Sunday evening finds us down at the council ring for our Sunday night ritual; the council fire.  Here we commend each other for good deeds and accomplishments over the past week.  We also give out awards, discuss camp issues, sing some songs and tell a story.  Sitting under the great pines and hemlocks, listening to a story and watching the sun sink on the other side of the lake is the perfect way to close out a week.

    At WHIPOORWILL, plenty of singing took place in preparation for parents’ visiting day, as boys and girls gathered to form this year’s group of Wheezlings, who gave a tremendous performance that evening. In addition, those campers who love to flex their vocal chords created new camp centric song lyrics for popular songs, and some girls learnt the art of beat boxing. Campers have taken a variety of movement instruction that included beginner’s ballroom, interpretive dance and yoga. Crafters made Japanese paper lanterns, stepping stones for the garden or ceramic candleholders, complete with candles inside.

While morning activities remain focused on instruction and skill building, our afternoon choices continue to have a slightly more creative and whacky feel. And many of our activity ideas stem from camper requests: fishing, high ropes course, and fire building clinics made appearances, along with windsurf for advanced campers, mixed yoga, archery, a swim to Whip island this past week and a swim to Lincoln, too.  In the craft house, campers made mobiles, magazine woven baskets and stuffed squirrels from gloves, while painters ventured onto Birdie beach to work on watercolors. Those who are particularly fond of Harry Potter took the opportunity to celebrate the character’s birthday during an afternoon of Hogwarts focused games. There was plenty of dressing up and magical fun throughout the event.

  Interest in trips continued as the summer progressed and girls were excited to hike the Dix range, despite a mix of weather. Birdies headed on a canoe overnight that navigated through Long Pond and Hoel Pond, where they had a fabulous time! The Work Group had a couple of excursions during their final week. For the first, they enjoyed a lunch cookout with the Lincoln Work Group on a sand bar on Lake Champlain. The second was solo camping on our cliff property, where they were responsible for hanging a tarp and spending the evening and night reflecting on their experience.

 

  The LINCOLN boys have been very busy over the past two weeks.  As we pass the half-way mark of the summer, the focus of camp shifts slightly.  Activities still occupy a huge part of our collective experience, but trips are becoming a much bigger part of the picture.  Extended trips have begun in earnest with groups of boys heading out into the Adirondack wilderness for three, four, or even five days at a time.  One group of boys paddled up the Bog River, into Lowe’s Lake, where they stayed two nights, enjoying the peace and quiet (except when broken by the haunting cry of a loon).  Another lucky group spent four days paddling up (and back down) the Oswegatchie River, one of the wildest and most remote wilderness drainages in the park.  The scenery is wild and beautiful, especially at their destination, the High Falls of the Oswegatchie.  Another group paddled out onto Franklin Falls pond for an overnight trip.  A very ambitious and strong group of boys spent four days camping and hiking in the Lake Colden area, climbing Herbert, Cliff, Redfield and Colden.  Another group packed in from Elk Lake to climb the Dix range over three days.  A cohort of cubs spent the night at Heart lake, where they climbed Mt. Jo and Phelps, while a group of juniors used Heart Lake as a base camp to climb Algonquin and Wright peak.  Day trips have continued as well, with afternoon/evening paddles on the Ausable River and Lake Champlain; hiking trips up South Bouquet, Poko, Whiteface, Esther and Sawteeth;  rock climbing ascents; and sailing trips on the Orion.  The weather for these trips has, for the large part, been spectacular and the groups have returned happy and energized! 

 

 As you know, weekends provide tons of entertainment, but few more than the mid-season weekend when GIRLS and BOYS gather to hold a County Fair on the Whip field. We had a truly magnificent circus-themed fair, which boasted booths created and run by campers, including such challenges as catching soda from the soda slide, dunking the counselor, arm wrestling, pillow fighting on the balance beam, riding the bucking bronco, throwing darts at balloons, and of course getting married at the marriage booth!  The campers worked really hard coming up with ideas, decorations and costumes, to transform the field into a jolly fete that provided much fun for all. After dinner, we reconvened on the Lincoln field for an all-camp square dance called by our old friend Bruce. The whole camp whooped, swung their partners and do-si-doed around the field until it was too dark to continue.  Everyone had a blast!

 With little time to recover from such festivities, we plunged into the next day with enthusiasm and anticipation of this year’s play, the musical “Bugsy Malone,” gathering in the Red Barn for a matinee performance that was executed to perfection by a cast of more than fifty girls and boys, directed by Bea, Sean, Molly, Lainie and James.  As a special treat afterwards, we held a cupcake party that was a real hit with everyone. Each camper chose a cupcake that had been decorated by the Birdies and Cubs that morning.

 During the last two weeks GIRLS and BOYS joined together for afternoons of tennis and badminton at Whippoorwill and sand volleyball at Lincoln. A group of Workgroupers from Lincoln and from Whippoorwill set off on a four day backpacking adventure, climbing only trailless peaks in the Dix range.  They had a great time navigating by map and compass, fording streams and getting a taste for what mountain climbing was like before the trails made it “easy.” Boys and girls met for final social events on Friday and again for our last concert of the season on Saturday evening.  It was a very fun combination of funny skits and impressive musical performances, capped off, of course, by the Wheezers.  Sunday morning found us all up in the horse field to watch the annual horse show.  Those boys and girls who have been up at the stables a lot this summer were eager to show off their skills and the crowd was treated to races, jumps and even a costume relay.  Riders worked very hard under the direction of Laura, Michael, James and Kelly and it was a fun morning for everyone. Workgroupers have continued to help out at our local organic vegetable farm, picking veggies, weeding and learning about farming from the energetic young farmers there.  And, they’ve been hard at work on their lean-to.  Since we last wrote, the lean-to was erected, taken apart, floated like a raft across the lake to its new site and then re-erected in the woods where it will be used on overnights by generations to come.

   On the day of the the Farrington Cup race at Whippoorwill, sailors could not have asked for better wind. It was a nail biting start, as the first heat saw all four boats pass the finish line within yards of one another. There was phenomenal sailing displayed by all participants, so everyone should feel very proud of their participation.

   Our last weekend at camp saw a string of special activities to close out the season.  Sunday evening was our much anticipated final banquet.  The themes (chosen by the campers several weeks ago) were Las Vegas at Lincoln and “Inside a garbage can” at Whip.  Campers in costume were amazed as they entered the lodges.  In one afternoon teams of boys and girls had transformed the dining halls into the Las Vegas strip and…the inside of a garbage can.  Our fantastic cooks pulled out all the stops with a delicious meal and it was a terrific celebration.  Monday was spent packing up and starting to pack away the camp for winter, with many boys and girls taking one last dip in Augur Lake.  We held our final council fire that evening, where there was much recognition of accomplishments and good deeds done over the summer.  At Lincoln, awards were given, songs sung and we watched a slide show of images from this camp season, while at Whippoorwill, we exchanged peanut presents and sang camp favorites while the sun set one last time over Augur lake.  There were many tears at the thought of leaving camp, but we had a good time together and went to bed with a mix of sadness and excitement. 

 

 It was a great summer, and we are already planning for 2014.  It promises to be at least as exciting and fun!  You can register now on our website: www.northcountrycamps.com   We hope to see you there!

 

 

 

Kate, Doug and Nancy

 

 

 

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