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NCC on the West Coast!

Posted: March 4, 2016

Most people who have attended North Country Camps can remember when Pete, Jan, Nancy, Bruce, Bob, Frau, Kate or Doug came to their house to talk with them about camp.  They almost certainly brought a slide show with them, and answered questions as they described life at Lincoln, or Whippoorwill.

We continue to believe that these in-person meetings are the ideal way to learn about camp.  We still visit lots of families individually, but have also started organizing open house events, with the help of NCC alums, who are willing to open up their homes and spread the word to their social webs.  These events have been quite successful and we’ve done them all over the northeast.  However, this past weekend marked a first for North Country Camps; an open house event on the west coast!

There is a strong concentration of NCC alums in the bay area of California, many of whom have children and are starting to think through the logistics of sending them east for the summer.  So, Doug hopped on a plane to meet up with a group of them, at the home of Kenny Widmann, who went to camp in the 80′s and was on the staff for many years in the 90′s.  It was a fun and informative gathering with many children in attendance, including one current Whippoorwill camper!

We love events like this, so if you think you have a good space to host an open house and some potential families who would be interested in attending, let us know.  Whether it’s this year, or next, we’d love to hear from you!  Enrollment for the 2016 season is chugging along, but we still have room for new campers in most age groups.  And, we know that the vast majority of new families we meet, come to us because an alum, or family member of a current camper points them in our direction.  It’s how camp works and we thank you!  We hope you’re all staying warm.  Spring is on its way and that means it won’t be long until the shores of Augur lake ring out with the laughter, shouts and songs of adventurous children, once again!

2015 Bulletin Excerpts Part 2

Posted: October 20, 2015

Parents of campers at North Country Camps know that during the summer, we send out regular bulletins, describing what’s happening at camp.  Each Fall, we take excerpts from these bulletins and construct a document, with pictures, that can be given to prospective families who are interested in reading more about life at Lincoln and Whip.  We thought everyone might enjoy taking a look this year.  This second installment will cover trips, special events and the end of the summer.  For NCC alums, it should be a walk down memory lane!  *Note:  The descriptions switch back and forth between Lincoln and Whippoorwill, but what’s happening at one camp is quite similar to what’s happening at the other!

Trips

As mentioned in our first account the youngest girls learn all about how to set up a campsite on their cookouts in and around camp. They practice setting up tents, building fires, cooking delicious meals and hear about leave no trace ethics. This sets the stage for bigger forays into our surroundings. Typically, we’ll start day trips on the second day of camp, so campers can work on building stamina and strength, but also enjoy short introductions to the trip experience.  As the first couple of weeks unfold, campers from all ages, start heading out on overnight camping trips – some close to home and others with a service focus, like collecting trash from Valcour Island, or exploring new areas.

Our extended trip program really gets into full swing by the fourth week of camp, which encompass trips of three, four or five days out in the woods. Often, hiking trips of this length require a portion of backpacking to a campsite area, from which the group will take day hikes. We have sent out several extended canoe trips to various lake chains and rivers, including the newly opened Essex chain of lakes.  Some canoe trips can paddle unimpeded for days, but many involve portages, where the boys must carry all of their gear and the boats from one body of water to another.  This is hard work, but it gets you away from the crowds and there are very few things in life as beautiful as the sound of loons crying out on a remote wilderness lake, while you drift off to sleep.

Mountain climbing trips are quite popular.  We send out many of these trips each summer and have already had groups camping and climbing in the McIntyres, the  Great range and the Gill brook and lake Colden  regions.  And, when a trip group finds itself back at the van, it’s not really over yet.  There is, of course, the traditional ice cream stop on the way home and after that, the boys are involved with unpacking the trip.  Cleaning trip dishes, putting away equipment and hanging tents to dry are all important tasks that must be done by the group.  This is all part of our philosophy of teaching the kids every aspect of an activity.

Every camper has a different level of involvement with trips at camp and it is a truly personal decision as to what your goals may be. For some, the drive to hike as many different mountains and perhaps attain ones 46er is an integral part of their North Country Camps experience. Others are keen to take on challenging water trips and create memories on remote waterways. Several girls simply play each summer by ear and leap at an opportunity that interests them in the moment, such as an exploratory trip or one that focuses on creative cooking. We hope that everyone develops some level of attachment to being outside in new surroundings. With our range of different options to adventure, girls tend to find that during their years at camp, nature becomes ingrained in who they are.

Special Mixed Activities

There are opportunities for us to spend time with our Lincoln counterparts during every-day activities like Riding, Ropes and mixed field games, yet a highlight is when the boys join us for a picnic on the field. It’s so nice watching brothers and sisters catch up and share stories about their adventures. Four times during the summer, we get together for a concert, where we watch and perform all kinds of skits, songs and dances. This is something that can be very fun for campers to take part in, as it’s a really safe environment for getting on stage in front of a supportive audience.  It is also great entertainment for those who get to enjoy viewing the various performances. In addition, the girls and boys spend Friday evenings in various mixed activities. This year the Juniors had a great time playing ‘Salad bowl’ – a spin off from scattergories and charades rolled into one. The birdies and cubs enjoyed an open waterfront at Lincoln. There was a very exciting Casino night for Juniors, Cubs and Birdies, with card games, popcorn and a Roulette wheel, which is often a high spot. The seniors spend their Friday evenings dancing in the red Barn, although some prefer to play card games outside on a blanket. One of the absolute favorite evening pastimes is our annual square dance on the Lincoln field, called by our good friend Bruce.  Who doesn’t love an opportunity to do-si-do the night away?  We were also lucky enough to come together in the Red barn to enjoy a performance by good friends Roy Hurd and Skip Smithson. Everyone loved the story telling and classic Adirondack songs – particularly singing along to “Adirondack Blue”.

 

The End of Camp

The end of a camp season is the time for annual rituals like the Chief’s Cup sailing race, the Pinewood Derby and the horse show.  The Chief’s Cup is a long-time tradition at Lincoln, where the best sailors at camp compete against each other to see who’s the fastest.  The twists and turns of the race also test a skipper’s ability to handle the boat and direct his crew.  Congratulations to Sam, this year’s winner!  The pinewood derby is a race between the many small, wooden cars that boys build in the woodshop each season.  Awards are given for the fastest car and for “best in show.”  The race itself is a wonderful spectacle; the whole camp gathered around the track, cheering, shouting and groaning as the races unfold.  Some cars speed straight down the track, while others bang into the wall and sometimes come apart in spectacular fashion.  It’s almost as much fun to watch the crowd’s reaction, as it is to watch the race!  Our annual horse show was held on Sunday morning.  It’s a chance for the riders to show off their skills in front of the whole camp.  Events include barrel riding, an obstacle course and jumping.  We have some very talented riders here!

Perhaps the event kids look forward to the most each summer, is the final banquet.  On our second-to-last night of camp, we hold a themed feast to celebrate the summer.  Much debate goes into each year’s theme.  Kids discuss this topic frequently, but when the votes were cast this summer, the winner was “Jurassic Park.”  The art shop spent the last week of camp furiously creating decorations for the banquet.  Each boy dressed up to match the theme and at Lincoln, our staff M.C.’s led the whole camp on an exciting opening adventure, chased by the sounds of marauding dinosaurs, until eventually we arrived back at the lodge.  Our porch section had been transformed into a narrow tunnel, which boys crawled through, to reach the main dining hall (now the command center for all of Jurassic park).  The decorations were amazing, and many boys were impressed by the dish-room, which had become the mouth of a huge T-rex!  Our wonderful kitchen crew outdid themselves with chicken, corn-on-the-cob, fritters, salad and rolls, not to mention a delicious desert.  The boys celebrated another great summer, ate well, danced and we finished the evening off with a slide show from this summer and our annual workgroup awards, where the oldest campers leave their love of various aspects of camp to younger boys.  It was a great night.

The final couple of weeks at Whippoorwill provide a lot of anticipation as preparations take place for several end-of-season events. Sailors train for the Farrington Cup race and Riders practice for the horse show. We all vote on a banquet theme, and work hard making decorations to transform our dining hall. Cabin groups also create a skit to perform after dinner. New York City was our theme this time, which gave everyone plenty of inspiration! The evening began with our MC’s based at a Macy’s day parade complete with commentary from the TV reporters. The lead float took a wrong turn and disappeared into a subway station, leading all of the campers with them into our fully New York Citified dining hall. We feasted on Chips and Tzaziki, Pizza and pigs in blankets, egg rolls and Lo Mein as well as large soft pretzels, fritters, cheesecake and black and white cookies.

Girls plan carefully for their peanut present gifts for the last couple of weeks. After picking a peanut shell, which contains another campers name, we make a gift to be exchanged at final sing, using supplies found around camp. The Work group led us in council fire and started the gift giving chain. It is always fun to see who made gifts for whom and it’s a neat way to end the final evening of camp.

On Monday evening at Lincoln, we held out final council fire in the back of the lodge.  Quite a few awards were given out, including many that involved years of hard work to achieve.  Such is the case with the “Voyageaur” patch, the highest rank in canoeing.  Some years pass without a single one, but this year two boys earned that rank.  It’s always fun to listen to Emily’s tally of the number of mountains climbed, lakes paddled and which campers logged the most miles in the woods.  We sang some songs, told a short story and enjoyed being together for a little while longer.  As always, it was a mix of emotions for many boys, who were excited to see their families again, but also sad to be leaving camp.  It was the end of a fantastic summer!

 

 

2015 Camp Bulletin Excerpts- Part 1

Posted: September 29, 2015

Parents of campers at North Country Camps know that during the summer, we send out regular bulletins, describing what’s happening at camp.  Each Fall, we take excerpts from these bulletins and construct a document, with pictures, that can be given to prospective families who are interested in reading more about life at Lincoln and Whip.  We thought everyone might enjoy taking a look this year.  This first installment will cover the beginning of summer.  For NCC alums, it should be a walk down memory lane!  *Note:  The descriptions switch back and forth between Lincoln and Whippoorwill, but what’s happening at one camp is quite similar to what’s happening at the other!

The Buses Arrive!

The 2015 camp season got off to a great, but damp start.  However, the rain was nice enough to let up while the buses pulled into Lincoln and baggage was unloaded.  As we’ve seen in the past, the wet weather didn’t seem to affect the boys at all!  They scampered down to their cabins, full of energy and enthusiasm, ready to start another summer of fun!  This indomitable spirit persisted through several more days of rain showers, before giving way to a string of beautiful days.

Activities Begin!

Our typical routine for the first day of camp gives everyone a chance to hear about how we plan to live in a community. Section groups met with their counselors and section heads to discuss ways in which we can be responsible in our approach to living in close quarters with others, different boundaries of camp and safety tips too. This is a useful way for new campers to get a sense of what to expect from living away from home with friends, ask questions and have some input into building our community too. This aspect of life at Whip is integral to the success of each camper old and new, who are then able to feel invested in making this a great summer with her peers. The birdies in particular got to meet and learn about their bunny neighbors named Augur, Hazel and Fiver, whom all the campers will enjoy taking care of and visiting with throughout the summer.  For the rest of the morning, campers chose to take part in an introductory activity, yet were able to attempt their swim tests too.  We put the girls through their swim paces each year, to make certain that they are confident enough to feel safe while out boating. Many campers are keen to get cracking on this hurdle right away, while others take some time to build up to it. Regardless of when it takes place, passing one’s swim test leads to a real sense of accomplishment, particularly for first time campers.

By Tuesday morning, everyone officially started morning activities, which are chosen on a weekly basis. There are usually about 10-15 different options for girls to choose from, so always something to pique one’s interests.  Popular choices always include Arts and Crafts, Drama, Tennis, Archery, Sail, Windsurf, Canoe, Swim and Kayak. Girls also signed up to train as a soccer team for an upcoming game against a friendly neighboring camp.

Pioneer Meet!

And, though the summer has just begun, we’ve already started into special weekend events as well.  The boys and girls got together for social events on Saturday evening, a great way to get to know each other and for siblings to connect after a week of camp.  This past Sunday, the camp divided into red and blue teams to compete in the annual pioneer meet.  Boys spent the morning in events like the bucket brigade, racing water up the hill to put out a fire (imaginary), the crosscut saw, egg toss, tug-of-war and a relay race between Whippoorwill and Lincoln.  Spirits were high and the weather was beautiful.  We capped the day off with a council fire, down by the lake, where we commended each other for nice things done over the week, sang some songs and told a story.  Council fires are a lovely way to finish off a week in the woods.  We have many weeks of fun to go in this summer!  The kids and the staff are full of energy and enthusiasm for the adventures ahead.

2 Weeks In

Although only a couple of weeks have passed, we have been so busy that it’s hard to believe everything that’s happened in such a short span of time. The girls are settled into our routine by now and the weather has been simply wonderful, with each day dawning with more adventure on offer. Our population is happy and healthy, while friendships blossom throughout sections, within activities and on the many trips that are happening. One of the powerful things campers learn while living as part of a community, is how to face the challenges that come with being in close quarters with others. Having now been together for over 3 full weeks, we have seen wonderful growth throughout camp with regards to problem solving, learning to communicate and being sensitive to one another’s needs. It is a unique thing that our wonderful counselors can provide in their careful nurturing and guidance within a female community. From our experience, these tools that your children are learning, will be resources they can draw from for the rest of their lives.

Activities!

A good deal of focus has been on the many activities girls are able to take part in during the summer.  In particular we’ve enjoyed the waterfront, especially since the weather has been so pleasant. On any typical day that you might stroll to the lake, you’ll see canoes paddling away from Birdie beach to practice strokes and canoe over canoe rescues. This feels like an integral part of our traditional camp culture, and is not only a really cool skill to acquire, but allows for some really neat exploration of our lake as well as other waterways in the Adirondacks. Kayakers start their week by learning “wet exits’”, where they’ll practice getting out of a kayak while it’s rolled upside down. We do this procedure right away to make sure that girls know what to do if their kayak capsizes and it gives an added sense of confidence in knowing how to deal with it safely.  There’s been some fantastic wind of late for sailors and windsurfers to enjoy, yet earlier in the season, girls honed their skills in lighter conditions, which has paid off.  In addition, some of our more proficient sailors successfully raced against a neighboring camp supported by spirited committee boats.

Up the hill, boys are learning to care for horses and how to ride them.  This is another activity where a lot of learning and practice produce skilled, and proud participants.  Not only can they ride and take care of the horses, but they care for the tack as well.  At the ropes course, groups of boys and girls work together to overcome the challenges set for them there, some of which are on the ground, others of which bring them up into the trees.  And, our mountain bikers have been zooming around camp and off on the trails through our woods.  The bikers even took a ride into town last week for ice cream!

Field sports continue to attract many boys.  After our first week of baseball, we had a week of instructional soccer, which is an immensely popular sport these days.  The team practiced hard and enjoyed 4 great games against Camp Poko.  It was such a treat to watch them, as the boys put on a display of their amazing talents and their excellent sportsmanship!  This week has been dominated by ultimate Frisbee, which also has a loyal following.  The tennis players have been practicing their strokes, trying to earn the honor of being that day’s “tennis samurai.”  The archery range is always busy and our shop has been a hive of activity as well.   Many boys have been working on woodshop projects like benches, wooden boats and one boy even built a shoe rack for his cabin, which impressed the cabin inspector greatly!  Many artistic projects are in the works there as well.

More Special Events!

On weekends, we’ve enjoyed more special events.  Two weeks ago, we held our “final four” event, where four teams competed in games like quidditch, blindfolded tent set-up and 8 man canoe races.  It finishes with a tremendous all-camp relay race.  This last weekend we spent Sunday morning doing service projects around camp.  Every boy pitched in somewhere and a lot of valuable work was done around camp, including some site-prep for our new basketball hoop!  And, you can be sure that the trip program has been chugging along at a great pace.   We’ll supply more detail in our next bulletin, but many, many mountains are being climbed, lakes and rivers are being explored and cliffs scaled.

Tune in next time…!

Spread the Word!

Posted: March 23, 2015

Dear NCC Community,

It gives us great pleasure to say that here in the northcountry, we’re experiencing a little taste of Spring.  Sunny days in the 40’s have been a treat and nights in the 20’s are ensuring a strong run of maple sap, so get those pancakes ready!

Before you know it, the leaves will be out, the warm breezes will blow and it will be time for great friends (and new friends), to convene on the shores of Augur lake for a fantastic, fun filled summer.  We cannot wait and are busily cooking up ideas to make 2015 an extraordinary season!

We are hugely grateful to all of you who have gone out of your way to pass on the word about North Country Camps to your friends and relatives.  Enrollment of new campers was steady through the early Winter, but has slowed recently and we still have room for new boys and girls in most age groups, especially in the 8-12 year old range.  We’d love to enroll another 6 or 7 children at each camp, but will need your help to do it.

One of the very unique things about summer camps like ours, is that prospective families generally aren’t looking for a camp via advertisements, internet searches or other traditional marketing.  They depend on the word-of-mouth of their friends and relatives.  No piece of information they find is as meaningful as a good reference from someone they know.  North Country Camps has been successful for over 90 years because the families who went there have been eager to share Lincoln and Whippoorwill with others and we remain quite dependant on you to continue this tradition.

In recent years, we’ve heard from a few current families who are reluctant to tell others about NCC, either because they want camp to be a completely different social environment from home, or because they don’t see their friends and neighbors as being interested in a more traditional, rustic camp, like ours.  If you’ve had similar thoughts, we would urge you to reconsider.  Years of being at camp have taught us that this experience is valuable and fun for kids from all walks of life.   And, for those concerned about their son’s best school friend coming to camp, we encourage them to consider passing the word on to the family of a girl, or vice-versa.  Or, to consider the family of a child who is younger, or older.    This grass-roots “marketing” is why NCC has remained vibrant and strong since 1920 and we’re so grateful to you for your help.  Thank you!

Summer will be here soon.  We hope that you’re all getting as excited as we are!

Best wishes,

Doug, Kate and Nancy

A Cure for the Cold

Posted: February 26, 2015

Anyone who loves the northcountry has to also love winter, right?  You can’t have the perfection of an Adirondack summer; its long, warm, breezy days and cool waters, without the shorter, bitter cold days of winter, which, in the Adirondacks, lasts pretty much from Thanksgiving to sometime in April.  We do love the winter.  It is refreshing, beautiful and allows us to ski, skate and sled.  But, if it has a flaw, perhaps that flaw is the length.  At this point, with 3 solid months of winter behind us and another one (at least), to go… even a staunch lover of the north is forgiven for thinking about the warm season to come (did I mention that it was ten-below-zero this morning…again)?

With that in mind, we thought some of you poor, snow-bound souls would enjoy a reminder of what summer feels like.  Think of it as a series of meditations, which you should feel free to dwell on for a little while.

Breathe deeply and savor!

 

Watching the cloud shadows on the forest below.

Paddling through a wilderness of pickerel weed flowers.

An evening jump off the tower.

Sailing away the afternoon.

We hope you enjoyed these and feel a little warmer.  Summer will be here before you know it!  We can’t wait to get back to camp.  There’s still some space left at Lincoln and Whippoorwill, so if you know someone who would benefit from a dose of NCC fun, send them our way.  Thanks!

NCC Camper reunion – January 10th, 2015

Posted: January 16, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed our annual camper reunion at Chelsea piers Ice Rink this past Saturday and it was such fun to see campers come together to reminisce about their previous summer on Augur lake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends were clearly thrilled to spend time connecting again and sharing stories. The happy chatter made a wonderful accompaniment to the slide show we displayed of 2014 adventures and we are already looking forward to the 2015 season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With current arctic temperatures, It’s always a welcome distraction to plan for the warmer days of summer where we’ll feel the sunlight falling on our skin as it filters through the pine trees. We are officially in countdown mode now and are only 165 days from the first day of camp!

Recruitment of new campers, iswell under way and it has been strong so far. While camp is filling fast, there are still spaces left in some age groups, so please do pass on the word to families you may know.  If you believe there are several likely families in your area, consider hosting an open house event.  They’re lots of fun!

Let Doug or Kate know if you’d like to get involved – doug@northcountrycamps.com or kate@northcountrycamps.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NCC in the city!

Posted: November 4, 2014

For many, Fall is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the cooler temperatures, marvel at the amazing beauty that can be found in our surroundings and take advantage of all those activities that are satisfying before Winter is upon us. For us, this time of year signifies the start of the next summer (sort of). Our memories are filled with the fun we’ve had during the 2014 season and we’re eager to get going with what life is really all about – CAMP!

 

With that in mind, we’ve recently been on the road for the first trip to visit prospective families for next season. Being in NYC, not only allows us to make every effort to make a guest appearance on ‘Humans of New York’ (still working on that one folks!), sample the local cuisine ( we’ll take suggestions on your favorite haunts), and practice our street paddling techniques (as evidenced by our pictures), but also gives Doug the opportunity to school the Brooklynites in the nuances of the Lumberjack Hipster look that seems to be all the rage right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As many of you know, we are a community that relies completely upon our alumni and current families to spread the word. We are now ready to fill the calendar with Open houses. Join us in this outreach – Here’s all it takes:   book a date with us, invite your friends, family, and neighbors, and we’ll do the rest!   It would be great to have at least one open house in every part of the northeast!.  Contact us by phone or email and we’ll get started. We really appreciate the support we get from all of you in helping to keep NCC a strong and vibrant community!

 

 

2014 – Camp season update

Posted: July 15, 2014

 

North Country Camps Newsletter

Camp Lincoln

July 9, 2014

Pulling into camp, after a long ride, with a bus full of excited campers is always a somewhat magical feeling.  It’s like the curtains opening on a new set; one which will be our stage for many weeks of fun.  The possibilities stretch out before you and the excitement coming off the kids is palpable.  This is even more true when the weather is beautiful, as it was last Sunday.

The boys streamed happily off the bus, eager to find their cabins and begin moving in.  They were met by counselors and Workgroupers, ready to help carry baggage.  Within minutes, everyone was down in the sections.  After checking in at the health center, with Brandy and Amy, the boys met at the waterfront for a refreshing dip before dinner.  For some campers, the summer hasn’t really started until they’ve swum in the cool waters of Augur Lake.  Our dinner of roast chicken was excellent and we capped the day off with our first council fire of the season.  We commended each other for good and helpful deeds, introduced the 2014 staff and sang some songs.  It was a great start to a new camp season!

When we awoke the next morning, we wasted no time getting down to the business of camp.  Boys headed off to activities like horseback riding, baseball, archery, sailing, ropes course, biking, wood shop, art shop, kayaking, canoeing, nature exploration and tennis.  It’s a joy, each year, to hear camp in action after such a long period of silence.  Many, many boys have spent time passing their swim tests this last week.   For most, this means swimming their annual 16 laps, but for new boys, the basic 4 swim tests were their goal and many have finished them already.  The final test involves swimming back to camp across the lake from Cubs Point (with a lifeguard rowing beside them).  Countless Lincoln campers have recounted, later in life, that this test left them with an intense feeling of accomplishment and pride.  It’s no different today and most boys come out of the water with a big smile, amidst the cheering of others on the dock.  Each night at dinner we announce the names of those who have swum the lake and the applause is genuine and loud.

We’ve had some unusual and creative activities as well.  Michael has been leading boys in the care of our new baby chicks, as well as the older chickens (last year’s chicks), who roam free around camp.  And, Aidan has been teaching some fun woodcraft skills, like animal tracking, fire building and woodland camouflage.

We’ve lost no time starting trips, either.  Though we’re only one week into the camp season, the Lincoln boys have already climbed 8 mountains!  We’ve sent afternoon hikes up Pinnacle and Poke-O-Moonshine, both local favorites.  Other, longer day trips have summited Jay, Roostercomb, Cascade and Porter.  Emily led an intrepid group of boys up Knoblock mountain, a trailless peak that required the use of map and compass to reach the top.  And, Ted led a group up the “Bennie’s Brook” slide on Lower Wolfjaws.  The coming weeks will be packed with more opportunities to get out into the mountains and onto the lakes and rivers of the Adirondacks!

This past weekend saw us enjoying several special events.  Lincoln and Whippoorwill held a joint cookout on the Whip field Saturday evening.  It was a great chance for siblings to check in with each other and there was quite a bit of happy mixing between the two camps.  This continued afterwards as each section met with their Whippoorwill counterparts for a social event.  On Sunday we held our annual Pioneer Meet, where the red team and the blue team square off in events like the bucket brigade, log toss, pyramid, cross cut saw and, of course, the pony express, a relay race from Whippoorwill to Lincoln.  The weather was superb and so was the sportsmanship.  When the dust settled, the blue team came out ahead this year, but it was a fun day for everyone, culminating with a council fire in our outdoor council ring.  The evening was lovely and once again, we commended each other, gave out awards, sang songs and even got to hear Steve Frauenthal tell us a story.

There’s a lot of summer still to come.  It feels like we’re out to a very strong start with good weather, good health, a great staff and an adventurous group of boys; we know, however, that we will only pick up speed from here.  There are new activities to be tried, new friends to be made, mountains to climb, rivers to paddle, lakes to sail and special weekend events to look forward to.  Energy and anticipation are high, both among the new campers and those who have several summers at camp under their belts.  Everyone is looking forward, and we’ll give you an update in a couple of weeks.  We hope you’re having a fun summer too!

 Best wishes, Doug

Camp Whippoorwill

July 9, 2014

Families gathered at Horace Mann School under clear blue and sunny skies. It was a cool relief from the steadily climbing temperatures for many, to board the bus amidst a mix of happy chatter, nervousness and anticipation. As parents waved goodbye to their campers, introductions were well under way as girls got to meet others whom they will spend the rest of the summer with.

After a long, yet cheerful drive up the North way, campers were thrilled to spill out of the buses, and be greeted by their counselors. It didn’t take long to choose beds, unpack and check in with Christina, while catching up with old friends and making new ones too. Many took the opportunity to splash around in the crystal waters of Augur Lake – a perfect remedy to a long journey.

After a hearty meal of Mac and Cheese, Chicken tenders and curried chickpea burgers, along with a full and tasty salad table, everyone felt satisfied as they headed to the Nest for staff introductions and a council fire, led by the Work Group.

On the first full day of the summer, campers met with their sections, to learn general information about our community and surroundings. Then everyone had the opportunity to take their swim tests, which, when completed, allow campers to be in a boat without a counselor. Other options included learning sign language, Archery, Drama, Badminton, creating natural decorations around camp, and learning sign language.

Campers very quickly got started on weekly activities for two morning sessions, each lasting an hour. By attending the same activity for an entire week, the campers are able to really develop their skills in a particular area and become fairly accomplished in their all round knowledge and achievements. Great strides were made down at the lake where campers learned about knots, wind direction and patterns in Sailing and Windsurf. They practiced paddling skills and safe exit strategies in Kayak and Canoe, as well as learning good stroke technique in Swim.

Many girls took part in drills and scrimmages as they worked on teamwork in soccer, while preparing for their game against a neighboring camp this week. Others finessed their Tennis strokes or improved upon their aim in Archery. Climbers learned teamwork on the Ropes course and helped each other complete the different elements, while Horse Riders learnt about basic grooming techniques, transitions, tempo and steering, depending on personal ability. Mountain bikers explored the trails between Lincoln and Whippoorwill and worked on speed control, basic maintenance and safety checks.

A great benefit of our program is that afternoons allow for some variety in choices. Children can choose something different each day, depending on the list of activities generated by staff and campers. Some examples of what we’ve been doing in addition to our traditional choices are Water Quidditch, Water Color painting on Birdie beach, Swamped Canoe races, Fishing, Mixed Sand Volleyball and Water golf (using golf clubs to hit whiffle balls off the dock, then retrieving them).

There has also been lots of action in the Trip program so far, with campers in the Junior and Birdie sections, heading out to wonderful cookout and lean-to spots at Whippoorwill. On these occasions girls learn how to pitch a tent and hang a tarp. They build fires and cook dinner, while hearing and seeing how to ‘leave no trace’ in the wilderness.

Hikers have been coming and going too, climbing local peaks to warm up legs for larger upcoming trips or simply to get an introduction to our beautiful surroundings.  Megan led hikers up Pinnacle before breakfast one morning, and cooked pancakes on top for the group – the report is that Blueberries should be ripe in a week or so!  Another group of girls attempted to reach the fire tower on Poke-O-Moonshine, but will need to return at some point to finish that goal. Lily and Alyssa were joined by campers and took a trip up a local peak named Coon Mountain, where they enjoyed terrific views. Likewise, a group summited Rattlesnake and took in the amazing scene of Lake Champlain. Lucy and some Whippoorwillians joined Emily and a few Lincoln campers to climb Jay peak, and were successful in conquering the several false peaks that come before it on the ridge. There are plenty of paddlers practicing their strokes and canoe over canoe rescues in preparation for water trips to come.

We held a traditional Pioneer meet on Sunday between the Whips and the Wills. Campers were split into the two teams and dueled their way through a number of different ‘Olde Tyme’ events. The day started with a bucket brigade, to put out the imaginary fire started by ants who were disgruntled about campers not leaving candy in their cubbies! This was followed by favorite challenges like the cross cut saw, Dress the Birdie and the Egg toss. As is our fashion, we had a deciding game of Human Croquet in the afternoon!  It’s still hard to remember what the real results were, because it was a day packed with so much fun!

We held ‘Whip’s got talent!’ at the start of the second week, where campers performed songs, dances, spoon balancing, jump rope routines and Diablo displays, to mention just a few of the breathtaking acts. In conclusion, what we learned from the festivities is that Whip does in fact have talent – and a lot of it!

Our full and vibrant Birdie section is settling into the camp routine very easily as they meet new friends and spend time with their Work Group buddies. In the next week or so, they will help pick out a few chicks from our flock that are sunning themselves under the heat lamp at Lincoln. At which point, the infants should be strong enough to move to the animal pen with our resident rabbit. The Birdies have been doing a stellar job of animal care so far under the knowledge and guidance of Shannon.

On Saturday, we had an all-camp picnic, eating burgers, veggie burgers and pasta salad. It was a successful evening of good cheer, frisbee tossing and Newcomb playing. Later that evening, campers split by section to spend the evening with their Lincoln counterparts, playing ‘get to know you’ games on the field for the Junior and Birdie sections, while the Seniors had a ‘social’ in the Red barn.

We have a very healthy and happy population here at camp, with plenty of adventures yet to come, so stay tuned for future updates!

   Best wishes, Kate

 

Ted’s Winter Tale

Posted: March 6, 2014

Ted Sonneborn kindly wrote a description of some of the winter trips he’s been taking with friends over the past couple of years. We love to hear stories of wilderness adventures that connect us with our days at North Country Camps. If anyone else has stories to share, please feel welcome to be in touch with us at info@northcountrycamps.com

In March 2012, Barry Needleman and I climbed Noonmark with Neil Van Dyke. We had a great time and wondered why we didn’t spend more time out in the mountains during that time of year. On the descent that day an idea was born: climbing the 46 in winter.

 

Barry with Seward in the background

 

We had each climbed a few High Peaks in winter in prior years but those were only sporadic efforts.  In January 2013, we set out to chase our goal, starting the challenge with a hike up Whiteface and Esther.  It was a fun, tough start – the temperature hovered near zero all day.  Since then we’ve climbed more than twenty peaks together through wet snow, packed snow and fresh powder that went up to our waists.  Alumni from both Whippoorwill and Lincoln have joined us on our various adventures, including Neil, Jack Schneider, Will Holland, Chris Freyer, Robin Gucker, Ruth Needleman, Paul Sonneborn, and Paul Ferrari.  We’ve also each climbed solo on a few occasions.

 

Will and Ted's excellent adventures!

 

The difference between winter hiking and summer hiking isn’t just the cold, snow and snowshoes, it’s the many extra layers, three hats, four pairs of gloves, frozen water bottles, and frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Best of all, there are no bugs in the winter and there’s no mud, roots or rocks – when the trails are packed you can fly along like walking on a smooth snow sidewalk. Insulated boots with microspikes, crampons, or snowshoes enable you to move forward towards your destination safely and in comfort.

 

Approaching the summit of Haystack

 

The summits remain breezy and beautiful, though completely transformed once the snow and ice lay cover on the crown. With temperatures often below zero up top, there’s usually just enough time to take a picture before heading down to the protection of trees for a quick snack. The coveted summer-time slide-climbs are highlighted by the snow, allowing one to dream of the fun to come in warm weather. There are days where a five minute break is too long, for coldness sets in quickly; conversely there are days where the sun warms you and longer breaks are welcomed when graced with slightly warmer temperatures.

 

Hiking up Haystack

 

Although people do camp in winter, we’ve chosen to do all our climbing as day trips.  That means in comparison to summer camp trips, we’ve ended up climbing some odd combinations of peaks.  For example, we set out a few weeks ago to climb the Lower Range, but only got as far as Upper and Lower Wolf Jaws because so much deep, fresh snow slowed us down too much to continue that day to Gothics and Armstrong.  So we went back a few weeks later for a Gothics and Armstrong day trip from the Ausable Club.  That’s another major characteristic of winter climbing – the weather and conditions often have a major effect on your plans, and frequently prevent you from doing what you intended to do.  You always have to be smart, and recognize your limitations.  Being careful in the mountains is always important, but especially so in winter.

I plan to follow up this post with trip reports about each of our climbs. We’re also hoping to do a slideshow this summer of photos we’ve taken over the last two winters. So stay tuned, and who knows – maybe next winter some of you can join us on our hikes as we head toward our goal of finishing on Phelps on March 8, 2015.

Happy campers reunite! 2013 Reunion

Posted: January 10, 2014

In the dark depths of winter, it is especially satisfying (and fortifying) to think about the fun that we can experience with our friends in the summer time. But, even better is to relive perfect memories from times gone by with those friends. This is why the North Country Camps annual reunion is an event that is not to be missed!

 

 

 

On a  crisp, chilly, but sunny Saturday in January, droves of campers and staff joined together at Chelsea Piers Sky rink. Many happy faces milled together to catch up and share old stories over snacks and refreshments.  Others raced each other around the Ice rink.  Summer friends chatted and played happily, catching up on each others’ lives and the day was capped off with a trip down memory lane as we enjoyed a slide show from this past season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides being fun, the annual camp reunion also marks a midpoint on our ‘extended trip’ away from camp. There are only 170 more days until the start of the 2014 North Country Camps season.  A long down hill slide into summer!  And,  there is still time to refer others who might like to join us!

It was wonderful to see those of you who were able to join us this past Saturday.  Like you, we can’t wait for the summer to arrive!

Leave No Trace
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