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Fall in the Adirondacks

Posted: November 14, 2012

We hope that you are all having a wonderful Fall wherever you are in the world. This year has seen a particularly lovely autumn in the Adirondacks, giving plenty of opportunity for hiking mountains, walking in the woods and gathering with old camp friends. With the recent storm in the Northeast, our thoughts are with you and we hope that you remained safe and relatively unscathed if you felt the effects of Sandy.

As you can see, the colors in the mountains were really beautiful, so what better opportunity to gather with friends for a wander in the woods, before catching up over a hearty meal.


Things have definitely been a bit chillier in the High Peaks, with evidence that winter is right around the corner. Since these pictures have been taken, it’s been reported by Doug Furman that there is a good covering of snow above 2,000 ft elevation in the mountains.



We hope that you’ve all been creating your own adventures and are gearing up for a terrific Holiday season!


North Country Camps Alumni and Families

Posted: October 19, 2012

Dear NCC Alumni and Families,

Hello from the beautiful northcountry!  It’s a bit chilly today, and the definite flavor of Fall has been in the air these past few weeks.  The sky is a deep clear blue, the leaves continue to turn, and there is a dusting of snow on the high peaks.  We can only hope that you’re all sharing in such a glorious Autumn!  It’s hard to believe our luck after such a beautiful summer of hot and dry weather and campers and staff all eager to play hard, learn new things and explore the Adirondacks together.  It really was a spectacular summer and many tears were shed at its end.

And as alumni who know the experience of camp, we would like to remind you all that the campers at Lincoln and Whippoorwill come to us almost exclusively through word-of-mouth referrals from people like you!  This would be a great time to pass on the word about North Country Camps to someone you know who may be interested in a fantastic summer in the Adirondacks.  Kate and Doug will be starting to organize home visits over the coming weeks and they would be thrilled to meet with any prospective families you may know.  Please feel free to pass along our contact info, or to contact us yourselves with referrals.  In recent years, we’ve even had some alumni offer to host a group informational gathering at their homes, inviting people who might possibly be interested to come meet us and watch the camp slide show.  This has been fun and productive!  Another way in which we would greatly appreciate some help is in the realm of school contacts.  We would love to find a way to make ourselves known in likely school communities and would appreciate any help you might be able to give in terms of advice, contact info, etc. for schools in your area.  We would be more than happy to mail brochures for you to place in a school, doctors office, etc.  Just let us know and thank you!

We are incredibly lucky that our alumni are so willing to share us with their friends, relatives and neighbors.  And, of course, we would be thrilled to welcome your kids to NCC as well!

We’re also so thankful for your generous contributions to the Chief’s Fund, which has been able to give financial aid to a significant number of families; some of whom need quite a bit of assistance to attend, and some of whom need just a little.  It’s a fantastic organization run by a volunteer Board of Directors, making camp a more realistic option for many children each summer, be they from alumni families or not.

Speaking of alumni, our 2012 Old Timers Weekend was a huge success.  Many former Lincoln and Whip campers and counselors joined us for a few days of great fun and food in August.  We shared stories, reconnected with old friends and enjoyed the local mountains and the lake.  Make a note on your calendar for August 22-24, 2014!

You can easily find more information and links to Alumni through our website which hosts it’s own ‘Alumni’ page.

Here you’ll find ways to keep us updated with your news along with instructions on how to register for Oldtimers weekend in 2014.

Best wishes to all and thank you!

Kate, Doug and Nancy


Doug Furman, Director of Camp Lincoln:

Kate Green, Director of Camp Whippoorwill:

Nancy Gucker Birdsall, Executive Director of NCC:










A hike up Poko

Posted: September 21, 2012

Greetings from the north country!  We hope that all of you are settled back into your school season routines and enjoying some cooler weather.  We woke this morning to temperatures in the 30’s and as you travel around the Adirondacks, there are more and more trees starting to turn.  Fall is nearly here.

Yesterday I had a chance to hike Poke o’ moonshine with several other people, representing the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation, the Adirondack Mountain Club and Friends of Poke o’ moonshine.  We were there to look at the trail up from the campground and assess what work will need to be done to it to make it a long-term sustainable trail.  The list is long, but one of the things I enjoyed about the hike was seeing all the work that has been done on this trail by groups from North Country Camps!  We passed numerous projects, from the brushing in of herd paths done by the 2011 work group, to a series of rock steps done by the 1996 workgroup.  And, of course, the trail re-route completed by this summer’s work group! 



I love that our campers get involved in community service projects, not just in camp, but out in our local community as well.  It’s a great opportunity for us to give back to the natural resource that we get so much enjoyment out of each summer.  We’re already planning a project or two for next summer, so get those muscles ready!

While taking a few photos of the group, I discovered a shot of the workgroup trail work trip that I led in June.  This group spent a 90 degree day digging and fortifying water bars to divert water off the new section of trail.  It looked great yesterday WG 2012.  Nice job!



Design the 2012 NCC T-shirt!

Posted: March 15, 2012

Everyone loves the good ol’ green shirts with the little white emblem, but sometimes it’s fun to mix things up a bit.  This year, we’re going to let you design the camp t-shirts!  If you have an idea for a great design and color, let us know.  We’d love to see your design and we will be picking the one we like best in mid- April. The person who designs the winning shirt will live forever in the dresser drawers of, and on the backs of us all!  You can email design entries (or any questions) to Doug Furman at:, or mail them to:  349 Middle Rd, Essex, NY 12936.  Be as specific as you can, with color samples, a large copy of any design for the back of the shirt, etc.  This opportunity is open to anyone in the NCC community, whether you were  work group of ’57, or  workgroup  2015.  We  can’t wait to see what you come up with!


2012 NCC Augur Lake Ice out contest!

Posted: March 5, 2012

The Augur Lake Ice-Out Prediction Committee is poised to take your 2012 predictions for this most unusual of winters!

Each year, we attempt to get a sense of how many wetsuits will be needed for the Pre Pre Crew to wear, whilst braving the cold waters of the Augur to put the docks in. In trying to ascertain such vital information, a level of competitive guessing has developed and we invite you all to throw your ideas about dates into the mix. Please submit your predictions promptly through this survey link.

Attached for your reference is a photo taken yesterday showing a stretch of open water off Hulls’ point.  That open water is an anomaly, because a narrower version of it also appeared earlier in the winter, when  Peter’s ice boat was flying back and forth across the lake.  What it means is anybody’s guess….  Good Luck!

Reunion mailing – Just before Winter sets in!

Posted: December 10, 2011

It may seem like summer time at North Country Camps is a long time away. Yet we are keeping the thoughts of fun, adventure and friendships at the front of our minds. There’s nothing like memories of jumping into the cool refreshing waters of Augur Lake, Concert skits in the Red barn, reaching the heights of the trees on the Ropes course, scaling beautiful mountain tops and paddling around the next corner to find the perfect campsite on a canoe trip. Too many wonderful experiences to list.

Our annual reunion at Chelsea Piers is just around the corner, where we’ll get together to ice skate and relive those perfect moments created in our cabins, nestled beneath the pine trees. We can’t wait to see you all there.

We hope current and recent campers have received their invitations at this point and as you can see our little Holiday helpers were busy at work stuffing envelopes and sharing tales you helped create this past season. For Alumni, we hope you’ll enjoy snippets from the summer and recall your own memories from summers at Lincoln and Whippoorwill, while perusing the the calendar you receive.

And just to quench your thirst for our little slice of heaven, here is a view from Birdie beach – Just before the snow flies!

Keep checking back for winter wonderland pictures of our summer home on Frontage Road.

A hike up Colden

Posted: November 8, 2011

It feels like a while since the summer ended and as our last post demonstrated, the colors in the Adirondacks have been spectacular as usual this fall. So a small group of staff set out on an adventure to hike Colden, with hopes of catching the last of the Autumn hues. Knowing full well, that the weather can be changeable in the higher elevations, we were well prepared for colder temperatures and gusty winds. The morning was brisk and overcast, as we set out from the South Meadow road, yet we felt optimistic that there was a wonderful day ahead of us.  We reached Marcy Dam in good time and took the opportunity to survey the mountain that we planned to scale. It was also a chance to see in person, the remnants of Marcy Dam and the missing bridge, that got washed away during the Tropical storm, Irene.


Hikers can still hike from the Adirondack Loj, but need to forge the river down stream of where the bridge used to be. You can see in the photo that the water is very high again, because since the dam burst, the pond has tended to be more of a small stream. On this day, it almost looked as full as we’d remembered it from past visits. As we cast our eyes towards Colden, we saw what appeared to be snow on the peak. It was hard to tell how much snow, but it was most definitely snow!!


After signing in at the register, we hiked on through golden, red, yellow and brown leaves, climbing ever higher. The colors were especially pretty next the evergreens and gurgling streams. When we reached Lake Arnold, the trail started to wind upwards in a more determined fashion and as the elevation got higher, the temperature got lower. Like magic, we hiked from Fall, into Winter. It was like traveling in time. As the tree line got shorter, the branches were more heavily laden with snow. We burst out on top of Little Colden, where the wind took one’s breath away as it slapped you in the face with full force. The exposed rock was running with water that was turning to ice in places, so extra caution was used.After a welcome dip back into the trees, we took the opportunity to add further layers and have a snack before making a last upward push to the Summit of Colden. From here, we enjoyed views of the MacIntyre Range and of Mount Marcy as the skies cleared long enough to show the neighboring peaks.







We quickly made our    way down and stopped  again at Lake Arnold  for lunch number 7,  while basked in the  relative warmth of the  sun, before trekking on back towards the parking lot.

But we had to have an after shot too!

We wish you could have been there with us and we look forward to the next time we get to hike with campers from North Country Camps on a perfect TAD!

Trip to Tanzania this summer

Posted: May 7, 2011

Izzy Merrin and Sophie Aron, campers from Workgroup 2009,  are planning a trip to Tanzania this summer, and would love to have a few folks join them!      You can contact Izzy by email:   or by phone:  646-763-0325

Here is the information and itinerary:

April 16, 2011

Dear Isabel,

I’m enclosing our suggested itinerary for you and your party’s review.  You’ll note that there is an option at the end of your trip to choose either a community service project or a trek in Maasai land accompanied by Maasai warriors.  Either choice is fine and does not affect the final trip cost.

The community service project consists of working with young schoolchildren, teaching them English for several days and helping with manual labor on construction projects.  I imagine you’ll have an idea of things from your recent time in Africa, though perhaps your friends will not.  It provides a chance to give something back to the place and people with whom you’ll have been sharing and living.

The other option is a trek in Maasai land accompanied by Maasai warriors, in addition to your Patagonia Frontiers’ guides.  This would be a unique opportunity to observe their land and quickly changing way of life.  I think a group of 17 year-old boys would be in hog heaven with this option, but you and your friends may enjoy it for other reasons.

As you know, I won’t be able to directly guide you myself as I have previous commitments  (Nancy’s note:  John is leading our NCC West Bolivia expedition in July).  I have engaged the services of a valued friend and previous employee from my time as Director of NOLS Patagonia.  He is a Kenyan National who has worked extensively throughout the world, including here in Chile, the U.S. and throughout East Africa.  He was the Assistant Director of NOLS East Africa before that program closed and has been instrumental in the start up of NOLS new Tanzania program, due to begin this coming year.  He is also owner of an adventure travel company in Kenya and due to our relationship is willing to collaborate with Patagonia Frontiers on your trip to Tanzania.

I have asked that special care be taken in your circumstances and we have conferred quite a bit on choice and number of guides.  Even though you are a party of only three I’ve arranged for two guides to be with you throughout your trip.  I feel this will provide you and your friends with excellent, secure arrangements with which to enjoy, benefit from and appreciate your program.  The specific guides being looked at are former NOLS East Africa instructors who have trained in the U.S. and worked in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as others who have worked university programs with international students.  These individuals have training, experience and track records that set them apart from the majority of other available guides and as such we’ll have to commit to hiring them relatively soon if we wish to secure their services.

Both of these guides will accompany you on the Kilimanjaro climb in addition to the Tanzanian mountain guide that we are obligated to hire as per park regulations.  On safari you will be accompanied by one of these two guides as well as your guide/driver from the safari company, with the return of our second guide for the final portion of your program.

The cost for the proposed itinerary is $7,000.00 per person for a party of three.  The cost is inclusive of all entry and park fees, airport pick up and drop off to Kilimanjaro airport, all transport while in Tanzania, food while on the mountain, safari, service project or trek, and all in town time, mountain and trek support crew salary, two private guide’s salaries, and AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation) insurance.  The cost does not include tips to personnel on the mountain or your guides, in restaurants, or to your safari driver (I can provide ideas on this later if you’d like).  The cost also does not include any room service items or international calls from your hotels or lodges, personal equipment for the mountain or trek, or bottled beverages.

Please have a close look at the information and let me know what you think.  If you and your friends approve the itinerary then we’ll move to next steps including getting you an equipment list so you may begin preparing for the trip.  You mentioned that your mother had several questions and I’d be happy to address any questions that you, your parents, or your friends or their parents may have.

I’ve been guiding and enjoying Tanzania for years and am pleased to be able to offer you this program.  I think you’ll find it to be a marvelous and memorable experience.


John R. Hauf,   Patagonia Frontiers

 Itinerary for Isabel Merrin and Party

3 weeks

 Day 1    Depart country of origin for Kilimanjaro International Airport, Tanzania (JRO).

Day 2   Arrival in Tanzania.  Airport pick-up, guide greeting and transfer to Lush Garden Hotel in Arusha.

Day 3    Rest day/delay day.  You’ll spend the day relaxing after your international flights.  After breakfast you’ll have an orientation and equipment check followed by an afternoon walking tour of town.  O/N Lush Garden Hotel.

Day 4    Machame Route start to finish.

Distance is 64 km/39 miles in 7 days.   Elevation gain is 4,891 m/ 16, 044 ft.  Elevation loss is 5,020 m/ 16, 444 ft.  Start Machame Gate 1,830 m/ 6,000 ft.  End Machame Forest Camp 3,000 m/ 9,900 ft.  Distance is 10 km. / 6 miles.

You and your guides will travel in 4×4 vehicle to the Machame Gate following a winding road through cultivated fields and glades of forest.  You’ll register with the park service and meet your support crew from the Chagga Tribe, inhabitants of the slopes of Kilimanjaro.  They’ll be an integral part of your journey and become friends with an insight into the local culture and environment.  The climb passes through rain forest with Colobus and Sykes monkeys to the edge of the giant heather zone.

Day 5   Start Machame Forest Camp 3,000 m/ 9,900 ft.  End Shira Camp 3,800 m/ 12,500 ft.  Distance is 8 km/ 5 miles.

Today’s route is through the heath forest and into the moorlands.  This zone is sprinkled with two species of giant groundsel, the Senecio and the Lobelia, both of which could be straight out of a Dr. Seuss story.  Camp on the Shira Plateau has fascinating rock features and occasionally sees herds of Eland wander through.

Day 6   Start Shira Camp 3,800 m/ 12, 500 ft. End Barranco Camp 3,900 m/ 12,900 ft.  Distance is 10 km/ 6 miles.

Today you’ll climb to a high point of 14,800 ft. to cross a ridge near a feature named Lava Tower.  You’ll spend some time there acclimatizing and eating lunch before descending under the impressive Breach Wall to the Barranco Camp.

Day 7    Start Barranco Camp 3,900 m/ 12,900 ft.  End Karanga Valley 4,055 m/ 13,300 ft.  Distance is 5 km/ 3 miles.

The route continues up and over the Great Barranco Wall reaching 14,500 ft before descending to camp just beyond the Karanga River.  Today’s route is short and allows some rest in the afternoon, a boost to the upcoming summit bid.

Day 8  Start Karanga Valley 4,055 m/ 13,300 ft.  End Kosovo Camp 4,760 m/ 15,600 ft.  Distance is 5 km/ 3 miles.

We continue our ascent to high camp perched on a broad, rocky bluff with distant views of impressive Mawenzi, sister peak to Kilimanjaro’s main peak.  The afternoon is spent in final preparations for our early departure for the summit.

Day 9  Start Kosovo Camp 4,760 m/ 15,600 ft.  Summit is Uhuru Peak 5,896 m/ 19,344 ft.  End Mweka Camp 3,100 m/ 10,200 ft.  Distance is 13 km/ 8 miles.

It’s summit day and after a hot breakfast you’ll depart camp bundled against the cold and wearing a headlamp for lighting the way in a slow, rhythmic ascent.  The route follows a ridge to the crater’s rim, and then traverses along this to the main summit of Uhuru Peak.  As the sun dawns and warms the day you’ll be on the roof of Africa!  After congratulations and pictures you’ll descend back through high camp and continue down to the forests of Mweka Camp and the richest air you’ll ever breath.

Day 10   Start Mweka Camp 3,100 m/ 10,200 ft.  End Mweka Gate 1,800 m/ 5,580 ft.  Distance is 7 km/ 4 miles.

As the sun rises over the mountain towering above you it’ll be difficult to believe that you stood so high only the day before.  Descend through lush forest and ferns to the Mweka Gate and park sign out.  You’ll say goodbye to the support crew and return to the Lush Garden Hotel in Arusha to spend the night after a celebratory dinner.

Day 11   Your safari driver will meet you at the hotel for the drive across the Great Rift Valley and up the Western Escarpment to the Ngorongoro Highlands.  You’ll stop at a deep cleft in the plains to visit Olduvai Gorge, home of Homo sapiens’ oldest examples, and continue across the shifting sands to the vast Serengeti Plains, game viewing on the way to your lodge for the night, Sopa Serengeti.

Day 12  The entire day is spent on a game drive, following the expert skills of your guides and driver as you view lions, giraffes, elephants, zebras and a myriad of other wildlife.  Return to your lodge for the night.

Day 13   You continue your game drive across the Serengeti and to the Ngorongoro Highlands, home of the Maasai, famous warriors of the plains.  You’ll have an opportunity to visit a family group and explore their home and way of life.  Overnight at the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge perched on the edge of the colossal crater below.

Day 14   After an early morning breakfast you descend into the world famous Ngorongoro Crater where in addition to seeing the other animals of the plains, there is the opportunity to spot the rare Black Rhino.  After a picnic lunch at Loitoktok Lake on the crater floor you’ll ascend out once again and continue to the ChemChem region, home of the Hadzape Bushmen with their click tongue language, and the Mangati Tribe.  O/N tent camp.

Day 15   You’ll need to awake early to share the daily life of a Hadzape family as they hunt small game and work with their bees and extracting honey.  In the afternoon there will be the opportunity to visit the main village.  O/N tent camp.

Day 16   Today is your chance to share with the Mangati Tribe, famous for their crafts, blacksmithing and ironwork.  You’ll see craftsman fashioning spears and other iron products.  O/N tent camp.

Day 17   Return to Arusha for orientation to your service project or preparations for your hike with the Maasai and for a well-deserved shower and a bit of relaxation at the Lush Garden Hotel.

Day 18   Friday

Option 1:   You’ll visit a local orphanage school and spend some time getting to know the staff and children.  Next you’ll begin a several day service project with additional opportunity to teach English to the school children.  Service projects are typically manual labor, helping in the construction of shelters.

Option 2:   Drive northwest of Arusha to traditional Maasai land and begin your trek across steppe and plains, accompanied by Maasai warriors.

Day 19   Saturday

Option 1:  Continue service project in Arusha.

Option 2:  Continue trek in Maasai land.

Day 20

Option 1:  Finish service project in Arusha.

Option 2:  Continue trek in Maasai land, return to Arusha.

Day 21   You’ll have a chance for final souvenir shopping in the morning, along with a farewell lunch and airport drop off.  Begin flight home.

Day 22   Arrive final destination.

Leave No Trace

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