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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

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