2022 Alumni Newsletter

2022 Season Summary

Campers and staff returned to the shores of Augur Lake for another summer filled with laughter and excitement.  There was a palpable joy in the air as we created an environment where everyone could leave the stress and responsibilities of their lives behind and be free to enjoy simple camp pleasures.  Kids canoed around the lake, hiked up a mountain stream, hung their arm around a friend while watching a field game and ended their day with a campfire, dozing off to the sounds of loons and peeper frogs. These are the moments we remember from our own experiences and imagine what camp should be.

Collection of pictures of kids doing different activities at summer camp

Careful planning and regular testing led to a Covid-free summer and allowed us to deliver the kind of experience kids and families cherish so much. One camper summed it up best: “I totally forgot that Covid even existed. I was so busy having fun with my friends in activities that I didn’t think about school or anything I might be missing at home.”

It felt like a “normal” summer in so many ways. We operated a bus from New York City with campers excitedly running to meet their cabin mates as counselors greeted them with big smiles. Campers jumped right in making new friends, trying activities, and heading out on day trips.  Dining hall schedules resumed their regular cadence with everyone eating together and Whip Workgroupers leading boisterous renditions of pop songs on Fridays in the newly renovated MarenJan Lodge.  And the food was delicious! 

We had perfect summer weather with only a few brisk mornings that alumni remember as a Typical Adirondack Day (TAD). Children sharpened old skills and developed new ones in activities like field sports, horseback riding, archery, shop, art, biking, swimming, and boating. Bikers got to explore the maze of old roads in and around Baldface. Creative equine activities included riding horses in costume, dual bareback riding and “Pony Picnic” trail rides and an end-of-camp Rodeo Gymkhana.

The expanded ropes course, with four new elements, was very popular. One new element was aptly named “Wrecking Ball,” a nod to Miley Cyrus, where the participant climbs to a platform and takes a leap of faith to hit a suspended ball. The “Jellyfish” was another favorite, involving teamwork from campers who maneuvered ropes attached to suspended wood platforms to assist one-person across the whole element. 

Kids from both camps joined together to make a 10-bed flower and vegetable garden. Workgroupers learned framing and carpentry skills as they helped construct the Whippoorwill Trip House addition, which was stocked with gear just in time for our extended trip season.

Day hikes and overnight trips introduced new kids to basic camping principles in beautiful surroundings. As the season progressed campers built up their skills and strength, but also had time to relax, appreciate nature and experiment with activities like canoe sailing to catch a break from paddling. “Extended” trips (those longer than one night) began Week 4.  Our younger campers headed to Heart Lake to explore the High Peaks in that area.  Older kids chose from a wide range of hiking (JBL, Cold River, Dix, Gill Brook, Lake Colden) and canoe trips (Raquette River, Oswegatchie, Follensby Franklin Falls, Champlain). Several campers finally achieved their multi-summer goal of climbing the 46 High Peaks and were welcomed back to camp with rousing cheers.  Intense interest in trips led us to offer a few end-of-camp surprises like a stargazing and sunrise overnight at Whippoorwill and an overnight canoe trip at Lincoln with a mystery destination.

Teams of red and blue participated in cross-cut saw, tug-of war, nail drives and fire building at Pioneer Meet, and campers created fantastic booths at the Cowboys versus Aliens themed County Fair. Whippoorwill campers took an “Amazing Race” around the world and were detectives in a Workgroup-designed murder mystery while Lincoln’s “Final Four” had a canine theme with teams named after our favorite 4-legged camp friends. The strong interest in sailing led to a Lincoln versus Whippoorwill competition in addition to the Chief’s Cup and Farrington Cup sail races. Lodges were decorated for a huge reveal at Final Banquets. Lincoln’s theme was “Council Fire Story Tales” with our favorite characters coming to life for an evening.  Whippoorwill was bathed in hot pink with a “Barbie Can Do Anything” theme, which humorously took on many different forms such as a David Birdsall Logger Barbie.

Overall, it was a wonderful summer.  It was a true joy to be active, playful, and creative around one another again in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains and to spend the summer feeling the warm spirit of North Country Camps.

 

Adirondack Leadership Experience

NCC launched its inaugural Adirondack Leadership Experience (ALE) program in 2022.  ALE provides 16-year-olds with opportunities to serve as apprentices to activity counselors in camp, earn certifications in Wilderness First Aid and CPR, and engage with organizations in the Adirondack community through a variety of service-learning projects.  In 2022 the ALE participants did trail construction, worked with farms to harvest and process food and learned about the rich history and culture of Adirondack Park. The program culminates with participants planning and helping to lead a wilderness trip.  We’ve developed the program so that it can be tailored to the particular interests of each year’s group.  If, for example, participants want the program to focus more on wilderness trips, we can do that.  We’re excited to welcome another ALE group in 2023 and see what interests they’d like to pursue!

Collage of group of campers doing different activities

 

The 2022 NCC Capital Campaign

The 2022 NCC Capital Campaign was a remarkable success.  We raised $720,000, far surpassing initial expectations.  Our hope was to generate enough funds to accomplish a series of projects which will enhance the function, character and safety of key facilities, support new programming and increase alumni engagement.  We achieved that goal!
 

We've completed several projects already including the ropes course expansion and the Whip Trip House.  We're also close to finishing the renovations to the Whip dining hall (now known as the MarenJan Lodge) and intend to have those done before the start of the 2023 season.    

Campers working together to complete a ropes course element high in the air

Collection of pictures of building improvements at camp and people enjoying them

We’re planning for several exciting future projects including a new Lincoln boathouse coupled with a new floating dock extending out toward where the raft is currently located.

 

You can see a list of

other future projects

we're exploring here.

 

The campaign received contributions from more than 190 of you.   We're grateful to our entire community for your generosity.  We especially appreciate the support of the following alumni who helped propel this campaign to such a strong conclusion:
 
$25,000+
Jeffrey Altman   
The Blum Family
Josh Fidler
Lynne and Jonathan Greer
Sally Moore Gall and Einar Gall
The Heidecorn Family Foundation
Elaine and Robert Martin
Ruth and Barry Needleman
Wendy and Steve Shalen
Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III                                                       
 
$10,000 - $24,999
Anonymous 
Lisa and Etienne Boillot 
Laurie and George Daniels 
Margaret and John Falk
William F. Gratz 
Gail and Alan Landauer 
Lynn and Robert Livingston 
Emily and Daniel Lorch 
Mac McConnell 
Ginny and Brian Ruder 
Judy and Hank Sondheimer 
Laura Yurdin Birzell and Mark Birzell 
 
$5,000 - $9,999
Elizabeth Balfour Sitnick           
Alisa Brodkowitz 
Allan Rosenwald 
Kenny and Janet Widmann 
Sharon Zane and Gregory Macosko 
 
$2,500 - $4,999     
Rebecca Breslow and Ken Sexter
Elaine and Edward Paulson   
 
$1,000 - $2,499
Anonymous 
Alan, Betsy, Reid and Caroline Block 
Deborah, Nicholas, Marion and Alan Brown 
David Caragliano 
Catrina and James Drotleff 
Jack B. Gordon 
Judy and Pete Gucker 
Lauren Feuer Kamin and Matthew Kamin 
Nick Polsky 
Amy Rifkind and Bruce Brown
Ellen and Jeff Spokes 
Christy and Jonathan Violin 
Work Group 2019 
 

Family Camp and Alumni Weekend

In the week after camp ended, we were excited to bring back something old and to try something new. We held our first-ever Family Camp from Wednesday August 17th through Friday the 19th, followed by a traditional Alumni Weekend from Friday August 19th through Sunday August 21st.
 

Family Camp

Eight families joined us for Family Camp. Everyone was assigned to cabins in the Cub, Junior, and Senior sections at Lincoln. Meals were served in the Lincoln Lodge. Morning and afternoon activities were chosen after breakfast and lunch respectively.
 
We offered a number of activities that were staffed by counselors, including riding, archery, tie-dying, ropes course, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing and swimming.  
 
It was a great success, measured in part by the smiling faces of children and parents alike, and the unanimity of positive feedback received from the participants.

Collection of pictures of alumni taking part in a family camp where their kids could see what it is like to be campers

2023 Family Camp is scheduled for Thursday August 17 through Sunday, August 20.  Registration will open in the spring.  If you’re interested in learning more, please contact Jen and Neil (directors@northcountrycamps.com). 

 

Alumni Weekend

We were thrilled to hold our first Alumni Weekend since 2018.  Attendance was lower than in prior years as many in our community were still cautious about attending large gatherings. However, those who did attend were enthusiastic, engaged and happy to reconnect with old friends and to make new ones.

Collection of pictures of camp alumni participating in camp activities with their families

 

Alumni Committee Report 

The NCC Alumni Committee has several exciting projects underway. The Committee invites alumni to join the North Country Camps Alumni page on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12732361/). That page is intended to help camp staff and alumni build their professional networks.  The alumni page on the NCC website has been undergoing a makeover and while it is still a work in progress, more changes are coming soon.  One goal is to provide ways in which alumni can more easily communicate through message boards and other platforms.  The Committee also intends to resume the popular in-person meet-ups this winter and spring in New York City, Boston and California, as well as a “babies and bagels” gathering in Stamford, CT.  Dates and details will be announced by email and on social media.  Finally, on Monday April 8, 2024 Keeseville will be in the zone of total darkness during an eclipse!  We’re planning a gathering at camp to observe this spectacular, unique event.  More to come on that but for now, mark the date and plan to join us at camp!  If you have any questions, please contact one of the Alumni Committee Co-Chairs: Robin Weber Fischel (robinweber127@gmail.com) and Ruth B Needleman (ruth@northcountrycamps.com).

 

Camper and Staff Recruiting

Our alumni community is one of our best sources for both camper and staff referrals. Nobody knows camp better than you and so we count on our alumni to share that enthusiasm with prospective campers and staff. 

If you know any families who might be interested in NCC, our virtual open houses are an easy, low-key way for prospective families to meet the directors, see a camp slide show and learn all about NCC.  A schedule and information about open houses can be found here.

The wonderful NCC experience we all know and love is really dependent on outstanding staff members. If you know anyone who might like to work at NCC in 2023, please encourage them to visit our webpage where we have specific information about employment at camp.

Campers and counselors watching the moon rise from on top of a mountain

 

Spring Alumni Work Day/Weekend 

This year we’re holding an Opening Camp volunteer work day on Saturday, May 27th to spruce up the grounds at Lincoln and Whippoorwill.  From 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, we’ll spend the day opening buildings, picking up brush and getting camp set up for the season. Come relish the breeze off Augur Lake, share your time and skills, enjoy a meal or two, and meet this summer’s pre-pre camp staff.  In addition, we’re looking for volunteers with carpentry and building skills to join us for part or all of the weekend to work on one of our new multi-purpose cabins.  If you’re interested in participating, please RSVP or reach out for more information: directors@northcountrycamps.com
 

The NCC Blog

Did you have a chance to see our Blog posts this past summer?  If not take a look.  They are full of great NCC pictures and cover the following topics:  End of Season Events, The 2022 County Fair, 2022 NCC Trips and The 2022 Pioneer Meets.   
 
Four pictures showing four different camp activities that are the themes of different blog posts

Please Consider Camp In Your Planned Giving

We are grateful to our alumni community for your generosity and giving. Thanks to you, North Country Camps will continue to provide the unique community and wilderness experiences that so many of us cherished in our youth.
 
Please consider extending your support for camp through your estate planning by adding us as a beneficiary of funds or stock. Because the North Country Camps Foundation is a nonprofit organization, you can simply list us in your will or trust as follows:
 
North Country Camps Foundation
395 Frontage Road
Keeseville, NY 12944
EIN # 37-1862801

If you’d like to discuss your plan for legacy giving, we would welcome the conversation. Simply email Barry Needleman at bneedleman@comcast.net
 

A view of water and docks at dusk