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!
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!