A hike up Poko

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!

ImageI 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!


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A hike up Colden

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!

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Fall Colors at NCC!

There may be no more beautiful time of year than when the leaves turn and the whole of the northcountry turns from green, to a dappling of yellow, orange, red and every shade in-between!  It’s no different at camp and while different trees turn at different times, it’s fun to walk around Lincoln and Whippoorwill and see the landscapes we know and love so much, with a different twist.

Whippoorwill is so dominated by pines and hemlocks that much of the camp looks very similar in the Fall, but a fine carpet of needles covers the ground and certain areas of camp really shine.  Here are some shots of the area around the barn and from Birdie beach, taken on a perfect fall day; crisp, cool and sunny!

Lincoln has more deciduous trees, and different parts of camp turn at different times.  These shots were taken on a cloudier day, but sometimes the low light makes the colors “pop” that much more!  A whitetail deer was feeding out at the archery range this day and I was able to sneak up to the field house and watch her for quite a while from around the corner.  I was feeling rather sneaky, but when she finally saw me and bounded off towards the forest, I was surprised to see her fawn bound off too.  It had been just on the other side of the field house, not 15 feet away, but I’d never seen it!

We hope that you’re all enjoying this beautiful season too!  We’ll continue to post some walk-around-camp photos over the course of the year.  Just think, only two more seasons until camp starts up again!

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North Country Triathlon

North Country Camps has been a supporter of the local ARC – Mountain Lake Services – annual fundraising triathlon for the past twelve years, and for most of these years NCC has been represented with flashing paddles and winged feet by “Team Gucker”, and this year was no different!

This annual event has two divisions – recreational and ironman – and the entire race begins on Birdie Beach.     Team Gucker races on the longer ironman course!

The race begins, and canoes and kayaks paddle down the lake toward Cub’s Point.  

The Ironman teams paddled in to the augur, to Blueberry Island, and then back around toward Lincoln’s waterfront and north to Whippoorwill.   Recreational paddlers head south to the point, over to Lincoln and back to the beach.     This year Peter and Damien, Robin and Peter’s wonderful exchange student from France, paddled one of camp’s double sea kayaks  – sturdy kayaks that fare well in Lake Champlain’s heavy winds and high waves, but are not built for speed!

Peter and Damien complete their leg of the triathlon, Robin has taken off from here!

From the beach the runners take off up the hill and out to Route 9, in to Keeseville and across the walking bridge, up stairs and around a few blocks in town, then back out to the ARC site for a total of 5.6 miles   (recreational runners travel 2.5 +/- miles).    Robin and a runner from another team ran the distance to town and back together – enjoying the friendly and fast pace!

Robin and a competitor complete the 5.6 mile run together


As Robin arrived across the finish line, Forrest took off on a 20 mile loop back towards camp to the Robare Road (past Fledging Crow farm) and north on the Mace Chasm Road, dropping down the hill to Port Kent and north along the lake shore road back around to Route 9, then south through the back of Ausable Chasm and south on the Mace Chasm Road to the base of Pinnacle, and finally north on Route 9 in to town and across the finish line!

Forrest biking up from Port Kent toward Ausable Chasm

Heading south by Ausable Chasm







Watching the race and cheering on all the teams had us thinking what fun it would be to have a few other NCC teams involved.   There was some serious staff fitness training going on during the camp season, and a crew of counselors in the area this fall hiking and enjoying time in the Adirondacks … it may be easy to encourage a few to come back in 2012 for the 14th annual Mountain Services Triathlon!

Triathlon team Gucker

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Final Bulletin of the Season

               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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Third bulletin of the season

                                                              North Country Camps Newsletter

                                                                    Lincoln and Whippoorwill

                                                                              August 6, 2011

It was fantastic to see so many of you at our annual parents’ visiting day this past weekend!  The boys and girls were all up early, eagerly awaiting the chance to reconnect with family, show you their cabins, introduce new friends and show off some of their activity skills.  As always, we greatly enjoyed speaking with each of you and sharing a fun sing on the beach at Whippoorwill.  Everyone came back to camp refreshed and ready for two more action-packed weeks.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

 At the beginning of each summer, seven weeks seems like a long stretch of time, in which there will be endless opportunities for activities, trips and hanging out with friends.  However, after six weeks, everyone is aware that time is growing short.  We’re taking full advantage of the time that’s left!

At LINCOLN all of our regular activities have continued on without let-up and it’s exciting to watch and see how much progress has been made over the past six weeks.  Many boys who started the summer holding the jib of their sailboat are now steering with the tiller.  Arrows are hitting closer and closer to the center of the target and the matches on the tennis court are getting more and more exciting to watch.  In addition to old favorites, we’ve seen some new activities offered recently, including Australian-rules football, foot tennis, inter-galactic destructo ball, shelter building, water cricket and yesterday, a group of Cubs, led by Emily, went over to Whippoorwill to wrangle up some chickens.  They were able to catch five of the young birds that were born at Whip this spring and these, all named now, are currently living in our animal pen.

Some of our activity areas are starting to look towards major events that will happen during week seven.  In the wood shop, most work is now centered on the construction of pinewood derby cars that will be put through their paces in the big race next week.  At sailing, one can feel the excitement brewing and there’s quite a bit of speculation about who will be the skippers in the annual Chief’s Cup regatta.  Things are even picking up in the Lincoln vegetable garden, where campers harvested 15 pounds of green beans this past week, in addition to numerous peas and cucumbers.

The big story, however, at this time of the summer is trips!  We’re sending lots of three, four and five day trips out into the woods each week now, as well as day trips.  In the past two weeks, we’ve sent out two trips to the Gill brook region, two trips to climb in the Dix range, a trip to the John’s Brook valley to climb the Great Range and one stalwart crew to the Cold River area for five days of backpacking and mountain climbing in the Seward and Santanoni ranges.  A group of Juniors and Cubs spent three days climbing around Heart Lake, ascending Algonquin, Wright, Iroquois and Phelps!  Another group of Cubs spent two days there later in the week, climbing Phelps and Mt. Jo.  The Cubs also went out on a canoe overnight to Franklin Falls this week.  But those are just the extended trips!  In addition, the boys of Lincoln have also climbed Noonmark, Catamount, Giant, and Rocky Peak Ridge; and Emily and Will took one group of adventurous boys up the “Poko gut”, a narrow gully that goes up between two of Poko’s large cliff faces.  To round out the day, they then bushwhacked over to Chief’s Peak and back.  Not to be outdone, Ted and Jeremy led a group of very ambitious climbers who wanted to climb the two highest peaks (both over 5,000 feet) in New York, in one day!  The sun had not yet risen when they started up the trail to Mt. Marcy, but they made good time and managed to climb Algonquin as well and still made it back to camp in time for dinner.

Our second annual kayak polo tournament has recently concluded, though boys are still playing this fast paced and challenging game regularly.  And our annual tennis tournament, the “High Peaks Open,” is just getting started.  We’re not slowing down a bit here at Camp Lincoln.

After the most tremendous Parents visiting day, our life at WHIPPOORWILL has returned to a more normal pace of skill building in the mornings, fun-filled afternoons and trips coming and going every day!  We jumped right back into important business on Sunday morning, beginning with a very welcome breakfast of ‘Eggs Amler’ – a post visiting day tradition. A dedicated crew of staff and camp family arose early to prepare the famous toast, egg and cheese delight. We were hugely grateful to everyone who helped prepare the sumptuous feast. With happily full bellies, we met as a community on Birdie beach to pitch ideas for our final banquet, then vote on our favorites. After much thought and discussion, it was agreed that the 2011 final banquet theme will in fact be “Holidays!”

We have seen further skill development in activities as campers become a little more capable of navigating the varied winds of the Augur, controlling the horses, paddling the canoes, riding the bikes and working on art projects. Last week saw us shift into a week of daily choices. This gives campers a chance to try new activities, work on particular skills and finish up projects or ranks. During this time, there were plenty of opportunities for the Birdies to try windsurfing and learn the basics in quieter winds, while more experienced windsurfers learned some tricks. Sailors have started practicing racing in preparation for the Farrington Cup race next weekend.  Youthful farmers have harvested peas, green beans and beets from the garden, and are eyeing a ripening crop of squash, cucumbers and tomatoes.  A group of girls took part in a full morning activity of “Iron Chef Trip Food,” where they are able to choose from a selection of typical trip food ingredients, build a fire and invent delectable meals and morsels. Older Seniors planned an evening scavenger hunt, everyone racing around camp to complete different tasks such as weeding the garden, picking up pine cones with your elbows, and coming up with answers to camp song trivia.  And now that we have a banquet theme, artists and crafters are working hard on brainstorming and making decorations for the big day.

Trips continue to come and go. Three separate groups of Birdies have ventured out on a canoeing overnight at Follensby Clear Pond, and a fourth group of Birdies headed into the Gulf Brook lean-to, where they spent the night and hiked Hurricane Mountain.

Seniors headed out on a St. Regis Canoe trip and the Work Group spent an afternoon and night alone on their “solos” at the cliff property, under the supervision of Phoebe and Jess. Seniors completed Marshall, Marcy, Skylight, Grey, Cliff and Redfield on a Lake Colden trip last week, while this week a group is hiking in the Cold River region. The Gucker women (Robin and Lindsay) spent the night on Rattlesnake Mountain for their Culinary overnight, the point of which is to cook fabulous trip food. The mixed age group had an amazing experience and gave reports of such delicious foods, including chocolate Fondue!

A successful group of hikers, led by Jordy and Jess, completed the Great Range, and enjoyed camping near John’s Brook Lodge, while our first 46er of the year finished her quest by climbing Whiteface and Esther. There may well be more girls who accomplish this feat in the coming days.

In special event news, our staff finally reached the point of madness last Sunday – it seems to happen at least once a year!  But happily, the campers assisted the counselors in regaining their sanity during a Mad Counselor Hunt.

In addition to in-camp activities and trips, BOYS and GIRLS stayed busy with special events of all shapes and sizes.  Since we last wrote, we have enjoyed the staff-written play called “The Creations,” a fable featuring fairy tale characters.  Chris and Kitty worked tirelessly with the cast and crew, who were diligent about going to rehearsals and learning their lines. With a Sunday matinée performance, we took the opportunity to dress in our finest threads for the big show.   It was a huge success and everyone was impressed at the quality of the production put e in a few short weeks!

We had perfect weather for our “outer space” themed county fair.  Each cabin created and staffed a booth.  “Dunk the counselor”, a waterslide, and the soda slide were all popular, as were old favorites such as the marriage booth, Cubby Jail, face painting and pony express, plus plenty of other games of skill, too!  Later that night, Bruce Hennessey stopped by to call an all-camp square dance on the Lincoln field.   Everyone who tries it loves square dancing, and all of NCC went to bed tired and happy that night.  Sunday evening after visiting day campers from Lincoln and Whip were lucky enough to enjoy a concert in the big Red Barn, put on by the father-daughter team of Todd and Caroline Mack, camp alumni who were up visiting for the weekend.  They are talented musicians and the kids loved the concert.

Barry led a group of older campers from both camps on a four day backpack expedition from Newcomb Lake to Heart Lake, passing through some very remote and beautiful country, as well as making a bushwhack ascent of Little Santanoni.   Workgroupers have continued to put in volunteer time at the neighboring organic farm and they’ve also been hard at work building Adirondack chairs with Frau at Lincoln and helping David with the construction of an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven at Whip.  We’re all looking forward to the completion of that project!

We’ll be seeing many of you soon, but we aim to use every remaining moment we have together. So, although it’s not too long until the buses pull into camp, forgive us for not even thinking of saying goodbye just yet….

Doug and Kate

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First bulletin of the season

                                              North Country Camps Newsletter

Whippoorwill and Lincoln

July 7, 2011

A week ago Sunday we left the Horace Mann School in good cheer, with the smiles and waves of parents urging us on our way.  Campers, full of anticipation, quickly settled in for the long bus ride, passing the time by meeting new friends and becoming reacquainted with old ones as we stopped at our various pick up locations.  By the time we pulled into camp, the buses felt like a straining levee, trying to hold back the floodwaters of excitement.   When the waters finally broke through, a torrent of happy boys and girls, many of them new to camp, poured out into their summer home.  Counselors and older campers helped the newer, younger children to find their cabins and move baggage.  Soon, everyone was moved in and after a quick visit to the health center, many headed down the hill for a much needed dip in Augur Lake.  A delicious dinner at both camps was followed at Lincoln by a high-spirited coucil fire, with plenty of singing and introductions, rounding off the long day. At Whippoorwill we rejoined each other in the Nest, dressed in pajamas and ready for bed. Here we were introduced to the staff and led in song by the Work group. It’s so wonderful to have everyone here again, as we look forward to the adventures and experiences that we’ll be creating in the coming weeks.

Somehow, the first day of camp triggered a remarkable change in the weather, from the wettest spring on record in this region to an almost unbroken string of blue skies and warm, sunny days.  Health in both camps is excellent.

At LINCOLN we’ve been busy with all sorts of activities and trips.  With so many options, it can seem a little overwhelming for kids who are new to camp and so the Cubs and Juniors spent the first day rotating through many different areas of camp, getting a taste for what each activity is like.  This made it easier for them to make informed choices for the rest of the week!

Boys have been speedily checking off their basic four swim tests and then celebrating by taking a leap off the Lincoln tower.  Many have since signed up for various boating activities.  Sailors and windsurfers have already had some great winds, but not strong enough to keep the canoers and kayakers on shore.  They’ve been paddling all over the lake, learning strokes, canoe over canoe rescues and even Eskimo rolls in the kayaks  The fishermen among us have already landed several fish, and rowers have bent their oars in unison, skimming across the lake in a tandem rowing canoe or in our beautiful Adirondack guide boat.  With the warm and dry weather swimming has been very popular!  The Work Group has even built a new water slide, which is attached to the floating raft in our swim area.  It promises to be a popular addition to our regular swims.  Up the hill, boys have visited the stables, learning to care for and ride the horses; ridden mountain bikes around the camp property; played tennis and baseball; aimed arrows at multicolored archery targets; and used their hands and minds creatively at our wood and art shops.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Lincoln boys have jumped right into the 2011 trip season.  While it has only been a week, groups have already summited Pinnacle, Poko, Jay, Catamount, Cascade, Porter, Street and Nye.  One very ambitious group set off to climb McNaughton, a remote mountain that was overlooked by the original 46r’s, but is actually over 4000 feet in elevation.   With no trail, it was a challenging hike, but they came back happy and proud of their accomplishment.  A group of sailors has taken the Orion, our 25 foot sail boat, out on Lake Champlain, where they enjoyed a good stiff breeze and some zippy sailing.  Another group of canoers paddled down the Ausable river to its mouth, for a picnic dinner on the sand bars, for which the river was named.  You can be sure that we will continue to offer a wide range of trips and that eager boys will fill them up!

Sunday, as is tradition, was our annual Pioneer Meet.  The red team and the blue team squared off in a host of events, including the bucket brigade, the fire building contest and the egg toss!  Everyone had a great time and though the teams competed vigorously, the cheers and shouts were all encouraging and good natured.  We believe it’s possible to play hard and compete, without losing sight of good sportsmanship and an emphasis on fun.  This was evident in the pioneer meet and will continue on into our baseball and soccer seasons in weeks to come.  Sunday afternoon saw an all-camp capture the flag game on the field and then a post-dinner council fire in the council ring.  There were many commendations from campers thanking their friends and counselors for a great first week, help in an activity, or some other good deed.  Campers were also recognized in good numbers by the staff, for their helpfulness and their accomplishments in each activity.

During the first full day of camp at WHIPPOORWILL, we met as section groups to share information about upcoming trips, discuss how we intend on making our community the greatest it can be, and give out safety information and advice about living in the woods. Campers then went on to take part in a field game, an art project or to swim their 16 lengths and Basic 4. These swim tests, when passed, allow a camper to be in a boat without a counselor, so many girls try to work through them early on, in order to enjoy water sports with their friends. It was impressive to see the dedication and determination campers displayed as they worked their way through their tests. A huge number of girls were successful at getting this milestone behind them on the first full day of camp!

It’s been incredibly busy during our first week, with a range of morning activity choices that included horse riding, sailing, kayak, swim (many levels were passed already!), drama, art (where the campers made journals), tennis, archery, windsurfing and canoe. In morning activities, a focus is put on learning skills. Afternoons tend to have slightly more creative options, so our choices ranged from the traditional to the whacky!

Due to the beautiful warm weather, we’ve made great use of the lake. Sailors guided their frisky boats into the Augur and also spent an afternoon doing sealed order sailing, completing maneuvers prepared in advance by Liz.  Many swimmers enjoyed Nutty Craft, where they played with noodles and tubes in the swim area, and a rowdy water snowball fight took place using sponge balls and swamped canoes. In the craft house, we’ve seen projects such as yarn sculpture and mobile making. We had an exciting tennis tournament one afternoon and also a biathlon, where girls swam to Lincoln then ran back.






In addition to all this activity, we’ve seen many girls head out on trips to explore local areas, strengthening hiking legs and paddling arms in preparation for a summer full of outdoor adventure. Megan took a group up Pinnacle with Lindsay to scout out the blueberry situation, while Phoebe and Kitty checked out the crop on top of Rattlesnake. Robin led a vibrant group of Birdies to the summit of Coon Mountain, where they reported fabulous views. Corey and Nora took a group of canoers out to the sand bar on Champlain, cooking burgers on the beach and having a smashing time. One afternoon the Birdies went strawberry picking, providing the kitchen crew with more delicious fruit for our salad bar. During the second week of camp Birdies look forward to cookouts and sleepouts at our lean-tos. Juniors went on cookouts last week, learning and practicing the campsite skills they’ll be using on overnight trips in the coming weeks. Senior girls started heading out on overnights, with a service theme – so far they have succeeded in re-marking the trails on Cub and Skyline mountains.

The day of our Pioneer Meet (celebrating the Fourth of July) started out with the Work group careening around camp banging on pots and pans, alerting us all to meet on Birdie Beach, where we got to see the huge American flag hanging on the cliff. From there we were led up to the field, forming a massive snake to the lodge. Here we sang songs together before learning which teams everyone would be in, and then enjoying breakfast. Our events got off to an exhilarating start with a bucket brigade to put out an imaginary fire. The ‘Whips’ and the ‘Wills’ competed in a crosscut saw event, Lincoln logs, a nail drive, obstacle course, dress the Birdie and the Hunker Holla, to mention but a few. The final event was the very exciting egg toss!  As a tiebreaker, we held a huge game of human croquet on the field, with counselors costumed as lake monster characters acting as wickets. The relay was as close as it’s ever been and made it truly difficult to decide a winning team.


Saturday evening, the BOYS and GIRLS enjoyed a picnic together on the Whippoorwill field.  It was great to see brothers and sisters checking in and catching up, while friendships began to form or get re-established.

Summer is still young and it stretches out in front of us like a sweeping mountain vista; the hills keep going right off into the horizon.  We’ve got over six weeks left to play, hike, paddle, sail and to make new friends.  Everyone is eager, excited and we’ll keep you updated as our adventures unfold!


Doug and Kate







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Trip to Tanzania this summer

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:   isabelme@heschel.org   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.

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Ice out – April 12

The ice finally left the lake on April 12, a welcome sign that spring is coming.

And we have a winner in our first-annual Augur Ice-Out contest!    The closest guess for this year’s ice-out was two days off.    Congratulations to Andrew L., who guessed April 10.

There is only one month until a small group of counselors join us at camp to begin opening cabins, rolling tennis courts (we roll the courts many, many times during June to harden them for a summer of play!), and putting in the docks.

It was fun receiving your guesses – maybe we could gather guesses for when the first mosquitoes or black flies will appear! (?!)

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No open water yet!

Pete sent a photo and report from camp:   ” The ice is
beginning to darken a bit in places, but no signs yet of open water.  And this afternoon it’s snowing again!”

It’s not to late to make your guess!

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