by Bill and Sabina McMahon, Co-Directors
It is our pleasure to write this first dispatch from Moosilauke during summer 2012, our 108th season. As is our tradition, we post on our web site and send an electronic letter home each week to make sure parents know about all the activities, special events, and trips that make up the Moose Experience. You can view pictures from the summer (and even buy prints) by clicking on http://campmoosilaukephotos.shutterfly.com/ or by going to the “View Photos” link in the “In the Media” section of the moosilauke.wpengine.com web site. We do our best to post pictures every day (internet connection willing).
Although rain was forecast, the weather on opening day was great: warm with a light breeze. Close to 140 excited campers from about 13 states and as far away as Hong Kong, Madrid, and London, were greeted by 50 staff from the U.S. and also Ireland, England, Latvia, Columbia, Spain, and Hong Kong. It is a talented and high achieving counselor group: staff attend and/or have graduated from some great colleges and universities, including Berkeley, Wesleyan, Dartmouth, Bates, and Colgate (7!), to name just a few. And about 65% of our staff have been at Moosilauke before as a camper and/or counselor.
The first afternoon was spent meeting counselors and bunkmates, unpacking, checking in with the nurses, and playing informal games of basketball, baseball, Frisbee, tetherball, and volleyball. Before dinner we played our traditional camp-wide game of “Bill Says” in which almost all the campers and staff were “out” within about two minutes. Our formal orientation began at dinner with each table playing icebreaker games. The new campers enjoyed sitting next to their Camp Big Brothers. After our traditional first night “Moose” burger fest, our Head Counselor David Gordon emceed a Moose trivia contest that had the kids howling but also imparted some valuable Moose facts. Then it was down to the fields for fun orientation games. As is tradition, the Senior A1s (fifteen-year-olds) spent the early part of the evening at Bill and Sabina’s house across the lake where they were treated to dessert and a discussion regarding trips and their leadership role at Camp. Then it was time for wacky counselor introductions by activity area. The intros included smashed fruit, bicycle stunt riding, and sumo wrestling with bouldering mats. After all these festivities it was then off to the cabins for our first bunk meetings and lights out procedures.
Friday breakfast was scrambled eggs, home fries, oatmeal, cold cereal, fruit, and yogurt. After the meal we had announcements about lightning The weather was hot and sunny, perfect for initial class periods and the mandatory swim test. During the mid-morning free period many campers went for a supervised run while others went swimming, played ping pong, giant chess, and checkers, while others went for a walk to the log cabin at the point. Mid-morning also saw our first new camper meeting (with Bill) and our intro C.I.T. orientation session (with Kenny). Lunch was meatball subs with a full salad bar and turkey and rice soup. Speaking of food, dinner was our first Friday night field barbecue that included grilled chicken, sausage, corn bread, corn, and pasta salad. Evening activities included an open swim that turned into a water lacrosse game, fishing, dodge ball, and tubing.
Saturday began on a noisy note as over 40 campers and staff took part in the first day of our early morning swim club, the Moosebears. Believe it or not, many of your kids voluntarily go for a swim at 7:45 every morning. And what a swim it is: along with a quick dip, they dance, chant and sing. A favorite moment during the opening session was the “whirlpool” in which the boys run in circles creating a powerful vortex that they then float in. After breakfast, we had our traditional announcement time that included a talk about poison ivy, alerts about upcoming trips (the Mt. Cube hike and a bike trip) and upcoming competition (an Ultimate contest, tennis and soccer tournament), pro sports scores, and a spontaneous “happy dance” by Kenny. Then it was time for morning activity periods under a beautiful blue sky that included a rowing clinic given by Port in our two shells. After a lunch of chicken fingers, smiley fries, salad bar, and Mexican soup, the boys had rest hour during which they wrote their first letter home. The afternoon was humming with sign-up activities, including ultimate Frisbee, water skiing, wind surfing, kayaking, sailing, fishing—and our latest activity area, stand-up paddle boarding. And our fabulous Saturday ended with a pizza dinner and then movie night complete with homemade popcorn courtesy of the counselors in training (C.I.T.s).
Sunday saw our first “lazy morning” during which campers ate brunch at their leisure between 8:30 and 9:45. And what a brunch it was: homemade cinnamon buns, omelets to order, home fries, sausages, cereal, and oatmeal. All the new campers and a handful of returnees spent the day with Bill and the Backcountry Leadership Staff climbing Mt. Cube. During the hike the boys learned many fun facts about Mt. Cube, including: its height—2,911 feet; that its original name was Mt. Cuba (possibly changed at the time of the Cuban revolution?); that the original trail was created in 1900 by the Dartmouth Outing Club (the oldest college outing club in the country); that it is part of the Appalachian Trail; and most interestingly, that the visionary behind the Appalachian Trail was a man named Benton McKay who was a counselor at Camp Moosilauke in 1904. (Next time you are at Camp go to the dining hall and find the framed diary from Moosilauke’s 1904 session. In it you will find reference to Mr. McKay and his famous hiking group called the Tattered Ten.) In an impressive act of grit, about a third of Mt. Cube hikers opted to head back to camp down the North trail which is 1.5 miles longer than the southern trail. Boys staying on-campus had a free choice “Sunday Funday” afternoon. Dinner was a camper favorite: cabin-cookout, during which each cabin cooks hot dogs and hamburgers at their own cabin fire pit, followed by ice cream sundaes.
That’s all for now. We will write again within the week. Have a great summer!