by Bill and Sabina McMahon, Co-Directors
Our first full week has come and gone and life at camp is great: the returning kids are acting like they never left; the new campers have dived in head first; the weather has been spectacular; and the fish are biting. All in all, summer the way it ought to be.
Our first Monday was sunny and hot, perfect for the plethora of trips and activities we had scheduled. A group of volunteer Senior A2s (14-year-olds) left before breakfast for a three-day adventure that culminated in summiting Mt. Washington. At 6,288 ft., Washington is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River and north of the Carolinas. The first day the boys hiked up King’s Ravine to the summit of Mt. Adams and then down to Crag Camp (a rustic first-come, first-serve shelter) for a total of 6 miles with 30-pound packs. The next day they hiked from 7:30am to 7:30pm and in the process covered over 7 miles and summited Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Washington. That night they slept at the Hermit Lake shelter. The final day they hiked 2.5 miles out to the Pinkham Notch trailhead during which they spread out to get the feel for solo hiking. Tuesday also saw a group of volunteer Senior Bs (thirteen-year-olds) head off for a two day Presidential backpacking trip of their own. On the first day, the boys hiked the steep 3+ mile trail that leads directly to the Liberty Springs campsite. After setting up their tents on the platforms the boys relaxed around the campsite and ate two large meals. The next day the campers covered 3.5 miles along the ridge summiting Little Haystack, Lincoln and Lafayette in the process, and then powered down the Greenleaf trail back to their van. The morning also saw another group of Inter As (twelve-year-olds) venture out on an all day bike to the Wentworth Waterhole and back. In the afternoon, along with all our regular activities, our fifteen-and-under Ultimate Frisbee team had their first tournament, and what a tournament it was. Although our guys were not the most experienced or skilled players, they won all three matches due to the spirit, hard work, and positive energy. The afternoon also saw an eleven-and-under basketball tournament and a thirteen-and-under tennis match. Evening activities included fishing, tubing, a trivia extravaganza with Bill, and a camp fire story with Port.
Monday also saw the inauguration of our new nature bulletin board. Initial postings included pictures of bass and trout caught this summer by Moosilauke campers and counselors, and background information on the very rare bird the Snipus Moosilaukis, which the camp will try and catch later in the summer. One other highlight from Monday arose when Bill asked after lunch in the dining hall whether anyone wanted to share an artistic talent. Immediately, one of younger campers popped up and put on an amazing break dancing display. Then Josh J, one of our veteran counselors, led the dining hall in a rousing rendition of “There was a crazy Moose.” (Josh is a rare bird himself: he made a division 1 football team and was also selected for his university’s select a capella singing group.)
Tuesday was another beautiful day perfect for classes, trips, and competition. In terms of trips, all the Inter Bs (eleven-year-olds) spent the afternoon swimming and jumping off the rocks at Baker Cliffs (followed by ice cream at Fat Bob’s), the Senior A1s (fifteen-year-olds) headed to Hanover for a “fluff” trip entailing dinner (pizza) and a movie (Spider Man in 3D), and another group of Inter As (twelve-year-olds) mountain biked the ten hilly mile loop to the waterhole and back. Competition in the afternoon included a ten-and-under hockey tournament, a twelve-and-under baseball game, and a thirteen-and-under soccer tournament. As is our practice with all competition, every boy who signed up for a team got ample playing time. Even with this practice, and our focus on sportsmanship and team play, all the squads won their tournaments and/or contests. The highlight of the evening was a fishing extravaganza that saw most of our canoes and rowboats full of campers on the lake.
Wednesday started with a few special treats in honor of the Fourth of July: the SA1s (fifteen-year-olds) had a pre-breakfast water skiing and wakeboarding session on the glassy lake; the whole camp was treated to a few fireworks to wake them up; and a late breakfast (at 9:00) was the order of the day for all. As is tradition, after the meal Ken read his tongue-in-cheek Revolutionary War history lesson poking fun at the English-and the current state of life in the U.S. Our oldest campers spent the early part of the day representing Moosilauke in the local Orford/Fairlee parade complete with a float, banner and handmade posters. In camp in the morning the boys had two free choice periods during which the waterfront was the hub of activities. A few boys were all smiles as they got up on water skis and wakeboards for the first time. In the afternoon the whole camp took part in a series of zany competitions. Crowd favorites included “Boston Tea Party” (lots of throwing of stuff) and “Greased Watermelon”. Food oriented activities included a pie eating contest and snow cones. The plan for the evening was a cookout with our neighboring girl’s camp followed by a dance on the basketball courts and fireworks. However, inclement weather caused us to trade everything after the dinner for an inside evening of movies and board games.
Trips on Thursday included a Senior B (thirteen-year-old) mountain bike adventure to the Waterhole and another Mt. Lafayette backpacking overnight, and a Junior (eight, nine and ten-year-old) trip to the natural rock slides at Baker Cliffs. The most eagerly awaited trip on Thursday entailed a volunteer group of Senior A2s (fourteen-year-olds) leaving for a two day flat and white water canoe adventure. This trip, which we have been running for decades, was recently featured in the July 2011 Outside Magazine in the section titled “Best Trails: Best Canoe Trail”. Here is what they wrote: “One lake, two states, tons of wildlife, and 15 miles of rapids. And that’s just one day on the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which arcs across New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine. For a weekend sampler, put in at Umbagog Lake, the heart of the 25,650-acre Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, which straddles the Maine-New Hampshire line. Let the loons, bald eagles, and osprey overhead preoccupy you. But as you drift into the Androscoggin River, it’s time to re-engage: the 17 river miles to Pontook Dam are full of class I – III rapids”. Bill and his older sons Quinn and Colin lead our first edition of the trip this summer. They left before breakfast and drove the two plus hours to Errol, NH and Lake Umbagog. Around 1:00 the group packed their dry bags, tents, and food into their boats and canoed about 8 miles up the lake to their wilderness camp site. After setting up camp they had a great afternoon swimming with their canoes, and also playing with a Waboba ball in the shallows. Dinner that night was a hamburger and hotdog fest over an open fire, and then s’mores. The next day they paddled a mile to the top of the lake and then another 4 miles in the Androscoggin before reaching a damn they portaged around. The boys then had two runs on the class II white water that flows through Erroll, NH (at about 1700 cps). The trip was capped off by a a visit to the famous jumping bridge (for an exciting plunge into the river) and then a visit to a fast food emporium before the trip home. Back at camp a highlight of the afternoon was a fifteen-and-under baseball game.
That’s it for week two. Enjoy the summer!