by Bill and Sabina McMahon, Co-Directors
The general consensus among campers is that they can’t believe the second session is almost over. Only a few more days of fun in the sun at Moose. For posterity, here are the highlights since we last wrote.
Our first weekend went by in a blur of activity. Trips on Friday and Saturday included another group of Inter As (twelve-year-olds) canoeing twelve miles down the Connecticut River to Hanover (and being rewarded with a pizza dinner and movie), an all ages group mountain biking the ten hilly round trip miles to the Waterhole, and a group of Inter Bs (eleven-year-olds) venturing to Baker Cliffs for an afternoon jumping off rocks, swimming in the rapids, and eating giant ice cream cones at Fat Bob’s. The “fluffiest” trip was the Senior A2 (fourteen-year-old) adventure to a water park and then a minor league baseball game. The highlight of the trip was when a few of our counselors were brought in front of the whole crowd to do an “interpretive dance” and put on frozen t-shirts. The most anticipated trip of the weekend was the hike up Mt. Cube. All new campers not scheduled to climb another mountain during the session, along with a number of returning boys who wanted an extra day on the trails, climbed the 2,900-foot mass of dirt, granite, and quartz. (New campers scheduled to hike other mountains include all the Inter As –twelve-year-olds–who hike Mt. Moosilauke, Senior Bs–thirteen-year-olds–who opted to go on the Lafayette overnight adventure, and Senior A2s–fourteen-year-olds–who chose to go on the Mt. Washington three day backpacking trip.) All the boys hiked up the backside of Cube on the Cross Rivendell trail. It was a hot, humid day so everyone was tired and sweaty on the summit. The boys’ efforts were rewarded with PB & J and cold-cut sandwiches, apples, and granola and candy bars. On the way down a number of boys opted to go down the longer front side on the Appalachian Trail, which leads right to the outskirts of camp. All in all it was a great, confidence-building day for the 40 campers who took part. Boys not climbing Mt.Cube had a free choice day, which saw most campers in the lake at least once. Saturday night was a big hit since it was homemade pizza for dinner and then movies in the rec halls (with popcorn) for those opting for a mellow evening.
As is our tradition, Sunday was a special day at Camp. It started with a brunch of homemade cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, sausages, home fries, and homemade omelets. After breakfast many a camper watched the American counselors play our World counselors in a game of soccer. (For the first time in a few years, the US side won.) Late morning saw all junior hill campers going in the lake for a swim and scrub-up. The big event of the day was the camp wide game of Capture the Flag. The C.I.T.s, who ran the event, used an Olympic basketball theme: the LeBron James versus the Michael Jordans. Dinner was the camper favorite Cabin Cook-out during which each cabin cooks hamburgers and hotdogs over their own cabin fire pit, followed by a messy make your own sundae extravaganza. Evening activities included fishing, tubing, and a dance contest on the basketball courts. The evening ended with a big rainstorm that conveniently took place after the boys were in their cabins.
Monday was hot and sunny, but with a stiff wind from the west, perfect for windsurfing and sailing. After a breakfast of French toast, and a detailed update on the Olympics (during which England was applauded for its third place medal count), the boys roared down the hill for a T.M.D—a Typical Moosilauke Day. The longest trip to leave on Monday was our three-day Senior A2 (fourteen-year-old) Mt. Washington Range adventure. The first day the group gained 4300 feet in elevation via the Lowes and Randolph trails leading to the Perch RMC shelter and camp sites. The second day the group took the Randolph Path, the Gulfside Trail, and the Jefferson Loop Trail to the summit of Mt. Washington (a total of 3 miles). They then hiked another 4 miles to the Hermit Lake shelter where they spent the night. The final day they hiked 2.5 miles down Tuckerman’s Ravine to their pick up at the Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center. A pretty impressive adventure given the amount of hiking, elevation gain, and the weight of their packs! Monday also saw another group of Senior Bs (thirteen-year-olds) leave for a two day Mt. Lafayette backpacking adventure. The Inter Bs (eleven-year-olds) on Tuesday headed to Cliff Island for a canoe overnight. The trip involved a mile canoe to an island we rent on Newfound Lake. The boys spent the day swimming and exploring the island. The evening included hamburgers and hotdogs over a campfire, a few hide and seek type games, and then a S’mores fest. Other trips on Monday included a Junior A (ten-year-old) cabin canoe to the other end of the lake for an overnight at our Crooked Birch camp site, and an open mountain biking trip. And in terms of inter camp competition, the 14s played a peer camp in basketball. Highlights on campus on Monday included a rowing class with Port, a bug catching session with a few intrepid juniors, and of course the chicken patties, curly fries, and chicken noodle soup lunch. The athletic fields were also hopping on Monday (as they are every day). Dinner on Monday was spaghetti. After dinner our on-going “Moose Got Talent” segment included a camper doing an incredible moonwalk. Evening activities included a Ping-Pong tournament, tennis baseball, a fire building contest, tubing, and a 12-and-under intramural lax game.
Tuesday was another beautiful sunny day. The gods continue to smile on Moosilauke as this has been one of the best summers for weather in a long time. (Now watch it rain from here on out!) All the Inter As (twelve-year-olds) spent Tuesday climbing Mt. Moosilauke (all 7 miles and 4802 feet of it) and sleeping in Dartmouth’s historic Ravine Lodge that is at the base of the mountain. The structure, which is made out of massive native spruce trees, was originally built as a ski lodge in the 1930s. The boys loved the hike, the homemade dinner and breakfast, and the story at night told by the Dartmouth student staff. Another trip was a volunteer trail clearing adventure lead by Port. The boys spent a few hours making water bars and clearing downed trees on the portion of the Cross-Rivendell trail that Moosilauke cares for before heading to town for lunch at the world famous Whippi-dip. Other trips on Tuesday included another Inter B (eleven-year-old) canoe overnight to Cliff Island, another Junior A (ten-year-old) cabin overnighting at our lake camp site, and an open mountain biking trip to the Waterhole. Lunch on Tuesday was bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, smiley fries, turkey rice soup, and a salad bar that included spinach, beets, and blue cheese for the more adventurous eaters, along with staples like lettuce, croutons, and ranch dressing. The “Moose’s Got Talent” segment after the meal featured a camper juggling apples. Afternoon sign-ups had all the regular activities along with knot tying with our Backcountry Leadership Program staff, and a zodiac boat tour of the lake with Port.
Wednesday saw additional Mt. Washington, Cliff Island, and Crooked Birch trips leave camp. It also saw another group of volunteer climbers head to the crags for a day of top-rope rock climbing. Here is a description of our climbing trips taken from a blog written by one of our counselors last year that nicely captures the positive risk taking that takes place at Moose: “Twenty minutes down the road from Camp Moosilauke is a climbing area called Rumney. Rumney, N.H., is one of the premier climbing areas in the United States, offering climbs ranging in difficulty from that fitting any beginner to some of the hardest climbs in the world. Campers of all ages have the opportunity to sample rock climbing at this remarkable climbing area . . . During our climbing sessions at Rumney our campers can ascend to heights of seventy feet protected by a top rope belay, where upon detaching from the rock they are instantly held in place by the rope. There is a general conception of rock climbing as some kind of extreme sport. In actuality it is exceedingly safe, being perhaps one of the safest things that a camper will do at Moosilauke. Using modern climbing gear and safety technique the possibility of an injury is astronomically low; however to the individual sixty feet up on a vertical ocean of granite, the feeling of danger is all too real. This allows an ideal opportunity for campers to push into that zone of fear and experience all the benefits of a high-energy risk without any actual danger. The satisfaction of watching a camper terrified of heights grow comfortable in the vertical world is powerful, in part because their positive experience is so easily transferable into other domains of their life. The lesson is this: You move into a challenge that is inherently uncomfortable and then through nothing other than determination you have the positive reinforcement of the successful completion of the challenge. What better pattern of experience is there to propel boys into a vigorous and engaging life?” The last few days of camp are full of exciting activities and events.
Thursday, we will take our most advanced canoers and kayakers to the class II rapids on the Androscoggin River for a day of whitewater excitement. The boys (who have all qualified to go on the trip via skill achievement) will start by practicing ferrying into some very mild eddies. Later, they will ride the exciting class II rapids that go under the bridge in Errol, NH. Last but not least, they will try and make their way back up into the roaring water (from eddy to eddy) using their new found skills. Thursday will also see the Inter As (twelve-year-olds) venture to Baker Cliffs for a day at a traditional water hole.
Friday and Saturday boys will have the option to play in multiple lacrosse and baseball games, and also go on open bike, hike, and climbing trips. The big excitement during the weekend is the Senior A1 (fifteen-year-old) white water canoeing and rafting overnight. The boys will spend the first day canoeing on the Androscoggin River and camping and cooking right next to it at a beautiful campground. The next day they will be taken by van and then pontoon boat to the top of the Rapid River in Maine, right below the Richardson Damn. The boys will then have the ride of their life as professional guides raft them down 3.5 miles of crashing white water that includes some class IV rapids.
Sunday and Monday are special days at Moose. On the former we hold our own Carnival in which each cabin makes their own booths and all the campers have a chance to compete for candy and the pleasure of getting extremely messy via whip cream, ice cream, and other assorted ingredients. Booths usually run the gamut from mini-golf to a dunking tank to fish races using little Sunfish from our lake. Monday, the Olympics, we divide the camp into two teams that will compete in everything from landsports to a mini-triathlon to a massive team fire building competition.
Tuesday is packing day and that night we hold a special banquet, torch light parade, and “ginormous” bonfire. That’s all for now. We have had an incredible summer and the key ingredient is your wonderful boys. Thanks so much for sending them.