By Michael Pinsky, former Camper, Princeton ’15
I remember understanding even when I was a camper that my time at Moosilauke was valuable. I didn’t want to waste even a single day because I knew there would come the time when I would no longer be able, as a camper, to wake up to the sound of Timmy Walton hollering for Moosebears to get up, cheering for chicken patties when we 11-year-olds peered into the high windows of the dining hall and spotted buns, ketchup, and mustard on the tables, or taking down Pemi with a game-winning hit in the bottom of the last inning.
I think it is precisely because campers value their time at Moosilauke so greatly that they sometimes fall into tendencies to stick to their greatest comforts. Unsurprisingly, these are often the things we enjoy most. When I was a camper, there was no greater joy for me than spending an entire afternoon shagging fly balls and taking batting practice on Moose-Miller Field.
And yet, five years later, some of the Moose memories I look on most fondly involve the times when I stepped outside of my comfort zone. I remember playing my first ever lacrosse game and feeling baffled. I remember tasting an Australian counselor’s vegemite in the dining hall. And I remember the unsurpassable feeling of standing up on water skis for the first time. So if I were to give a single piece of advice to current Moosilauke campers, I would tell them what Bill and Sabina told us so many times every summer: try something new, even if it means stepping way out of your comfort zone. This advice isn’t to devalue doing what you already love. After all, a summer without baseball wouldn’t have felt like a Moosilauke summer at all. But simultaneously, Moosilauke would certainly not occupy the same place in my heart had I declined to venture into the unknown. In fact, part of what makes Moosilauke the distinctive and extraordinary place it is, is the encouragement to take on these unknowns with gusto.
In the first place, nobody is going to laugh at you or tell you to quit. It took me dozens of attempts over multiple summers to stand up on skis, and neither the counselors nor my fellow campers ever ran out of patience. Nobody tired of giving me opportunities to try. The payoff at the end of these fruitless attempts was tremendous, and it changed my Moosilauke experience entirely. So while some of my wonderful memories certainly come from moments within my comfort zone (a great baseball game against Pemi; a hard-fought basketball game against Walt Whitman), I find myself so frequently replaying the memories of the newer opportunities I had at Moose (waterskiing; hiking a mountain) that I wish I could pass on the advice to current campers not to ever hesitate to jump into the unknown with enthusiasm. Those Moosilauke days, as you will surely learn at some point, are so very valuable.