It is our pleasure to write this first weekly letter home from Moosilauke during summer 2015, our 111th 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 everyday (internet connection willing).
This year we will also be posting video vignettes. Our most recent which chronicles a camper’s climb up Mt. Cube, a Moosilauke tradition, and can be viewed by clicking on: https://vimeo.com/132093646.
The weather on opening day was perfect: warm with a nice breeze off the lake. 130 campers descended on Upper Baker Pond from 16 states and 7 countries (including Spain, China, France, Greece, Australia and Canada). Our formal orientation began before dinner as every new camper was taken on a tour by their camp big brother. Afterwards they sat together at dinner. Post our traditional first night “Moose” burger fest Head Counselors Jake and Preston 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 by age group. 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. After all these festivities it was then up the hills for bunk meetings during which each cabin developed their “rules to live by” which were ceremonially signed and posted in the cabin.
Friday breakfast was scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon, oatmeal, cold cereal, fruit, and yogurt. After the meal we had an announcement about how to be safe when there is lightning and an update on the Supreme Court, the NBA draft, and the previous day’s baseball scores. Then it was time for our initial cabin cleanup. By 10:00 everyone was down from the hills and firmly ensconced in their three morning activity classes. Noon free time saw about 40 campers and staff go on a one or two mile run while others played ping pong, shot hoops, or relaxed on the beach. Lunch was barbecued beef sandwiches along with a full salad bar and chicken vegetable soup. Speaking of food, dinner was our first Friday night field barbecue that included grilled chicken, sausage, corn bread, corn, and pasta salad.
Saturday was our inaugural Moose Bears session that entailed about 35 campers and staff voluntarily going in the lake before breakfast to splash, sing, and maybe even swim. Highlights included a loud rendition of the Moose Bears song followed by a mad dash into the lake. We also had a group of campers and counselors go out for a morning run, kicking off the new Moose morning running club. Saturday also included a morning announcement that one of our new campers got up for the first time on waterskis and went around the lake! The big event for the day was the annual climb up Mt. Cube for all new campers and a few hardy returning boys. Bill, Todd, and the Backcountry Leadership Staff led a group of about 35 up the 2,911 feet of Cube. During the hike the boys learned many fun facts about Mt. Cube, including: the original trail was created in 1900 by the Dartmouth Outing Club (the oldest college outing club in the country); it is part of the Appalachian Trail; and, most interestingly, 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 80% of the Mt. Cube hikers opted to head back to Camp down the North trail which is 1.5 miles longer than the southern trail.
The only other trip Saturday was an Inter A (twelve-year-old) 10-mile round trip mountain biking adventure to the Wentworth Water Hole. Everyone not on a trip spent the day going to morning and afternoon classes. After a lunch in camp of chicken fingers, smiley fries, salad bar, and a sausage-chili soup, the boys had rest hour. The afternoon was humming with sign-up activities, including Ultimate Frisbee, waterskiing and wakeboarding (behind our recently purchased Malibu boat), windsurfing, kayaking, tennis, sailing, and fishing. And our fabulous Saturday ended with a spaghetti dinner and then movie night complete with homemade popcorn courtesy of the counselors in training (C.I.T.s) and Todd.
In closing, a few paragraphs about who works at Moose. It takes plenty of heart, smarts, resources, and dedication to run a great overnight summer camp. It also takes a lot of people. Moosilauke, which is a camp of 130-140 campers, has approximately 71 full time individuals on staff—a 2 to 1 ratio of employees to campers. The 71 folks are comprised as follows: 44 activity/cabin counselors; 5 junior counselors; 7 kitchen staff; 2 nurses; 1 maintenance staff person; 2 heads of hill; 3 head counselors; 2 office staff (including 1 who takes stills and video full time); 1 office/business manager; 2 associate head types; and 2 directors.
Here are some fun facts about the talented and diverse staff at Moose:
- 100% of the 10 top administrators have worked at the camp before.
- 60% of all staff that work directly with the campers (as counselors and administrators) are returning and/or have gone to the camp.
- Our staff come from 12 countries outside the US: England, Australia, Croatia, Scotland, New Zealand, Guatemala, Wales, South Africa, The Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, and Ireland.
- 60% of our counselors are Lifeguard certified
- nearly 50% of our staff are over 21
More important than the high return rate and qualifications is the quality of the people working at, and running the camp. Here are brief bios on some of the people at Moose.
As referenced previously, many of our staff have been at Moose for multiple years and attend some of the nation’s great colleges. Here are a few examples: Kyrien Edwards, who co-directs the lacrosse program, has been at Moose for three years, and attends Williams where he plays lacrosse and football; Emily Shelden, who directs the Backcountry Leadership Program (BLP), is in her second year as a counselor and graduated from Hobart William Smith College, and then worked in the Peace Corps; Graham Derfner, who co-directs the baseball program, has been at Moose for eleven years, and is currently attending Northwestern University; Raul Soto, who co-directs the canoeing program, and Momo Lewis, who directs the basketball program, have both been at Moose for seven years and currently attend Occidental College; and Ben Meyer, who is a tennis and baseball counselor, has been at Moose for six years and recently graduated from Dartmouth College. Additionally, our younger (one and two year) counselors are attending Claremont McKenna, Lehigh University, Williams College, Middlebury, Dartmouth, the University of Rochester, Bowdoin College, University of Oregon, St. Joseph’s University, and three (!) at Colgate University.
And of course many of your kid’s favorite foreign counselors are returning like Bruce, Tom, Chris, Timmy, Charlotte, Miral, Deni, to name a few.
Counselors New to Moosilauke – Backcountry Leadership Program (BLP)
Every year, along with our great returning staff we hire talented people to join our ranks. Here are a few who will be helping to run BLP during summer 2015: Emily, as mentioned above, graduated from William Smith, spent 2 years in the Peace Corps in West Africa, and will be pursuing her Master’s at American University this fall; Brad Brainard hiked the entire Appalachian Trail last spring/summer; Lucas Bonanno is studying Outdoor Leadership at Indiana University; Tyler Schwarz is seeking his skydiving instruction certification at Colorado Mountain College; and Colin Measley, who is attending the University of Virginia, participated in a three-month NOLS course.
As most of you are well aware, the administrative team at Moosilauke is a seasoned group. It is also a very close knit group—especially since many are family! Here are the key players:
Sabina and I have been directing Moosilauke for over 25 years. When we are not at Moosilauke, we live and work at The Thacher School in Ojai, CA. I am the Director of Enrollment and Planning, and Sabina is the Dean of Students. We both attended Colgate University and received graduate degrees from Columbia. (I earned an M.B.A. and Sabina her Masters in Education.)
Ken Miller, Sabina’s brother, is our Associate Director and second in command. Ken attended Colgate, where he played 2 varsity sports, and he also has his Masters in Teaching. In the off-season Ken lives, teaches, and coaches baseball in Colorado.
We are thrilled to have Todd Gelfand back to help be our all around administrative troubleshooter. As many of you know, Todd has a one-of-a-kind Moosilauke story. He was a camper for eight years and then a counselor at the camp in the 1970s. Two of his kids have attended and worked at camp. When not at Moosilauke he is the Managing Partner of a C.P.A. firm with offices in Los Angeles and Connecticut. Six years ago, for his fiftieth birthday, he asked his wife, kids, and Bill and Sabina, whether he could celebrate by spending a session working at Moose. It turned out so well that Todd has built a house a “stone’s throw” from the camp and now spends much of the summer helping us run Moose.
Sabina and Ken’s sister Ingrid Hale manages the business end of things, along with the office and all our social media postings (pictures, videos, etc.). She has 15+ years of experience working in higher education administration, including admissions, student life, and community outreach both at Colgate and the University of Richmond.
We have three head counselors this year – Preston Miller, Jake Miller, and Quinn McMahon. All three have worked at Moose for at least 8 years! Preston, Kenny’s oldest, graduated with a Master’s from Colorado State University and teaches history and coaches at the Covenant Prep School in Connecticut. Jake, Kenny’s youngest son, attended Colorado State and teaches science and coaches cross-country and track at the Darlington School in Georgia. Quinn, Sabina and Bill’s oldest, graduated from Colgate and is an admissions officer and varsity lacrosse coach at Hampton Roads Academy in Virginia. Both Quinn and Jake are ACA certified canoe instructors and help lead our white water trips.
We have two heads of the hills this year as well – Colin McMahon and Charlotte Davison. Colin, Bill and Sabina’s middle son, has worked at Moose for six years, just graduated from Colgate, and will be starting a job with a venture capital firm in San Francisco this fall. Charlotte, recently engaged to Quinn, has been at Moose for six years and just earned her Master’s of Arts in Teaching from Colgate. Finally, Marin Miller, recently wed to Jake, has worked at Moose for eight years and will be assisting in the office this summer. She also teaches and coaches at the Darlington School in Georgia.
Given that many camps have staff made up of only college kids, we feel blessed to have so many adults working at Moose who are experienced in the ways of boys.
And of course the guiding spirits of the whole operation are our owners Port and Heide Miller, the parents of Sabina, Ken, and Ingrid.
That’s all for now. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with questions.