Thursday, June 22nd through Saturday, June 24th
Dear Moose Families,
It is our pleasure to write this first weekly letter home from Moosilauke during summer 2017, our 113th 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.
The weather on opening day was perfect: warm with a nice breeze off the lake. 120 campers and C.I.T.s descended on Upper Baker Pond from 15 states and 5 countries (including Spain, China, France, and Canada). Our formal orientation began before dinner with Bill leading the campers in a game of “Bill Says,” and there was a cameo appearance of our Moose mascot. Camp “big brothers” were then paired up with their little brothers and took them on a tour of the Camp. The Moose “big brothers” were also seated with their little brothers in the dining hall for the first dinner and for the first week and a half of camp. Post our traditional first night “Moose” burger fest, it was down to the fields for a Moose trivia contest and 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 hill 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, oatmeal, cold cereal, fruit, yogurt, and delicious hot chocolate. After the meal, we had an announcement about important safety procedures and then Kenny presented the previous day’s baseball scores and the top 10 picks in the NBA draft. Then it was time for our initial cabin cleanup. By 9:45 am, everyone was down from the hills and firmly ensconced in their three morning activity classes. Noon free time saw about 30 campers and staff go on a one or two mile run while others played ping pong, shot hoops, or relaxed on the beach. Lunch included meatball subs, chips, a full salad bar, and two soups (one beef and the other vegetarian). After lunch in the dining hall, Bill did an inaugural speed math contest and then we had announcements about impending bike and hiking trips. Bill and Sabina then met with all of the new campers to discuss the Camp schedule and how trips and competition work. The whole group then had a robust discussion about what makes camp fun (i.e. being treated with respect, being included, and trying new things) and what would make camp not fun (i.e. teasing and bullying). Finally, the group talked in detail about homesickness and strategies for alleviating it. In the afternoon campers had their first choice periods, with many campers opting for waterfront activities like wake boarding and water skiing, swimming, and sailing. A highlight of the afternoon for many campers was watching a big snapping turtle lay and bury its eggs on our beach. Dinner was our first Friday night field barbecue–called “Kenny’s cookout”–that included grilled chicken, sausage, veggie burgers, rolls, and pasta salad. After dinner the most popular activities were Ultimate Frisbee, wiffle ball, fishing, and tubing. The first camper fish was caught as well – and on the first cast!
On Saturday, breakfast was assorted bagels with cream cheese, butter, and jam, the yogurt and fruit bar, hot chocolate, and hot and cold cereal. Despite some morning rain, the big event for the day was the annual climb up Mt. Cube for all new campers and many hardy returning boys. Bill and Todd and the Backcountry Leadership Staff led a group of about 30+ 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.) At the summit the boys had a well deserved lunch–and they also communicated with camp via walkie-talkie. They loved it when Marin flashed a mirror from the office porch and the campers could see it from the top. 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. (Keep your eyes peeled for a video posting on Instagram of the hike.) Another trip on 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 buffalo and honey chicken tenders, smiley fries, cole slaw, salad bar, and “chef’s choice” soup, the boys had rest hour. The afternoon was humming with sign-up activities, including water skiing, wake boarding, windsurfing, canoeing, tennis, sailing, basketball, and baseball. And, our fabulous Saturday ended with a pizza dinner, frosted cake for dessert, and then movie night complete with homemade popcorn courtesy of the counselors in training (C.I.T.s) and Todd. On Saturday, we also celebrated our first birthday of the session with a serenading of “Happy Birthday” in the dining hall and cake for the honoree.
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 120 campers first session, has approximately 70 full time individuals on staff—a 2 to 1 ratio of employees to campers. The 70 folks are comprised as follows: Over 50 activity/cabin counselors; 6 junior counselors; 8 kitchen staff; 2 nurses; 2 maintenance staff; 3 head counselors; 2 office staff (including 1 who takes stills and video full time); 1 office/business manager; 2 associate directors; and 2 directors.
Here are some fun facts about the talented and diverse staff at Moose:
- 100% of the 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. We have 14 staff members who have been with us for 3-years or more.
- Our staff come from 9 countries outside the US: England, Australia, the Croatia, New Zealand, Mexico, the Netherlands, Hungary, Spain, Scotland.
- Staff in college attend the following institutions: Bowdoin, Cal Poly, Colby, Colgate, Colorado College, Cornell University, Grinnell College, James Madison University, Lafayette College, Middlebury College, NC State University, Northeastern, Rhodes College, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Rhode Island, and the University of Rochester.
- 56% of our counselors are Lifeguard certified.
- 6 of our staff have their Wilderness First Aid or Responder qualification.
- Nearly 50% of our staff are over 21.
As most of you know, Moosilauke is most definitely a family affair. 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. Ken attended Colgate, where he played 2 varsity sports, and he also has his Masters in Teaching. In the off-season Ken teaches high school history and economics, and coaches baseball in Colorado.
We are thrilled to have Todd Gelfand back to be our all around administrative troubleshooter. Todd was a camper for eight years and then a counselor at the camp in the 1970s. For the past nine years, he has spent much of the summer helping us run Moose. Two of his kids have attended and worked at camp. Believe it or not, when not at Moosilauke, he is the Managing Partner of a C.P.A. firm with offices in 5 cities.
Sabina and Ken’s sister, Ingrid Hale, serves as the Business Manager, along with managing the office and all our social media postings (pictures, videos, etc.). She has nearly 20 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 – Quinn McMahon, Preston Miller, and Jake Miller. All three were campers since the age of 8 and they all have worked at Moose for at least 10 years! Quinn, Sabina and Bill’s oldest son, graduated from Colgate and is an admissions officer and lacrosse coach at the Pomfret School in Connecticut. This past spring Quinn was voted the division II high school lacrosse coach of the year in Virginia and his team made it to the state finals. Preston, Kenny’s oldest, graduated with a Master’s from Colorado State University and teaches history and coaches at the Highland School in Virginia. Jake, Kenny’s youngest son, attended Colorado State and teaches science and coaches cross-country, track, and swimming at the St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School in Tennessee. Quinn and Jake are ACA certified canoe instructors and help lead our white water trips.
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.
Bill, Sabina, Ken, Ingrid, Port, and Heide