Weekly Log Home #1 2018

Dear Moose Families,

It is our pleasure to write this first weekly letter home from Moosilauke during summer 2018, our 114th season.  As is our tradition, we post on our website 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 the following link or by going to the “Photos” link in the “In the Media” section of the website. The purpose of the photo albums posted each day is to provide our families with an overview of daily life at Moose.  We strive to capture as many individual campers as possible each day, but the main goal is to provide for your viewing pleasure a “typical Moosilauke day.” We do our best to post pictures daily, Tuesday through Sunday. (New this year, we will not post photos on Mondays to allow our photographer/videographer time to edit some of the short films we plan on creating and sharing this summer.)  Finally, make sure you “like” us on Facebook and Instagram, @camp_moosilauke, since we will be posting videos and pictures every few days.

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 14 states and 4 countries (Spain, China, France, and Canada).  Our formal orientation for new parents included a session with Bill on the beach that covered our philosophy along with key issues related to programming, communications, and homesickness. Camper orientation started in earnest with Bill leading the boys in a game of “Bill Says” that included a cameo appearance by 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, we celebrated our first birthday of the season. As is tradition, the birthday honoree called up campers and staff of his choosing to serenade “Happy Birthday” and then they are presented with a birthday cake. It was then 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 hill for bunk meetings during which each cabin developed their “cabin community rules to live by” which were ceremonially signed and posted in each cabin.

Friday breakfast was assorted bagels with cream cheese, butter, and jam, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, cold cereal, fruit and yogurt bar, and delicious hot chocolate.  After the meal, Bill shared an announcement about important safety procedures and then Kenny presented the previous day’s NBA draft results along with baseball and World Cup scores.  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 20 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 cheese steak sandwiches, seasoned fries, a full salad bar, and two soups (one chicken noodle and the other beef and vegetables). After lunch in the dining hall, Bill began the announcement period with the first of may interviews he does with staff where they talk about their interests, roles at Camp, and what brought them to Moosilauke.  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 wakeboarding and water skiing, swimming, and sailing.  Dinner was our first Friday night field barbecue–called “Kenny’s cookout”–that included grilled chicken, sausage, veggie burgers, corn bread, and pasta salad. After dinner the campers participated in evening activities, which included wiffle ball, kickball, dodgeball, a paddleboarding and canoeing extravaganza, Ultimate Frisbee, and 3 on 3 basketball.

On Saturday, breakfast was scrambled eggs and potatoes, the yogurt and fruit bar, hot chocolate,  and hot and cold cereal.  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 40 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, over half 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.  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 sandwiches with assorted meats, salads, and cheese (and all of the fixings), the usual salad bar, and two “chef’s choice” soups (frankfurter soup and corn chowder), the boys had rest hour.  The afternoon was humming with sign-up activities for the first hour, including water skiing, paddleboarding, canoeing, tennis, sailing, basketball, and baseball. However, some rain showers developed mid-afternoon, so the boys headed up the hill for their afternoon snack of home-baked cookies, a view of some of the World Cup matches, and some quiet time in their cabins.  And, our fabulous Saturday ended with a pizza dinner, brownies, and then movie night complete with homemade popcorn courtesy of the counselors in training (C.I.T.s) and Todd. The Junior Hill cabins (eight, nine, ten, eleven, and twelve-year-olds) enjoyed a viewing of the classic, Shrek, while the Senior Hill cabins (thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen-year-olds) watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

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—better than a 2 to 1 ratio of employees to campers. The 70 folks are comprised as follows: Over 50 activity/cabin counselors; 3 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 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.
  • 50% of all staff that work directly with the campers (as counselors and administrators) are returning and/or have gone to the camp.  We have over 30 staff members who have been with us for 3-years or more.
  • Our staff come from 8 countries outside the US: England, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Mexico, Hungary, Spain, Scotland.
  • Staff in college attend the following institutions: Bowdoin, Brown, Cal Poly, Colgate, Colorado College, Cornell University, Dartmouth, Denison University, Grinnell College, Middlebury, NC State University, Rhodes College, Trinity College, the University of Maryland, the University of Michigan, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Rochester, the University of Virginia.
  • 40% of our counselors are Lifeguard certified.
  • Seven of our staff have their Wilderness First Aid or Responder qualification.

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 Assistant Head of School for Student Affairs. 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.

Todd Gelfand is our Director of Special Operations or otherwise known as 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 ten years, he has spent much of the summer helping us run Moose.  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 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.  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. Quinn and Jake’s spouses also work at Moosilauke. Charlotte McMahon, an English teacher at the Pomfret School, serves as our Waterfront Director and Head of Hill.  Marin Miller, works in Student Life at the St. Andrew’s School in Sewanee, is the Office Manager at Camp. There is now a 5th generation member of the Miller family as well – Jake and Marin had a baby girl last December, named Rory, who is also at Moosilauke this summer (our youngest camper!).

And of course the guiding spirits of the whole operation are the 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.

Happy Summer!
Bill, Sabina, Ken, Ingrid, Port, and Heide

Posted in Weekly Letters Home