Log Home #1 2019

Dear Moose Families,

It is our pleasure to write this first weekly letter home from Moosilauke during summer 2019, our 115th 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 moosilauke.com 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. (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 spectacular: clear skies, 80 degrees, and with a nice breeze off the lake. Nearly 120 campers and C.I.T.s descended on Upper Baker Pond from 13 states and 5 countries (Canada, China, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom). 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 will be for the first week and a half of camp. While enjoying the traditional “first meal” of Moose burgers, french fries, and salad bar, returning campers imparted their wisdom on Moose traditions and terminology to the new campers. Following dinner, 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 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’s breakfast was bagels, bacon and eggs, oatmeal, cold cereal, fruit and yogurt bar.  After the meal, Bill began the announcement period with the first of many interviews he does with staff where they talk about their interests, roles at Camp, and what brought them to Moosilauke. Kenny then shared his daily sports score update. 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. At noon, Bill and Sabina then met with all of the new campers (37!) 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), what would make Camp not fun (i.e. teasing and bullying), and homesickness and strategies for alleviating it. At noon freetime about 20 campers and staff went on a one or two mile run while others played ping pong, shot hoops, or relaxed on the beach. Lunch included meatball subs, a full salad bar, chicken noodle soup. In the afternoon, campers had their first choice periods, with many opting for waterfront activities like wakeboarding and water skiing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and sailing. Dinner was our first Friday night field barbecue —called “Kenny’s cookout”—which consisted of grilled chicken, sausage, veggie burgers, corn bread, and pasta salad. After dinner the campers participated in evening activities of Kick-the-Can, kickball, dodgeball, a stand-up paddle boarding and canoeing extravaganza, Ultimate Frisbee, fishing, and tubing.

On Saturday, the main course for breakfast was egg sandwiches and potatoes. The big event for the day was the annual climb up Mt. Cube for all new campers and a few hardy returning boys. 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, nearly 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. 

Everyone not on a trip spent the day going to morning and afternoon classes. After a lunch in Camp of sandwiches, soup, and salad bar the boys had rest hour. The afternoon was humming with sign-up activities for the first hour, including water skiing and wakeboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, sailing, tennis, soccer, mountain biking, lacrosse, archery, arts & crafts, and woodworking. Dinner was homemade pizza with brownies for dessert. After the meal, a camper was recognized for shooting three bulls-eyes with three arrows, and we celebrated two birthdays with our traditional serenade and cake. It was then time for movie night complete with homemade popcorn courtesy of the counselors in training (C.I.T.s). The Junior Hill cabins (eight, nine, ten, eleven, and twelve-year-olds) enjoyed a viewing of the classic, “Spaceballs,” while the Senior Hill cabins (thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen-year-olds) watched “Thor.” 

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; 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 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—and amazingly, all are members of the Miller/McMahon/Hale family! (For background on these folks click on here.
  • Over 50% of all staff that work directly with the campers (as counselors and administrators) are returning and/or have gone to the camp. Approximately 30% of our staff have been with us for 3-years or more.
  • Our staff come from 8 countries outside the US: the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Mexico, Hungary, Spain, Scotland, and the Netherlands.
  • Staff attend or recently graduated from a number of great institutions, including: Colgate, Denison University, Grinnell College, Middlebury, Trinity College, University of Southern California, the University of Vermont, Williams College, and Yale. 
  • 40% of our counselors are Lifeguard certified.
  • Six of our staff have their Wilderness First Aid or Responder qualification.

That’s all for now. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with questions. Happy Summer!

Bill, Sabina, Port, Heide, Ken, and Ingrid

Posted in Weekly Letters Home