Dear Moosilauke Families,
It is our pleasure to send this second letter home during summer 2019 covering Sunday, June 30th through Thursday, July 4th. Camp is off to an awesome start. The weather has been warm and dry, so the boys have been able to be outdoors and engaged in all camp activities and trips this first week. Our activity classes have been humming; our initial canoe and hiking trips have been fun for all; our inter-camp competition is off and running; and the overall level of fun and camaraderie is exactly what you would expect. Fun with a purpose!
Sunday was our first “lazy Sunday” of the season, with a late buffet breakfast of omelets to order, scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, and chocolate chip muffins. After breakfast, the campers enjoyed some free time that involved pickup basketball, ping pong, playing cards, reading on the beach, and assorted games like Spike Ball and Can Jam. We also had an open swim for all ages and a cabin check-in with the nurses. Sunday was our first “Letter Home Day.” The campers are required to write home twice a week—Sundays and Wednesdays. Mail is slow from our rural New Hampshire location, but you should be receiving letters from your boys at this point. (We know that the boys do not always provide the most detail in their letters, so we hope that our newsletters help fill in the gaps. Of course, you can always reach out to Bill and Sabina should you have any questions.)
In the afternoon, there were sign-ups in the different activity areas. At the end of the afternoon, we convened for our first Moose Community Gathering. Each week, we gather as a camp to share “B.T.C.O.D.” (beyond the call of duty) accolades, reflections from Backcountry Leadership Program (BLP) and other overnight trips, a “trick of the day,” top ten activity or competition highlights of the week, camper and counselor talents, and we close with a special Moose song. This week, we applauded and recognized those campers and counselors who climbed Mt. Cube. One camper shared that he counted how many steps it took to get to the top of the mountain—5,215 steps! We also had our first “trick of the day.” It was an oldie, but a goodie where you spin and blow a cup from one stack to another. The gathering ended with a full camp rendition of “Moose, You Got What I Need.”
Lunch on Sunday was chicken tenders with rice and dinner was our traditional cabin cookout, with hamburgers, hot dogs, potato wedges, and carrot sticks. Following cabin cookout, the campers enjoyed open areas for their evening activities on land and in the water and gathered around campfires to make S’mores for dessert.
Monday started early for many a camper as our first wilderness adventure trips left at 7:00am. A group of Senior A1s (fifteen-year-olds) headed out on the much anticipated three-day capstone backpacking adventure in the rugged terrain of Western Maine in the Mahoosuc Range. They hiked a total of 7 miles on the first day, summiting Goose Eye Peak, and settling in at their campsite at Full Goose shelter. Lunch on the trail was peanut butter and Nutella wraps and dinner at the campsite was couscous and chicken cooked over a camp stove. In the evening, they played cards, told stories, and listened to music played on a ukulele by one of the counselors. On the second day, they awoke early, enjoyed a breakfast of oatmeal, and began their 5.1 mile journey to the Speck Pond campsite. Two miles into the hike, they entered the infamous Notch, scrambling over boulders and in between cracks. Under the rocks, they stood on ice and snow. After the Notch, they began climbing up the Mahoosuc Arm, an extremely steep section of the trail. That night, they camped at the Speck Pond campsite, eating sausage and mac-and-cheese for dinner. After dinner, they swam, played cards, talked, and listened to music. On the final day, they awoke and began hiking just after 6:00am. One counselor spotted an otter. They climbed over Old Speck Mountain, and descended to the parking lot at Grafton Notch. On their way back to Camp, they were treated with an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet at Enzo’s. Altogether, they hiked about 17 miles.
Monday also saw a group of Senior A2s (fourteen-year-olds) leave for a two-day whitewater canoe adventure on Lake Umbagog and the Androscoggin River. This trip, which we have been running for decades, has been featured in Outside Magazine in the section titled “Best Trails: Best Canoe Trail.” After a 2.5 hour drive to Errol, New Hampshire, the group set their canoes in the refreshing waters of Lake Umbagog. Though they faced a stiff headwind, they made good time, arriving at their campsite after about 2 hours of steady paddling. Once at the campsite, they feasted on a dinner of double cheeseburgers with bacon, french fries, and S’mores for dessert. After dinner, the group fished and swam. The day ended with trip leader Preston running a trivia contest and then regaling the boys with two tall tales. The group was awoken early (6am!) by the calls of turkey vultures on the lake. After a breakfast of fried and scrambled eggs, bacon, and hash browns, the group canoed to the opening of the Androscoggin River. After a couple of runs down the Class II rapids of the river, they made their way to a very fun jumping bridge. It was then time to pack up and head off to a well deserved pizza dinner.
Monday’s trips also included a group of Senior Bs (thirteen-year-olds) heading out for a two-day Presidential Range backpacking adventure on and near Mt. Lafayette. As anyone who has been up the mountain knows, the first day’s hike up the Liberty Springs trail is tough given how steep it is, and the fact that there are very few switchbacks. Once they reached their tent platforms they set up camp and had a lunch of peanut butter and Nutella wraps. After lunch, they continued on a steep uphill climb to the summits of both Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume. The group then descended back to their campsite and enjoyed a delicious dinner of couscous and tuna. The next day, after a leisurely start, the group traversed the Franconia Ridge which has some of the best views in New Hampshire. The traverse had them summiting Little Haystack, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Lafayette. Like horses returning to the barn, they then scampered down the four-mile Old Bridle Path back to their vehicle. In the car on the way to their pizza dinner most shared that they could not wait for the Mt. Washington backpacking adventure their Senior A2 year.
Monday also saw a group of Inter As (twelve-year-olds) venture out on an all-day mountain bike trip to the Wentworth Waterhole and all the Juniors (eight, nine and ten-year-olds) headed out in the afternoon for some swimming fun at Baker Cliffs, followed by ice cream at Moose Scoops. Inter-camp competition included 11s basketball and 13s soccer at Moose and 15s tennis at a neighboring camp.
With regard to our competition, we emphasize three scoreboards at Moosilauke. The first is the actual score of the game. The second measures effort and sportsmanship, and being a “class act.” The third is all about having the best hair! There are also no “cuts” at Moose so any boy can play on any age appropriate team regardless of their prior experience or skill-level in that sport and each camper gets ample playing time.
On Tuesday, there was more inter-camp competition including 10s soccer and 12s baseball at a neighboring camp. Another group of Inter As ventured out on a mountain biking trip to the Waterhole. A highlight in the afternoon was an 8 camper strong snorkeling expedition to the beach area at the Point. The campers saw nesting catfish, largemouth bass, sunfish, and yellow perch.
The CITs spent a good part of the day participating in a “True Colors” seminar led by a professional leadership consultant. True Colors is a personality identification model that uses color identified personality traits to help teenagers better understand who they are and how they can have healthy relationships with those similar and different to themselves. After taking the assessment and learning about their own “colors” the boys worked together in a manner in-sync with all their personalities. The boys found the morning informative and fun. Food Tuesday in Camp included scrambled eggs for breakfast, chicken patties and tater tots for lunch, and the traditional “Taco Tuesday” for dinner with churros for dessert. We celebrated a camper birthday at dinner in the dining hall. Evening activities included kickball, dodgeball, Ultimate frisbee, “Knockout,” a ping pong tournament, tubing, and a viewing of the Women’s World Cup match of USA versus England.
Wednesday, campers were greeted in the morning with pancakes and sausages. Lunch was herb roasted chicken with french fries, and dinner was stuffed shells, rolls, assorted steamed veggies, and pudding for dessert. Trips on Wednesday included the Senior Bs (thirteen-year-olds) enjoying an afternoon jumping into the deep pools and rapids at Baker Cliffs, followed by an ice cream treat at Moose Scoops. The final group of Inter As biked to the Waterhole for a picnic and swim. There was an inter-camp soccer competition for the 11s at Moose, and basketball competition for the 15s at a neighboring camp. The highlight of the afternoon was an outdoor cooking class with Sabina that focused on making pita-pizzas on a backcountry camping stove. Evening activities included Gaelic football, rugby, Ultimate Frisbee, tubing, Frisbee golf, and a stand-up paddle boarding and canoeing expedition.
Thursday, the Fourth of July festivities started at breakfast when many of the campers and staff donned their patriotic red-white-and-blue clothes in the spirit of the holiday. Some of our foreign counselors and campers also proudly wore their countries’ colors and flags. After the meal, Ken led the camp in a game of “Was Moose There When…?,” citing significant historical events in the U.S. and asking whether or not Moosilauke was in existence at that particular time. Bill also took time after the meal to reinforce the importance of everyone helping to create a positive culture at camp in which campers are comfortable to be themselves and take on new challenges. He also discussed the difference between intent and impact and how the real emphasis in our daily lives needs to be on the latter.
At lunch, Todd shared one of his amazing “tricks of the day” called “the word in the pudding can.” The trick involved a counselor volunteer selecting a random word in a random section of a book and writing it down on a slip of paper, sharing with all of the camp to see (but not Todd), and then sealing it in an envelope. The envelope is then inadvertently burned and therefore remains a mystery to Todd who tries but fails to guess the correct word. In the end the envelope with the correct word is found in an unopened can of chocolate pudding. You had to be there!
In the afternoon the campers were divided into two teams (the East Coasts versus the West Coasts) and competed in wacky activities which included the Boston Tea Party, a canoe tug of war, Molly Pitcher, a pudding eating contest, among others. Fun and laughs were had by all. As is tradition, the CITs provided the groups with red, white and blue sno-cones. In the evening, Moosilauke hosted Camp Merriwood for a cookout. Following the cookout, there was a “social” on the basketball courts, and amazing fireworks at the beach.
Every once in a while we are fortunate to have a special guest volunteering their time to work at Camp. Toby Elmore, whose son is a camper, spent this past week at Moose working with our soccer counselors and the staff as a whole. Toby worked with Bill and Sabina at the Thacher School for 7 years and is currently teaching and coaching at the Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, California. He has coached soccer for 18 years and has earned his “Premier Diploma” from the United Soccer Coaches Association. Three of Toby’s former players played professional soccer and countless others have played (or are playing) in college.
That’s all for now. We will continue to share Camp news with you every 4-5 days. As always, please do not hesitate to contact Bill or Sabina should you have any questions.
Happy Fourth of July!
Bill, Sabina, Ken, Ingrid, Port, and Heide