Moosilauke Weekly Letter Home 6-27-11

Dear Moosilauke Parent:

It is our pleasure to write this first in-season letter from Moosilauke during summer 2011, our 107th season. As is our tradition, we will send an electronic letter home each week to make sure you 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 Media Gallery section on the main page of the moosilauke.com web site and clicking on the “2011 pictures” link. We will do our best to post pictures every day.
DSCN1000The weather on opening day was not ideal: light rain and overcast. However, it did not keep us from having a fun filled day. Close to 125 excited campers from 13 states and as far away as Hong Kong, Madrid, and London, were greeted by 50 smiling counselors (and counselors-in-training) from the U.S. and also Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, and England. It is a talented and high achieving group: staff attend and/or have graduated from some of the finest colleges and universities, including Brown, Wesleyan, Dartmouth, Georgetown, and Colgate (7!), to name just a few. And an amazing 65% of our staff has been at Moosilauke before as a camper and/or counselor.

The afternoon was spent meeting counselors and bunkmates, unpacking, checking in with the nurses, and playing informal games of basketball, baseball, Frisbee, tetherball, and volleyball. Before dinner we played our traditional camp-wide game of “Bill Says” in which about 70% of the campers and staff were “out” within about a minute. Our formal orientation began at dinner with each table playing icebreaker games. The new campers enjoyed sitting next to their Camp Big Brothers. After our traditional first night “Moose” burger fest, our Head Counselor David Gordon emceed a Moose trivia contest that had the kids howling but also imparted some valuable Moose facts. Due to the rainy weather we then held our first night counselor introductions in the dining hall. 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. After all these festivities it was then off to the cabins for our first bunk meetings and lights out procedures.

Friday breakfast was scrambled eggs, home fries, oatmeal, cold cereal, fruit, and yogurt. Given that the a.m.’s weather remained slightly rainy we stayed indoors for the morning. Activities included woodworking, arts and crafts, a musical jam session, bingo, and ping-pong and foosball tournaments. Late in the morning Bill and Kenny met with the Counselor In Training group to review their curriculum and activities for the summer. After a lunch of meatball subs, salad bar, and soup, we celebrated our first camper birthday (with singing, dancing, and a cake) and then the new campers all met with Bill to discuss how to have a great summer at Moose. The group discussed a wide range of topics including Moosilauke’s “no cuts” competition policy, the Camp’s zero tolerance for teasing, the cool trips campers can sign up for, and homesickness. After rest hour the whole camp came “down the hill” for two sign up periods that saw most areas open with the exception of tennis (wet courts) and a few waterfront activities. The rain held off late in the day allowing us to have our first Friday night cook-out down on the field that included barbecued chicken breasts, Italian sausages, rolls, and salad. Favorite evening activities included a lacrosse fruit shoot-out (with fruit hanging from the lax goal cross bar as targets), flag football, and Newcomb on the volleyball court.

Saturday began on a noisy note as over 50 campers and staff took part in the first day of our early morning swim club. Believe it or not, many of your kids voluntarily go for a swim at 7:45 every morning. And what a swim it is: along with a quick dip, they dance, chant and sing. A favorite moment during the opening session was the “whirlpool” in which the boys run in circles creating a powerful vortex that they then float in. After breakfast, we had our traditional announcement time that included commentary on upcoming hikes and bikes, a reading of sports scores, and then the “trick of the day”, which was actually a brain teaser courtesy of counselor Thomas from England who has already had one puzzle book published and has another in the works. (Here is the teaser: you have 8 cannon balls, which all look identical, but one of them weighs slightly more than the others. You have access to a two sided scale. You are allowed to use the scale twice. Given all of this, how can you deduce which is the heavier one? Go to the end of this email for the answer.) Then it was time for rain-free morning activity periods, which included swim tests for all the campers. After a lunch of chicken fingers, smiley fries, salad bar, and chicken vegetable soup, the boys had rest hour during which they wrote their first letter home. There were smiles all around during the afternoon sign-up periods since the sun finally came out in earnest. It was great to see all areas of the waterfront humming, including water skiing, wind surfing, kayaking, sailing, fishing—and our latest activity area, stand-up paddle boarding. At 5:00 free time 30+ campers and counselors took part in the daily two-mile run club. And our fabulous Saturday ended with a pizza dinner and then movie night.

Sunday saw our first “lazy morning” during which campers ate brunch at their leisure between 8:30 and 9:45. And what a brunch it was: home made cinnamon buns, omelets to order, home fries, sausages, and oatmeal. All the new campers and a handful of returnees spent the day with Bill and the Backcountry Leadership Staff climbing Mt. Cube. Bill took some of the younger boys up and down the shorter Rivendell trail on the back side (a six mile round trip hike) while half the group opted for the longer trail that leads right into Camp. During the hike the boys learned many fun facts about Mt. Cube, including: its height—2,911 feet; that it’s original name was Mt. Cuba (possibly changed at the time of the Cuban revolution?); that the original trail was created in 1900 by the Dartmouth Outing Club (the oldest college outing club in the country); that it is part of the Appalachian Trail; and most interestingly, that 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.) Boys staying on-campus had a free choice “Sunday Funday” afternoon with options including all waterfront and land sport activities, plus tennis ladder matches, a homerun derby contest, fishing, and a practice for our 15-and-under Ultimate Frisbee team. Dinner was a camper favorite: cabin-cookout, during which each cabin cooks hot dogs and hamburgers at their own cabin fire pit, followed by ice cream sundaes.

In closing, a reminder: as per the Family Handbook, campers do not call home with the exception of new campers during the 4 ½ week session who call once during the second week. Parents, however, may call the Directors to check-in any time—with best times being between 10-12:00, 3-5:00, and 7-8:00.

That’s all for now. We will write again within the week. Have a great summer!

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

(The solution to the brain teaser: put three of the balls in each side of the scale–not 4–and find the heaver side. Then put one of three remaining on each side of the scale.)

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