Moosilauke Weekly Letter Home 7-10-11

Dear Moosilauke Parent:

It is our pleasure to forward this third letter chronicling summer 2011. Before we recap the week, a brief Camp history lesson has been provided. Veteran parents, skip to paragraph four!Camp Moosilauke History

Moosilauke first opened its doors in 1904 making it one of the oldest private camps in the U.S. The dining hall and senior cabins S1 through S4 are all original structures. Moosilauke was founded by Virgil Prettyman, the first headmaster of the Horace Mann School, and advisor to President Eisenhower. Camper and staff alumni have included such luminaries as Benton MacKaye, the visionary behind the Appalachian Trail, Vince Lombardi, the Super Bowl winning NFL coach, Francois Gigure, former N.H.L. general manager, and Dave Trembly, the Major League baseball coach. Moosilauke was purchased by Gordon “Moose” Miller, the Athletic Director at the Horace Mann School (and a founder of the Ivy prep football league), in 1938. During the late 1960s, Gordon Porter Miller, Moose’s oldest son took over the running of the Camp. Port attended Colgate University, and received his doctorate from Columbia. He has written a number of books in the field of decision-making, including Teaching Your Child to Make Decisions and The Little Book for Big Decisions. Bill and Sabina took over the day-to-day running of the camp over twenty years ago. They also attended Colgate and received graduate degrees from Columbia (Bill, an M.B.A., and Sabina, a Masters in Education.) When they are not at Moosilauke, they live and work at The Thacher School in Ojai, CA. Bill is the Director of Admissions, and Sabina is the Dean of Students. 

As you probably know, Moosilauke is the definition of a family business. Sabina’s brother Kenny is our long time associate director, who, among other things, oversees all our athletic endeavors. When he is not at Moose he is a teacher in Colorado. Sabina’s sister Ingrid, who used to run Colgate University’s community service program, helps manage the business end of things, along with the office and all our social media postings (pictures, videos, etc.). And everyone’s kids are at Moose, as well. Quinn and Colin, Bill and Sabina’s oldest boys, who both attend Colgate, run the lacrosse and kayaking programs, respectively. Preston and Jake, Kenny’s two kids, run the baseball and canoeing programs. Sam, Ingrid’s son, is in the C.I.T. program. And Bill and Sabina’s youngest son Griffin, and Ingrid’s son Curtis, are campers.

We are also lucky to have in our midst a number of employees who have long histories with the Camp. Our head counselor, David Gordon, was a camper at Moose for six years before attending Wesleyan, which he graduated from last spring. Since then, he has been teaching English in Vietnam, picking grapes in France, and trekking in Nepal. (Another fun fact about David: he holds meditation sessions for kids at the waterfront most days at noon—and kids actually go!) We are also thrilled to have Todd Gelfand back to help run the tripping program and be our all around troubleshooter. As I wrote last year, he has a one-of-a-kind Moosilauke story. Todd was a camper for eight years and then a counselor at the camp in the 1970s. Recently, two of his kids have attended camp. When not at Moosilauke he helps run a C.P.A. firm with offices in Los Angeles and Connecticut. Three plus years ago, for his fiftieth birthday, he asked his wife, kids, and Bill and Sabina, whether he could celebrate by spending a session working at Moose. It turned out so well that Todd has built a house a stones throw from the camp and now spends the majority of the summer helping us run Camp. And a final profile: Charlie Slaybaugh, who is the Director of Physical Education and Health for his school district, is back to run the basketball program, and help ref every sport under the sun. Charlie went to Moose for seven years and worked as a counselor for three before returning to the fold two years ago. Given that many camps have staff made up of only college kids, we feel blessed to have so many adults working at Moose who are experienced in the ways of boys.

And now for an update on daily life at Moose. Friday, July 1st, was jam packed with competition versus other camps: there was a 12-and-under tennis tournament, a 13s basketball tournament, and a 15s soccer match. Par for the course, Moosilauke’s teams played well and lived up to the motto “be a class act.” Trips on Friday included an all ages outing to the golf course in Bradford and a Senior B (thirteen-year-old) bike trip to the Waterhole. In camp, the activity areas were brimming with action, especially the waterfront. The evening was a special one since dinner was a cookout on the field (teriyaki chicken) and one of the post dinner activities was Port’s retelling of the Orford Butcher tale at the Point complete with marshmallows over a campfire.

Saturday, July 2nd was hot, hot, hot, and we loved it. The centerpiece of the day was competition for all age groups versus a peer camp. Our boys competed in tennis, soccer, baseball, Ultimate Frisbee and lacrosse. When boys were not competing they had a free choice day. Given the heat, lounging in the lake was very popular, as was cheering on our teams, and working on projects in the woodshop. The mid-day snack of Italian ices was much appreciated by everyone. Trips on Saturday included a volunteer rock climbing trip to Rumney and a volunteer bike trip to Indian Pond. Saturdays’ dinner was a pizza fest, which was followed by Movie Night in the rec halls. Other evening activities included fishing, tubing, canoeing, swimming, and dodge ball.

As always, Sunday began with a brunch that ran from 8:30 to 9:45. By 10:00, all the campers were down the hill for “lazy Sunday” free choice play. A big draw in the am was watching the counselors compete in a U.S.A. versus the world soccer match. Right before lunch we had a swim for all of junior hill that allowed the nurses to scout for bug bites that might need attention. After a Thanksgiving lunch of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and rolls, it was time for announcements. For the fourth meal in a row campers regaled the camp with tales of the mighty Ingvars, who teaches swimming at Moose. Ingvar’s stories have covered everything from the time he climbed Mt. Everest—by mistake, to the time he was bit by a snake—and the snake died. Our own Paul Bunyan! Sunday afternoon saw all the boys take part in a camp wide game of Capture The Flag, which pitted Gryffindor versus Slytherin. Dinner was cabin cookout where each cabin cooks burgers and hot dogs at their own fire pit followed by make your own sundaes. The evening program centered on the weekly reading of the Log, which involved counselors and campers humorously recounting the events of the week in song and skit.

The Fourth of July (Monday) was a special day at Moose. It started with the ceremonial lighting of a few big fireworks prior to breakfast. As is tradition, before the meal Ken read his tongue-in-cheek Revolutionary War history lesson poking fun at the English—and the current state of life in the U.S. Our Juniors (eight, nine and ten-year-olds) spent the early part of the day representing Moosilauke in the local Orford/Fairlee parade complete with a float, banner, and handmade posters. In camp in the morning the boys signed up for a wide range of activities like a canoe to the Amazon portion of the lake, soccer golf, three-on-three basketball, butterfly catching, homerun derby, and water polo. In the afternoon the whole camp took part in a series of zany competitions. Crowd favorites included “Liberties with Statues” (during which counselors try to get campers to crack a smile), the old school “Greased Watermelon,” and “Capture the Redcoat” (during which our British counselors were chased by the campers!). The evening included a cookout down on the field with our neighboring girls’ camp and then a “social” on the basketball courts. Believe it or not, many a boy danced—see the web site photo gallery for pictures! This very special day ended with a Moose fireworks spectacular. (We hope to have video available for viewing in the next week.)

Tuesday was busy on all fronts. The big trip of the day was the Senior A1 (fifteen-year-old) capstone adventure to the Mahoosuc Range. The first day the boys hiked 5 miles, including the stretch of the Appalachian Trail called the “toughest mile” on the 2,174-mile long path. This mile is covered with huge boulders that the boys must navigate through and around. There are occasional ten-foot drops, and places where packs must be removed to squeeze beneath a boulder. That night they camped at Speck Pond where they had a swim and a dinner of Thanksgiving Surprise (turkey, potatoes and stuffing all mashed together). The next day the plan was for the group to hike up two miles to an old fire tower, down three miles, and then up two and a half miles to the Baldplate lean-two. However, serious rain and lightning caused them to drop back down into the saddle after hiking to the ridge, where they sat on their packs for 30 minutes to be safe. This detour caused them to change plans, and hike back where they had come from for the night. The next day it was an easy 2-3 mile hike out to the waiting van and a pizza lunch. Another trip on Tuesday was the traditional Inter A (twelve-year-old) twelve-mile canoe down the Connecticut River to Hanover. As is our practice, the boys’ hard work on the water was rewarded with an all you can eat pizza dinner and a movie (Cars II). Tuesday also saw our third Senior B (thirteen-year-old) two day Mt. Lafayette backpacking adventure. This trip was blessed with great weather and spectacular views. The final trip was a mountain biking adventure to Indian Pond. Our guess is that we had more trips go out in this one day then most camps do in a week (or for some, in a summer). Competition on Tuesday included all ages archery and track meets, and an 11s basketball tournament.

And the rest of the week was just as busy. Trips on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday included: all the Juniors (eight-nine-and ten-year olds) canoeing out to our Crooked Birch camp site or hiking to our log cabin at the Point for overnights; all the Inter Bs (eleven-year-olds) climbing Mt. Moosilauke (all 7 miles and 4802 feet of it) and sleeping in Dartmouth’s historic Ravine Lodge that is at the base of the mountain; another group of Senior A1s (fifteen-year-olds) heading off for the Mahoosuc adventure; all the Senior A2s (fourteen-year-olds) playing at a water park and then spending the evening at a minor league baseball game; two rock climbing trips to Rumney, NH; and an open hike and an open bike trip. And competition during the period covered just about every sport and every age group.

Beyond just trips and competition there were many other highlights from the week, like: the spirit the newly named Moose Sharks showed in their swim meet and announcement afterwards; the sight of one of our boys featured on the big screen at the minor league baseball game dancing like crazy in his moose hat; the camaraderie evident as the older boys helped novice water skiers get up for the first time; the mesmerized look in the boys eyes who listened to Port tell a new version of the Doc Benton legend around a camp fire; and the cheers one boy received for playing goalie in a lacrosse game for the very first time. And the highlight of every meal was the announcement time afterwards when boys routinely got up and “give a B.T.C.O.D” to one of their peers or counselors for “going beyond the call of duty.”

That’s all for now. A quick note about the coming year: Although we have a strong enrollment for this summer (especially given the economy) we can never take our marketing for granted (especially since we are very busy with our other lives). Given this, it is already time to plan Moose receptions for the fall and winter. If you would be willing to host a small reception at your home (and hopefully help us invite a prospective family or two) please be in touch by phone or e-mail. At the receptions, Bill or Sabina will do a presentation on the Moosilauke Experience. We hope to hold multiple gatherings in MA, NYC, CT, CA, NJ, PA, CO, and IL, to name just a few states, from October through January. If you have a family or two you would like us to meet please be in touch!

Finally, a few reminders: Saturday, July 23 is the departure day for 4 ½-week campers, and Parents’ Day for 4 ½-and 7-week campers. Parents are invited to come to camp from 9:30 to 4:00.

As always, please call Bill or Sabina with questions or issues at (800) 353 4546.

Have a great July!
Bill, Sabina, Port, Heide, Ken, and Ingrid

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