Weekly Log Home 2012 #3

by Bill and Sabina McMahon, Co-Directors

It is our pleasure to write this third blog chronicling summer 2012.  Before we recap, a brief Camp history lesson and staffing overview has been provided.  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, an advisor to President Eisenhower and a long standing educator .  You may not know that our 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 Giguere, 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 almost twenty-five 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.

Moosilauke is the definition of a family business.  Sabina’s mother Heide is the business manager and Sabina’s father, Port, the old man of the lake, still takes kids on Navy Seal boat rides and tells the best ghost stories.  (See a separate blog for more about Port and Heide and their influence on camp.)  Sabina’s brother Kenny is our long time associate director, who, among other things, oversees all our athletic endeavors and hires our staff.  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.  All four of these strapping young men also help supervise our residential life program, under the leadership of David Gordon who is profiled below.  Sam, Ingrid’s son, is a junior counselor.  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 talented employees who have long histories with the camp.  Our head counselor, David Gordon, was a camper at Moose for 6 years before attending Wesleyan.  This fall David will begin earning his doctorate in Child Psychology.  (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 be our all around troubleshooter. Todd 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.  Four 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 stone’s throw from the camp and now spends much of the summer helping us run Camp.  Charlie Slaybaugh, who is the Director of Physical Education and Health for his school district in New York, is back to help supervise our athletic programs, and help ref every sport under the sun.  Charlie went to Moose for 7 years and worked as a counselor for 3 before returning to the fold three years ago.  Finally, Chrissy Mazzola is back to help run our tennis program during the first session.  Chrissy was a phenomenal player back in the day: she won her state tournament all 4 years in high school and she used to hold the record for most tennis match wins at Dartmouth.  When not at Moose she is head of the upper school at St. Anne’s Belfield in Virginia.  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 6th, saw our first rock climbing trip head out for the summer.  A volunteer group of campers spent the day at the famous crags in Rumney, NH, which is just 15 minutes from camp.  As the Dartmouth Outing Club web site describes, in just a few years Rumney moved from being known as a nice local climbing spot to being a premier sport-climbing area in the Northeast.  The site now confidently reports that Rumney has “arrived” as one of the top climbing destinations in America that even attracts interest from European climbers.  The best part for Moose is that it has perfect beginner top rope spots, and it is never crowded during the week when we go.  As About.com nicely summarizes, top-rope climbing is all about having fun and being outside: “Top-roping offers the rock climbing experience with all the rewards but minimal risks. Top-roping, simply put, is climbing a rock face with the rope always anchored above you. If you fall, you usually only fall a few feet until the rope catches you, minimizing the risk of injury.  Top-roping is a great way to learn the basics of climbing movement, how to set up an anchor, how to belay, and how to have fun climbing. Top-roping is ideal for beginners since they can concentrate on climbing techniques rather than worry about the dire effects of gravity.” The other trip on Friday was a Senior B (thirteen-year-old) mountain biking adventure.  Competition included a thirteen-and-under and ten-and-under baseball games versus peer camps.  The evening included a cookout on the field followed by a dance with the neighboring girls camp and then an incredible Moosilauke fireworks display (postponed from the 4th because of rain).

Saturday, July 7th, was our first Baker Valley Tournament day with an incredible number of athletic events versus three peer camps, including: ten-and-under tennis and soccer, eleven’s tennis and baseball, twelve’s basketball and soccer, thirteen’s basketball and Ultimate, and fourteen’s/fifteen’s soccer and basketball.  As expected, the boys did incredibly well on all three scoreboards: win/loss, sportsmanship, and best hair. When not playing in games, campers had a whole day of free choice activities.  Favorites included lax golf (like frisbee golf), water skiing and wake boarding, sailing, and skill riding in mountain biking.  A pizza dinner followed by movie night made the perfect end to a great day.

Sunday continued our stretch of beautiful hot weather.  As is tradition, Sunday began with a brunch that ran from 8:30 to 9:45 that included omelets made to order (!), homemade cinnamon rolls, sausages, and home fries.  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.  (For the record, U.S.A. went down in flames.)  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 style lunch of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and rolls, it was time for announcements that included “guess the counselor” trivia.  (Fun facts included that one of our staff is Irish royalty, another spent 3 months on a N.O.L.S. semester, and another will be writing commercial jingles starting in the fall.)  Sunday afternoon saw all campers take part in a camp wide game of Capture The Flag, which pitted the LeBron James’ versus the Kevin Durant’s.  Dinner was cabin cookout where each cabin cooks burgers and hot dogs at their own fire pit followed by make your own sundaes.

Monday, July 9th, was a busy day 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 volunteer group of 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 dinner.  The next day the boys hiked up two miles to an old fire tower, down three miles, and then up two and a half miles to the Baldplate lean-two.  The other trip on Monday saw a group of Inter Bs (eleven-year-olds) bike to the Wentworth Waterhole and back 9-10 miles round trip).  Competition on Monday included elevens soccer, twelves tennis, and fourteens basketball.  Meals on Monday included chicken patty sandwiches for lunch and a pasta fest for dinner.  Highlights from the evening included a Speedball game and some serious sailing for our most talented camper skippers.

Tuesday, which was another beautiful day, started with a pre-breakfast waterskiing and wake boarding session for the older campers that took place as the Moose Bears welcomed the day with splashing, songs, and general mayhem.  Tuesday was a perfect day for the annual rite of passage in which all the Inter As (twelve-year-olds) canoe twelve-miles down the Connecticut River to Hanover. As is our practice, the boys’ hard work on the water (about 4 hours in total) was rewarded with an all you can eat pizza dinner and a movie with snacks (Spider Man 3-D). Tuesday also saw our third Senior B (thirteen-year-old) two day Mt. Lafayette backpacking adventure, and a cabin of Junior As (ten-year-olds) canoe a mile to our Crooked Birch campsite where they cooked dinner over an open fire, had S’mores and slept in tents.  Meals on Tuesday were croissants for breakfast, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches and soup for lunch, and a hugely popular taco fest followed by Boston cream pie for dinner.  Competition on Tuesday included an all ages swim meet and a tens’ basketball tournament.  A highlight post dinner was an impromptu talent show that included a one-arm cartwheel, a magic jumping cup act, and break dancing that included a fabulous “worm”.

Wednesday was another beautiful, sunny day.  The big trip of the morning was all the counselor in training boys heading off with Port for a “let’s get dirty” service project at our Pioneer Camp on the Baker River.  The crew spent a few hours clearing brush and hauling out old lumber in advance of their overnight trip this Saturday, which will follow a hike up Mt. Moosilauke.  Our enhanced C.I.T. program has been going extremely well.  The crew has enjoyed their orientation sessions, their work in the cabins and at activity areas, and their ownership of a few special events.  On the horizon for the crew in the next few days is a “Real Colors” workshop and lifeguard training.  In terms of the former, “Real Colors” is a training tool that uses fun and engaging interactive exercises to help the C.I.T.s recognize the strengths and perspectives of themselves and others and develop a plan to lead and communicate more effectively.  Competition on Wednesday included an all ages archery contest and track meet along with a fourteen’s baseball game.  During the evening, another group of Junior As (ten-year-olds) canoed to our Pioneer Camp for an overnight, and a group of Junior Bs (eight-and nine-year-olds) hiked to our log cabin at the point on the lake for a campsite dinner and overnight.  The big excitement of the evening was the 5 pound bass Charlie caught just before dark.

That’s all for now!

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