It is our pleasure to send this second weekly letter home during summer 2015 covering Sunday, June 28th through Saturday, July 4th. Camp is off to an awesome start: we have had plenty of sunshine; our activity classes have been humming; our initial adventure trips have been fun for all; participation in our inter-camp competition has been high; we have had a number of special events; and the overall level of fun and camaraderie is exactly what you would expect. Summer the way it ought to be!
We had a bit of rain on Sunday, primarily in the morning. However, that did not deter our campers from some fun rainy day activities – both indoors and out. We had our traditional lazy-day Sunday morning, with a late buffet breakfast of special-order omelettes and assorted donuts, along with our usual yogurt bar and assorted cold cereals. The campers remained inside for the majority of the morning. Senior hill campers watched movies in their rec hall or played games or read in their cabins. Junior hill took advantage of the many board games, foosball, and ping pong in the junior hill rec hall. Lunch was sweet and sour chicken and rice, with cake for dessert. The weather cleared for the afternoon, so there were a variety of special age group activities and games, including Ultimate frisbee, Ultimate football, rugby, spike ball, softball, European handball, arts & crafts, fishing, and our Senior A1s (fifteen-year-olds) played flag football. All outdoor activities included plenty of puddles, mud, and fun! Due to the rain early in the day, in lieu of the traditional Sunday night cabin cookout, there was a camp “cookout” in the dining hall with hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta salad, chips, and Boston Cream pie for dessert.
Monday was sunny and warm, perfect for the first day of our wilderness tripping program. In total, we had four trips leave in the morning. A volunteer group of Senior A2s (14-year-olds) went on a three-day backpacking trip that culminated in summiting Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Washington. At 6,288 feet, Washington is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River and north of the Carolinas. The first day the boys hiked 3.8 miles up the Lowes and Randolph trails to the Perch RMC Shelter where they spent the night. The second day they hiked about 7 miles and in the process they summited Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Washington. That night they slept at the Hermit Lake shelter. The final day they hiked 2.5 miles out to the Pinkham Notch trailhead. Although the boys felt the trip was very challenging, to a person they were very proud of what they had accomplished.
Another group of Senior A2s (fourteen-year-olds) left Monday for a two day flat and whitewater canoe adventure on Lake Umbagog and the Androscoggin River. On their way there, they saw a moose! This trip, which we have been running for decades, was recently featured in Outside Magazine in the section titled “Best Trails: Best Canoe Trail.” Here is what they wrote: “One lake, two states, tons of wildlife, and 15 miles of rapids. And that’s just one day on the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which arcs across New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine. For a weekend sampler, put in at Umbagog Lake, the heart of the 25,650-acre Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, which straddles the Maine-New Hampshire line. Let the loons, bald eagles, and osprey overhead preoccupy you. But as you drift into the Androscoggin River, it’s time to re-engage: the 17 river miles to Pontook Dam are full of class I – III rapids.” The group left before breakfast and drove the two plus hours to Errol, NH, and Lake Umbagog. Around 1:00 the group packed their dry bags, tents, and food into their boats and paddled for about two hours (about 7 miles) up the lake to their wilderness campsite. After setting up camp they ate a dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs with S’mores for dessert. In the evening the campers fished – and the fish were biting, as over 30 fish were caught! The next day, after a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and bagels, the group paddled a total of 4 miles as they moved out of the lake and into the Androscoggin River. After portaging around the Errol Dam they then ran an exciting stretch of class II rapids a number of times. The boys showed great skill—only a few of the canoes capsized. After that it was a short drive to the world famous Jumping Bridge where the boys took turns plunging off a platform many feet in the air into a fun set of rapids. And then it was time for a quick dinner stop and the drive home.
Monday also saw a group of volunteer Senior Bs (thirteen-year-olds) head off for a two day Presidential backpacking trip of their own. On the first day, the boys hiked the steep 3+ mile trail that leads directly to the Liberty Springs campsite. Lunch on the trail was pizza sandwiches and ham & cheese wraps. After a camp stove dinner of sausages, couscous, and chocolate bars for dessert, they had a restful night in their tents. The next day, after a breakfast of oatmeal and hot cocoa, the boys traversed 3.5 miles across the ridgeline summiting Little Haystack, Lincoln and Lafayette in the process. They then powered down the Greenleaf trail. The highlight of the trip was the ridgeline. The weather was fantastic, so the view of the four different mountain summits was incredible!
Monday morning also saw a group of Inter As (twelve-year-olds) venture out on an all day mountain bike trip to the Wentworth Waterhole and back. The final trip, and the most “fluffy” of them all, was the Senior A1s (fifteen-year-olds) invading Hanover for dinner and a movie. The new Jurassic Park movie got a big thumbs up from the group and the boys loved the night out, especially the pizza dinner at EBA’s and popcorn at the movie.
Tuesday was another warm, sunny, and beautiful day – otherwise known as a “typical Moosilauke day.” Food for the Moose troops in camp included waffles for breakfast, sloppy joes and homemade chicken and mushroom soup for lunch, and soft tacos for dinner (with all of the fixings – rice, beans, cilantro, lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa). Along with another group of Inter As (twelve-year-olds) heading off on a day-long mountain biking adventure to the Water Hole, a focus for the day was inter-camp competition. We hosted a thirteen-and-under soccer tournament and we went to a peer camp for a ten-and-under street hockey fest. Evening activities included fishing, Frisbee golf, tubing, and pick-up games in basketball and volleyball. Prior to Tuesday’s competition (the first of the session), there was an announcement in the dining hall about the three scoreboards at Moosilauke. The first is the actual score, which in the words of the campers “matters the least.” The second scoreboard measures effort and sportsmanship. And the third is all about best hair. A reminder: at Moose, there are no cuts so any boy can play on any age appropriate team regardless of experience. And each camper gets ample playing time.
Wednesday began with some rain but it did not deter the early morning Moose Bears session in the lake. Campers were greeted with homemade muffins for breakfast, along with the usual cold and hot cereal and yogurt/fruit bar. The campers stayed indoors in the morning for bowling, Bingo, card and board games, and a jam session with Bill and few of our counselors. We have discovered that we have quite a few talented musicians at Moose this summer – singers, guitar players, and pianists. After a delicious lunch of macaroni and cheese, there was a sing-along in the dining hall, with everyone joining in. Crowd favorites included The Weight, Wagon Wheel, and American Pie. Trips on Wednesday included a day off for the CITs (counselors in training) and Junior Counselors, which entailed an outing to the outlets and lunch in town. Fortunately, the weather cleared for the afternoon. There was an inter-camp soccer competition for the elevens while the rest of the camp had activities on land and in the water. Wednesday was our weekly sandwich night that gives our kitchen staff some much deserved time off.
Thursday the sun was back in full force so campers were reminded to use sunscreen and carry their water bottles with them. In the morning our first white water kayak trip left for a day at the Hartland Rapids. To be eligible for the trip a camper had to have completed his flat water eskimo roll and have a “bomb proof” wet exit. Four hardy campers joined Bill, his son Colin, and Kiwi Benny for an extraordinary day of whitewater paddling. The adventure started with the boys practicing wet exits and rolls, edging into eddies (calm spots), and ferrying across class I moving water, all below a small waterfall. After lunch the boys portaged their kayaks above the main whitewater for a number of runs through the class II rapids. During these runs the boys learned to enter and exit wave trains and they also tried surfing a few waves. We hope to have some fun video footage to share with you soon.
Thursday also saw the first climbing trip of the summer. This initial trip was held at an indoor facility to ensure a safe and controlled environment for novice climbers. The Senior Bs (thirteen-year-olds) spent the afternoon jumping into the deep pools and rapids at Baker Cliffs and enjoying ice cream at “Moose Scoops” on the way home. Competition on Thursday included a ten-and-under baseball game and a fifteen-and-under lacrosse tournament. A short video of the lacrosse game can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/132856367.
The menu for the day included pancakes for breakfast, grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch, and pulled pork for dinner with a delicious banana cake for dessert. A special event Thursday night was a “tall tale” session with master storyteller Port Miller.
Friday was another sunny, beautiful day. Friday’s focus was the Baker Valley Athletic Tournament that involved Moose and two other camps playing competition all day long. Campers had the option to play on one of five age group teams in soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis, and Ultimate Frisbee. When/if boys were not playing on teams they had a free choice day. Some took advantage of the freedom by spending the day in the lake while others opted for tennis, a bike trip, or wood shop and arts and crafts. A few campers even decided to spend time on the beach with a good book. Friday was also pizza and movie night at Moose (normally Saturday evenings, but shifted due to the July 4th holiday festivities). Todd and the CITs once again provided homemade popcorn for all of the movie viewers.
Saturday was our special Fourth of July celebration. It started with pre-breakfast fireworks. Many of our campers and staff were decked out in red, white and blue or the colors (and flags!) of their own native country. During breakfast, impromptu and rousing versions of the Star Spangled Banner and USA chants broke out. At lunch, it was time for an initial dance lesson (the “Moosilauke Shuffle”) in preparation for our dance in the evening. The boys were reminded how to be a class act with the girls and each other at the dance. During the morning we had two choice activity classes. In the afternoon, the whole camp took part in a series of zany competitions. Crowd favorites included “Capture the Red Coat” and “Greased Water Polo.” For dinner we hosted the next door girls camp for a cookout. Then it was time for an outdoor dance for all on the basketball courts. And the highlight of the Fourth was the fireworks extravaganza on the lake.
What a week: forty-three individual inter-camp competitions, four bike trips, three overnight backpacking trips (7 days of backpacking!), one two-day overnight canoe trip, one white water kayak day adventure, and a climbing session.
That’s it for the second week. Enjoy the summer!
Bill, Sabina, Port, Heide, Ken, and Ingrid
P.S. Parents Day is Saturday, July 25th. Please mark your calendars. More information will be forthcoming within the next few weeks.