July 5, 2023
Dear Moosilauke Families,
It is our pleasure to share our second e-letter home for 2023 covering June 28th through July 4th. Although our 118th summer (one off for Covid) has been a mix of rain and sun, we have been able to run all our activities and trips, and we have even added a few strategically placed surprises to keep the campers guessing. (More on this later.)
Before we recount the specifics of our daily activities and trips, a few words about peer culture. Since most of you have sat through a presentation by us and/or read our blogs, you know that we are firm believers that the most powerful factor in the life of a boy (especially a teenage boy) is the peer culture he is immersed in. We also believe that peer cultures come in many flavors. Without a few important factors in place, they can easily spin negative–“lord of the flies” negative. Negative boy peer cultures are easy to spot: there is significant teasing; the least athletic or socially adept boys are many times the brunt of the teasing; boys avoid trying new things, things they are not good at, because they want to avoid looking weak, and since positive risk-taking is being avoided many times boys in bad cultures default to negative risk-taking.
At Moosilauke, we take pride in having a very positive peer culture where boys are comfortable to be their authentic selves and to try new things and risk failure in the process. Our positive culture is the result of several factors, including a 10-day staff orientation where we go deep into how boys learn and grow, a high return rate for staff and campers so we don’t have to create our culture from scratch every summer, both a proactive and reactive approach that includes a zero tolerance for teasing, and a program based on providing both broad and deep positive risk taking for every camper. It also results from our vigilance relative to keeping boys positive and on track every minute of every day.
Is our culture perfect? Of course not. There are definitely moments throughout the summer where our campers are not being their best selves. But when it happens, and we are at our best, we catch it quickly, and then take the needed course corrections. On a daily basis this can take the form of meetings where we process with campers, cabin groups, age groups, and many times with the full camp. One example of proactive processing is Bill’s talk with our whole community at the beginning of camp about the importance of being honorable–doing the right thing when no one is looking. Other examples include the discussions we have about sportsmanship before we play a peer camp, and about being our best selves prior to our interactions with a girls camp. An example of a reactive course correction was a recent meeting Bill and the head counselors had with all our senior campers about how they could and should be more inclusive with each other.
Probably the best example of our community at its best on a daily basis is community time at the end of every meal. If you had been here at a recent lunch you would have experienced the following: 150+ boys singing their hearts out to a young camper celebrating a birthday; huge cheers–especially from our senior campers–for two junior campers who were staging a ping pong tournament; a group of 13 year olds standing up and thanking the Backcountry Leadership staff for taking them on a backpacking overnight; the whole camp standing and learning the “Moosilauke Shuffle” dance step prior to a social; and more than one boy taking center stage and sharing a joke and a special trick.
On Wednesday, our inter-camp competition continued with a 15s soccer tournament at Moose. Trips included a second group of Senior A1s (14-year-olds) departing for their own canoeing overnight adventure on Lake Umbagog and the Androscoggin River. There was also an open-ages mountain biking trek to Orford Beach. In the afternoon the Inter As (12-year-olds) headed to Baker Cliffs with Bill. Although we kept the boys out of the rapids because of high water, they were able to explore our Pioneer Camp on the Baker River, and then feast on ice cream on the way home. A group of Junior Bs (8 and 9-year-olds) had a nature exploration on the Pontoon Boat on our lake that included fishing, swimming, and loon watching. In the evening, at our campfire circle on the beach, Port regaled a group of campers and counselors with his first “tall-tale” of the summer. Meals on Wednesday included egg, cheese, and sausage sandwiches for breakfast, meatball subs with french fries for lunch, and pasta and meat sauce for dinner. Wednesday evening, campers had tubing, kickball, a ping pong tournament, street hockey, dodgeball, Ultimate frisbee, flag football, and relaxing at the beach.
On Thursday, the Senior A1s (15-year-olds) were treated to an afternoon of miniature golf. An all ages group spent the day at the North Country Climbing Center. And a second group of Junior Bs had their own swimming, fishing, and lake exploration adventure on the Pontoon Boat. Meals on Thursday were pancakes for breakfast, grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup for lunch, and pulled pork with beans and coleslaw for dinner. At lunch we celebrated a camper birthday with our traditional song and dance serenade. A highlight at dinner was a trivia contest run by head counselor Quinn. All the tables competed against each other with the winning one treated to candy. In the evening, there was tubing, “tennis baseball,” Ultimate frisbee, flag football, arena soccer, tennis, and a knockout tournament.
Friday, we had three inter-camp tournaments: a 12s soccer tournament at Moose, a 10s baseball tournament, and a 15s Pickleball tournament at neighboring camps. An all ages group of campers participated in a golf trip to the Bradford Country Club followed by lunch at a local delicatessen. The Senior A1s (15-year-olds) were treated to a night at the Fairlee Drive-In to view “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” with all-you-can-eat pizza. Meals on Friday were scrambled eggs and bacon, chicken parmesan sandwiches for lunch, and the always anticipated “Kenny Cookout” for dinner–grilled chicken, sausage, veggie burgers, portobello mushrooms, pasta salad, coleslaw, corn bread, soda, and ice cream for dessert. Evening activities were tubing, a ping pong tournament, spikeball, pickleball, kickball, street hockey, cricket, tennis, crossnet, and relaxing at the beach.
Saturday’s highlight was Pemi Day, a full day of friendly competition versus a peer camp. The 10 & unders played soccer and basketball, the 11 & unders played soccer, the 12 & unders played basketball and soccer, the 13 & unders played baseball and lacrosse, and the 15 and unders played basketball, lacrosse, and Ultimate frisbee. The consensus among campers, counselors, and opposing teams was that Moose demonstrated great sportsmanship and hustle. A good time was had by all. Those not participating in the sporting events had their choice of open areas in both the morning and afternoon, including sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, waterskiing, wakeboarding, swimming, fishing, Arts & Crafts, woodworking, tennis, and the Backcountry Leadership Program. After lunch, Bill took a group of campers wake surfing. In the evening, it was movie night which included delicious homemade popcorn courtesy of the Junior Counselors and CIT. Other options included tubing, swimming, basketball, field/lawn games, and ping pong. Meals on Saturday were pancakes and sausage, assorted sandwiches for lunch, and homemade deep dish pizza for dinner.
Sunday, our “Lazy day,” started with a buffet feast that included pancakes, eggs, cinnamon rolls, bacon, sausage, fruit/yogurt bar, and hot chocolate. Rain was steady throughout the day, so the campers spent a portion of the morning lounging and playing games in their cabins. After a lunch of American chop suey, garlic rolls, and homemade chicken and rice soup, the campers were able to enjoy an afternoon of free choice activities before the weekly Sunday feast of hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, and assorted sides. In the evening, there was tubing, and mini-golf, trivia, and arts & crafts in the dining hall.
Monday’s sunny, dry weather was perfect for a 12s tennis and a 13s basketball tournament. In the morning, a group of Inter Bs (11-year-olds) headed out on a mountain biking trek on trails around camp to Orford Beach for a snack and swim. Another group of campers participated in a climbing trip at an indoor facility (due to the rain). The morning also saw a pickleball clinic for both class periods run by the head of our tennis/pickleball program Pete Fagan. Pete, a long time friend of Bill and Sabina’s, has been a member of the United States Professional Tennis Association since 1986, having achieved the ranking of Elite Professional. He coached high school tennis for close to 40 years and during that time his teams won 5 state championships in NH and CA. In 2015, he was named the California High School tennis coach of the year by the USPTA.
After lunch, Bill took a group of experienced wake surfers out for a fun two hours of ripping on the wake of our Master Craft. Last but not least, a group of Junior Bs (8 and 9-year-olds) ventured out to our lakeside campsite, the Point, for an overnight. They cooked hamburgers, hotdogs, and S’mores over a campfire, and also swam, fished, and then played games before sleeping in our log cabin. Meals at camp on Monday were scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast, chicken patties with curly fries for lunch, and brisket for dinner.
Tuesday, the 4th of July, was a special surprise day. It started with the campers being awakened at 7:15 am by songs such as “Born in the USA” being played loud throughout the Camp. Once the campers were assembled they learned that we had reserved a movie theater in Hanover for am movies, complete with popcorn, candy and soda. The Juniors and Inters viewed “Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse” and the Seniors watched “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” In the afternoon, we held our camp-wide “Capture the Flag” event with the “Can” vs. the “Rocks” – ask your campers about the team names! This is always a highlight of the summer for many campers. We finished the evening with a cookout by the lake with hotdogs, sausages, fruit salad, potato salad, chips, and ice cream.
That’s all for now. We will continue to share Camp news with you every 5 days or so. As always, please do not hesitate to contact Bill or Sabina should you have any questions.
Bill, Sabina, Ken, Ingrid, Todd, Preston, Jake, Quinn, and Charlotte