2024 Weekly letter home #1

Friday, June 28, 2024 Dear Moose Families, It is our pleasure to write this first weekly letter home from…

2024 Weekly letter home #1

Friday, June 28, 2024 Dear Moose Families, It is our pleasure to write this first weekly letter home from…

Friday, June 28, 2024

Dear Moose Families,

It is our pleasure to write this first weekly letter home from Moosilauke during summer 2024–our 120th season! Along with chronicling the day-to-day happenings at camp we will also use the intro section to write about issues related to helping boys become their best selves.

In the first few days of every session at Moose there are a myriad of activities we do with campers that are aimed at everything from getting the campers to bond to outlining safety procedures to explaining daily life at camp. Many of these are detailed in the daily diary below that makes up the majority of this letter.  

Over the last few years we have added a proactive session with every cabin during the first two days during which Bill and Sabina and the head counselors discuss the importance of inclusion. We start by explaining that creating an inclusive community–one where we are kind to each other, where we go out of our way to include and not exclude individuals from interactions, and where every individual and group is welcomed, respected, supported, and comfortable to be their authentic self–is of the highest priority.  We discuss the fact that everyone at camp should act as an agent of inclusion. We then discuss that to foster inclusion at camp we have rules and norms that everyone must follow, even if they are different from what they are used to at home and in their community. These rules include never using terms that can be construed as negatively stereotyping an individual due to their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, body image, or any other identity element.

We then reinforce three points that we have found to be critical given past experience. The first is that the golden rule of never using terms that can be construed as negatively stereotyping holds true at all times–even if you think someone has given you a “pass” and/or “permission” to use a term with them. The second is that intent does not matter.  The fact that you don’t intend harm is not an excuse. Finally, we make it clear that it is not OK to use the terms in question, even if one is telling a joke or quoting a song lyric or a line from a movie or a comedy special.

We know that these preemptive talks don’t cast a magical spell that keeps all our campers doing and saying the right thing all the time. However, we do find that talking in clear terms about this important issue at the very beginning of camp does go a long way towards creating the type of community we strive for.

And now for our daily log of activities and events for Saturday, June 22nd through Thursday, June 27th.  

Although we had scattered rain throughout our opening day, it did not dampen the enthusiasm of our 140+ campers who came to us from an amazing 20 states and 4 countries. Once all the parents departed, the charter bus from NYC/CT was unloaded, and all campers had moved into their cabins and checked in with the nurses, we moved right into a fun afternoon and evening of activities.  Highlights included an all-camp game of “Bill Says,” tours of the campus by cabin, our traditional first night Moose burger dinner, getting-to-know-you activities by age group, fun counselor introductions, and finally cabin meetings that involved each bunk developing their community rules for the summer. It was great to see returning campers reconnecting with each other and quickly engaging with the new campers. 

On Sunday, we had our first post-meal community time. As expected, the energy level was high. There were a few classic Moose chants and the daily reading of the sports scores by Kenny. Bill also reviewed camp safety and emergency protocols. After an extended cabin clean-up period where the boys sweep and make their beds everyone ventured down the hill for a slew of activities including woodworking, Arts & Crafts, fishing, lacrosse, wiffleball, soccer, flag football, ultimate frisbee, baseball and mountain biking. During third period free time, the campers played ping pong, basketball, chess, various lawn games, and relaxed on the beach. After lunch, it was a “Moosilauke First” moment when we swapped afternoon activities with rest hour because there was heavy rain forecast for the late afternoon. This meant that campers ventured down the hill immediately after lunch to participate in two class periods across 18 activity areas.  After dinner, the rain continued, so for evening activities the boys played games in the dining hall and watched movies in the Junior and Senior Hill rec halls.

Monday kicked off with our first Moose Bears session of the summer.  Moose Bears is our voluntary early morning swim, splash and song club. Over fifty(!) campers and counselors enjoyed a refreshing dip in Upper Baker Pond before breakfast.  (Check out our social media for videos and pics.)  There was a full day of activities on Monday, along with our mandatory swim test. As is our routine on a regular day, each age group is assigned two class periods in the morning–in the areas of landsports, backcountry leadership, and waterfront–and then has a choice of two class periods in the afternoon. There is free time at both noon and 5pm, when campers have time to go for a supervised run or swim, play pick-up basketball, read and play games on the beach, and go for a quick swim.  Also on Monday, a group of Senior Bs (thirteen-year-old) enjoyed a mountain biking adventure around our lake. The youngest campers, the Junior Bs (eight-and-nine-year-olds) enjoyed a nature tour of the lake on our pontoon boat.  In the evening, there was a ping pong tournament, lawn games, kick ball, arena soccer, Ultimate soccer, flag football, and pick-up basketball.

Tuesday was a sunny, hot day, perfect for all things Moose.  It started with the Moose Bears serenading the lake and loons with the classics of “Banana” and the “Fast Food Medley” songs.  A group of campers, Inter As (twelve-year-olds) ventured out on their own mountain biking adventure around the lake. The Junior As (ten-year-olds) enjoyed a nature tour of the lake via pontoon boat. And the Senior A2s (fourteen-year-olds) traveled to Baker Cliffs for an afternoon of swimming in the natural water slides, followed by ice cream at Moose Scoops. Tuesday also saw our first inter-camp competition of the season. The 11s had a home basketball tournament and the 13s had home soccer matches. 

At Moose, there are no cuts and we encourage campers to participate in inter-camp competition even if they have not played that particular sport in the past. We embrace three scoreboards at Moose: the first is the actual score, the second is a rating of overall sportsmanship and effort, and the third focuses on best flow/hair. Also on Tuesday, Bill took a group of campers wake surfing at both noon and at rest hour.  (Check out the post on social media!)  Another highlight of the day was our first “free time challenge” organized by our head counselor Quinn.  This one entailed a 3-point shot basketball contest with candy prizes. In the evening, we had hoped to show a tape of the Stanley Cup game 7 but technical difficulties caused us to switch to a soccer match.  Evening activities also included water skiing, kickball, hockey, soccer, dodgeball, frisbee golf, and relaxing at the beach around a campfire.

Wednesday, the sunshine and clear skies continued. Another group of Inter As (twelve-year-olds) had their turn mountain biking to the end of the lake.  A group of Senior Bs (thirteen-year-olds) departed early for an overnight hiking adventure to Mt. Lafayette and the Franconia Ridge. The group spent the first day hiking over 3.5 miles and 2000 feet of elevation to the Liberty Springs campsite. After setting up their tents they ate a rice and beans dinner on the summit of Mt. Liberty. On day two they hiked the ridgeline that took them over Little Haystack, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Lafayette. They were in the clouds for much of the day.  After a stop at the Greenleaf Hut for hot cocoa they hiked down 3 miles to their vehicle and stopped for pizza on the way home.

Half of our Senior A2s (fourteen-year-olds) also departed early on Wednesday for an overnight canoeing adventure. After a 2 ½ hour drive to Errol, NH, the intrepid group paddled from the base of Lake Umbagog 6 miles to their wilderness campsite.  Once at the campsite, they set up their tents, swam, and relaxed, and then enjoyed a dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs, and steak. In the morning, they paddled 4 miles to the rapids in Errol. The boys loved running the Class II white water.  One canoe flipped but they performed a perfect T-rescue.  The boys then ventured to the famous jumping bridge where they got to leap into the rapids feet first. On their way back to camp they were treated to a much deserved fast food feast. 

Finally, our oldest campers, the Senior A1s (fifteen-year-olds) enjoyed a fun afternoon swimming and jumping in the natural water slides at Baker Cliffs, followed by an ice cream at Moose Scoops. Intercamp competition continued with a 10s hockey tournament at a neighboring camp. In the evening, there was sandcastle building, hockey, kickball, ping pong and lawn games, Ultimate frisbee, a Knockout tournament, Frisbee golf, and a “guess that song” jam session at the beach. 

On Thursday, our first climbing trip of the summer ventured to the crags at Rumney for a day of top roping fun.  We are very fortunate to have one of the premier sport climbing destinations in the country only 15 minutes away from our campus.  Rumney is a great spot for beginner and advanced climbers alike since it offers climbs at all grades, from 5.3 to a crazy 5.15a.

On Thursday afternoon the Inter As (twelve-year-olds) had their turn at a fun afternoon of swimming and jumping in the natural water slides at Baker Cliffs, followed by an ice cream treat. And a group of Junior As (ten-year-olds) spent the afternoon fishing from our pontoon boat.  The Counselors-in-Training spent the day in Lifeguard Certification training. Intercamp competition continued with 15s soccer at Moose and 13s tennis and 9s Soccer at neighboring camps. In the evening, there was tubing, tennis-baseball, a Knockout tournament, Dodgeball, weightlifting, and bocce  The highlight of the evening was Port’s inaugural “tall tale” for the summer.

Finally, a few words about food at Moose.  The old adage (attributed to both Napoleon and Frederick the Great) that “an army runs on its stomach” is very true at camp.  We strive to provide healthy food that the kids and staff enjoy and look forward to.  Highlights of breakfast meals so far this week have included pancakes with bacon, scrambled eggs with English muffins, and fried eggs with croissants and home fries.  At breakfast there is also always a full yogurt, granola, and fruit breakfast bar and hot and cold cereal.  Lunch favorites this week included chicken tenders with tater tots, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese with tomato soup, and chicken and broccoli stir fry with lo mein noodles and egg rolls.  At lunch there is also always a full salad bar and a soup option.  Dinner favorites have included hamburgers and french fries, spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread, beef and chicken burritos, and pulled pork with roasted potatoes.  Meals at Moose are “family style.” For the first week, the campers are assigned to tables by cabins and age groups. In later weeks they are assigned randomly with a mix of juniors, inters, and seniors at each table. 

In closing, a few fun facts about our incredible staff. 100% of the eight top administrators have worked at the Camp before–and amazingly, all are members of the Miller/McMahon/Hale family! (For background on these folks click on here.  The majority of all staff that work directly with the campers are returning and/or have gone to the camp. In addition, 60% of our counselors are Lifeguard certified and five have their Wilderness First Responder/First Aid certifications.

That’s all for now. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with questions.

Happy Summer!

Bill, Sabina, Ken, Ingrid, Todd, Preston, Jake, and Quinn

PS  As you know, we continue to use the Campanion platform for posting our daily photos.  You can view the photos through your CampMinder account and through the Campanion App. If you have not done so already, please upload a photo on the Campanion App so that your son/s will be automatically tagged when they appear in any of the daily photos. We strive to capture as many individual campers as possible each day, but the main goal is to provide for your viewing pleasure a “typical Moosilauke day.” We do our best to post pictures most days (the internet can be fickle at times here in the mountains and woods). Finally, make sure you follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, @camp_moose (new!) since we will be posting videos and photos every few days.