Tales from the Trail

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014

Camp is all about allowing campers the ability to push themselves outside of their comfort zone and experience new things. I am fortunate enough to facilitate our Rangers program here at camp, which involves different adventure trips for our oldest campers. Our 14-16 year olds have the chance to rock climb, canoe in white water, hike the Appalachian Trail, geocache, rappel, and much more. More importantly however, while they are out on their adventure they are learning life lessons and self accountability. Each one of our trip programs takes a waterproof group journal with them to use however they fit. Our Rangers write stories or poems, draw landscapes, or use it to record daily anecdotes and quotes. I wanted to share some of the entries from our Session 3 Ranger trips, to showcase how inspiring these campers really are. “…we hiked to the High Rocks where we climbed two different climbs and rappelled again. The 1st climb was easier. The 2nd climb, which was where we rappelled, was really really difficult. First we did a 5-3 climb, but it was 100 feet tall so it was nerve-wracking. Everyone got to the top, but only Chris was able to touch the caribiners. I don’t get how Chris rock climbs but is scared of heights at the same time, but that’s pretty cool. Then we climbed a shorter 5-4 cliff. We all got to the top of that one too. It had a flatter face. It’s really great when we climb because we really try to support each other and give advice. There are points during the climb where you have no idea what to do and your body hurts, but when all of your friends are cheering you on, you really get motivated to finish that climb no matter what.” “Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all of the growth and happiness is built while climbing it.” “These girls (Rangerettes) are the closest family you’ll ever get at camp” “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” “Loving someone deeply gives you courage, being loved deeply gives you strength.” “All of a sudden, I saw it was okay to hike slow. I noticed the trees, the rocks, pine needles, leaves, sky, clouds, mountains and so many other things. I was happy, calm, and positive. I noticed nature with a higher level of respect. I figured I liked the AT. It was beautiful. It was peaceful. Maybe I’d do it one day.” These anecdotes and quotes are just a snapshot of the experience that all of these Rangers went through. Every single day I feel blessed to be able to help these teens along their journey through Rangers. It is not often we have the chance to immerse ourselves in this kind of challenge, let alone reflect on it. So if you have the opportunity to send yourself...

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… and the winner is…

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014

Hello all… Our Fruit Tray competition has come to a conclusion here at Camp between the Ockanickon Kitchen Staff and the Matollionequay Kitchen Staff and the winner is… The Ockanickon Kitchen Staff’s “Indian Chief” display!!!   The senior Kitchen Staff and I narrowed down the 5 daily trays last week to one finalist from each kitchen and let YOU pick the winner by “Liking” the photos on our Facebook page. I let the voting run from the initial posting on Saturday until midnight Tuesday and by a slim 136 to 117 count the stately Indian Chief won over the beautiful Butterfly. It was rather difficult for myself and the other Chefs to narrow down the selections because they were all very creative and well thought out by each team. Some of the criteria we used to select the finalists included… 1… The amount of fruit used. We have A LOT of hungry boys and girls here at Camp and the display had to not only be fun and creative but also serve everyone!! 2… Creativity. The interesting use of the size and shape of the various fruits, the use of the assorted colors of the fruits and the theme and overall final look of the tray all played a part in the creativity. 3… Following my guidelines for the contest. All parts of the tray must be edible (or have the edible parts still attached to the rind… no use of solely inedible parts) and no skewers, toothpicks or other assorted inedible tools to make a desired effect. 4… The “WOW” factor. What got me the most when I was selecting the ones I liked the best were the positive comments I was hearing from the Campers and Staff who were enjoying these awesome fruit displays all week!! The ones that had the most people talking about them got a boost! I will say, the Kitchen Staff did have some fun with this friendly competition… and we’ll be trying another very soon. The next contest will involve taste instead of a visual display so if you want to have fun along with us, you’ll have to be here at Camp!! Pictures say a thousand words but unfortunately they don’t taste very good. For all the staff who participated in the competition, with much thanks to Rich Rupert and his staff, I have arranged a fun afternoon on our own Challenge Course here at Camp… and the winning team at Ockanickon get a VERY special and exclusive Challenge Course treat… The Night Zip… where we go high up above the tree tops on our Matollionequay Zip Line at night!! Thanks for reading about this little behind the scenes fun we’ve been having in the Kitchens at Ocky and Matolly… and thanks to those of you who voted on Facebook!! Be good… Chef Jason & Chef Kimmie P.S… By the way…...

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A little friendly competition in the Kitchen…

Posted by on Jul 16, 2014

Hello all!! What started as some of our Kitchen Staff being a little creative and having fun with designs on our morning fruit tray for the campers, has now turned into a little friendly competition between the Ocky Kitchen Staff and the Matolly Kitchen Staff. Pictured below is an example of what I’m talking about… That is a fish made out of honeydew and cantaloupe melons with a dried cranberry for an eye. (This tray was from about a week ago and not in the contest.) So here are the rules and the way the contest will be judged… #1… The ENTIRE tray must be made of edible fruit. No toothpicks or skewers like you might see in one of those “Edible Arrangements”. Rinds of fruit are acceptable but only if the flesh of the fruit is still attached to it, like a slice of watermelon might have. #2… It must be 100% fruit… no vegetables or anything else. And that’s about it. Pretty simple rules. I took 2 elected team members to a local produce place and gave them a very small budget to buy a few unique items of their choosing for their teams. I also surprised them with a few other items that they can use, aside from out typical selection. The contest will run from this Tuesday morning’s fruit display until Saturday… having 5 displays done by each team. Those 5 trays will be judged by myself and our 3 other Chefs who will whittle down the entries to one finalist from each team. Over the coming weekend I will post pictures of the two fruit displays on Facebook and it will be up to YOU… our friends, families, campers and alumni… to vote with “Likes” on which fruit display you like the best. The winning team will get a surprise. The actual real winners are the campers who are being treated to some really awesome, fun and fully edible fruit trays in the mornings here at Camp!! And I can tell you that the Kitchen Staff themselves are also already winners for participating with such excitement and creativity here each day and hearing the praises for their work from everyone around Camp. We are keeping all the pictures secret until the weekend so stay tuned!! We can’t wait for you all to see the amazing and fun work our crews are doing!! Be good… Chef Jason & Chef Kimmie P.S… And don’t worry, we’ll probably end up posting ALL the photos of every entry after the contest is over so you can even see the ones we didn’t choose for the...

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10 years ago today…

Posted by on Jul 12, 2014

Hello friends… I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post and I have no good excuse except sometimes life just gets in the way of extra little things that we all enjoy to do… and I truly do love writing and sharing experiences and stories with our Camp community here on our blog, on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook… or just a plain old face to face conversation around Camp. This opportunity to write a little something couldn’t be missed though and I made sure I carved time out of my busy day to sit and share with you all. Ten years ago today I was just under a month into my 29th year of life. I was the Assistant Food Service Director here at Camp under the legendary Chef Manny, who some of you may remember. I was already 8 years into my career here at Camp and with the YMCA  overall. I was running the kitchen at our own Matollionequay Girl’s Overnight Camp… and married just under a year to the most beautiful and amazing woman I have ever met, Gabrielle, who was the Matollionequay Assistant Camp Director at the time. Much has changed for me personally over the last ten years and there have been a lot of changes around Camp as well… and on that fateful day… July 12th, 2004… Mother Nature showed us that change can be inevitable and unstoppable. It was a gloomy, rainy day at Camp and the kitchen staff and I were just finishing up dinner service at the Matolly Dining Hall when I was approached by some counselors asking if I had a shovel or two that they could borrow. The Chef part of my brain thought “What an odd question to ask a Chef”… but “the guy who is married to the Assistant Camp Director who lives here at the Camp and has been around for a while”  part of my brain asked them in return… “What’s going on? What do you need shovels for in the pouring rain?” Cabins in the Seneca and Algonquin Villages on the lakeside were taking on water. The girls simply wanted to try to divert the water around the cabins but little did we all know that this was an early sign of what was to come just a little while later. Ten years later most of the details of that day are a bit of a blur… not because memories have faded but because the events all happened so quickly that it was all a blur even in the moment. I called down to Brent Birchler, who was the Assistant Boys Camp Director at the time, to see if he could come take a look at what was happening. The lake was at a level that I had never seen before and nothing seemed to be slowing down. Brent and...

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Harry Potter Week at Lake Stockwell Day Camp!

Posted by on Jul 9, 2014

This week campers and staff are divided into the four houses of Harry Potter; Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.  Each camper and staff member have the opportunity to earn points, for their assigned house, throughout the week in each activity period. Points are even earned when a camper or staff member wear the color of their house! During special events this week the campers and staff members have been playing the Harry Potter game Quidditch, without the brooms, of course. Friday will be the championship game! Our current scores for the houses are: Griffindor: 924 Ravenclaw: 976 Hufflepuff: 1,005 Slytherin: 1,031 Who will be the 2014 Harry Potter house winner?!...

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Ocky/Matolly Olympics

Posted by on Jul 9, 2014

Session 2 has always been my favorite here at camp. As a camper it was the session I normally attended. To me, session 2 always means one thing: Olympics! The Ocky Olympics forged a special day in my heart my first summer on camp in 2004 as an Algonquin camper. That summer I was one member of the two member German Bocci team. We went on to take the gold that day. My partner was none other than Donny Palmer, one of the current Ranger Directors. It’s a memory that Donny and I talk about to this day. That day eleven summers ago was the beginning of the friendship we have today. That’s what camp is all about; Making life long memories with life long friends. Warren Rose Mohawk Village...

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