Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Welcoming Wednesday (Part Two)

Here we are with our second post for Welcoming Wednesday!

The next staff I would like to introduce (or re-introduce) is Judi Zollweg! Judi will be returning for another season with us and will our Camp Clerk.  Last summer she was a jack of all trades and the camp would not have run without her. We are hoping her organizational skills will help us to get our camp store off the ground! When she isn't at camp she is a teacher at the Frankfort-Schuyler School. She has been a part of the camp for many years and we appreciate all the hard work she does for camp! Judi is also a member of the campfire council.

The next staff member is also a reintroduction- Kathleen (KAT) Walsh! This summer she will be running our wood working program and trying to keep out of trouble. In the off season she has helped with many projects and has volunteered for the Manor House Restoration, building screens for the Rec Hall, and fixing stuff around camp.

She attended camp many years ago, and has always been a strong advocate for  campers and staff alike. Last summer she ran the arts and crafts program and helped us to create a wood working class for campers. We are looking forward to another summer with Kat! And like Judi, Kat is on the campfire council and is volunteering for the summer!
Please join me in welcoming (or in this case re-welcoming ) these two staff members!!!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Welcoming Wednesday! (Part 1)

Do you know what day it is? It's Welcome Wednesday- What is that you ask? Each Wednesday we will introduce a few of our summer staff to everyone.

This week I have the pleasure of introducing one new and one returning staff members.

Courtney Gleichauf will be returning as a counselor for another year. always one to help the campers, she helped us raise money this winter by jumping into the lake for the Freezin for a Reason fundraiser.

Here is what Courtney has to say about herself.

I have recently graduated from Greece Arcadia High School and plan to attend Keuka College, majoring in biomedical sciences, in the fall.

In my spare time I enjoy to play lacrosse with my friends and family as well as coach for my local K-2 boys lacrosse team. I also play tennis whenever I can, sports are my hobby!

I have taken 6 years of American Sign Language, making me fluent in the language. Alongside that I intend to minor in ASL studies in Keuka.

Can’t wait to see and meet new people at camp this summer!

Another one of our female counselors, Madisyn (Maddy) Zimmer , is new to camp and will be joining us this summer.

Here is Maddy's bio.

My name is Madisyn Zimmer, but most people just call me Maddy. I am currently studying to major in outdoor recreation. This will hopefully put me on the path to even more careers in a camp setting like Camp Sacandaga. I am very excited to be working at camp for the first time this summer. I am excited to be able to give kids an awesome camp experience and to work with my fellow counselors.

I am so excited to have them on staff this summer!!! Please join me in welcoming these folks to our staff team! And join us next Wednesday for more staff introductions!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Not your typical weekend

I had it all planned out for the weekend. I had an Air BNB rental arriving on Friday, I was going to give a camp tour Saturday morning, and I was going to drive to Watkins Glen, NY to be a part of the Carnival at Hidden Valley 4-H Camp.

I got my start in camping at Hidden Valley many years ago, and I wanted to give back to a place that means a lot to me and created some of the founding principles of the program I run now. I was suppose to be a celebrity chef and cook chili, and I had everything here to cook it up and bring it for the event.

And then the storm blew through camp.

We lost power late Friday. I reached out to the Berrios family who were driving up from the Bronx to let them know about the storm. At that time the estimates for the power to come back on seemed really good, so I wasn't concerned. Mr. Berrios' response? "Sounds exciting. Were still about an hour away. Thank you for letting us know. See you soon."

When they arrived it was very dark, but I had set out battery lamps and gave them a tour of the Annex. Since they arrived after 10 pm, they pretty much settled in for the night. It's a good thing that the Annex has propane heaters that don't need electricity to run. 

I went to bed with every expectation that the power would be back on in the morning...I was wrong.

When I woke up, the power was still out, so I got out the coleman stove and got the coffee going. I also heated up water for hot cocoa. Berrios were up, I cooked bacon and pancakes (with everyone's help!) We then took a walk around camp and I gave the family a tour. I kept trying to check the weather and look for updates as to when the power would return. 

 As I saw posts on facebook and got more information, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to go to the carnival at Hidden Valley. The family on camp took precedent, and I couldn't see leaving them here without power. Also when power is restored, I have to go around camp to make sure everything comes back on and that there are no issues.

The family decided to take a trip to look around at the mountains and do a few other things. I worked fixing the tin on the roof of one of the cabins that got bent in the wind. When the family got back, they played catch and relaxed in the sun.

half way through the day, cell service went out. Apparently the cell tower had a battery back up- but it doesn't last that long. But it wasn't an issue. We survived without our phones, and I got a chance to relax without looking at my phone every 5 minutes to see if there was a power update.

That evening we had a great meal of steaks and chili (yup, I made chili on the coleman stove, since I had the ingredients ). And I got the campfire set up for Stories and Smores. We even had Jiffy Pop popcorn!

It was a wonderful way to spend the night. There is nothing like telling stories around the fire! Even the children had a story or two to share! I want to thank Judi and Chris Jakubowski for being here and helping with the food and the campfire. 

I especially want to thank the Berrios family for being such troopers! Most families would have gone home after the first night. But their sense of adventure and awesome outlook made it a great weekend. They are a great family and are raising two amazing children.
I know that they came as Air BnB guests, but they are now a part of the Camp Sacandaga family. I hope they get the chance to come up again. And we may even see the the young ones here during the summer camp program!

I can't wait to see them up north again. And I hope there is power the next time they visit. 

But even if there isn't power when they visit, we still will have a great time!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

First Campfire of the Season

A young Ben and his cow
Last Night we had an awesome meeting planning a new and exciting event this spring. But that is not what this blog is about! It's about what happened AFTER that meeting.

Since I left Lindley G. Cook 4-H Camp I've kept in touch with the new Director there, Ben Clawson. I've known Ben for a long time, ever since he was a young counselor reading stories to campers in cabin 7. (long story about Ben being in the wrong place for the right reasons....)

He was a counselor, a volunteer, a drama staff, and even was the assistant director. Eventually I hired him on as the Program Director, and over the years we have worked together to make the camp there a great place to be.

Much of what has happened at his camp is because of all the struggles and work we put into the place. Ben now has a great place, a wonderful wife and little boy, and a cool dog named Woodrow. We have been wanting to get together to catch up in person, but this time of year is difficult for camp directors. And with his new family, we never seem to be able to find the time.

So I sent him out a message asking what he was doing last night. And as luck would have it, and with the stars aligning, we decided to have a skype campfire to catch up.

I built the first fire of the season, set up the call and we talked. And we talked...and we talked The skype call was for over an hour, and then we chatted on the phone for probably another hour, reminiscing about old staff members, sharing ideas for programs and just catching up. And of course I threw in some sagely old director advice from time to time.

I get a kick out of some of the things he is dealing with. Maybe it's karma, or maybe it's just the good old fashion passing of the torch, but he has to deal with many of the things I had to deal with back in the day. And he is handling it well. I feel a sense of pride with where he is taking the camp, and how well the program is going.

But the conversation isnt a one way street. Ben has been a sounding board for many of the issues I deal with here. And he is always quick to support my new camp program (even though he thinks that I am a little crazy for doing it). I appreciate all the help he gives and all the advice he shares.

Camp, no matter what camp you go to, is all about relationships. Even the staff build great friendships. I am still friends with many folks from when I was a counselor back from the days I worked at Hidden Valley 4-H Camp. As a matter of fact, I am going there this weekend to help with a fundraising event. Those friendships that campers and staff make can last a lifetime! That is why I started this camp, and that is why I work hard to make sure all children (and staff) have a place where this can happen.

Ben and I decided that we will do the skype campfire more often. And who knows, we may even meet up in the fall after the dust settles from the summer. Camp friends are friends for life.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Slice and a Story

How the humming bird created the night sky.
This year I was invited to the Slice and Story program at the Edinburg Common School in Edinburg NY. They provide pizza for the children and have adults read stories. I was one of the guests last year, and I really had a great time.

This year they asked me to be the first reader in the cafeteria before the children would be divided up to go to some of the classrooms. What a great honor!

But what to read? I could have read the Lorax by Dr. Seuss, or We're Going on a Bear Hunt by  Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. I could share one of the many stories from the American Indian Myths and Legends. Not sure what to do,  I reached out to the Summer Camp Professionals Facebook group (what a great resource!). They had so may great suggestions. The stories they gave me were amazing!

I finally settled on a selections of stories and drove down to the school for the program. I was greeted by Andrea Fort, one of my old summer staff campers and staff member, and a current member of our campfire council. We had a chance to catch up, and she informed me that the group was a little younger than I originally anticipated. Most of the students were 2nd graders and under, with a few 4th graders thrown into the mix.

 I decided to read "How the Hummingbird Created the Night Sky". I started out reading the script, but as the children got into the story, I started to embellish and have some fun with it. I do love telling a good story.

We had some time at the end of the presentation (about five minutes), so I decided to kick it up a notch with a rendition of "Going on a Lion Hunt!" For those of you new to camp, when I was a young director I started "Going on a Lion Hunt" as part of the campfire or during rainy days as a way to entertain the children (and staff). It became a camp favorite. Even my Mom wants a copy of it to watch!

Unfortunately, when I moved down south and tried to do the lion hunt, it wasn't well received and I stopped doing it. It was replaced by the song "Princess Pat", which became one of the favorite songs at LG Cook 4-H Camp.

When I returned to NY and Camp Sacandaga, it was quickly revived (the alumni wouldn't let me get away without doing it at least once), and now I bring it out once in awhile.

What is the Lion Hunt? To make a long story short, it's a trek to take a picture of a lion. Unfortunately my mother in-law is in tow (I'm not even married!). It has tall trees, crazy squirrels, bats and all kinds of adventures that are acted out as we look for the lion. I wont spoil the ending, so you have to visit to see it.

Anyway, I decided to perform the lion hunt with the children. I always smile at how the children react, but I find it even funnier when I see the adults reacting. (Especially to the mother in-law parts).

As things tend to go when I start telling a story, instead of a five minute lion hunt we went 15 minutes. And the kids were definitely wound up afterwards. I probably should apologize to the other readers who had to deal with kool-aid filled, riled up little lion hunters.

It was so much fun!. And it has sparked an idea for late May and early June. I will be doing free campfire story programs during the week for local families. Watch our facebook pages for details! Maybe I will throw a lion hunt in there a few times.

Thank you Edinburg Common School for the opportunity to participate in such a great program.

Below is a snippet from the lion hunt. We are still at home getting coffee to wake up before we go out.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Camp Sacandaga Might Save Your Child’s Mental Health

How your child spends their summer may be vital for their mental health.

A study by The Washington Times reveals that heavy cell phone use can be a catalyst of mental
illness, social disorders, and cancer. The proposed remedy: A 28 day rehabilitation where the young actually sit in front of each other in an attempt to speak face to face.

Luckily, Camp Sacandaga provides a traditional camp experience in which campers are required to “unplug”, forgoing all technological uses for the duration of their stay.

Campers will spend their free time enjoying technology-free activities such as:

Perform in skits and talent shows
Participate in all camp games
Swim in the pool
Sharing stories around the campfire

The culture of camp Sacandaga is designed to create a fun environment where your child can hone their social skills and make life long friendships. With the vast majority  of children engaging in heavy use of cell phones and other technologies, genuine social interactions are becoming scarce.

Camp Sacandaga’s traditional camp experience will provide your child with not only a fun, memorable summer, but also become a major stepping stone in your child’s journey to independence and self discovery.

Have your child join us this summer!

Friday, March 16, 2018

It was a bad day...

We all have them. Bad days. Times when things don't go right. And then we have even worst days. Yesterday was that day for me.  (Sorry if I go off of the normal camp script...sometimes I talk about personal stuff)

The last few month have been kind of rough. I could talk about my mom being in the hospital. She is out now, and my sisters and I are working so hard to make sure she is comfortable and cared for. She is getting better, but it's a long road.

But we all are getting older. (my family and I) And getting older is not all it's cracked up to be. As Mr. Bossard told me last week..." Well, your at that age when you go to more funerals than weddings" . Seeing your family members getting older isn't easy.

Then of course I could talk about my car. When I traveled the 3 1/2 hours (one way) to see my mom in the hospital, my car decided to remind me that it had over 185K miles on it, and it was on it's last legs. On the way home from my last visit with my mom, the transmission decided that it needed a union coffee break at the intersection, of course right in front of a State Trooper. ( the trooper was cool about it...he just waved me on as I limped along with my 4-ways on). Fortunately through sheer luck and tenacity I was able to limp it to the service station, and finally get it back home. I know that it is now parked forever.

Did I mention that just two weeks ago the brakes on the truck blew out. I'm glad we had that one day that was in the 50's, because I was able to crawl under and replaced the line. What I saw while I was under there? Well, it wasn't pretty. But that truck is what we use to call  a "winter beater" or a "farm truck". I never expected it to be anything else than a truck to move stuff around camp and to get lumber from Stevenson's Lumber, which is less than a mile from camp.  It isn't what you would call reliable transportation.

I could talk about the stresses of trying to get a small camp off the ground. There are bills to pay, the lease to worry about, staff to hire and campers to get, and that is a major undertaking. And if I could just get people to understand that I am better at working with young people rather than I am at writing with good grammar, well that would help. But it all is a lot of stuff...

But I have become accustom to juggling lots of stuff. That's what camp directors do. We juggle and wade through the chaos...never letting it show that it bothers us.Because we can. Because we have to. Because we love what we do, and what we do is important to the children that we work with.

And then...

Last week my oldest dog Shadow, who has been ill and dealing with getting old, stopped eating. She had a injury on one of her back feet early January that didn't seem to want to heal. I did everything, and finally it seemed to get better, Then, and I don't know  how, she got a sore on the other back foot, that also did not want to heal. It made it hard for her to walk. Then both feet started hurting her.  I started to have to carry her in and out of the house

She had been having issues before this, but it was compounded by the injuries. Her eyes were having issues, and I could tell she was having a hard time seeing. Her health was declining,and she slept most of the time. I was in constant contact with a friend of mine who is a vet, and we both knew that it was close to her time.

Shadow and I have been together since the fall of 2005. My older dog Samantha needed a friend, and we found Shadow at a rescue shelter. I will go more into Shadow's story in another blog, but needless to say she was an awesome camp dog.

puppy shadow- fall of 2005
Yesterday, my companion, my friend, my dog passed away. I was here for her in her final moments. And I hope I helped her to make that transition. I don't know.

I know that it was her time. And I know that she wasn't well. A friend tried to console me by saying "She is in a better place..."

Well, I disagree. There is no better place than sitting in the sun in the summer at camp, under the spruce tree while a camper is petting you and a bunch of kids are laughing and playing . This was the best place for her.

Sorry, I have tears in my eyes as I type this. She was there for me in the best of time, and the hard times. She loved being outside at camp, and hanging out on the porch.

I miss her already.

But I have to think about my Mom, the girls (Gwen and Gabby), camp, my car and all the other stuff. And I have to keep juggling. 

So, yes. It was a bad day.... Tomorrow may may get better, but for now I need a moment from juggling...