Thursday, December 21, 2017

Throw back Thursday- CCC Christmas resolutions

Remember way back when I said I got that old newsletter from camp S-90? Well there happened to be a story written by one of the guys, Charles Montgomery Gehlhaus. It's a fictitious story set in the Adirondacks. If you would like me to send you a copy in .pdf form, let me know.


Keep Warm and have a Safe and Happy Holiday! 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Today's the Day

My trip in 2015 to Key West
So today I want to talk about Mel Fisher. Mel Fisher was a treasure hunter who has a museum in Key West. Born in Indiana and a dive shop pioneer in California, he was an American treasure hunter best known for finding the 1622 wreck of the Nuestra SeƱora de Atocha. Wikipedia 

Perhaps on of the things he was most well known for was that everyday he insisted, "Today's the Day"! His mantra continues to inspire the search for treasure and lost antiquities. 

I know about Mel Fisher because every year I use to go to Key West to take some to recharge and get ready for another yer. And I would stop by his museum to see all of the cool stuff that is there, and to get inspiration.

As a matter of fact, I was sitting in Key West early in June of 2015 when I got a call from the owners of this camp. Long story short, they were not able to keep moving forward with the camp, and offered me the opportunity to start my own program.

After many missteps, trials and a steep learning curve, I was able to work out a lease to own agreement for the camp.  That agreement ends a year from this coming February, at which point we will have a mortgage and camp will be totally under our ownership.

What does this have to do with Mel? Well...Today's the Day. Today we start accepting campers for the 2018 season. Today we try to make sure we become self show that camp can stand on it's own two feet ( or four- if we are referencing Fred the Moose). When we do that, we can get the funding to purchase the camp outright, and start the next chapter in this amazing story.

Today's the day that all we have worked for over the last two years starts to pay off. Today is the day we will work harder to have a positive impact on the lives of children.

So what are you doing today? 

What would be the goal of your "Today's the Day!"  Maybe you will set a goal to eat healthier, exercise and feel better about yourself. Maybe you will look at your job and decide that today you want to move on. Or maybe you will look at what you do and decide today's the day you work even harder.

Maybe you will have your child register for the first day of an adventure that will last for years- and maybe even lead to a camp job! Or maybe today's the day you will help your child take that first step toward independence by coming to camp. Maybe you will talk with a niece, nephew or grandchild about what fun you had as a camper and convince them to go to camp. Or today's the day you want to give to help a child have an awesome experience at camp.

What ever you choose to do, remember that Today's the Day. It's the day we open registration, and it's the day we start to gear up for the summer.

Post the hashtag #todaysthedaycs and post what you are looking to do today. Even if it's something small. Make today YOUR day.

Remember, that any given day could be "The day". The day that things fall together, or the day that your dreams come true. I know that today is that kind of day for me!

Oh, and it also happens to be the first day of registration! Go register your camper today!


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What is new for 2018?

As we are quickly approaching the December sign up date, you may be asking..."Jim- What is new for next summer..." We have been working hard to make camp even better this summer. We still have the tried and true stuff, but we also have a few surprises in store.

Here are just a few of the changes in store for 2018…

We will be running 4 session this year instead of 3, and they begin the week after the 4th of July.  Sessions still run from Sunday to Friday. We are hoping to have more campers, around 30 to 50 a week, and we will have 6 to 8 counselors. I'm not sure which counselors are returning this year, but I am working on getting them all to come back! We will see at the Freezin event.

Family fun days- at the end of each session we will have activities for your whole family! From 2 pm to 3:30 pm we will offer programs that you and your children can participate in, all culminating in the closing ceremonies at 4 pm. (Campers will go off at 3:30 pm and do their thank you circle while parents go over to the ceremony tree.) We wont have dinner that night, but I have been working on a BBQ for those of you who want to eat at camp.

Updated Camp Schedule – we are moving around a few activities so that we have more time for each of the classes. A new copy of the  Camp Schedule is available here.

New Classes -Look at our previous blog about classes to see the new ones.But now Canoeing and Fishing are now offered every day! They are offered during the last class period, and often spill into free time.

CIT 2 class is now offered during rest hour and during other free times throughout the day. Don’t worry Teens- you will still have time to hang out with your friends and enjoy Teen Time!

Camp Store- We are adding neat snack items and some other cool stuff for campers to buy while they are here. We think we will have ice cream, juices and some small snack items. We will have the camp store open during free times and during teen times every night. Don’t forget to put money on your store accounts when you register!

New programs- Some of the ideas being tossed around include a night-time mission impossible game, night walks, and all camp Hide n Seek (a twist on the camp game sardines). We also will be bringing in some old school games like the Predator /Prey game, Miner 49er and a few other crazy activities. We will be keeping all camp capture the flag and counselor hunt. Watch our facebook page for details.

As you can see , we are always working toward making the program exciting for new and old campers alike. Let me know if you have any questions or ideas. We will be brainstorming more activities at the counselor retreat this winter.

I can't wait to see you all at camp this summer!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Rain Rain go Away!!! The Third Week of Camp 2017

 What an amazing summer. Can you believe it was just our second one?  

And we are looking forward to next summer. But to look forward sometimes you need to look back...

Here it is... The last week of 2017!

Don't forget- Sign up starts December 1st!!!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Gaining Traction...the Second Week of 2017

The Second week of camp was awesome! 
Below is the slideshow of that session.

Don't forget. Sign up starts soon!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Remembering our First Camp Session in 2017

I know it's a long time since the summer, but I have been able to put together a quick slideshow of our first week of camp for 2017.

Here it is...

Don't worry if you came to another week. I am working on those slideshows and should have them up soon!

Thank you all for making it such an amazing second summer for our camp, and I hope to see you all this summer!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Have you HERD?

Did you know that last summer 86% of the new campers heard about camp from a friend? And did you know that the American Camp Association has studies that show that word of mouth accounts for over 80 percent of referrals to camp. The best way for someone to learn about camp is from a person who went to camp or has a child that goes to camp. That is why we have the HERD program....

Yup, you HERD me... I'm talking about our new camper recruitment bring a friend program at camp. Did you know that if you are a camper here at camp and you invite your friend to join you for a week of camp, you can get rewarded for that? Yup - $50 off your next registration! And you can get $50 for each friend after that?

And did you know that if you invite 5 friends to camp...


Yup, it's all true. There are just a couple of rules that apply.

1. You have to already be a registered camper. So sign up now!
2. Your friend must be someone new to camp.
3. Your friend has to check " HERD referral" and put your name in the box provided when they answer the question "Where did you hear about camp? " as they register.
4. Your friend has to be registered and paid in full before you get the discount.

The discounts you earn can be applied in one of many ways...

You Can... 

1. Apply the reward to another session.
2. Apply it to a session next summer.
3. Get a refund at the end of the summer.
4. Use it for the camp store
5. Or you could donate the amount to a camper that is in need of a campership!

If you have any questions, please let us know!

Don't wait- 
Tell your friends about camp TODAY and be a part of the HERD!!!!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Classes at Camp

When your child signs up for camp, you will be a number of activities that you can sign your child up for.  We offer two class activity periods every morning and one class in the afternoon. 

Here are the class descriptions for 2018
Archery- One of our most popular classes- Our certified instructors will teach you the basics of range safety and will help you to improve your archer skills at our range. We have many challenging archery games (like tic tac toe or Battleship) to help you to become a better archer!

Bushcraft – Do you know what to do if you are lost in the woods? Can you start a fire, make a shelter or find water? Could you survive if lost in the woods? Do you know the rule of Threes? To learn these and more, join us for this outdoors class.  You can also be one of the camp elite in the Golden Match Club when you light a fire with just one match.

Campfire Cooking- There is nothing like cooking over an open fire. Learn the different types of fires to cook on. Create culinary delights over the fire. Make cobbler in a dutch oven. Learn about trail and camping nutrition in this fun, hands on class.

Canoeing – There’s more to canoeing than just hopping in one and paddling around. Canoe Class will introduce all the basic equipment and cover all the canoeing needed terminology. Campers will learn and master everything from J-Strokes to T-Rescues, all while enjoying quality time floating around Sacandaga Lake. (Campers must be able to hike 20 minutes to the beach at Moffitts State Park.) There is an additional charge for this class.

Classic Camp Crafts- We go back to the glory days of camp crafts to bring back the classics- basket making, clay projects, tie dye, bracelets and boondoggle . We also will sprinkle in a few newer type crafts. Show us your creative side!

Counselor In Training 1 – This first level class will help campers to learn about themselves and working with others. Basic counselor skills will be discussed. This class is for campers 14 years old and older.

Fishing- Campers will learn how to cast, catch, release and identify fish. They will also spend most of the class actually fishing, enjoying the serene view of Echo Lake or Sacandaga Lake. Campers must be able to hike 20 minutes to and from the lakes. For campers 12 and older. There is an additional charge for this class.

Pool Games- We want to help you to feel comfortable in the water while helping you become a stronger swimmer. Our certified instructor will work with you in our pool to get you moving around in the water in no time. And we play lots of games! Marco polo…Sharks and Minnows…dive for the rings- so many games so little time. If you like to play in the water, then this class is for you!

Skits and Drama- Learn how to perform in front of others! Put on a classic camp skit in front of the entire camp, or create a whole new production! Drama games and instruction will help improve your skills.

A Walk in the Woods is a trailblazing class where campers will walk on unexplored areas of our 16 acres of camp. Learn about the animals that live in the woods around the camp, learn how to make a trail and set up a game camera to see what happens when you are not around. Check out areas that haven’t been visited in years! Find cool old landmarks and create a new trail for camp. This class combines the old Hiking and Wildlife classes into one!

Wood Working Basic- Interested in Wood working? You will use basic carpentry skills to assemble precut kits to make bird houses and other types of projects. You will learn how to use a saw, how to hammer nails, and how to sand projects to make a finished project. This class is only available for campers ages 8-12. There is an additional charge for this class.

Wood Working Advanced – (Ages 13-16) Building something you can take home with your own to hands. In this class we will show you how to use scraps of wood to create projects you can be proud of…Birdhouses, shelves, picture frames, wood burning and many other types of projects. All items are built with good old fashion hand tools. If you finish your project early, you will help the instructors to make a project for camp! There is an additional charge for this class.

Additional choices -  When we have alumni volunteer, some offer additional classes that you can sign up for in place of the class you chose. You can sign up for these when you come to camp to check in.

Special Class- Classes not offered during normal class times.

Counselor in Training 2 - This is our second level of the training program for young people who want to become staff. The goal of this class is to teach the campers about leading campers in a cabin, the job of a counselor, about working and dealing with children and situations they will face, and continue building peer skills. This class is for camper 15 years and older. This group of campers typically meet during Rest Hour and in the evenings.

Counselor In Training 3 - This is the final step in our Counselor in Training Program. If a camper successfully passes the program, they may be invited back for a second week to learn the final pieces of being a camp counselor. Campers must be 16 years old or older and have participated in CIT I and II programs.

As you can see we have many cool things for your child to do this summer!!!

Friday, November 10, 2017

What does a Director do the rest of the year?

I'm always asked what do I do the rest of the year.  I can give you a list of all the things, which include redesigning the website, prepping the database for registration, curriculum development, camper and staff recruitment and a load of other stuff. And I'm involved in many  groups so I can be a part of this awesome community that live in.

But I also take care of the camp. I spend a lot of time getting the buildings ready for the winter, like draining the water and putting up shutters. (I hope to work on making workable shutters on the rec hall so I don't have to lug those heavy boards around...20 windows...Whew!)

But I also look at ways to make things easier and more cost effective.

During the off season I rent out the "Annex" through AirBNB for short stays to help us keep things afloat through the cold months before registration starts. The Annex is the addition to the director's cabin, and is self contained with it's own entrance, two bedrooms, bathroom and it's own heating system.  I have met a lot of great people who have been passing through our area through Air BNB, and it seems to be a great fit to our program.

But one glitch to this is that when the Annex is not rented, the water is still on. The hot water heater is on the director's side of the building, but the water lines for the new addition are in the walls and unless you keep the heat on, they can freeze. We had a small pipe leak at the connector to the toilet last winter, so I had to keep a small electric heater in there all winter long. Believe it or not, that little heater sucked up a lot of electricity! And that is an expense that we don't need if we want to be efficient.
I love Lowes!

I decided that I wanted to drain the water, but there is no way to drain it with gravity, so I need to use a compressor to blow air through the system to drain it. Typically you could hook up the compressor to the hot water tank, but you would need to drain it. Since that tank is used in the director's cabin, it would not make sense to drain it, blow out the system, refill it and heat it again. Not efficient at all!

Parts for the contraption
I could install shut off valves and place a compressor fitting in both the hot and cold water lines, but I came up with a different solution.

I took a trip down to the big city (Amsterdam..OK, it's not that big of a city, but compared to Speculator....) to Lowes to get some supplies. You can see the stack of parts (some for this project, and some for repairing a leak...I will talk about that later)

Here is a picture of the parts I used to make a new "tool" for camp. A few brass fittings, a garden hose adapter for the bathroom sink, and an compressor fitting. 
Shadow acting a supervisor

My "Helpers" hard at work
When all the parts are put together, I can use my compressor to blow air into both the hot and cold water lines from the Annex side of the building. By manipulating a few shut off valves around the building, I can drain that side of the building, and wont need to heat it. And by using RV antifreeze in the drains, I wont have to worry about the pipes breaking. Turning on and off the system will only take 15 to 20 minutes.

the finished tool

The new air tool for the Annex
Here are pictures of the final product. This helps keep the integrity of the system while making it easy to drain.I just hook my compressor hose to the tool and away we go!

As I said earlier, I also have to keep up with repairs. I noticed a small drip from the ceiling in the Annex. I was confused because there are no pipes up there. When I investigated, I did not see any leaks in the roof, but saw that when the contractors had installed the ceiling fan, they did a sloppy job. They had set up a pipe to vent the exhaust from the bathroom to the outdoors, but used non glued 4" Charlotte septic pipe with duct tape, but it was pitched back toward the bathroom and it had come apart in two places. When the fan was running, condensation accumulated in the pipe and ran back to the fan and leaked where the pipe was disconnected.

Bill Winters
The parts I bought were to fix that problem permanently. I really hate sloppy work. It shows a lack of caring for what you do. If it was installed correctly, this would not be a problem. As Bill Winters (Camp Maintenance man from the past) use to say, " Take the time to do it right the first time and you wont waste time fixing it later".

So when someone asks you what a camp director does all year, you now can tell them....

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Throw Back Thursday - CCC newsletter exerpts

So earlier I posted a few pages from Months & Days, the newsletter from the CCC camp back in 1934. I will be posting stuff from that news letter from time to time. But as I was reading, I found something that I found relevant to what is happening today. 

It's interesting that topics like these  are still a part of our national discussion.

Now that is enough serious stuff. 

Below is a funny and light hearted attempt by the guys at the CCC camp to "beat the work racket".....
It's great to see that camp has always been a home for people with a sense of humor!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Throw Back Thursday - Cloverbuds /Mooselings

You often here me talk about the slogan motto thingy that we use for camp... 

A new camp program with an old camp heart.

I can't think of a more clearer example of this than the Mooseling camp program. In case you don't know, the Mooseling program is an overnight camp program for campers ages 4 to 8 and their parents.  It's a way for parents and young campers to get to know the camp and staff, and become comfortable with the program. We hope that many of those campers return to the summer camp program when they are old enough. ( In the old program it was called the Cloverbud program)

Below are some pictures from the old cloverbud program. Why am I showing you these? Well the people in the pictures tell a story. 

In the late 90's two camp counselors worked the cloverbud weekend. Megan and Ben were great staff, and were the perfect counselors to work with these little ones.  Below are pictures of them with campers.

Counselor's Ben and Megan at Cloverbud weekend in the 90's

Ben and Meghan during Mooseling 16 weekend
Ben and Megan are  now parents. And what did they do? They brought their children to the Mooseling program last year.  Even Ellon (another staff member who would help with the program in the 90's) brought her daughter to be a mooseling!

This year a majority of the parents that came with children to the mooseling program were staff from way back then. Cilla, Brendan, Kate (all staff from when I was the director many years ago when the camp was  4-H program) all brought their little ones this year. I am both humbled and feel a little old...but they are great kids.(both the Parents and the Mooselings!) We even had an old staff member Holly from the days after I left the program.

Parents Brendan and Kate talking with Ryan
Many of the old staff  that worked for me in the the 90's are very involved in the new program, and offer support to what we are building. Some are on the Campfire Council, and some just show up to help around camp.

Little the 90's

 On a side note... The little cloverbud on the bottom row squatting down all the way to the right... That little cloverbud is our very own Ben Jakubowski! Even the campers from the past have become a part of the new camp program! (Ben and a few campers are pictured below)
Oh, and that little camper in grey with the cool blue socks? The one arresting Ben? That is Meghan's son, who was a mooseling and now is a camper in the full summer camp program.... 

Who knows...will he be a future camp staff member??? If he is anything like his mom I hope so!

What are you waiting for? Bring your old or new camp heart and be a part of our camp family! 

Come to mooseling camp or join us during the summer program.

 Mooseling Camp and Summer camp sign up starts December 1st. 

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Throw Back Thursday -CCC Newsletter

So the other day I got a message from one of the folks that often stops by to show people one of the last standing CCC camps in NY. And he told me about a little item that was on eBay that I should check out. Sure enough, there was an original newsletter from our camp when it was a CCC camp! I looked at a few of the pages that were posted, and was so caught up in it that I put in a bid and got it!

It just came in the mail, and I haven't been able to put it down. So much history, cool stories and it's definitely filled with sass! It's nice to see that some things never change.

I'm trying to find a way to display it at camp so campers and parents alike can look it over. I will be posting parts of it throughout the next year.

Here is the tale of the first year at Camp S-90 (Camp Sacandaga).

I had always told people that the camp was built in 1936, when it actually was built in  the summer of 1934! So many cool things in this newsletter. I can't wait to share more of it!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Our new website is Live!!!

I have been working hard to update our website for 2018, and after much blood, sweat and even tears, it is ready for you to look over...check it out at!

A few quick notes...
  1. You will not be able to sign up for camp...yet. We will officially accept registrations starting December start saving now!
  2. There are a couple of bugs we are working on but should have straightened out soon. Send us a comment if you see something wrong.
  3. We will be updating the parent guide and camper guides for 2018. They will be ready and available when we open registration.
  4.  The full lists of new classes and schedule will be posted soon. As we add new things, we will let you know. If you have registered and see a new class you would like to take, you can switch classes online!
  5. We are making a new website for the alumni. It is not finished, but if you would like to take a sneak peak as I make it, visit  . If you have any alumni photos or stories you would like to share, please send them to me.
Thank you for your continued support of camp!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Cabin Zero

 Way back when...Back before the camp was a youth camp, the CCC built barracks for the men to stay in. Here is a map of the camp from those days.

Some of the buildings are still around. The education building (#17) is now the dining hall. Building #3 was cut in half, and is now the girls bathhouse.  Building 6 is still the Rec Hall, and Building 5 is still the Boy's Bathhouse. Building #10 was originally Barracks 1, and was also cut in half . It is now cabin 9 and ten (there is a door in between sides.)

Many of the buildings were sold and carted off to locations unknown, or torn down when they got bad. Building 2 (first called Dorm 1 by 4-H and later called Cabin 6) was one of the final buildings removed by 4-H, and the Infirmary (building 4) was taken down sometime between 2010 to 2013.

I guess that 4-H wanted to maintain some of the history of the CCC camp because they labeled the cabins with numbers instead of names. Building 10 became Cabin 10. Many of the "new" cabins built by the Seabees in the early 70's were also numbered instead of named.

I am to understand that one of the cabins, the last to be built by the Seabees, was called cabin 21 because the staff had a tradition of having a tribe numbered after themselves, and that name stuck to the cabin. I'm not sure of all the details, but I know some alumni out there will fill in the details.
Cabin 0 in 2005

And then there is Cabin 0. For some reason, shrouded in mystery, one of the cabins was numbered "0". Many staff over the years have claimed cabin 0 as their own, and has a strange attachment to it.  But we have no idea why it was number that way.

When the camp was purchased in 2010, the numbers came down and the cabins were named after birds. But some of the number survived in a box in the maintenance shop.

When I took over the camp, I renumbered the cabin because I thought it would be easier to direct parents to the cabins and to direct EMS if needed. But when alumni visited, all they could talk about was Cabin 0. I thought at one point during the alumni weekend that they were going to sneak out and change the number. They didn't, but it got me thinking.

A major part of this camp's charm is the connect to it's past. The memories, the laughter and yes, even the tears all are part of what gives this place it's heart. Not only that, the cabins were numbered for such a long time that it doesn't make sense to change that. (not to mention that I am always calling the cabins by their old numbers...some habits are so hard to break.)

So during the wood weekend I got the carpenter queen Kat to go around camp and return the numbers to their original cabins. I had to steal the zero from cabin 10 (until I can locate the original "0"). But now they all are re-numbered.

So without further Ado... I give you ....Cabin 0!!!!!

 It just goes to show that the old maintenance man Bill Winters was right...."If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Wood Weekend at Camp

One of the things that has always amazed me about this old place is the people who come to camp to help out. I put out the call for help to cut and split fire wood for next summer.

The wood pile BEFORE the weekend

Many people showed up and got right to work. I wasn't sure that we would be able to get through the pile, but everyone was amazing. We now have enough for at least one summer.

This is the wood pile before we got too far...

Greg's a lumberjack...

Splitting the large hardwood pieces

Figuring out the handsplitter

Ben Fox and his chain saw to the rescue!

Taking a break

No more wood pile!

Pine for summer campfires.
Thank you for everyone who came up and helped cut all of the fire wood for next summer. I will smile and remember the fun we had as we make smores over the fire.