Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Reading is Fun

Sometimes I get to do some really cool stuff as a Director.

Ms. Fulton County reading a book about Princesses
A past staff member, and current Campfire Council Member Andrea asked if I could come to her school and read some books for kids for their "Slice and a Story" program. So last night I drove over to the Edinburg Common School near Northville, NY and had the chance to meet some really great kids!

I pulled my old copy of "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" off the shelf . It's a book that staff gave to me back in 2005, and many of them wrote me notes in it, so it is a little messy but a great book. It mirrors the skit I do "Going on a Lion Hunt".

The children were divided into three classrooms. In our room we has a nice carpets and a crackling fire (projected on the screen behind me , of course). We all sat in a circle while I read about going on a bear hunt. I added sound effects and had the children participate with hand motions. I really liked the running across the mud part.

I then broke out a personal favorite of mine..."Where the Wild Things Are".  I had the book on the floor facing the children, and they all were looking at the pictures as I read the story. I think I impressed the teacher with my ability to read a book upside down and backwards...

We had a little more time, so I showed them a magic trick where I would remove a ring from a string. They really liked that part!

We still had some time , so Andrea went back to her classroom and got us a copy of "The Lorax". I got about half way through that book before our time was up. Good thing I remember most of that book by heart...I read it every week when I taught outdoor education.

It really was alot of fun, and if given the opportunity I would like to do it again with them. The parents were great, and the children we very welcoming. It was a great experience all around.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Reverse osmosis

re·verse os·mo·sis

noun: reverse osmosis
  1. a process by which a solvent passes through a porous membrane in the direction opposite to that for natural osmosis when subjected to a hydrostatic pressure greater than the osmotic pressure.
Nope, I'm not talking about the septic system again.... Or how we treat the water at camp. Actually I'm referring to a post I made about Mr. Bossard.(

The flow of support, energy and enthusiasm isn't just one way! Many people think that mentors are
the support. But in many ways the people we work with and who work for us are supports!

I can clearly remember many such counselors when I was the director here at Sacandaga (when it was a 4-H camp). Three female counselors in particular,(Jessica,Cecile and Melissa) were always causing trouble down at Moffits beach, and were full of energy- but they were
the best guards and amazing with the campers. I remember Jamie and Brian on the roof of the boys bath house singing Ratlin Bog.
That same night they broke break in the pipe in the boys bathhouse( again, screaming a verse from Ratlin Bog out the window (Bill was mad, but when he learned who did it all he said was- "well tell those boys not to do that again". Brian went on to be a leader at camp and worked for me as Program Director at LG Cook. All of these folks were part of my first years of being a director.

At Lindley G Cook you can't talk about my years there without mentioning Tyler, Kaytee and Ben. Tyler and Ben got into a bit of trouble early on, but year after year, no matter what his roll,
Tyler was a positive influence on camp. He always had great input and was a voice for the staff. Ben was always pushing the boundaries of what people could do or not do. Ben is now the Director at LG Cook. Katie was always a ray of sunshine even if we had a hard time keeping shoes on her feet). They were the moving forces behind making LGC the camp it is today.

There are hundreds (yes hundreds- Tyler made me a chart that sits behind me from LGC. It's HUGE, and it doesn't even include folks from Sacandaga) who also had an impact. I wish I could mention them all. You all have made me the director I am today.

But here is the interesting thing. All of those that pushed the limits and asked "Why" were the ones that had the greatest effect on camp. If they had not of pushed me as a director, I would never of gotten better. I would not of been able to create a program that was amazing for kids. And those folks are still in my life! Kaytee sent me an awesome message that was just pure sunshine. And I talk with Ben every week. And Jess and Cec are part of our campfire council!

But it isn't just the staff. I can remember when Ellen first came to camp. She was my first visually impaired camper. I was so scared as a director. But we made a tactile map of camp, the campers who shared her cabin were awesome, and the counselors were great. Ellen came back for many years as a camper, and last summer stopped by and walked in the parade with us.

Clay was a camper with autism. We weren't sure he was going to make it through his first summer, but year after year he came back to camp. And to see the changes in him were amazing.We would play the "blow dart" game ( you pretend to shoot a blow dart at a person. If they don't catch you doing it, you freeze. If you put your hand over your neck, you were safe). We would play every year was just something that makes you smile. I went from being concerned my first summer to looking forward to having him at camp.

Even campers can change the person you are. Ellen and Clay (and many other campers) that taught me that differences are not challenges but something to be excited about.

I  am thankful to all of them.

And to the new crew, all of the "Firsties", thank you for the "made you look" games and silliness last summer. I'm looking forward to the new staff and campers this summer!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Our New Summer Camp Assistant Director

Hello Everyone! I'm excited to announce one of our staff hires for the summer! We have asked Ryan Elliot to join our team. Ryan worked for me at LG Cook 4-H Camp for a number of years, and he helped us last summer with our first week of camp!

Ryan Elliott is ecstatic to be part of the Camp Sacandaga family this summer! With a B.Sc. degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Penn State University, Ryan has devoted his career to the two things he's most passionate about: education and the outdoors. He's worked for various environmental education facilities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, Florida, and even Canada! His experience has also allowed him to work with many different species, including marine mammals, birds of prey, and probably the wildest animal of all - the camper! 

Ryan uses what downtime he has to hike, SCUBA dive, travel, and plan new adventures. When asked what animal best represents his personality, he always chooses the otter. He claims that otters will do everything that's needed of them to survive, but always seem to be having fun along the way - which is what camp is all about! He is incredibly excited for summer to begin, and for Camp Sacandaga to open its doors (and heart) to a new generation!

Friday, March 10, 2017

How will you affect someone?

Mr. Bossard
When I was growing up, I pretty much lived at my friend Shawn's house.The Bossards were a great family and it seemed that all of us (all of our friends) would be at the Bossard household at any given time. Even after we all went off to college, we would all gravitated back to the center of the universe (and where the awesome Mrs. Bossard Cookies were at)

In the summer of 1985 I had just finished my sophomore year at SUNY Geneseo, and a group of us were hanging out basically trying to stay out of trouble. We had a wood delivery "business", where we would cut down trees from land that my friend Shawn's parents owned. We would then split it, and by the end of the week have wood to deliver to people. We made enough to go to the movies each weekend, but not much else. I was a worker bee in that situation, but it was fun all the same.

One day Mr. Bossard had a question for me that would change everything. Kermit worked for Cooperative Extension in Chemung County, and the call had gone out from Hidden Valley 4-H Camp that they needed male counselors. So he asked me if I would be interested in applying, since I was thinking about going into education anyway. I agreed and drove to the camp, interviewed and was hired on the spot. I had to drive back to Spencer to do my laundry and get packed up, but was able to get back for the middle of staff training.

Me, My friend Barb, Mrs and Mr. Bossard, and my friend Shawn
And so began my journey in Summer Camps.

It's amazing to think that 32 years later I would be starting my own camp program. Though my eight years at Hidden Valley 4-H Camp, 8 years a 4-H Camp Sacandaga, 15 years at Lindley G. Cook 4-H Camp I learned so much.

And with one summer here under my belt, well, I'm still learning.

So this blog post is about the affect that one person can have on the lives of others. All because one person  pointed me in one direction, I in turn have worked with thousands of campers and hundreds of staff. Maybe even I had a lasting impact on someone's life. Who knows where I would be today if Mr. Bossard had not asked me about applying for camp.

But my point is this- each one of us can have a strong influence on a person in our lives. And you may never even know that something small may have a greater impact later on! So if you treat everyone how we at camp want to treat people...with  Kindness, Respect and Responsibility, you may have that kind of impact on someone!

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Bossard for being there and pointing me in the right direction!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons

Yup, I can admit it. I didn't want to but I feel I need to come clean. Back in the day I use to play Dungeons and Dragons. A group of us in High School would get together and spend hours using our creativity and tenacity to roll dice and march our ways through adventures that one of us created.

Playing Risk
 The group of friends I made back then were special to me. Rich, Joe, Shawn, Matt, Paul Barb, Stephan , John and I would be together almost every weekend. Some of those friends have gone their way, and we do sometimes chat from time to time.  But I do see Barb, Shawn and Joe more often than the others. It's scary to think we've know each other for *gasp* almost 40 years.

The Crew at Shawn's Wedding in 2006

One weekend while Shawn was visiting I tossed out the idea of putting together a D&D game so we could all get together for a weekend. He thought it was a great idea (a long time coming) and helped me to rouse the troops.I started to find stuff online to help, and was surprised to find many things in PDF format. And there were a lot of blogs about running a game.

So this weekend I dusted off my old Dungeon Master's Guide, found an old AD&D Module Slave Pits of the Under City, dug out my dice and set up an adventure. Joe, John, Shawn and Barb were able to make it. They brought a ton of food (including Mrs. B's famous cookies), enthusiasm, and of course a lot of sass. Soon we found ourselves playing the game we gave up so many years ago.

We argued about casting Charm spells on Orcs, marveled at the carnage of John's Undead Hoard, reminisced about old games where the infamous Mirror of Viewing got broke, and just had a great time. With fiends like these, even if a long time has passed between visits, no time is needed to reacquaint yourselves. We ate too much, stayed up too late, and the weekend was over way too soon.

So- you may ask, what does this actually have to do with the camp other than explaining a lot about the director? Well during the weekend we talked about how creative the game was, and how you couldn't get this experience from a video game. Sure- the story lines and graphic of games have come a long way from when I use to play Zelda. But the human interaction between all of us, the exchange of creativity and having to make stuff up as you go is all part of the experience. One of my friends mentioned that "kids today" don't have these type of experience in their lives anymore.

I tend to differ in this opinion. Given the chance and the environment, all kids can be creative and have these types of experiences. I've watched campers come up with creative skits for the talent show. I've watched them make games to play and explore the woods. I've seen them create costumes from nothing, and carry around cardboard swords like they were the real thing. And I have sat at a table with campers and talked about everything from "Did Vikings really eat like this?" to "why does everything taste like chicken?". They constantly amaze me. And just like my old friends, when they get back together year after year, they jump right back into their friendships like no time has passed.

Given the right place and the right people- everyone can be creative. Everyone can have these experiences in their lives. And I think that camp is the place where this can happen. Away from technology, in small cabins with a caring staff, we create the safe place for this to happen.

So who knows. Maybe D&D will make a comeback- or something even better. With all of those creative minds out there...who knows.

Maybe we can try to get a game on camp going this summer!

Until next time...

Sorry- no moose joke this time. I had a hard time finding moose references for medieval times ( the search engine kept referring me to Monty Python's "Quest for the Holy Grail".....

Friday, March 3, 2017

4-H Shooting Sports

Last weekend I helped out Saratoga and Warren Counties with their State training in 4-H Shooting Sports. The training helps teach adults to run 4-H Shooting Sports clubs. They also train Junior Leaders.

So- Why was I there?

Way back in 2001 I attended a national training to teach on a state level (in NJ) the coordinator curriculum.  Coordinators are the jack of all trades , the people who help with fund raising, risk management and are the liaisons between clubs and the county staff. As a result I became the State Coordinator for New Jersey and worked in that position while being the Director of the state 4-H Camp. I did take a year off at one point, but for the most part I helped the clubs and instructors to build the program in NJ. I'm also a certified Archery instructor, and have done a number of programs for camps and adults.

But when I left NJ I thought that my 4-H training days were done. I put away my books, tucked my NJ4-H hat on the shelf, and didn't think about it much.

But I was talking with one of the folks in Warren County, John Bowe, and he convinced me to help with the training. Over the years the folks up north had helped me with our state training's, were always a support and they were just fun to be around.

When I walked into the training center it was like coming home. So many of the instructors were familiar to me, and greeted me with warm smiles and started picking on me right away... You can always tell how much people like you if they start joking with you from the start.

I was a little rusty, and Debb Story helped me out a lot! And we had a great group of coordinators. I was able to run a Positive Youth Development training and an Ages and Stages program in the evenings for the entire group. I even had the chance to shoot a flintlock!- granted-it wasn't a left handed one, but it was fun all the same.

It also gave e a chance to shamelessly plug Camp Sacandaga. It is amazing how many people the old camp had an impact on and how many people wished me luck in creating the new camp program. I hope we can get a camper or two from them.

I am looking forward to volunteering more with those folks and helping in anyway I can. And they may even use our camp for a training location in the future. I am glad we still have connections with the 4-H program, and I hope they grow stronger as we build our camp program.

Oh, on a side note, I met Cole- who when I first met him he was knee high to a grasshopper and was a happy camper at cloverbud camp. Now he is much taller than me (almost everyone is these days). And his mom, Laurel, was in the parking lot. Laurel was such a large part of camp when it was a 4-H program, and in my opinion keep this place running. Her dedication to the facilities keep this place afloat- and although they didn't have much funding, she found was to make sure the place was safe for kids. Anyway- it was fun to catch up, and I hope she comes to visit over the alumni gathering.

Well, I will post pictures from the training when I get them.

See You later.

Oh, almost forgot a Moose joke- sort of shooting sports related...

Two hunters decide to go moose hunting in Canada. They hire an airplane to drop them off in a remote region. The pilot drops them off and tells them, "I`ll be back in one week. No more than one moose - got it?" 
One week passes, and the pilot returns. The hunters have two moose. The pilot says, "Hey, I told you guys no more than one moose." One of the hunters replies, "Look the pilot told us the same thing last year and we gave him a `big` tip to take both moose out." The three of them argue for several minutes more. The pilot gives up and agrees to take both moose. 
Well, they load up the moose and fire up the plane. The plane shudders and strains trying to take off. It finally gets the wheels off the ground 5 feet, 10 feet. Whoops! It runs out of runway and smashes into a tree. The two hunters, dazed and confused make there way out of the wreckage. One hunter looks at the other and says, "Where the heck are we?" The other looks around and replies, "About 200 yards further than we got last year!"


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Time flys!

Wow- It's been almost two weeks since my last blog post! So much has happened I don't even know where to start!

We are still working on fundraising for camper ships. We have just over $1000 left to raise. I will be pushing that over the next few weeks.

Our early bird discounts have now expired, but a little moose tells me that if you watch our face book page, you may be able to catch a few specials offered around tax season!

We are starting our recruitment for staff- so if you know of anyone 18 or older that would like a summer job, let us know! I will be announcing staff hires here on our blog and in our face book page.

We have a number of events being offered in May and June, including an ADK family Weekend and a CCC community Service day. And I hear that the old 4-H Alumni will be having a gathering over Memorial Day Weekend. We will have a link on our website, and an event on the facebook page.

Time for a moose joke....
A man in a movie theater notices what looks like a moose sitting next to him. "Are you a moose?" asked the man, surprised. 
"Yes." said the moose
"What are you doing at the movies?" The man asked.
The moose replied, "Well, I liked the book."

Well, I have lots more to post. Keep watching for updates!