Monday, October 15, 2018

Favorite Picture

Hello everyone, Sorry it's been awhile since I was able to post something. This Fall has gotten away from me.

I've been working on some slideshows for each week of camp, and will be positing them soon. (Week 1 slideshow should come out later this week). I am also working on a publicity slide show for folks to use to show off camp.

As I was working on them, I came across this picture, and it's one of my favorites.

 Not because it's a pretty picture. This picture reminds me that once in awhile I need to slow down and enjoy camp. My radio and keys are right there, yet I have stopped worrying about revenue, staff issues and the one hundred other things that go on in the average day at camp. For that moment I am just a camp director playing checkers with a camper.

For the record, the reason why his face looks like that was because I just got a "king" and he is trying to escape.

We all need to stop and enjoy what we do sometimes.

Well, I got to get back to work. Keep an eye out for the slideshow for week 1!

See you soon.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Suggestions of what to bring to camp

Every year I have parents ask "what should my child bring to camp. We supply a pretty comprehensive packing list for parents, but there are things people forget.

We asked many parents and alumni for things they thought you may need to make your child's stay a little easier.

Here is what they suggested....

Father carrying a trnk for his daughter

1. What you need to put all that stuff in!

Some parent send luggage, while others bring trunks. While trunks are sturdy, they can be broken if the camper stands on them (it has happened more times than you think) A great solution I have seen recently is the clear under the bed totes. They have plenty of space and can easily roll under the bed!

two young cowboys at camp2. Dress for success, not to impress. 
I have seen campers come with outfits that belong more in a upscale social gathering than they do in a camp environment. It's nice to have one nice outfit, but everything else will get dirty, wet and possible torn.  

One rule of thumb is ... 
"Don't send your child to camp that you will miss if it doesn't come home. "

We also suggest that the clothes be comfortable because they will be running around. 

3. Lots of socks- 
You never can have enough socks- there is nothing that makes a camper more miserable than wet feet! Also at least two pairs of shoes. One parent told me she went to the local thrift shop and got a great pair of hiking boots that her son could wear for the week, and it didn't break the bank!

A very messy faced camper during viking spagetti meal4. Glasses at camp:  
There is a good chance that your child may break or lose their glasses. I have repaired many of them while at camp, but you may want to look at sending them with an old pair, or getting them a set that can withstand the stresses of camp. Here is what one parent said about glasses...
"My son wore his sport glasses all week. The bonus is they were transition lenses so he had sunglasses when outside. When I set him up in the cabin we made sure he had a safe place to put them at night."
Camper presnts a duct tape wallet5. Packing the clothes
Sometimes  when you pack everything and the child returns home, everything except one or two sets of clothes are still where you packed them.  Here is what one parent said about this issue...
"Wrap daily wardrobes with underwear, socks, shorts and T shirts with a rubber band or place them in zip lock baggies.You wont over pack and kids can grab an outfit each day. This way they are not throwing clean clothes all over and they get a fresh pair of underwear a day."
6. Laundry bag -
I can't tell you how many times our younger campers have thrown wet clothes into their packed bags with clean clothes, and you get that infamous "camp musty smell". One suggestion is to send them with a laundry bag and explain to them that they put wet and dirty clothes into the bag each day.They can hang the bag on the side of the bunk.

Camper playing ukelale7. What did I bring?
Parents hate going through lost and found at the end of the week. Having campers come home with everything they brought is tough! Here is what one parent suggested.
"We tape a list of everything our son brings on the inside of his trunk. This helped so much! Don't forget to list the color or description of the item. Just saying 2 towels instead of saying one spider man and one blue bath towel can make all the difference. "
 We also suggest you label everything or put their initials on the tags in their clothes.

camper eating apple while reading mail from home8. Self addressed stamped envelopes or even better- self addressed & stamped post cards! Our clerk has some advice on that...
"Every morning when we get the mail we see that have incomplete addresses on them. We do take those letters and get the addresses off our database, but it makes your child's life a lot easier if you fill this stuff out before they come to camp. "
And if you give them a postcard for every day, it helps them to focus on something when they are sad! And who doesn't like getting mail form your children when they are at camp!

camper with a silly stick on mustache9. Pack one goofy thing
Last summer a camper brought stick on mustaches. He broke them out during viking meal, and gave them to all his bunk mates. It was so much fun.

I've also seen tattoo stickers, silly hats, and other simple costume things for use in our theme meals like mismatched lunch or twin lunch.

10. Bathrobes
Last summer many of the counselors said that if their campers had bathrobes, they could get more time in the showers. Since everyone needs to walk back and forth between their cabins and the bath houses, a robe would make it easier. Also while campers are waiting to shower, having a bathrobe make it quicker to get in and out of the shower.

campers stanging next to pool
11.  Extra towels
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels. A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.
Towels at camp can get really messy quickly. They fall off the clothesline, never really get dry unless they are n direct sunlight, and can really smell if left under the bed when wet. At a minimum you should bring a bath towel and a beach towel. (An extra towel wont hurt either... Oh, and two swim suits aren't a bad idea either. Not required , but are a nice thing to have just in case it is a wet week.

12. Toiletries-
A small bag or a little bucket to carry shampoo, soap, toothpaste and tooth brush between the showers and the cabin helps a lot! We want them brushing their teeth!

13. A Little Something Special
"I always like to pack a small gift or item to let my child know that I am thinking of them and that I am proud of them. He usually doesn't find it until Tuesday!"

A small thing packed in your child's stuff can really brighten their day. A comic book, a small stuff animal, or something that has special meaning- these things can lift the spirit!

14.Opps- I forgot something
 Every so often a camper forgets something.A pillow, and extra blanket, a tooth brush, shampoo. Don't worry. We have many of these things in stock and will make sure your camper has them when they need them. We don't have enough for the whole camp, just enough to help cover those that forgot them.

We hope this list gives you some great ideas for this summer. Let us know if you have any other tidbits of advice we can share!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Welcoming Wednesday (part 5)

Everyone please join me in welcoming Tom for another summer at camp! He will be helping out in the kitchen.

My name is Thomas Bender. Most people call me Tom. In the fall I will be a senior at Holland Patent High School. I live in Marcy with my parents and my sister. My mom is a camp alumni and my sister will be a camper here this summer. My favorite school subject is American History and especially the Civil War. I enjoy traveling especially to battle fields and to zoos. In my spare time I enjoy playing Magic the Gathering with my friends. Several times a year I assist in teaching Minecraft at our local library. If I had a choice I would stay up all night and sleep all day!!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Our Camp Store

Here is a post from our very own Camp Clerk Judi!
One of my many jobs at all the camp’s I have worked at included running the Camp Store.  Never have the words “Candy OR ice cream” come out of my mouth so many times. Patience was required while trying to find a misfiled “camper card” where we kept track of purchases.  Patience was required while a camper barely tall enough to see over the counter contemplated the merits of Swedish Fish VS Fun Dip (a sugar stick you dip into more sugar), only to change tack entirely and go for the Atomic fire balls.  

Image result for atomic hot ballsAs a camper, however, the ability to go to the Camp Store was a real treat for me.  I grew up very rural and did not have access to a corner store to spend the allowance I received doing various chores.  To be able to go daily to a place that offered the delicacies of childhood not available to me during the rest of the year just added to making Camp Sacandaga a magical place.

Image result for atomic hot ballsTherefore it is my pleasure to announce that we are going to be able to offer the 2018 Camp Sacandaga campers an opportunity to visit the Camp Store every day.  As is tradition we will be giving campers a choice of one food item, ice cream or candy, and one drink. Shirts, hoodies, stuffed moose critters and other unique and cool items will be available for purchase during registration and check-out.

Image result for swedish fishStore will be open daily for food and drink during free time and occasionally in the evening for the older campers during “Teen Time”.  Typically parents put around $20 on a store account.  Directions for this process will be sent to parents as they register their camper.  Campers will NOT be allowed to purchase items with cash so it is not necessary for campers to bring any money to camp.  At check-out parents will have an opportunity to spend down any remaining balance in their campers’ store accounts. Any remaining funds at the end of the week will be placed in a campership fund.  

Image result for fun dipIn my own experience I know that some campers will not have as much in their store accounts as others and will be limited in their purchases.  Never fear!  There will be a bowl of fruit and “bug juice” (and water) in the dining hall for hungry campers during free time.  Some evening programs have a snack such as s’mores and popcorn as part of the plan. And as always, meals have multiple options to satisfy even the most discerning eater.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Welcome Wednesday (Part 4)

One of the key pieces of the camp staff puzzle is the camp nurse. Last year we struggled to find the perfect person for the job, but at the last moment we found Jessica! And the good news is...Jessica is coming back!

During the "off - season" Jessica is a school nurse. This makes her the ideal person to work with children in a camp setting. And her children have come to camp, so she has the parent prospective! She runs a very safe infirmary at camp, and keeps us all healthy while we are here.

I have worked with many nurses over the years, but I can honestly say that Jessica is one of the best! She also is one of the most relaxed and funny nurses that I have ever worked with!

Please let her know if you have any health concerns for your children this summer. You can reach out to her via email at   During the summer you can call her at camp at (518)548-4742.

Friday, June 1, 2018


I went out to take the girls (Gwen and Gabby, my dogs) on their morning walk when I was descended upon by a cloud of very hungry mosquitoes! I know they will be less of an issue this summer, but it made me think of last year when I was trying to figure out whey there was a spot of dead grass next to cabin 2 (yes, these things are related...).

As I was mowing last summer I noticed a circle of dead grass near the girl's cabin. I assumed that it was a place they all walked and was trampled down. But later that day I was sitting at the table under the Spruce trees when I saw each girl come out of the cabin, stand on that spot, and spray themselves with bug spray.

To say they sprayed themselves was an understatement. It was scary how much bug spray they we applying. I guess they were operating under the idea that more was better! But I know that isn't the case. It can't be good for their skin to use that much! Children are not the only ones who don't know how to apply the stuff. Last weekend at the carnival a saw a parent use almost 1/4 of a can of spray on their child all at once! There are many articles and warning on the internet about using too much of the stuff.

People send their children with many types of gear to protect their child. Arm bands, homeopathic repellents, sonic devices... I even had one parent set up a mosquito net on the bottom bunk for their child! Last summer we had two children show up with Thermacell Mosquito repellers. I am not sure how well they work but they they require a propane cartridge that has to be replaced every 12 hours, and a small mat insert that has to be replaced every 4 hours. I do not feel safe having those small propane canisters in the cabins and at camp. If you have questions about these units, please contact me.

So what can we do?

First off, talk to your child about how to use bug spray. Remind them that too much is not good for them. Show them how to apply it. Also look online to familiarize yourself about the different kinds of repellent. DEET can be scary if you don't' understand about it.

I have not had much luck with most produces, bands and alternative stuff. I personally tend to avoid the spray repellent.  For the past few years I have recommended to parents to use the wipes. I personally have been using the Deep Woods Off towelettes. It allows you to get all areas covered without over using the product. And you don't get over-spray on everything around you (including your friend's eyes)I typically apply a little spray to the underside of the brim of my cap to keep the bugs out of my eyes, and then wipe the areas that are not covered. Don't forget to tell your children to apply the repellent after they have applied sunscreen, not before.

Another thing for you parents...You need to check the box telling us your child can use insect repellent while at camp on the Medical Examination and Medical Authorization Form. I will be sending out emails to parents soon about that form with complete instructions.

When you arrive on camp, please give the counselor your child's repellent so they can keep it next to the door of the cabin to remind children when they leave the cabin. That way the counselor can remind the child to use it, and it doesn't get all over the cabin, the cabin  mates, the bunks, and everything else.

We do a great job keeping the grass low so ticks are not a major problem, but we still have children check for ticks when they come out of the woods, and the staff remind campers to check for ticks when they shower at night. Insect repellent will help with these little critters too.

Lets all work together to make sure you child has safe, bug free summer! I look forward to seeing all of your smiling faces at camp soon!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Welcoming Wednesday (Part 3)

Sorry this is late...

Here is another returning staff member. We are so excited Kyle is coming back this year! 

Hey I'm Kyle and I'm a Junior studying fisheries and wildlife science at Paul Smith's College. Besides counseling I spend my year in the heart of the Adirondacks watching and taking care of animals, as well as hiking, fishing, and enjoying nature's beauty. I'm super excited to be back at camp this summer to have even more great experiences this year.


Another new addition to our staff is Nick! Nick will be joining us for the first time this year, but he has been up to camp during the clean up, and we know he is going to fit in to our camp family. He will be one of our male counselors.

My goal for this summer camp is to give the kids a summer they will never forget. I want to learn how to be a good counselor so I can go and finally start working towards the life I would love to live

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!