September 4th, 2008


Annual Camping trip

This past weekend I went on the almost annual camping trip with a bunch of dancing friends. This time we went to Wilgus State Park (VT). I've been to quite a few Vermont State Parks and this was pretty different. It wasn't deep in the woods but instead it was small, long and narrow and on the edge of the Connecticut River. We had the Group Camp site which had 3 shelters, 3 fireplaces, 4 tables, lots of space and was isolated from the rest of the park. There wer lots of very tall pines and oaks (acorns dropped frquently) At the edge of our site there was a steep bank down about 40 feet to the river and view was very nice. The only down side was you could hear traffic noise from the nearby highway but it wasn't bad. And this place had Verizon cell access so I could keep up with baseball results. It rained a bit early saturday night (I wasn't there then) but there was plenty of shelter (some brought) so every one stayed dry. I enjoyed the sounds of the dripping rain and acorns on my tent that night.

I brought my assigned food (especially fish and corn), my splitting maul and a hatchet, some kindling which is sometimes hard to find on these sites, some pots and grills, tongs, plus my tent sleeping bag and clothes and my standard camping kit.

There were eleven of us and we all had a great time. On Saturday I was gone for the whole day because I went to a camp reunion (to be described later). The rest of the crowd went to the Saint-Gaudens Memorial which by all accounts was pretty interesting. He was a sculptor and some of his stuff appears on some US gold coins. On Sunday we went canoeing and kayaking on the river. We chose to go upstream which was also against the wind. We stopped on an island in the middle of the river and had lunch snacks there. Was it in Vermont or New Hampshire?

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There was a small group of lesbians at another site who some of us visited. They said there was going to be a volley ball game. I asked if they were going to play and they said only if the gay boys come. I explained that we would probably be quite busy cooking and eating.

Cooking and eating - that's what we do. Dinner friday was mostly stuff people had brought such as the bean/cashew/canteloupe salad I brought - there were lots of fresh vegetables and salad. Breakfasts were apple and peach pancakes, sausages, oatmeal, eggs and vegetables. Dinner saturday was grilled burgers, hot dogs, tuna and sword fish, corn, various vegetables, peach cobbler. Dinner sunday was more burgers and sausages, corn, fish stew (cod and hake), and lots of vegetables. There was lots of coffee including beans and a grinder.

Ah lots of fun.... And probably again next year....

The Camp Killooleet reunion

The Labor day weekend's camping trip was the same weekend as a camp reunion of a summer camp, Camp Killooleet, I attended and was a councillor at for a number of years. The occasion was the 60th anniversary of the ownership of the current owners. Conveniently it was nearby the camp site (about an hour and a quarter drive) so I went there all day Saturday - leaving at 7am and returning a bit after 1am.

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This was one incredible camp - with 8-week sessions for 80-100 campers. I was a camper there from 1948-1951 and a councillor from 1959-1961. (This is not the camp where I was the councillor of Robert's brother!). I was the canoeing and sailing councillor; we had aluminum canoes and small sailing dinghies (obtained at my request) and was also the hike day and trip organizer - Wednesday was (and still is) hike day and we took 2 (or maybe 3) overnighters a year.

Like all camps there was a good mix of activities but here there was a special emphasis on building the community of the camp and allowing kids to have a lot of choice in what they did so the day was not all programmed and kids could develop their personalities and actually do what they wanted. Councillors met frequently to go over kid's problems andi was quite effective - you could see kids blossoming out through the course of the season. A lot of what I learned here as a councillor helped me be a very good manager and participant in other activities. In any work group (or volunteer group) the dealing with personalities and the strengths and weaknesses of the people is a very important component of being successful.

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Among other things we sung this round at the campfire:
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It is pretty amazing that after 47 years of absence everything looked pretty much the same. Cabin 7 where I was a councillor had been replaced by a new but similar looking building; Cabin 6 where I'd been a councillor in a previous year looked exactly the same. When I wandered in the living room and looked around I did notice new skylights (installed when they enlarged the kitchen) and then I looked at the bookshelves and saw a copy of Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome that I had read (I've since reread it several times since it was one of my favorite children's books). Somethings had changed - for example, the pony corral was gone because they now have horses and keep them at the farm they now own that is across Rt 125.

Of the about 60 people there I knew (or once knew) about 10 of them. It is pretty amazing talking to someone who you last saw 57 years ago when he was 10 and I was 12. At the campfire people told about their camp experiences. One person, an old friend of mine said - Killooleet saved me. I grew up with dysfunctional parents (they certainly were as I remember) and at camp I discovered there were normal people who treated me like a person. Another person recalled that once when she was agonizing about something her councillor said "What do you want?" and she realized that her parents had never asked that question - they programmed and micromanaged her.

All in all it was a great day and it brought back some fine memories. I'd relive that part of my life with great pleasure.