Not Lost on a Mountain in Maine

There’s a famous tale in Maine, the story of a 12 year old boy named Donn Fendler who got lost on Mount Katahdin, in the largest wilderness of Maine. For 9 days, he survived on nothing but stream water, wild strawberries and prayer, struggling through treacherous terrain, until he finally stumbled upon a camp and was rescued.

This week ten lucky campers from Chop Point, inspired by Donn’s story, embarked on their own – much safer – Mount Katahdin adventure! They hiked the first leg of the journey to Chimney Pond, and then started the grueling ascent on Saddle Trail. The path winds up the beautiful mountainside, through trees and over streams, until it becomes a sheer scramble with hands and feet up a rock face. When they arrived, out of breath and sweaty, at the plateau a mile from the highest peak in Maine, they were greeted by winds gusting up to 40mph, fog, rain, and temperatures hovering around 40 degrees, conditions identical to those faced by Donn Fendler 80 years ago. A less hardy crew might have given up, but these campers pressed on, well protected by fleece jackets and rain coats, encouraged by chocolate and jokes from their counselors, until they reached the 5,268 foot summit.

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The climb back down was slippery and cloudy but unlike their predecessor, these campers stayed together, followed the trail closely, and made it safely back. It was a tired and wet gang that returned to the tents that afternoon, but there was no shortage of laughter and pride.

The next day, instead of simply returning to camp, the hikers decided to tackle another peak: South Turner Mountain, a 3,177 foot beauty with an alpine forest at the top. The distance was only 2 miles, but it was 2 miles of intense climbing up natural rock stairs that culminated in a final “mountain goat” scramble over boulders to the top. South Turner offered phenomenal views of Mount Katahdin and the surrounding backwoods, and everyone was content to sit and stare at the raw beauty. To make the day even better, on the hike down, the group stopped at a pond where 2 moose happened to be feeding! You’ve never seen a troop of teens fall silent so quickly.

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During his days lost in the forest, Donn Fendler always dreamt of a doughnut with a glass of milk. So in honor of his courage and their own accomplishment, the campers stopped off for doughnuts and milk and a quick dip in the river, before returning to Chop Point, singing all the way.

Daily Activities

Where did the time go? It feels like the campers only just arrived yesterday and yet we are wrapping up the first week of camp. Already the campers are talking like they have known each other for years instead of a few days.  Everyone is signed up for four daily activities that range from sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking to tennis, yogalates, and ultimate Frisbee. During each activity campers are given the chance to learn a new skill and have fun while doing it.

I have already mentioned the sailors, but it is worth mentioning again how well they are doing. The have advanced from simply going back and forth to the more complicated maneuvers, such as jibing and docking. The windsurfers have also been steadily improving.  Windsurfing is a hard thing to learn and the campers this year have all been doing a great job. A lot of them can get in and out from shore without any help at all.

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On land improv has been experimenting with different characters. Yesterday they were each given the opportunity to come up with a character to play and then they were sent out to interact with other campers while staying in character. Campers met old sea captains, young southern belles, and other characters from their imaginations. Yogalates, a mixture of about 2/3 yoga and 1/3 pilates is made up of entirely French girls. They have been working on core strength, balance, even breathing, and meditation. Photography classes spent the first few days taking pictures around camp and today started developing the film in the dark room.

Mountain biking  activities are taking advantage of the nicer weather this weekend and exploring the trails in the nearby woods. Ultimate Frisbee, a camp favorite, has continued its tradition of drawing in almost all of the free campers into a huge game almost every afternoon right before dinner. One camper told me yesterday that it is even better in the rain because you can slide even farther. Variety played an extended game of “The Floor is Lava” in the dining hall. I wasn’t there to see it, but I am sure that it was an interesting sight.

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For more updates and pictures check out our facebook page!

Getting Into the Swing of Things

First Session is in full swing here at Chop Point. All of the campers have arrived and we have had some spectacular bonding nights so far. The past two days have been guy’s night out, girl’s night in and girl’s night out, guy’s night in respectively. On the first night the girls all gathered in the dining hall and made 85 cookies while telling embarrassing stories and ended the night with a dance party. The guys decided to spread out across camp for an all-out game of capture the flag.  For their nights out, a few cabins went to get ice cream in the city of Bath while others made hobo dinners by the fire pit and followed it up by some s’mores. For those of you reading this that have never had the pleasure of having a hobo dinner it is when you wrap up hamburger meat, potatoes, carrots, and onion in tinfoil and set it in the coals of the fire to cook. It is always fun and one of my favorite camp meals.

Cranberry Cabin's Night Out

Cranberry Cabin’s Night Out

Monhegan Cabin's Night Out

Monhegan Cabin’s Night Out

Activities are also getting to full swing. We have had some rainy days, which are to be expected in Maine in June, but also some really nice days. Yesterday was beautiful and all of the activities got to go out. The sailors and windsurfers were doing amazing. During sessions we try to teach as many people as possible to sail on their own, instead of having a counselor sail with them. In the afternoon I saw at least three new sailors docking their boats for the first time and that is no easy feat. Variety was able to use the low ropes course yesterday and they all had an amazing time! Variety is an activity in which a group of about 20 campers does a different thing every day. Activities have ranged from extreme dodgeball to kite flying in the past.

Extreme Dodgeball Fort

Extreme Dodgeball Fort

The fourth is quickly approaching and with it the heat. The forecast this weekend reaches into the mid-80s. We are excited for the foreign campers to get to experience American pride at its finest. More updates to come!

Genesis: 1st Day of Camp

And we’re off! The campers are arriving from all over America and all across the world. We have campers from France, Spain, Nicaragua, and from England coming in today. As usual we had a few early birds show up before the one o’clock check in time. After that they came in a steady stream until almost all of our American campers had arrives. We have two large groups of French and Spanish campers coming in later tonight. For those here at camp we had activities running all afternoon, ranging from arts and crafts to ultimate Frisbee and the swim test. Before dinner, a bunch of campers got together on the steps of the lodge and were already talking like old friends.

Tonight’s evening activity is get to know you games. Everybody is outside right now playing evolution, which is an advanced form of rock paper scissors where each time someone wins a round they evolve. First they evolve from an egg to a chicken, then to a velociraptor and a princess and finally a rock star. Before that they learned each other’s names with cheers and trains of people and played “switch if”. All of the campers and counselors are having a blast and meeting a bunch of people in the process. This seems like an amazing group of campers and the staff can’t wait to spend the next three weeks getting to know them all.

 

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And that’s a wrap…

Community Week is over. We had an amazing week with some not so amazing weather and everybody was able to enjoy putting some new spins on their favorite activities. We ended the week strong with a couple of everybody’s favorite activities: Luau night and dodgeball night.

We had the weather clear up for luau on Monday night and everybody had a blast with an outside dinner, tiki decorating of one of their teammates, and canoe races. The counselors managed to successfully keep the campers from finding out about dodgeball night and when the announcement was made I am sure that the people across the bay could hear the cheering. The girls and guys wore red and blue respectively and met at the gym for a fierce battle. I personally enjoyed the sideline dance party that we had going on for those of us who got out a bit early.

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The final day of camp was beautiful with the sun shining and the wind blowing. We had our usual chicken barbeque and presentation outside on the lawn and all of the campers got to say goodbye to their counselors and friends. The campers were happy to see their parents, but sad to leave us. A great time was had by all involved and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer brings us!

Community Week

Camp is officially under way! The community week campers arrived two days ago from the surrounding towns here in Maine and camp is already in full swing. We had beautiful weather for the first day of camp. It might have been the best since I’ve been here and that is quite a few years. The sun was out and the wind was strong for the sailors and windsurfers, after the waterfront safety talk and swim test of course. The breeze also helped keep it cool for those out on the field playing soccer and ultimate Frisbee.

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The evening activity was counselor skits. Who doesn’t love watching people make complete fools of themselves on stage? I won’t say too much and ruin it for those of you coming later this summer, but I will say we had a little something up there for everyone and a whole lot of laughs for the whole group. We had a couple of campers rating each skit on a scale of 1-10 and when it was all over I asked them which skit won. The answer: Too many 10s to decide.

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Tonight’s activity is lip sync night! It is also Disney themed. The cabins eagerly prepared their songs and got their costumes ready during the day. The song lineup included: Do you Want to Build a Snowman, Under the Sea, I’ll make a man out of you and some other Disney classics.

The winning songs both came from Tangled. Little John won with an excellent recreation of “I’ve Got a Dream” and on the girl’s side, Isle au Haut put a new spin on “I See the Light.” Everyone did an amazing job and some teams got really creative with it, including a sugar verses medicine battle for Mary Poppin’s “A Spoonful of Sugar” by Acadia.

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Today is our first full day with regular activities. Everyone has been having a blast! We have been playing soccer, basketball, tennis, and ultimate Frisbee all morning and this afternoon we took out the sailboats in some pretty great wind. The skies are still a little cloudy but not enough to slow us down!

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Here is the link to the pictures we have uploaded to Picasa so far. Enjoy.

Community Program 2015

Here we go…

The counselors have arrived! Last Friday most of the staff and counselors got to Chop Point and met each other for the first time. This year’s group is full of incredible individuals, a pretty good chunk of whom come from Georgia (did you expect anything different?). Everyone has been bonding and getting along great. The whole group has really started getting into the swing of things and are excited for the campers to come!

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We have been spending our days scraping and painting, getting the art room and the gym set up and taking inventory of the beloved costume closet. The list included things such as blow up cactus, palm tree made of lights, three sombreros, and a mullet. Kez is back as our camp nurse and went to town the other day to stock up on supplies to keep us safe and sound all summer long. The counselors have also been really getting into planning morning Bible discussion for the cabins. I have heard some great topics being brought up during those hours.

Saturday was swim test day for the staff and everything went well. One of the counselors even swam extra laps! For those of you reading this who have taken the swim test, you know that is pretty much unheard of. The water was a warm 55ºF, which has coincidentally also been the temperature of the air for the last week. Throw in some rain and you’ve got a typical June in Maine.

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On Sunday we all got to go to the local church to meet some of the people who have been and will be praying for us all summer. Kez also gave a small talk on her missions in Haiti. When we got back to camp we got to take out the sailboats for the first time! The wind was really going and no one capsized! I won’t talk about what happened on the second day… Yesterday we added windsurfing to the list of waterfront activities the staff is enjoying. Dave told everyone who was going that they would need wetsuits and one brave counselor decided that he would probably be fine. He changed into a wetsuit about 10 minutes later. Did I mention the 55ºF water temperature?

At night we have been hard at work on our skits. Not to toot our own horn, but they are pretty great this year. We have some super creative, funny staff members! One of our girl counselors has improv experience and has been teaching us all the ropes with some interesting games. I think the people across the Bay can hear the laughter, I hope they know that this is only the beginning…