Bridges, Piglets, Pudding and More!

Dear Parents and Friends,

If you missed the Blog last night or this morning, it was because I was on a day off.  So.. we have some catching up to do.  The weather, which has been the big story at camp, had mellowed in the past couple of days.  Very little rain yesterday until dinner time and just sprinkles today mixed with sun which was wonderful.  Last night it rained a good bit from about 3 AM on and cleared in time for breakfast.  Everyone has been a trooper about the weather.  After a while you don’t really notice that everything is damp.  I went to one of our campout shelters tonight to help get a fire going for one of the cabins who were camping out.  I’m pretty good at getting a fire started and I must admit it was challenging.  Eventually everyone was warm, fed and loaded up on smores.  Speaking of food we didn’t need any more dessert at dinner tonight, which was scrumptious.  Ravioli, salad, fresh broccoli, garlic bread and chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream and strawberries.  When many cabins are camping out there’s more space in the dining room and usually fewer people at the table.  We had dessert for 11 and only six people sat at the table.  We ate until no one could eat anymore pudding.  One camper said she can’t eat any more chocolate for a long time (we’ll see how long that lasts).

Our camp photographer is on a day off so pics tomorrow might not be loaded until very late tomorrow night.  Tomorrow is “Special Day” at camp and it’s a secret at this point.  Matt has many things in store from minute challenges to special clues that will take us to faraway destinations.  We’ll fill you in on the details tomorrow night.

Since fire building is such a big deal in this wet weather the campers have been learning that skill in OLS.  With the weather finally clearing a bit yesterday, everyone was encouraged to learn to build their own little fire.  I think next week they’ll tackle hobo stoves which are fun and easy to make.   Today OLS was engineering a bridge over “Forget Me Not Stream”, which comes out from under the Lodge and empties into the lake.  That stream, in the ole days, began at a spring head which is still there and was the camp water fountain.  There was a deep pool with several communal cups that everyone drank out of.  Those were the days before health laws – obviously.  Those working on the bridge today found a giant orange salamander while working.  It was a Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber).  http://www.herpsofnc.org/herps_of_nc/salamanders/Pserub/Pse_rub.html   Check out the link to view this specimen.  I’ve found them in my front yard under moist leaf duff, but never in a stream in moving water.  We promptly sent him on his way to another part of the stream so no one would step on him or her.  The bridge they built was made of bamboo and would carry the weight of a camper to cross over the stream.  It was all built with lashing and no hardware.  Hats off to our scouts in the group and those staff who have those skills.

Sometimes it seems all we do is eat and we harvest a lot of that good food we eat at the farm.  I went down to the farm today to check on our baby piglets that were born a day before the session started.  I was hoping the birth would be after the campers arrived but it was the Saturday before.  There are 4 little piggies and boy are they growing fast.  After visiting with the newborns, the group fed the calves and then started picking blueberries.  We have a bumper crop this year because of all the moisture and I expect blackberries will be the same around camp.  These are planted bushes at the farm and it’s very tempting not to eat your fill while picking.

Climbing our big Arborist trees was back to normal with better weather today.  It’s one of my camp favorites and we have two giant poplars that the campers can climb.  Unlike climbing in the hemlocks the campers ascend the rope using a special knot called a Blake’s Hitch.  Look it up on the web and see how it’s used in tree climbing.

Monday our Main Camp campers will be venturing out on trips, climbing, paddling kayaks and hiking.  Mountain bikers went out today to Dupont State Forest and may go out again on Monday.  Riverside leaves for their paddling component on Monday and Mountainside starts their training days on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I spent about an hour working with Riverside today on the lake and will spend another session with them tomorrow to refine their strokes before hitting moving water.  They are a great group and I would love to get out with them this coming week.  We’ll see … so stay tuned!