Fires, Arborist Climbing and Open House

Dear Parents and Friends,

It’s back to business as usual tonight and please know that I was on a day off yesterday.  Tonight’s sunset was just wonderful.  I tried to capture a photo but my camera needed charging.  Also tonight was twilight play where we extend the after supper activities way into twilight and have extended play time after dinner.  There were a number of activities offered from soccer to arts to bike rides, kayaking, horses and much, much more.  It’s a cooler time of day so even in the open areas it was nice.  Great dinner tonight of meat loaf, mashed potatoes, corn, fresh cheese bread, and carrot cake.  Delicious!

I started off the morning by checking in on Outdoor Living Skills who were building fires to roast some marshmallows.  I encountered the group when I noticed a group of them hanging out at the OLS meeting spot and they all had a variety of sticks in their hands.  So after the period started I wandered over with my video camera and paid them a visit.  Having worked in camping for a few years I know a thing or two about starting fires.  I’ve started fires using every conceivable means and some that were inconceivable.  This group’s challenge was not so much getting the fire going but keeping it going.  When I got there they were just lighting small pieces of kindling and then not feeding it but thinking it would burn on once they got a flame.  I watched and waited and then after a only a few remaining coals from sticks about the size of a pencil lead, I showed them how they could revive the fire just by blowing gently and consistently on it while concentrating the kindling closer to the middle.  We proceeded to hold about 10 revivals of the fire and again it was not feeding enough wood to keep it going.  Everyone got a chance to blow and blow, some hard, some soft, some down, some through and some just almost blew it out.  Watching children build a fire and get it going is one of my favorite things in life.  They can learn so much about a fire in a short period of time and it’s usually pretty predictable unless you have pouring rain and thoroughly soaked wood.  These guys did a great job of getting to the point where they had a roaring small fire just big enough to nuke their marshmallows.  Of course roasting marshmallows is a whole different topic and one not to be taken lightly.  While there we talked about how man maybe first learned about fire and what their thoughts were and how they learned to harness it and carry it.  There’s something deep inside us that’s attracted to fire and all its mystery.  I think it really comes out in young children.

After my fire episode I went over to watch some of the Arborist Climbing that takes place just outside the office.  It’s a fascinating way to make your way up into a tree and in this case it’s two of our giant Poplar trees.  Look for them on closing day just in front of the office on the left as you walk in.  You’ll notice some tarp cord hanging from the limbs that we use to haul the ropes up each time we open the activity.  Instead of climbing the tree we climb the rope using a Blake’s Hitch which is a knot that grabs the rope under tension but releases when it’s not under tension.  There are many types of knots like that but the Blake’s Hitch is favored among the men and women who climb in trees without damaging them.  There’s a great book out called “The Wild Trees”.  It’s a true story and is about some of the folks who pioneered this method and how they used arborist climbing in their research of our big trees in America.  It’s not an easy sport and is demanding, fun to do and great for all those young energetic bodies.  In years past it’s been more popular than our traditional climbing activity.

Just before lunch I attended what we call an open house, where a camp leadership member visits a cabin with an activity leader and asks lot of questions to the campers about their experience so far at camp.  The cabin counselors are not there and this morning I paid a visit to Rose Bay.  Everyone was in a great mood and I asked the girls to describe their counselors one at a time using just three words.  First of all children are very honest and enjoy telling you about their counselor especially when they really like them.  These girls went on and on about Jenna and Calyce.  We discussed all kinds of things and you do see how the staff members are doing with the campers and frankly that’s what the purpose is.  You also gain a lot of info on how the girls are getting on with one another.   It’s a good way to get a read on all aspects of the cabin as well as the activities they are involved with and what they would change about camp if they could.  I wish I could go round to all the cabins but we’ve got a capable staff who do well with reporting back from the “open houses”.  Just trying to keep our finger on the pulse of camp and make it the best possible experience it can be for your children.

Stay tuned!