Ed’s Corner: What a Winter!

I know that I have always said that if we live in a four-season climate then let each season really be itself. Well, that is definitely happening this year!

Ice skating on the Pond happened as early as mid-December; icicles galore hang from many of the roof edges of Green Meadow School; the Fairy stream has been iced over from bank-to-bank with fast, cold water rushing below; our many gardens are quietly under cover, biding their time until the late Winter sunshine starts to stir the life within; the cows, sheep and chickens have needed extra food and bedding as well as their frozen water changed more often; our regular hiking trails in Harriman State Park have become cross-country skiing trails; walking along the woodland paths has proven challenging, with an icy cover over a foot of snow causing one sometimes to stay on top, sometimes to break through.

We noticed that as we broke through the ice to the snow underneath, big slabs were created from the frozen crust. We took these big, flat pieces of ice and stuck them into untrampled snow in a circular pattern. We had our own ‘Snow-henge’!
How I wish that I could bring the other seasons – for a limited time – to our 6-weeks of summer camp. What fun it would be to explore Fall, Winter and Spring for, say, a week at a time and still have 3 weeks of Summer left!

I hope you are able to come to one of our public programs or Open Houses and experience a bit of winter at camp. Mark on your calendars March 6, the date of our Maple Sugaring program, an event that always signals the end of Winter and beginning of Spring.

Ice Skating? Yes! Swimming? Wait until Summer!

Ice Skating? Yes! Swimming? Wait until Summer!

Always Learning

Next month we (camp administrators) will attend the Tri-state Camp Conference, the largest gathering of camp professionals in the world. Sponsored by the American Camp Association (ACA), this 3-day meeting offers hundreds of workshops with titles such as “Play With Your Food: Camp Gardens and Food Education”, “Competition: Can Kids Live Without It?” (we think so) and “Creating and Fostering Parent Relationships and Partnerships”. We always come back from this event inspired, pumped up for the camp season to begin, more knowledgeable and with an even stronger conviction that the work we are doing with children is what is needed, different from other camps and very important, indeed!

A Reminder …

… about our summer options. Besides our regular 6-week camp season, June 27 – August 5, we also offer two more special programs.

Quest, July 11 – August 5

Our Quest Program for girls and boys ages 13-16 is an outdoor adventure based, skill-building and challenging alternative to our regular camp program. If your camper wants a ‘piece’ of our regular program as a nice lead-in to Quest, he or she may also enroll in our first two weeks, June 27 – July 8.

From the very beginning Quest campers will make new friends, be challenged and form a tight, cohesive group as they step forward to meet the challenges that await them. Unlike our regular camp program, Quest is only available for the full four weeks. We feel that this amount of time is necessary to develop a trusting and cohesive group.

‘Stepping forward’ is more than just a step – it is hiking, backpacking, canoeing, climbing, fire-building, cooking and living and learning in the out-of-doors. Questers will be out of camp ‘adventuring’ each week:

Week #1 – Flat Water Canoeing, Backpacking

Week #2 – Hiking the entire length of the AppalachianTrail through Harriman State Park

Week #3 – White Water Canoeing on the Delaware River

Week #4 – Rock Climbing in the Shawangunk Mountains

Campers will: practice minimal impact camping; learn to use map and compass; push themselves a little bit beyond their comfort zones; take in the natural beauty of the areas they will be traveling through; feel comfortable and safe in a variety of outdoor settings; maybe have the most memorable Summer of their life; and did we mention yet, have lots of FUN!

Quest will be one group of 12-16 campers. Quest counselors will be experienced working with groups of teens in the outdoors, compassionate and professional. They will have attended our week-long Orientation and will be supervised and supported throughout the Summer by Nature Place administration and staff.

Any ‘Quest-ions”? Give us a call or an email.

Farm and Garden Days

We could have also called this program The Dog Days of Summer because mid-August, the dates of the program August 8 – 19 (immediately after our regular 6-week program), are hot and humid and often referred to as ‘the Dog Days’. This term comes not from panting, lying around, lazy canines but from the so-called dog star – Sirius – that now begins to rise in the evening sky.

This program, run  in conjunction with the Pfeiffer Center of The Threefold Educational Foundation, focuses, as the name implies, on our farm and organic (really organic plus – biodynamic) gardens that the campers have worked in and visited throughout the Summer. It is a much smaller program than our regular camp and has a different, slower-paced rhythm to it. The hours are 9am-4pm, like the regular camp, with before-camp care and after-camp care available, as well as busing from Manhattan.

Campers  6 – 12 years old will usually be in the gardens during the cooler mornings, involved with such hands-on activities as making compost, harvesting, weeding, tending the honeybees, baking pizza in our outdoor clay oven, smelling the flowers, tasting herbs, making colors from dye plants, drinking sun teas, learning about the earth and how we can nurture it as it nurtures us, exploring  plant life cycles, watching butterflies, laughing, playing games and having FUN!

There is swim time after the garden, followed by lunch. Campers can bring their own lunches or there is an optional, organic hot lunch available through the Threefold Café (on our grounds) and Chef Anthony LoPinto.

After lunch the group usually heads up to the farm where campers could be involved with animal care (cows and sheep), collecting eggs and holding the chickens, berry picking, ‘rocking’ the fields, harvesting, milking cows, making cheese, working with the sheep’s wool and more. Besides garden, farm, swim and lunch, campers will also do cooking, earth art, cooperative games, storytelling, hand crafts, singing, woodland explorations and more.

Staff will be some of the regular season camp counselors plus interns and staff from the Pfeiffer Center. Carol Avery is the Program Director and she, as well as Ed Bieber, will be working directly with campers.

Campers can sign up for one or both weeks of the program. Because Farm and Garden Days is a small program we recommend reserving a spot as soon as you can.

Winter Buddies

You’ll find plenty of ‘buds’ on most bare tree branches. It’s hard to imagine any life in these buds on the coldest, windiest Winter days, but the promise of Spring is inside every one. You might want to try opening one or two of the buds to see what’s inside. In late winter, you can even ‘trick’ the bud into thinking it’s already Spring – cut a small branch with some of your ‘buddies’ on it from its tree or shrub and place it in a container of water inside the house. Watch what happens. This can work especially well with forsythia, pussy willow, red bud, magnolia, crab apple, cherry, honeysuckle, lilac, dogwood and wisteria.