Monday, July 20, 2009

Camp Treetops

This past weekend I took a day drip with my father up into the Adirondacks. Now, for those of you who know me, you've heard me talk about this place. I consider it my favorite place in the world. Situated right in the thick of the Adirondack mountains is a School/Summer camp called North Country School / Camp Treetops. I was a camper here for 4 summers, and worked as a counselor for one summer. It's hard to explain to people what sort of place this, because, to my knowledge, there is nothing like it on earth. I have posted 5 photos from my one day stay. It was parent's visiting day for the campers, and I went to visit my cousin since his parents could not make the trip up from Florida. The kids live at this camp for 7 straight weeks, venturing out on all sorts of trips and taking part in a plethora of activities. Ages range from 10/11 up until I believe 16/17. The camp is divided into Sr. Camp, for 13/14-16/17 and, and Jr. Camp for the younger kids. I could photograph this place for the rest of my life and never express the atmosphere of Treetops.

The water front is a popular place. With boating opportunities ranging from 100 year old canoes to sailing sun fish and capris, to trying your best at windsurfing or rowing. Swim lessons are a daily occurrence and are mandatory for all campers. The lake is notorious for it's temperature, and the occasional pink whale sighting.
Scenery like this is 360 degrees. You can't look any direction and not see the peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. Hiking trips, ranging from day trips, to quadruple overnights, venture out to conquer the 46 peaks over 4000 feet in elevation, dubbed - The 46ers.
Music is an huge part of camp life. Every morning, after select kids complete early morning barn chores and join the rest for breakfast, they will head out to tent clean-up. The tents are large, fixed wooden frames covered with a burlap tarp to form a tent. The hold 4 campers and are weather resistant (although this summer has seen only 3 days of full sun in the 3 weeks since it started, so nothing is completely dry). After tent cleanup is Council, a twice daily ritual. Songs are sung with musical accompaniment, after which the days activities are laid out and campers can decide what they are going to do.
During this week, parents got to participate in camp life with their children. Parent's are only allowed to visit once during the 7 week summer. Other than that, they can communicate with their children via letters. Campers are required to send at least one letter back home per week. Parents can send packages too, but they are inspected upon opening for "contraband" which includes any sort of electronics or candy. Camp has a strict philosophy that helps makes ever camper equal. Nobody has nicer stuff, or cooler gadgets, than anybody else. They are there to experience nature and do some personal discovering.
The dining hall, where breakfast, lunch, and dinner is served everyday. Tables are rotated every week so campers eat with new people. Each table is headed by a staff member at the head of the table, while campers rotate around the table, take daily turns at being "waiter". It is the waiters job to get food for the table, as well as replenish things like water and milk (no soda and juice is a treat), clear the table, sponge it off, and sweep the floor. The food is all organic, and when possible, harvested from the on-sight garden, by campers themselves. Waste is either composted, or given to the pigs. Sunday morning is usually pancakes or french toast for breakfast, followed by "Fund Lunch". Simply water and soup. The money saved from this meal is put into a fund. At the end of the summer, the campers vote on a charity to donate the money to.

I wish I could show you so much more, but I was only there for a day. There are many other things that go on in camp, like the different shops (nature, craft, wood, pot) as well as field games, rock climbing, and tree-climbing, to name a few. Someday I'll be back to work when life slows down. I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.