Fortitude

By Sandy Schenck

Today has been a great day for “Fortitude” at the Green River Preserve.  After breakfast this morning (French toast, scrambled eggs, cereal, granola, fruit, yogurt… hmmm, I do love camp!), campers and staff set out on more adventures. (Photos are online, but include a few we missed from yesterday)

Many more campers can now claim the status of Polar Bear, thanks to mentor hikes up to Uncle’s Falls.  (And they had a beautiful, sunny morning for making their stand under the waterfall.)  Another group went up to our Indian Cave; legend has it Native Americans used the cave as a hiding place in times past.  The cave has 3 rooms; to get into one, you have to slither on your stomach through a narrow passageway that’s about 6 feet long.  The group exploring today took along a collection of Native American stories, which they read by candlelight.  Another group, hiking up to the Lower Bald, spied a ringneck snake; this group also identified sassafras root.  They also ate—wild, ripe blueberries—and more ants—one camper snacked on 17 black ants, to be exact!  Our group visiting the Hemlock Field saw an otter eating a crawfish.  Even more exciting, this group saw a venomous snake—a copperhead!  That’s our first animal that counts toward a Grand Slam for the session!  (When campers and staff have seen a turkey, a bear, a deer, and a venomous snake, that’s a Grand Slam, and we celebrate with an ice cream party.)

It’s hard to follow such an exciting morning, but after lunch and rest hour, campers started their second day of activities.  For many of our campers, they are trying out new activities, and we are proud of their fortitude in taking on new challenges.  Several campers are taking BB Skeet; they shoot at paper targets, but they also shoot at old soda cans and Chewy Sweetarts—which explode satisfyingly when shot in exactly the right spot.  Other campers tried out fencing for the first time, parrying and thrusting on the West Field.  In outdoor cooking, campers made banana boats—they slit open bananas, stuffed them with marshmallows and chocolate sauce, wrapped them in foil, and let them roast over an open fire.  General consensus held that this was a pretty good idea!  Our fly-fishers had a great day—after practicing their casts for a while, they began fishing for real, and a couple of campers—one of whom has a birthday today—caught big trout.  What a great birthday present!  We will also celebrate his birthday tonight, with a birthday cake.

We will finish the day with a camp-wide game of Predator/Prey.  In this simulation game, campers gain a new understanding of fortitude—from an animal’s perspective.  Campers and staff are assigned categories of animals, ranging from insect to hawk.  Most of the “animals” dress in camouflage; the “hawks,” however, are required to wear brightly-colored clothing.  These animal groups run all around Base Camp, “foraging” for resources; they can also capture members of other groups and absorb them into their group.  When the game is over, we’ll discuss strategies animals use for evading predators, including hiding and running.

So much to do, so little time to do it in!  But we are doing our best to pack it all in—we are strong!—and we’re loving every minute of it.