It’s a strange thing, summer camp. This place we call our second home for 2-3 months of every year. Most of us only ever see our camps in those same sunny months, with green grass, and leafy trees, warm water in the lake and the pool ready for action. It’s often hard to imagine that camp looks any different for the rest of the year. In ‘summer’ mode is how you imagine camp, and it probably always will be, but have you ever wondered what your beloved home away from home looks like in the opposite season?
Two weeks ago I had the chance to visit my camp for a long weekend and see what it’s like to be there in the winter, something I’ve always wanted to experience since my very first summer back in 2011. And it really didn’t disappoint. Coming from England, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much snow in my life before, and seeing camp entirely covered in it was something pretty magical. It’s sounds super cheesy, but I really can’t express enough how beautiful it was – there were times as I jumped about in snow up to my knees that it took my breath away. I couldn’t get the smile off my face as I looked around in awe at this place that I had previously only known in the summer.
On my first full day there, I went for a very long walk around camp, tracing the steps that I do multiple times each day during the summer. I walked up the hill to the office, passing the climbing tower and tennis court, the health lodge, library lawn and oval, all buried under a mountain of glistening, crispy snow. I ventured up to girl’s camp, the tent platforms in Junior and Pioneer girls barely visible. I wandered past the Creative Arts building, all closed up for winter.
I walked around the track, up to the Nature building, where trees stood cold, their branches covered in snow. I trudged through Senior and Student girls sections, the snow so deep in places I thought I might get stuck, before (very carefully) clambering down the snow filled stairs to the Performing Arts building, where I went up onto the balcony and looked out in amazement at the snow-filled swimming pool. It was a whole different world than what I was used to.
The weekend went by in a blur of fun and activity. We hosted a fun sledding event on the Saturday morning, with plenty of kids (and adults too) enjoying the snow as they sped down Senior Hill. The afternoon saw us go on a spontaneous adventure across the frozen lake to Turtles Cove, where we could hear the rushing of the water underneath the frozen waterfall. To be able to walk across a massive body of water that I have only ever seen filled with kayaks, canoes, sailing boats and water-skiers is something quite spectacular. It was so quiet, so peaceful, just us and the snow. Standing out in the middle of the lake, looking back at the shore and the Boathouse is an experience I’ll never forget.
Sunday was the perfect day to head to the mountains for an awesome afternoon of skiing and snowboarding. Catamount was calling, a ski area where you can come down one side of the mountain into New York, while the other side takes you into Massachusetts – why play in one state when you can go to two in the same afternoon?!
Then the snow started to fall. And it didn’t stop until Tuesday. It was like the sky was falling. I stood at the window for most of Monday, watching as the snow rose up around the house, burying everything in sight. It was stunning.
Stunning. That’s how I would describe the whole weekend. To be able to experience camp in a different season, and see what it’s like all silent and still was something I’ve been dreaming about for years. And (if this is even possible), it made me love it even more. It showed me that camp is special all year round, even when it’s empty of campers and counselors, quiet from the sounds of life and laughter that are everywhere you go during the summer. It’s like camp goes into hibernation over the winter, conserving its energy, ready and waiting to burst back into life once the sun comes out again and everyone returns.
Ready and waiting for summer.