The new year brings us a time of reflection and goal setting for the year ahead. Here at Camp, we take the time to plan for a new year with new programs and exciting changes – but 2020 also brings the start of a new decade. For 107 years, Chingachgook has been strengthening communities by providing high quality experiences in the outdoors that allow children and adults alike to learn, grow, connect with others and make lasting memories. This January provided me the time to look back at all the ways Chingachgook has grown in the last 10 years and how our campers, staff, students, volunteers, families, and myself have grown alongside Camp.
A few major items have changed in both my life and at Camp in the past decade and I thought it would be a great way to start 2020 by thinking back and celebrating those accomplishments. In 2010 as we started the decade, I was working on our waterfront team in the summer, teaching swimming and sailing and perfecting my boat docking skills, while spending the rest of the year working towards completing my degree at Ithaca College. What I didn’t know than was when I returned to the waterfront team after graduating IC in 2011, that I would be launching a career path that has moved me from Lake George, to California to Boston and now back to Lake George, working full time at the place I first fell in love with camping! I am pretty sure I had the greatest “office” of my life when I was on the waterfront team from 2010-2012. I loved spending everyday on the docks and even loved the small cabin we used as the home base for one of the busiest program areas at Camp. The biggest facilities project we’ve tackled in the last 10 years happened in 2013 and has drastically changed the landscape at our waterfront for the better! While the old waterfront headquarters holds a special place in my heart, it’s rustic charm was no longer functional for the amount of skill classes and other activities happening at the waterfront.
This decade also marked Chingachgook’s centennial year! It is incredible to think of all the lives that have been impacted over 100 years because of the magic of Chingachgook. At the start of our centennial summer (2013), we celebrated the completion of the Sidford Family Sailing Pavilion, which has increased access for our Y-Knot Sailing participants and bettered all of our waterfront programming for summer camp, adventure trips, school groups and weekend programs! Our centennial celebration lasted all summer long – with on Camp firework displays every session and one of our biggest Alumni Reunions to date. The summer of 2014 welcomed a unique session schedule, with camp offering 7 sessions due to the NYS school calendar. 2014 was also the only summer in this decade that I did not work the full season at Camp, but I did make sure to take a week of vacation from my job in Boston in order to lead a sailing Adventure Trip with Craig Poole as my co-leader! Craig and I are now both working full time at Camp and it is just another example of things coming full-circle here at Chingachgook.
In the late spring of 2015, I enthusiastically moved back to the shores of Lake George full-time after accepting the Summer Camp Director position. It has been my pleasure to help lead our summer camp programs over the last 5 summers. In addition to seeing more and more campers join over the past 5 years, we have also completed some pretty exciting projects! In 2017 we completed renovations on the Old Infirmary, now known as Cedar Lodge, which remains the oldest building on Camp. We added skill classes such as Makerspace, Garage Band & the Newsroom and saw the popularity of our 46er Adventure Trip skyrocket. We removed the old Headquarters building, which was falling into disrepair, and began planning for a new Headquarters/Health Lodge building – which we are excited to say we will be breaking ground on in 2020! And at the close of this decade, we started the Alumni Hall of Fame this past Fall in order to celebrate our history and commemorate those who have gotten us here! When I started at Chingachgook as a camper 16 years ago I would’ve never guessed that this place, and its people, would define not only career but also my character as a person, but I am so grateful it did and I feel so lucky to be a #ChingachgookKid.