After eighteen years in Maryland, I have been enchanted with our true Adirondack winter. Snowfall on the pine trees, lake walks where this fall I paddled a canoe, and boundless opportunities for cross country skiing have transformed my winter into an active and vibrant outdoor adventure.
While Camp Chingachgook conjures images of summertime in the minds of many, there are those like me who have discovered Chingachgook’s secret winter paradise. This February we welcomed a new school to the Chingachgook Campus. The Swain School of Allentown PA choose Camp Chingachgook for their winter outdoor education trip. Led by eighth grade humanities teacher Bradley Hirsh and health education teacher Julia Getty, the group stayed in the Brookside cabins for three days. Our Adirondack winter did not disappoint.
Upon arrival, students loaded their gear in sleds and pulled them across our snowy campus to the cabins. They participated in teambuilding classes, eco- art activities, and ice-fishing. In the true spirit of challenge-by choice, they set off on a snowshoe expedition and collectively agreed to forge on from first lookout to second lookout; a satisfying accomplishment for 7th and 8th graders who had never been on snowshoes before!
These middle school students spent three days immersed in winter. Active outdoors in temperatures below zero, many commented that they expected it to feel colder. They disconnected from electronics and reconnected with nature and one another, challenged themselves in new ways, and came away with a positive experience in the outdoors.
Celebrating wonder and joy in the world around us builds personal resilience and optimism. Winter is an especially important time to bolster these traits. As we continue to promote outdoor education programs at Camp Chingachgook, I look forward to sharing our winter paradise with many more student groups in years to come.
Group Services Director