Monthly Archives: July 2015

Heat Wave in NY, Mass, Conn, Tex, Fla??

Written by Laura Pierce - Owner/Director, Camp Birchmont

Summer 2015

Well, we are having double swim days here, but nothing is melting except our ice cream…

We are still enjoying active days, and cool nights at Birchmont. Our Super Seniors began their morning climb up Mt Chocurua which has become something of a rite of passage for our oldest campers. The mighty mountain is part of the White Mountain National Forest and is approx. 3,475 ft to the summit via the Piper Trail off the Kancamagus Highway, nationally ranked in the top ten scenic highways in the country. The top of the mountain was a cool 72 degrees with a stiff breeze. Then its off to Poor People’s Pub/Restaurant for some rewarding food and relaxation with friends and counselors who made the trek. The biggest reward however is the incredible 360 degree view from the top which encompasses the mountains of Presidential Range and valleys below, the wild blueberries along the way aren’t bad either.

Our Explorer group was off to Funtown/Splashtown, a favorite trip and perfect way to beat the heat. The rest of camp played all morning and enjoyed extended beach time at the waterfront. The ski boats were busy; campers had to be inspired by the terrific waterski show we enjoyed for evening activity. The professional team who did a variety of trick and speed skiing had members from 9 to 30 years old, all performing with an amazing level of skill and fun. The music, the atmosphere of having the whole camp focused and gathered doing the wave, cheering the skiers on a beautiful, perfect night ended gracefully with the setting sun , and expressions of delight an awe from our youngest to oldest.

Tomorrow, our kitchen delivers a surprise night of exotic cuisine and decoration. We will try to take some photos so you can get a glimpse of a very popular meal which has become one of our beloved traditions centered around food. Did you have Breakfast in Bed, Brunch, Italian Night, Deli Day, Thanksgiving, Mexican Fiesta and Island Night when you went to camp? Betcha you did not, but camp food has changed through the years, and we have led that charge with healthy, variety and choices. We are proud that our campers and counselors appreciate the work and prep to make meals delicious and different over the summer. Stay cool, we will too.
Summer Heat Wave 2015

The Campfire Show 2015!

Written by Laura Pierce - Owner/Director, Camp Birchmont

Camp Birchmont
And the Tony Award goes to…

Well, if we were on the voting committee we would of course nominate ourselves with an award in the category of Most Original Camper Variety Show of the summer season. The sheer joy of it!!

Last Saturday night the whole camp gathered in our Lodge where the stage was set with a starry night, birch log and blazing campfire backdrop (created with the help of fan and colored tissue paper). Our Emcees from the Super Senior group introduced a variety of talented acts, dressed in an insane number of eye-popping costume changes which just made everybody smile from the get go. Shout out to Mark E., Jack B., Alex P., and Courtney A. for keeping things moving along. The zaniness right from the start meant there was no denying this was a camp show by camp kids, for camp kids, and proved to be one of the most entertaining evenings of the summer. No intermission was necessary as the show was tight and terrific.

Renee M. performed an original Birchmont re-mix of pop song “Tic-Toc” that was completely clever and perfectly sung. Of course Renee was the winner of last year’s nationwide contest of Campers Got Talent, a novel and fun idea executed by the staffers of a popular camping industry photo outfit. So Renee kicked off the night with a true highlight of what was to come.

The 3 siblings Raquel, Dan and Isabella also gave a stand out performance with an incredible hip hop dance number that brought everyone to their feet. Our youngest girls delivered an adorable, well executed dance routine of “Time of Our Lives (At Camp)”, followed by a great piano and song performance by Genevieve F. with Billy Joel’s ” I’m Movin’ Out”.

There were some lovely solos sung by Jamie M., and Samantha B. and some dynamic duets delivered beautiful by Chloe S. and Jane A., and Antalya L. on piano and Marina S. who sang like a bird.

Kayla M. performed with Steve F. to the most interesting mix of “See You Again” which was one of the most original acts in the show.

We had a classical piano performance which was flawlessly played by Magnolia F., the song Arabesque was probably a familiar melody to many, but new for those who have not heard much classical music, respect was paid. Pioneer girls, Riley McK., and Rose K. gave us a well choreographed athletic dance number to “Rather Be”, and camper Davis L. showed us how it’s done in Florida with an incredible energetic hip hop solo which again brought campers to their feet cheering. Our super senior girls performed a moving rendition of “Ill Always Remember You” with so many pretty voices in tune, it was just “pitch perfect”.

Camp Birchmont

The guitar performance, (and there must be a guitar instrumental in any decent camp show) by Eli G. was a knock-out. Eli’s playing and singing of “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz became a joyous, spontaneous sing-along for the whole camp audience.

“I guess what I be saying is there ain’t no better reason
To rid yourself of vanities and just go with the season
It’s what we aim to do, our names are our virtue…
Open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn your free
Look into your heart and you’ll find that the sky is yours
So please don’t hesitate, no need to complicate,
Our time is short, this is our fate
I’m yours”

Perfectly fitting lyrics for our summer of fun!

We thank our music and arts and craft staff for the help with show direction and set /costume design Steve V., Cherry Y., Yasmine F., Lu G., and Francesca A.

Birchmont Pride

Written by Greg Howes - Director, Camp Birchmont

Camp Birchmont 2015

This year’s ICC (Inter Camp Competition) schedule is off to a flying start and Birchmont has landed some noteworthy championships already in our 3rd week of camp.

Most impressive were the 15 and Under Boys Tennis who went to Winaukee and dominated play throughout the tournament to win the overall championship and bring home the big hardware to a rousing dining room ovation.  Not to be outdone, the Birchmont girls traveled to Camp Robindel for the largest regional swim meet of the summer and 34 Birchmont swimmers proved too much for all the other teams as the girls finished as the overall first place team champions and invaded Bly’s Ice Cream on the way home for a cool celebration just as the boys had done after winning the tennis tournament.

Other victories and championships include the 13 and Under girls clean sweep of Robin Hood in a soccer and softball friendly play date… the 11 and Under girls double victory over Forest Acres in tennis and soccer… the 15U and 13U boys home tennis invitational first place sweep and a number of third place finishes – not to mention a dominating Spirit Day performance (60 sporting events in one day) versus our friends at Camps Kenwood and Evergreen.

Camp Birchmont 2015

With many more ICCs to come (13U and 15U Girls Tennis Invitational at home July 21, 15U Boys Tristate Softball Tourney July 21, 13U Boys Flag Football Tournament July 22 to name a few) perhaps the most successful ICC so far this summer happened on July 10 at Camp Tecumseh when the 15U Boys participated in a first of its kind “World Cup” soccer tournament facing off against 7 other regional camps.  Sweeping all 5 matches and winning the championship was impressive… but getting a call from tournament director Mark Luff (director at Tecumseh) to compliment all of our boys and coaches on exhibiting “class, good sportsmanship and humility” was really an amazing call to receive – and one that perhaps best embodies the success this summer of all of our Birchmont ICCs.

The campers and counselors have been nothing but stellar this summer on the fields and courts both home and away – something we all take great pride in as a camp community.   As the legendary coach Bear Bryant once said:

“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.”

So far this summer, that has proven to be very true for our Birchmont ICCs.  Way to go Birchmont!

Quiet Moments

Written by Laura Pierce - Owner/Director, Camp Birchmont

Camp Birchmont 2015We thought we’d share the impression of a Group Leader, Sara of the Pioneer Girls. She found herself caught by surprise the other day by the simple profundity of an unguarded conversation between her girls. We probably could write a whole series of the times counselors are awe-struck by their campers, and vice versa, but you’d really have to be in the moment here to appreciate the way personalities unfold at camp.

We are proud that our staff are people who are ever present; they guide campers towards independence, kindness, resilience, respect and positive thinking. But in the life of a camper, many lessons are self-taught.

A Moment…

Written by: Sara Guttentag, Group Leader of the Pioneer Girls

As I was walking up Girls Trail from the waterfront, I overheard two of my campers discussing the topic of time travel. One of the girls posed the question, “If you could time travel, would you choose to travel backwards in time, to the past or forwards into the future?”

One of the girls decided she would want to travel back in time, and her explanation was very thoughtful. By going back in time, she could learn from past mistakes and make more friends. With the hindsight knowledge and understanding that traveling into the past would allow, she felt she could establish stronger friendships and get to know people better. Her argument against future time travel was that jumping ahead would prevent her from getting to know the true character of people that she’d meet. While people often judge others from first impressions and appearances, she wanted to make sure that she has the chance to really get to know the person on the inside. She felt the opportunity to take her experience and use it, would make for a better future.

The maturity and insight that these young campers showed in a simple private conversation really stood out to me. At the age of 9, they were taking the time to discuss friendships and the value of meeting others. Although this moment was insignificant to them, I saw this conversation as a true testament to the importance of small moments that really contribute to the camp experience.

Walking up the trail with no other distractions allowed for honest, thoughtful conversation; unbeknownst to them while they were talking about creating stronger friendships and the value of learning from experience, they too were becoming better friends in the process.

 

We’ve Got Spirit How ‘ Bout You!

Written by Laura Pierce - Owner/Director, Camp Birchmont

What a glorious day we had at Pierce Camp Birchmont for our 10th consecutive Spirit Day!

Our boys had the home field advantage this year as our girls traveled to Wilton NH , while the boys hosted the day at Birchmont. All our campers were pretty psyched to defend our last year’s title. Every age group competed in all manner of athletic contests from the traditional field and court sports to heated games of dodgeball and Gaga .

Camp Birchmont

We served up a fine lunch of Helen’s chicken patties, (a camper favorite from our post camp surveys) and the girls had turkey chili over at Evergreen.

The rafters of Evergreen were shaking from the resounding cheers and chants while the girls enjoyed their lunch. The boys, sang less and ate more, devouring everything including the homemade chocolate chip cookies baked by our wonderful bakers Monica and Diane.

The afternoon competitions were fierce and fun. Under a clear blue sky, kids were playing everywhere, or resting in the shade waiting for their next games to begin. Water coolers dotted every field, as kids from both camps socialized and compared notes about camp life. The 100% participation fueled a wonderful camaraderie for all the players.

The athletic day at each camp concluded with both camps competing in the host team’s chosen event. Evergreen girls chose their beloved Bucket Brigade, an event they taught our girls two years before. We learned our lesson well as we tied that event this year. The Birchmont Braves hosted our ever popular tug of war, a traditional Color War Field Day event here at Birchmont. The cheering on the field was deafening as our oldest boys pulled their young men over the line, but Kenwood answered right back winning the age group just below.

Our day here at Birchmont was finished with a well earned swim at the waterfront before dinner for all our boys, and an after dinner swim for our girls who traveled home and had the bonus of catching a gorgeous Lake Wentworth sunset for their efforts. Annie Lenox said it best, “Great Days Are Made Of These..”

Camp Birchmont

Happy to say the Spirit Cup will remain at Birchmont for another summer, but the victory was not as important as the day’s take-away…The best kind of competitions are the ones which bring out the spirit of sportsmanship, camaraderie, and great heart.

Thanks to all the campers, staff, coaches, and drivers who made the day such a success. Special shout out to Greg Howes who coordinated the day with vision, enthusiasm and organization.

Well Rounded Athletes Can Yield Great Results In One Sport

Written by Laura Pierce - Owner/Director, Camp Birchmont

Focus on one sport at too young an age can result in burn-out and decreased enjoyment. This article from USA Today caught our eye, because we couldn’t agree more…

While specialization in one sport is becoming a concerning trend in youth sports, the victory of the US Women’s soccer team can be seen as proof that such an approach is not the only route to success. Camp Birchmont seeks to develop a well-rounded camper with exposure to many sports particularly those with lifelong appeal.

We hope you enjoy the article…

Summer 2015U.S. women were multi-sport athletes before focusing on soccer
By Martin Rogers, USA Today Sports

VANCOUVER – Abby Wambach is the greatest header of a ball in women’s soccer history, a fact she credits to … basketball?

The United States forward is gearing up for the last and most important game of her World Cup career, the one she hopes will plug the only remaining gap on her glowing resumè.

Yet Wambach believes that the success of her time in soccer, the end of which feels that much closer as the team prepares to face Japan in Sunday’s final, would not have been possible without her exploits on the hardwood in her youth.

“Playing basketball had a significant impact on the way I play the game of soccer,” Wambach said. “I am a taller player in soccer, in basketball I was a power forward and I would go up and rebound the ball. So learning the timing of your jump, learning the trajectory of the ball coming off the rim, all those things play a massive role.”

While specialization is a booming and concerning trend in youth sports, with athletes as young as 10 years old focusing solely on one discipline as competition for college scholarships and professional careers reaches extreme levels, the U.S. women’s team can be seen as proof that such an approach is not the only route to success.

A quick survey of members of the squad found that collectively they played at least 14 different sports competitively while growing up, as well as soccer. And significantly, all believe the other disciplines enhanced rather than hindered their soccer careers.

Summer 2015

Wambach lettered in basketball at Our Lady of Mercy High School in Rochester, N.Y., and could have played at the collegiate level. Midfielder Morgan Brian played basketball all four years of high school and says it is “the same game as soccer, in terms of vision.” Forward Amy Rodriguez swam, played softball and ran track. Lauren Holiday also competed in track, played basketball and baseball and “would have played football if they had let me.”

“Having that variety is an awesome thing and I would encourage any young athlete or parent not to restrict themselves,” Holiday added. “Doing different things develops different parts of your body. It can help prevent injuries and definitely help prevent burnout.”

Back-up central defender Whitney Engen might have been the busiest childhood athlete on the U.S. roster, describing her youth as a “whirlwind of athletic activity”. Engen competed in gymnastics, tennis, baseball, softball, swimming, lifeguarding, volleyball and beach volleyball while growing up in the Los Angeles area and is not a subscriber to the Malcolm Gladwell theory of Outliers.

“It is really unfortunate seeing how things are going with some kids these days,” Engen said. “It is easy to fixate on those 10,000 hours but sport is such a subtle thing. You might not realize that what you’re doing in volleyball is improving your spatial awareness and communication, but in reality maybe it is.”

Gladwell’s book suggested that 10,000 hours of quality training in a specific discipline could, in most cases, turn anyone into an elite level athlete.

The trend of youngsters being pushed towards specialization shows no sign of slowing down. In February, Rivals.com published profiles of aspiring quarterbacks Daron Bryden and Tyson Thornton, describing Bryden as a pro-style QB and a “future Tom Brady.” Bryden was then 12 and weighed a touch over 100 pounds.

Natural fears of burnout were raised, but stoutly defended by his parents.

“I understand the argument of people being one sport athletes at a young age, but for me and my personality I would get burned out as a young kid playing just one sport,” said Wambach, who focused solely on soccer when she went to the University of Florida and quickly progressed into the national team ranks.

“Having the ability to play basketball for a bit throughout the year gave me the chance to crave soccer, to miss it.”

At age 35, that hunger is still there and maybe, just maybe, is about to finally be satisfied with the one prize she is missing.

Sunday, Option Sunday

Written by Laura Pierce - Owner/Director, Camp Birchmont

Summer 2015

Started the morning with a Breakfast Ride! Every Sunday some Birchmont horseback riders wake up before the bugle call and take in that unique perspective to see the camp rise and shine, led by Martine Howes, Head of Riding.  It’s so nice for us to see our horses walking across the fields in the stillness of the early morning before breakfast.

On Option Sunday, we all enjoy late reveille, followed by a full camp assembly at Quiet Hour,  a long Summer 2015standing tradition where Greg gathers the camp to speak of the richness of camping life and the opportunities to try new things and set new goals. Big Cabin Inspection begins, and it’s actually more fun than it sounds…Big Inspection is a weekly Sunday ritual where each bunk is judged on general neatness and organization. The winners for the week in each group are awarded prizes and announced in the Dining Hall to much fanfare and applause. We don’t expect that every young camper will begin the summer with 193the living skills of making their bed, and folding their towels, but learning with friends makes for the best lessons. It never ceases to amaze me that the perennial traditions at camp can gain a new spin every year. This summer campers took to upping the ante with some adorable antics in girls camp; as wildflower arrangements were put out on cabin stoops and campers tried to impress supervisors with original cabin songs and even a violin serenade.  Boys camp made welcome signs for Greg Pierce and Scott Shallcross of twigs, rocks and pine cones, just outside their screen doors. All cabins passed with flying colors!

All afternoon, we enjoyed the waterfront, played tennis, munched on canteen, and begun auditions for our musical production,” Mathilda”.  Our youngest campers, the Pioneers have all gotten out tubing on the lake on an absolutely gorgeous NH day of sunshine and clear skies. Dinner was delicious, an outdoor Barbque with marinated steak tips, rice, homemade tabbouleh and portobello mushroom caps with feta crumbles and fresh parsley.

Summer 2015
And then off to our first DJ Social of the summer. As I write, that quintessential feel good song by Pharell Williams plays out over the fields,  and campers are shaking our Lodge like a room without a roof, because we’re HAPPY !  We are having a great Sunday, and hope you are too. Next week we begin our trip program, overnight camp outs, and gear up for Spirit Day at the end of the week. Looking at a great week ahead!!

4th of July at Birchmont

Written by Laura Pierce - Owner/Director, Camp Birchmont

Fourth of July
What a beautiful, 4th of July weekend we are having at camp!

The recipe for fun is about 2/3 activity 1/3 relaxation, for the best mixture of enjoying time with our camp friends.

Our cooking club baked and iced cupcakes for all to be served in the shape of a giant American Flag along with our Make Your Own Sundaes after our full camp 4th of July Races on the Games Field. The bakers were pretty proud of the way things turned out, especially when they got so many compliments from their bunkmates and counselors.

Fourth of JulyThe races were run with great spirit as every age group had several heats with prizes for the winners. Everything from serious straight away sprints, to the giggle producing three legged and wheelbarrow races were run with gusto. The traditional end are tug of war contests just before the campers head to the ice cream and toppings bars to “make their own” sundaes! Our older campers, Lower, Upper & Super Seniors, boarded our buses to town to see the Wolfeboro fireworks display over the “big” lake after dark. Good old fashioned fun was had by all!

 

Firelight

Written by Camp Birchmont -

By Greg Howes, Director

For many years at Birchmont one of the richest camp traditions that helps our camp community come to closure each August is called “Candlelight”. Even during my first summer – 1990 – I can Firelight 2015recall missing the last two days of camp and having my co counselor Sean McQuade tell me how much I would be missing by not being there for Candlelight night. In a subsequent summer, I came to find out he was quite right. It’s a wonderful night around a huge beautiful campfire where all campers and staff gather in a circle around the fire to help cap the season with thanks and reflections from the summer. Supervisors, group leaders and Birchmont “B” winners from each group each take a brief turn standing in front of the fire and one by one speak from the heart sending their own positive message of thanks, experiences and reflection. It’s a powerful and moving experience – if not downright emotional. Each camper adds their candle to an ever growing circle of flames until the fire is extinguished with a closing ceremony. Im sure it’s a memory etched deep into the mind of most alumni that have been present for it. Tonight , we mark a new opening night tradition at Birchmont.

Similar to Candlelight in some ways , FIRELIGHT will embody the idea of Welcome, and that we are all part of this unique and special adventure on which we are to embark together. We inspire each and every person who is a part of camp, new and old, to think about a personal goal for the summer around a big campfire, one in boys camp and another in girls. Camp supervisors and counselors will say some brief remarks, and we will gather under the stars and set off on a course for the best possible summer, as members of what Greg Pierce is fond of calling ” the biggest family or smallest community most of us will ever be proud to be a part of”. Here’s to the start of another rich and rewarding Birchmont Tradition. The only downside? FIRELIGHT will NOT include S’mores! But we will have plenty of those campfires too! 🙂

Firelight 2015

So on the second night of camp this happened… Our Firelight, with a beautiful moon and Jupiter and Venus in view …