by Henry Heyburn, Assistant Camp Director
Over the past several several days I’ve taken part in or witnessed a number of activities taking place at Chewonki. Together they comprise elements of a classic Chewonki summer.
On July 4th following a full day of activities and an evening cookout there was an Independence Day variation of a “Counselor Hunt”. Counselors took on the persona of figures from American History and either roamed the camp area in an attempt to elude campers or took up appropriate positions and waited to be discovered. Campers, searching in cabin groups, located these famous Americans which included Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Robert E. Lee, JFK, George Armstrong Custer, Sitting Bull, Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea, Paul Revere, George Washington, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Daniel Boone, James Madison and the Wright brothers among others. Once discovered groups could ask “20 questions” to determine the character’s identity; the process was assisted at times by costumes, settings and recitations. One cabin managed to identify 13 of the characters before impending thunderstorms brought the searches to an end.
On Tuesday morning while helping out with the kayaking activity I saw campers progressing through various phases as they learn the skills needed to be a proficient kayaker on both flatwater and whitewater. While some participants were practicing their wet exits, a technique for exiting a capsized kayak, others were paddling out to and around a nearby island. At the end of the activity period everyone took part in a game of kayak sharks and minnows, a fun way to become a stronger paddler without even realizing it. I love seeing campers become more and more used to being in their boats and building skills.
I spent Saturday morning at a favorite Chewonki spot, the woodshop, where campers are making canoe paddles. This is a woodworking but in many ways a sculpture project too. After marking the wood to provide a series of reference points, campers begin the process of shaping their paddles using planes, spokeshaves and finally sandpaper. Some of these campers will have a chance to use their paddles on cabin wilderness trips.
In my view, a day at Chewonki is incomplete without a swim, however quick it might be. On Saturday I wound up my day along with other campers and counselors at the waterfront where the tide was high and it was sunny and breezy. Drying off in the afternoon sun and breeze has to be one of life’s great pleasures and a great way to get “spruced up” for Saturday’s evening campfire.