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Sunday, January 29, 2012

What Camp Wa Wa Segowea means to me.

It was a couple months ago when I asked people what their favorite (or not so favorite) camp traditions were.  I received some emails and had some conversations with people and they let me know!  They not only let me know which traditions they were fond of,  they also relayed what memories they remembered,  what others remembered and how Segowea has affected their lives in one way or another.   It's not hard to believe the impact camp has had on many, many people as we'll soon be celebrating our 100th year anniversary in 2013.  We couldn't be around for that long and not had an impact somewhere!  If you wish to share your memories, your favorite camp traditions or the impact camp has had on you, please let us know.  We'd love to hear from you!  For the statements below,  I left off names in case people wanted to remain anonymous.

Here are the traditions, the memories and the personal feelings that were captured:

To me, everything about this camp was a special tradition to me. Everything I did there when I was a camper is something I will never forget and always cherish. From the wake up calls, capers, activities, etc, everything was great. The thing I cherish the most I would say was the morning flag raising because I always knew that every time that flag went up, it was going to be a great new day and that I have something great to look forward to.
Another thing that was special to me was the Banquet and Banquet Dinner. That always marked the end, but to me it never felt that way, to me it was always a "I can't wait till I come back here for more". It always had me looking ahead to what was in store for the next time.
However, I haven't been to camp as a camper since 2004 so I don't really know what is still around. Although,  I can tell you that the thing I disliked the most was the overnight. To me, it was just a miserable experience because it was so much work just to go somewhere to get eaten alive by mosquitos and get an incredible amount of poison ivy. I was never a happy camper going on the overnight, it just never sunk in for me. I'll admit that I have had fun, but overall it was just miserable.

I think my favorite tradition has to be closing every day with a friendship circle.  I never met anyone at camp who was to cool to hold the hand of the person next to them and say goodnight. 

Camp has left an indelible mark on my life.  Some of my happiest memories were spent there.  It's an incredible special place where uniquely it's not about race, creed or religion, or how much your parents make or what they do. Camp is the ultimate equalizer.  Everyone has to clean the Beacon, have swimming lessons, go to chapel together. Everyone has to do the same thing.  It ultimately levels the playing field for everybody. It provides the opportunity for kids to love each other for who and what we are rather than other things that don't matter.

I love the way the camp smells.  You can smell the earth here especially when it rains. But you can smell and taste the rain even when it's not raining.

I attended the very first teen camp in the mid-sixties (and let’s leave the year at mid-sixties) and the camp was divided into four teams to compete in the Wa Wa Olympics.  The teams consisted of a mix of boys and girls.  My team was called The Grebes…I have no idea what Grebe means nor do I care, but Grebes we were very proudly.  Can’t remember how The Grebes did overall, but one very memorable moment was winning the volleyball tournament and if I am not mistaken there was a bit of controversy over our win.
 Another memory is that Dean Temple pitched his tent in the middle of cabin row in an effort to keep the boys and girls separated.  A lot of good that did because the path behind the cabins got an awful lot of traffic…especially after lights out.  And the nature lodge was a favorite spot for a lot of summer romances..

While we were gift wrapping for camp, a woman who attended camp said to us... "Oh my goodness I went to that camp in the 60's! Do they still say grace before every meal?" Then she went on to say "Father for this noonday meal we would speak of grace we feel, health and strength we ask of thee, help us lord to faithful be". It was pretty cool! Glad we still say it. Needless to say Minna and I chimed in as soon as she started. She was impressed!

For me it's crossing arms and singing "Day is Done" and walking back to cabin row quiet after Banquet.

I was one of the first kids to come from Albany and I've loved it ever since.  It's the whole setup of the cabins.  You're alone, but you're with a bunch of family.  It's a great feeling to know you can come here and just relax. 

I was a killer box-ball player! I've been called the queen of box-ball by more than one person.  I wear it with a sense of pride.

It's an opportunity for children to find themselves and become independent yet relying on their fellow community members.  It gives them a chance to slow down and a chance to grow up in the most rural environment you can be in.  It's a very unique experience that a lot of children don't have the opportunity to have and I think it's essential.  They're expected to learn responsibilities and focus on the simplest of tasks from start to finish.   Camp Segowea was my childhood home, my social community as a young adult and a nostalgic retreat as a mother.

This is very hard to narrow down, but two key traditions we carry on have to do with camp songs. "Circle Game" has been Hazel's bedtime song since she was a few months old. And she loves to sing "If I had a Hammer." We do the "gospel" version inspired by Kristen and Katie that involves a lot of clapping and stomping. 

I loved all the camp traditions. Traditions I especially loved were camp songs around the fire on opening night, singing grace before every meal, and dancing to Van Morrison on the parade field, and who could keep from crying during Stairway to Heaven?!

A Special Place at Camp was the Council Fire at nighttime.
Work Week-ends, before and after Camp was open- they started on Thursday night and ended on Sunday.  We usually had about 25 guys and we all slept and ate in the lodge. Water for the Camp: connecting 20 foot pipe together at the spring (beyond the end of the eastern end of the lake) connecting them to the reservoir and taking them apart in the Fall. We could always come up with some new swear words.
As a camper- Going to the Lake when we first got up to get cleaned up, at least every other morning there we were, no girls at camp back then, so our swim suit was a wrap around towel to use to get dry after getting cleaned up.
Hikes----There are so many great places to hike to and from the same day.
Church: The Catholics were always taken to town for church services. The best part was stopping at the General Store on the way home. We always stocked up on goodies for ourselves and some of our buddies back at camp.
Adding a lot of years to my camping years can bring a lot of thoughts as to what we did to keep the camp running.  There were a lot of rough years, but we got through them come hell or high water.

My favorite tradition is the nurse lighting the camp fires for good luck and weather!

Many years have gone by and the memories of my childhood that have impacted me the most are of my summers at Camp Wa Wa Segowea:
While I dreaded it at the time, Chapel is remembered with warmth and a smile. Shel Silverstein poems and LB playing "Where do the Children Play"  I am a Cat Stevens fan to this day.
Sitting on the steps of the Lodge with the kitchen staff, Rocky and the Clash come back vividly.
I complained every step of the way then, but love to be outdoors hiking and canoeing now.
The Beacon, enough said.
Living in Arapaho and hanging out the window to say goodnight and get one last hug from passerbys.
I still proudly tell my children I was a Wa Wa Segowea Olympic champ on the log roll, Nestor/Psycho and I battled it out---not sure who really one but it was me in my memory
Canteen bandanas
Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Ricki Lee Jones, and the Greatful Dead
The Sing Off
Stairway to Heaven
Paradise by the Dashboard Light
Pudding from a Can
SARAMI inspired by SHERIKA
My list could go on and on.... I think the most important memory is the love, warmth, and acceptance I felt every time I walked down that hill.  It was a place where it was ok to just be you in all your vulnerability and quirkiness.  I couldn't have asked to come of age in a better place.

I had to make my list of a million traditions about camp that I liked, then sifted through them to find the one I wanted to share. Here it is: I love having campers talk at chapel. I think it's a great experience for them to be able to share their thoughts and feelings about such a special place in the accepting space of chapel.

This camp is the best,  the best place ever! 

I like the feeling when you're walking down the camp road for the first time of the season and you know everyone is here. You just can't wait to get down there and jump right in to whatever  needs to get done.

It's a community- I wish I had another word, but it is a community.

It's a safe community, a place to come for me and break out of my shell. I never liked being in the woods when I was younger and it forced me to face my fear.  No matter how many years you've been away, you're just home.

I loved how whichever counselor was in charge of wake up they got to blast their choice of music after the wakeup call.  

I really like the tradition of taking Fudge on a walk.  The bathroom wash your hands dance, because I remember that my cabin Seneca rocked this past summer.   The special place in camp was chapel.

Camp is living in a community day-to-day.  When you do this, you begin to know someone just like a brother or sister, a mother or father or someone you live with.  Then you see these same members of the community and those shared experiences pick right up exactly where they left off, no matter how many years were in between. It seems so simple but it's really one of the wonderful gifts and Segowea is the central point of it.

Segowea is perfect in every way! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Camp Wa Wa Segowea Winter Happenings.

It's 5 months and a few days and counting down!   That's right, the first day of the summer season of 2012 is quickly approaching, and it can't get here soon enough!  The temperature is a chilly one today at Camp Segowea, with a high of 12 degrees and a bit of wind coming off Harmon Pond.  It's hard to believe in just 5 short months, campers will be swimming, shooting for a bullseye in archery and enjoying a chance to go sailing.  Speaking of campers, Camp Director Kat Fitzpatrick says there's already more than 25 campers signed up for the summer!  Are you registered yet?  Don't wait till the last minute!
Simply go to the CDYMCA website and register today.  

There are five months, but time goes quickly, and by registering now, you can be assured of your spot in the sessions you want.  First session begins on June 24th and camp runs weekly sessions until the last day, August 24th.  Kat mentioned she's also busy coordinating the staff for the summer, already hiring a couple of international counselors!   If you know someone that lives and loves to have a positive impact on children, be a leader in every way, and wants to have fun all summer long, have them contact Camp Director Kat Fitzpatrick at or (518) 656-9462 ext. 6632.   Maybe someone you know is looking for an internship for the summer after the school year?  An article in USA Today suggests you go to camp!- 

Until the summer gets here, the events surrounding camp are piling up.  In the months of January and February, we'll continue to have open registrations for camp.  The group of volunteers that oversee the camp, called Smith Park, are holding their monthly board meetings, and we're busy planning the spring events of the Open Houses and Work Weekends.  A couple of spring fundraisers for camp, the Segowea 64 and the Wa Wa Wally Waddle, are in the planning stages as well as we speak.  Details will be coming soon on those happenings.

It's January and there's still time to get the 2012 Camp Calendar!  It's very simple to get and reasonably priced too.  They're just $10 and available now at  Some of the pictures might even have been taken by campers that took the popular photography class!  Even more pictures taken by the class are below.   Enjoy!

Please also visit us on our Facebook page.  There's at least one picture posted every day as well as some other fun items.

Thanks and see you at camp!