The campers, along with volunteers Richie Gomez, Wally and Jane Rodier and Kay and Harry O'Brien, got off to a close to 1PM estimated departure time. The weather was dry and the roads uncongested. The travel went well until the white passenger van decided to quit on the Taconic Parkway near Claverack, New York. That was the beginning of what turned out to make this year's camping trip somewhat more challenging than anticipated.
The new van went ahead, with volunteers Jane Rodier and Kay and Harry O'Brien. They got an on-time start at the campgrounds. The rest of the crew, Brother Tom Trager and volunteers Richie Gomez and Wally Rodier stayed with the disabled van until a place could be found for its safe parking in anticipation of repair, which was arranged the next day.
(Hint, don't get stuck on the Taconic Parkway in the middle of nowhere. Your AAA membership can't rescue you, and there's no chance of renting a large van after 5PM. The State Patrol has to manage the situation. They do the best they can but have no solutions.)
Everyone of the group got to Pompanuck Farms safely.
Since it had been raining heavily for several days, the ground was soaked. The ordinary drill of setting up tents had to be modified, and the boys and their supervisor, Richie Gomez, bunked in the dry and commodious yurt. The forecast of possible thunderstorms and lightning made that the most prudent option.
The complicated Thursday trip, with its delays and annoyances, was forgotten the very next day. The weather was superb on Friday, and the boys took to the pond after their bacon, egg and cheese breakfast. Lisa Carrino went hiking with some of the boys, exploring the nearby woodlands. As usual, a few of the boys felt drawn to the basketball hoop and enjoyed many hours there. Scott Carrino would love to have been there with them, but recent hip surgery seriously limited his ability to participate as much as he would have liked.
After a healthy lunch produced by several devoted volunteers, the boys went back to the activities they enjoyed most: swimming, basketball, exploring, throwing Frisbee, etc. The day continued to provide a perfect backdrop for a fun-filled time.
A good number of the boys got into making cloth bracelets and lanyards. Many of them could be seen sitting quietly in the shade fashioning their adornments. Others were enthusiastically trying to catch salamanders and were quite successful in doing so. One lad got 15 in his huge bucket but agreed to turn them back into the pond where they would do best.
Saturday brought beautiful weather as well; and, in addition to the various activities mentioned above, the boys had the option of visiting the Monastery of New Skete, where Brother Starvos gave them a tour of the kennels, introducing them to the beautiful thoroughbred German Shepherds that the monks are world renowned for breeding. The boys learned a great deal about the dogs and their training.
The traditional gathering each evening around the campfire had to be modified Saturday night due to rain and thunderstorms. The venue was changed to the second floor of the roundhouse, the central building of the Pompanuck property. The gathering featured songs, games, stories and Smores (when outside around the fire). No Smores Saturday night since the activity was held indoors, but all shared in a tasty cheesecake, a gift from Brother Starvos and the monks of New Skete. Delicious!
On Sunday morning, the focus was on packing for departure, cleaning the campus, and having a good breakfast. So it was, and we were on our way back to Rockaway Park by 10 AM.
Click HERE for our Summer Camp 2008 Photo Gallery