Winter Camp 2009


At 1:10 PM, Thursday, February 12, St. John's Residents: Mike, Devin, Jorge, Donte, Kwai, Jovani, and Ramon accompanied by Ms. Charmaine, Mr, Nate, Ms Margaret, Mr. Wally and Brother Tom started out for the long anticipated trip to Pompanuck Farm. Though sledding was the main activity on the program, other fun filled experiences were waiting for them

Little did we know that the extraordinarily high velocity winds would cause such massive traffic tie ups due to bridge restrictions that we would have to reroute and spend a couple of hours more in travel to Pompanuck Farm.

Though we arrived much later than we had originally projected, Scott, Lisa and Dioggi (their faithful dog) were there to welcome us. The warm reception was even sweeter because it was snowing and the gently falling flakes and outside lights gave the big round house a winter wonderland appearance. Devin, Mike, and Jorge had been to Pompanuck before, and their enthusiasm about returning was obvious. For Donte, Kwai, Jovaniu and Ramon, it was a first time adventure, and it took them little time to feel very much at home.

The long trip generated some healthy appetites, and so the chicken wings, baked potato and salad hit the spot. Lisa, and her helper Phoebe, had been tipped off that one of the St. John's staff members with the party, Margaret Geissman, was celebrating her birthday. They made a delicious cake; and, after a full bodied chorus of “Happy Birthday,” the assembly attacked the dessert with enthusiasm. Scott designed a special decoration for the cake, and all the boys signed a personal birthday card which was presented to Ms. Margaret.

After a brief orientation, the boys busied themselves with games, listening to music, learning to play the ukulele under Mr. Wally's tutelage, or just “chillin.” The combination of a long trip, good food, and the expertise of counselors Ms. Charmaine and Mr. Nate had the place quiet and the boys asleep or getting there by 10PM.

Since a gentle snow was coming down Thursday evening, we were not surprised to see a new coat on the ground Friday morning. It was a welcomed sight, because it meant the sledding would be good.

As usual, the hearty and plentiful breakfast of bacon, egg and cheese stoked the activity furnaces of the boys, and so they were raring to head for the hills and the eagerly anticipated sledding

Soon the hills were alive with the sound of laughter. The boys were competing to see how far they could stay on the sled. Consistent use of the snowy hillside made the surface flatter and faster. Carrying your sled back up to the launch point did much for one's leg muscles. Of course, sledding down went much faster. After a while, the boys broke for a snack. The warmth of the fireplace in the roundhouse drew the gang to the dining room, where they took a break from their outside adventures.

Hiking, sledding, playing cards, napping, learning to play the piano and ukulele, listening to music and just plain relaxing filled the beautifully sunny and balmy afternoon. Pasta, sausage, salad, garlic bread, and veggies were the evening fare, with brownies for dessert.

Sparklers in a winter's night with a snowy background have a special fascination, so the handful of colorful sparklers each boy got delighted
them when they lit them up early that evening before gathering in the roundhouse. Then UNO, juggling, piano and ukulele lessons rounded out the evening. By 10:15 PM the troops were abed.

Saturday morning's below freezing temperature made the sled track very fast and thrilling, so the boys were out there having a great time. Donte, Jovani and Ramon were almost always on the snowy slope trying to better their speed and distant records. Donte used the shovel to level some of the bumps and make the track even faster. Ramon learned very early how to go down with great speed..

Mr. Wally hooked up some of the guys with ice skates from Pompanuck's barn. It looked as though Donte had skated before. He did well. Kwai was very determined to learn the ukulele, so he was practicing when he got the chance. Ramon, Jorge and Donte enjoyed playing the piano, so they were often tickling the ivory when they had a chance.
Giant hamburgers were the mid day fair, and then the boys were back at a variety of the activities they had been enjoying in the morning,

Later in the afternoon, the great excitement in the kitchen was Scott's pizza project. Mike and Devin were Scott's able assistants, and they did a great job of preparing the dough.

On the final evening, Kwai, Jovani, Ramon and Donte offered a ukulele recital; Ramon and Jovani did a dramatic reading of the Grinch; Devin, Mike, Jorge, Kwai, Ramon and Jovani formed a human pyramid, and Mike and Devin led an impromptu medley of songs. There was an obvious wholesome and happy fatigue on the part of all, so when Ms. Charmaine and Mr. Nate gave the word, all settled down for the final night's sleep.

Departure morning saw the traditional breakfast pizza served. The boys pitched in with the clean up before all met to share some final time and express thanks to Scott and Lisa for their wonderful hospitality. The entire group serenaded Lisa and Scott with Brother Tom's, O Pompanuck song, sung to the tune of O Tannenbaum. Then after the traditional group photo and good byes, the vehicles pulled off the Pompanuck property with a bag of great experiences and stories to share.

Click HERE for our Winter Camp 2009 Photo Gallery

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