It was a banner day at Camp Timanous, with abundant sunshine and packed with special activities! After a late sleep (it was a Saturday, after all) and breakfast, the full camp gathered under the tent for morning announcements. Nick Leyden, our program director, built up the suspense for what the schedule had in store. By the time he announced "We're playing capture the flag!!" the entire camp was already erupting in cheers.
Always a camp favorite, the first set of games we played last week all ended in 0-0 ties between Green and Gray, so there was a heightened sense of urgency for the first team to get the flag across the line. Another fun element was that campers who had just made tie-dye shirts in handicrafts were able to wear them for "C-Flag" uniforms.
We played two very exciting games, with each team winning one. In the first game, Tobin in Crows was able to nab the flag after it was thrown across the line to give Gray the lead 1-0. In the very next game, Green got into the flag circle several times, advancing the flag closer and closer to their line, and finally Jameson in Cardinals swept through and made a dash back to his side and made it! The day's, and now season's, score is knotted up at 1-1.
Usually we're fortunate to have one special event in a weekend. But today, we had a second much-anticipated activity that took place all afternoon: the Timanous Flag Football League! The TFFL, a newer Timanous tradition, attracts a ton of campers each summer to the series of 5v5 games. Each team is comprised of campers across all ages, and inspiration for their names are drawn from where counselors go in the "offeason"; this year we saw the likes of Team High Point, Team Yale, and Team NOLS Gap Year, among many others.
It was a beautiful afternoon with lively commentary across all the simultaneous games from Evan Cummings, Head Counselor of Crogles cabin. Each team played three "regular season" games to determine the 8-team playoff seeding. Even if your team didn't advance, it was still a pretty epic afternoon, and heading for a swim in Panther Pond is a pretty nice consolation prize. As Charlie in Mallards cabin said to Anderson Lynch, a beat reporter on the scene (and one of our Owls this year), "It was real awesome. The kids I played with and everyone else had a really good time."
After some fireworks in the early rounds, the championship game pitted Team Holy Cross (the Crusaders) against Team Hampshire (the Black Sheep) in a defensive showdown. There was stellar quarterback play on each side. A highlight was the brilliant goal-line defense by Chase from Crogles cabin, which was the figurative icing on the cake for his birthday (after he and his cabin mates enjoyed the literal frosting on his cake after lunch). At the end of the day, the Crusaders proved too tough a challenge for the Black Sheep, with a final winning score of 2-0.
As Trey in Loons cabin remarked after the game, "We had fun, it was a great time." Even more importantly, referee Archer Snell noted that "I saw a lot of great games and even better sportsmanship." Hard to script a better sentence on what competition at Timanous is all about.
After all of the fun and camaraderie on the fields, morning and afternoon, we capped the day with cabin cookouts and activities. No doubt all of the finer points and broader implications of the days events were dissected around the campfire, campers leaning back in their camp chairs and enjoying each other's company. While every day at Timanous has its highlights, July 10th may just be a top highlight of the 2021 summer.
This past week has been full of sun and warm summer weather! We have settled into a rhythm of our normal daily schedules. In the morning, each camper signs up for one activity period and goes to instructional swim, and in the afternoon, there is another signup period, a free swim period, and a free time where lots of activities are open and campers can come and go as they please.
One of the best parts about being a Timanous camper is the ability to make your own choices about what you want to do, set goals, and have the teaching and encouragement to achieve them. A common goal is to earn an award at an activity, like archery, where you can get your Bowman Award by learning about "point of aim", demonstrating knowledge of the safety rules at the range, and successfully getting all six arrows on the target. We also have a series of awards for both land and water-based activities. The Land Jester, for example, has requirements for archery, riflery, handicrafts, woodshop, nature, campcraft, sports, and even writing for our in-camp Timanews newsletter. Progressing through this award is a really great way for campers to try out lots of different activities and take the initiative to develop skills in each of them. Whether they complete all of the requirements or not (sometimes it takes multiple summers!), any boy who goes for his Land Jester can take pride in what he accomplishes in the pursuit of the award.
One of the other best parts about being a Timanous camper is all of the time they have throughout the summer to just relax, be a kid, and enjoy time with friends in a beautiful natural setting. During free time in the afternoon, you can find campers exploring the cove in a rowboat, playing chess by the Barn, and reading in the sun outside the cabin. Each day provides opportunities within a set structure for each camper to pursue their perfect mix of activities, rest, pursuing goals, and down time with friends.
Most days after dinner, we have a free evening. In addition to our Twilight League softball games, there are so many other fun activities for campers to do. Many campers stay up on the fields and courts for games of soccer, basketball, and ultimate disc. You can also find small roving bands meandering around camp playing bocce and disc golf. For the latter, there was an epic hole set up with a drive off the end of beginners beach dock. The water hazard claimed more than a couple of discs, but a few lucky campers and counselors were able to make it all the way to dry ground for their second toss.
If you take a stroll down the bunkline, you're also likely to come across relaxing campers enjoying a calm, peaceful end to the day. Tuesday evening may have been the nicest yet, with that perfect temperature where you can't say it's too hot or too cold, and a bright orange sun setting behind tall pines in a clear sky.
The other notable development of the week is that several cabins have gone out on their camping trips: the Cardinals and Ravens for a canoeing trip on Umbagog Lake and the Falcons and Loons for a hiking trip at Mt Blue. Camping trips at Timanous are always a highlight of the summer, as campers get to develop skills in the outdoors, experience beautiful remote areas, learn to work as a team, and bond even more with their trip-mates. Stay tuned for stories and photos of the trips later this week!
Good morning. It is an honor to be standing here today at this most esteemed lectern. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to share a few words with all of you in this serene place. And, if I’m not mistaken, this chapel under the tent is a Timanous first. Even 104 years in, Timanous continues to innovate, adapt, and move with the times… Although the time we spend together here at chapel is quite different from the normal hustle and bustle of camp life, I encourage you to appreciate and enjoy this quiet space. See the calm moments we have here together as a chance to relax, to admire the natural beauty and tradition that surrounds us here, to hear the sound of the rain falling, and enjoy the company of your peers. This is a time to reflect, to sing songs, and to reconnect with the present moment—this moment. So, on that note, I invite each of you to take a deep breath, look around, and listen…Take the time to slow down, sit with your thoughts, and simply be at ease.
I love Sundays at Timanous. I think the change from our usual day-to-day schedule gives me a chance to catch my breath, to press the reset button, and to center myself. I look back at the week that just passed by, and I look forward to the days and weeks ahead. Believe me, seven weeks at camp will pass in the blink of an eye. And although I feel sometimes like the days blur together, Sundays remain distinct, marking the passage of the summer. We change our sheets on Sundays. We write letters on Sundays. We sing to the chefs, and we gather together as a whole camp, both here and at council fire. On Sundays, more so than any other day, I think, the T’s on our shirts are a visual reminder that we are all united in body, mind, and spirit.
Let’s be clear: each of us is beyond lucky to be wearing the Timanous T right now. To be a camper or counselor at Timanous is not only a pleasure but also a privilege. As we all learned last year, a summer at Timanous cannot be taken for granted. But, as fate would have it, we find ourselves here at Timanous this summer. Therefore we all have a responsibility to make the most of our time together. We are fortunate to be a part of this—to be included in the best community in the world. As Pineman said last week, many of the people sitting beside you, whether you know it or not, will remain your friends for the rest of your lives. So what are you waiting for? Get involved. Try something new. And don’t forget to enjoy yourself. To quote the great Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
SONG – Have You Ever Seen The Rain, Creedence Clearwater Revival
As I was thinking about what I would say up here today, I realized something: I cannot possibly express everything that Timanous means to me in words. When I first arrived as a heron in 2009 I was a totally different person. Nervous, overwhelmed, and homesick, I remember feeling the whole spectrum of emotions during my first week at Timanous. It took a little while, but I eventually figured out how things work around here. One day, one of my cabin mates with electric blonde hair asked me if I wanted to go out sailing. At the time, I had never been in a sailboat before. And although it wasn’t even a windy day, I was scared. But I decided to go, and floating out there on a sunfish with Jimmy Banta was without a doubt the highlight of my summer.
When I look back at that experience, the first word that comes to mind is gratitude. I am grateful to my dear friend Jimmy for taking me out, for teaching me how to sail, and for introducing me to the spirit of inclusion that exists here at Timanous. The following summer, I had the pleasure of dining in the barn at a table with a young first year camper named Andy Thompson. When I talked with Andy recently, both of us vividly remember meeting around the table—and I am grateful for that experience too. I am grateful to have met Sam Hollister in 2011—even then he was a dedicated Red Sox fan—and I am grateful for the cookouts I enjoyed as a Crow alongside two Mallards named Archer Snell and Griffin Walsh. And in addition I am grateful for all the guys in green here who were once my counselors—Beamer, Dustin, Aidan, Jimmy, and Pat. Put simply, I am grateful to have grown up at Timanous. I am grateful to have been molded by the culture of mutual respect and kindness that campers and counselors cultivate here. I encourage each of you to take a moment now to think about the ways in which you are grateful.
SONG – For What It’s Worth, Buffalo Springfield
I have a message for anyone here wondering about his place at Timanous. Maybe you’re new to camp. Maybe, like I did, you feel overwhelmed by everything we do here. Or maybe, after skipping last summer, you’ve found it challenging to get back into the rhythm of camp life…whatever it may be, here’s my message: if you are willing to approach new things with an open mind, you too will feel gratitude for all of the experiences you will have here. Don’t wait—go for it. Say yes to everything. Ask questions. Dive off the tower. Sign up for beginners waterskiing. Please, gentlemen, do not be afraid to fall. As the Chinese philosopher Confucius wisely said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Now I want to speak to the returning campers. If you think you have this place figured out, if you are thinking to yourself, “nothing scares me anymore…” Well then I have news: it’s on you to be an adventurous, inclusive friend. Offer to take a new friend out in a sailboat and don’t take no for an answer. Ask someone if they want to play knockout one morning or hit dingers on the field during free time. Never let a friend walk up or down the bunk line alone. Say hello to folks as you cross paths between activities. Make it your business to help a new guy enjoy this place. And never hesitate to share your knowledge with those who could use it. And never hesitate to express gratitude to those who have helped you along the way. If you consider yourself a well-versed man of Timanous, then it’s your duty to introduce others to that spirit of Timanous that we all love so deeply.
SONG – Uncle John’s Band, Grateful Dead
Before we leave here, I have a challenge for each of you. Forget about the drizzly weather for a moment—take a second to sit back and observe…I challenge all of you, whenever you find a spare moment, to take a journey to our traditional chapel, lie down on a bench, and admire the tops of the trees. You’ll notice how the trees sway in the breeze. Despite their old age and enormous size, they are willing to move about however the wind chooses. They are flexible. But, if you look at a tree’s trunk back down on the ground, you’ll remember: these trees never lose their grip on the earth. They are sturdy and strong, with deep, deep roots. This sort of flexibility and strength is what I wish for each of you. Let us learn how to be flexible through windy conditions and strong in the face of adversity.
And finally, I want to close by stating the simple and elegant creed of the most righteous Bill and Ted. “Be excellent to each other.” If you are able to carry yourself with a spirit of kindness, inclusion, respect, and excellence, your days here and elsewhere will be filled with adventure and joy.
Look to this day. For it is life, the very life of life. In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of your existence. The bliss of growth, the glory of action, the splendor of beauty. Yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision, but today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this day. Such is the salutation of the dawn.
The most exciting news of the week is that we played our first games of Capture the Flag! Every year, "C-Flag" is always one of the most anticipated and fun special events of the entire summer. Every camper and counselor is on either the Green team or the Gray team, so the entire camp gets to play in giant games where almost all of camp is in-bounds. While it's certainly exhilarating and passion-filled, each time after we play the teams cheer each other and head down to the lake to take a dip, getting to share stories of the games no matter which team they were on. No points were scored in this first round, but there are plenty more chances to play as the summer goes on, so we'll see whether Green or Gray comes out on top with bragging rights in 2021...
As the skies cleared a bit this afternoon, a group of hardy campers trekked to the top of Rattlesnake Mountain, our local peak that has a great view of Panther Pond. While we're all looking forward to the return of more summer-like temps very soon, it's clear that no matter the weather, it's always fun to be a camper (and counselor) at Timanous.
A lot of great things have happened since the last blog post! We're at the tail end of a heat wave around these parts. Even though we don't have air conditioning, it's not hard to cool down since we get to go in the lake so often each day. In addition to morning dips, instructional swim, and free swim, we've also had a steady stream of evening dips and even "hippo wallowing" during free time in the afternoon, where campers could enjoy submersing themselves in Panther Pond's cool waters.
On Saturday night, we had our first cabin cookouts of the summer. Each cabin has their own spot to gather each week and make dinner over an open fire. You'll probably get 10 different answers for who has the best cookout spot, as everyone thinks it's theirs! It's hard to beat burgers with friends sitting out under the pine trees, except if you count the dessert afterward. As the weeks progress, campers will develop their skills in building fires and grilling burgers, and everyone learns to be helpful pitching in with cleaning up the cookout site so it's ready to go for the next time.
In addition to having Pineman give a great Chapel talk, we also had our first Council Fire, where the whole camp gathers each Sunday evening to reflect on the week that was (a short week, in this case). All campers pull together on a rope to help create the spark that starts the fire. It's a time to recognize campers for awards earned and good deeds done, and to bond together in a tradition that has been taking place in the same exact spot for over 100 years.
Another tradition restarted is the Twilight League, which is an informal intra-camp softball league played during many evenings throughout the summer. Every single camper is on a team, and each team has boys across all age groups. To announce the start of the season, each group of counselor-coaches puts on a creative and always-funny skit, to go along with team names like the "Pit Stop Pirates" and "In Loco Dentist". The only thing more fun than watching the team announcements is playing in the games themselves.
We are really into the swing of things now this summer, as the traditional flow has gone from acclimating to camp life to settling into a routine and signing up for activities each morning and afternoon. Familiar options like sailing, archery, riflery, soccer, woodshop are offered alongside newer activities like Ultimate Disc, which has continued to grow in popularity over the years and is now included in our series of land activity awards. Campers are trying new things, learning what they like, setting goals, building skills, and having sheer fun while they're doing it.
Click here to see summer photos!
@camptimanous for recent photos and videos from camp.
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