Oh to be a Timanous camper right now! We are so fortunate to have perfect Maine summer weather for all of our activities, and we're making the most of the opportunity. The Eagles, Crogles, Loons and Cardinals all ventured out and back on their camping trips with much success and enthusiasm. Today's activities include two camp favorites- a Saturday morning game of C-Flag between the Green and Gray (two ties!) and our annual TFFL (Timanous Touch Football League) extravaganza this afternoon. We've got plenty of other activities going on today for those not playing football, ranging from sailing to riflery to handicrafts. And, of course it's a great afternoon to go for a swim, whether it is after the football games or regular activities. Tonight will be cabin cookouts with all cabins grilling as a cabin group at their individual cookout sites.
Now, I'd like to share an update on our new CampCraft awards from Camp Craft leader Jim Poulin.
New Campcraft Awards
There is a new way for campers to earn awards this summer! After gathering significant input from our counselors, we have created the Timanous Campcraft Awards. These awards aim to challenge campers while developing valuable outdoor living skills. Campers can earn their beginner, intermediate, and advanced rating in four different disciplines: Fire, Knots, Tool & Craft, and Nature.
To earn their beginner rating, campers must complete the “water boil test” in six minutes or less. This test involves building a fire to heat a can of soapy water. The timer starts when the match is lit, and ends when the soapy water bubbles over the edge of the can. All wood must be gathered from the forest, and pre-building the fire is not allowed. This is an intense challenge, and it has already been the source of much excitement this summer! The intermediate rating requires faster completion of the “water boil test,” this time in four minutes or less, and also includes successfully starting and maintaining a fire from a spark. The advanced rating requires campers to start and maintain a fire using a bowdrill or other friction method, as well as starting a fire from a log that has been soaked in water for five minutes.
To earn their beginner rating, campers must complete the “Endrizzi Ridgeline Test.” This involves tying a ridgeline using a bowline and trucker’s hitch that meets standards for tautness and ability to support weight. The intermediate rating requires campers to successfully hang a tarp, complete with a ridgeline and secured corners. This test is graded using the “Hamilton Scorecard,” which forces campers to adhere to specific requirements when setting up their tarp. The advanced rating is a unique award indeed! To earn this award, campers must design and build a down-wind sailing rig for a canoe, and sail it across the Timanous Cove. They may only use a tarp, rope, folding saw, and knife to earn this award.
Tool & Craft
The beginner rating for Tool & Craft requires campers to complete a simple walking stick carving project using a folding saw and fixed-blade knife. Campers learn the basic skills needed to properly use these tools. The intermediated rating consists of successfully completing a spoon carving project. Campers must cut their own blank, and carve using both a spoon knife and a detail knife. They are encouraged to smooth and finish their projects, and hopefully use them in the barn! To earn their advanced rating, campers must create a primitive canoe paddle using only an axe, saw, knife, and rope. They must then use it to successfully solo paddle between Crows dock and Beginners dock in five minutes or less.
The nature discipline allows campers to pick the subject areas they want to focus on. To earn a nature award, campers must accumulate points through a system called the “Suitor Nature Scorecard.” There are ten topics that campers may choose from: trees, rocks, insects, wildflowers, reptiles/amphibians, fish, mammals, fungus, ferns/mosses, and birds. To earn points, campers need to complete field activities guided by the head of nature. The beginner rating requires campers to earn five points. The intermediate rating requires five additional points, and the advanced rating requires 10 additional points beyond what was already earned at the beginner and intermediate levels.
We had a great day yesterday! We hope you enjoy this update from guest blogger Danny Alonso, counselor in the Cardinals cabin.
Having been here eight summers, I know no other way to celebrate the Fourth of July than the Timanous way. The handful of traditions that define a Timanous Fourth of July have existed for at least as long as Consulting Director Dave Suitor (a camper here in the fifties and sixties) has been at camp.
One of these traditions is a capture-the-flag game in which the whole camp–campers and counselors–participates. While we don’t always play this game on July Fourth, we often do. C-flag is one of the most popular things we do all summer, evidenced by the thirty seconds of roaring applause and excitement following the announcement of the game (this is typical). Every camper and counselor in camp is a member of either the green or gray team for life, and families stay together. Both my brother and I are on the gray team, just like our uncle who attended Timanous in the seventies. Gray all the way! We take the games seriously, but the games are always followed by a friendly cheer to the other team with sportsmanlike high-fives
The second activity I would like to highlight is the singing of the National Anthem. As the resident pianist at camp, I sometimes accompany the camp in singing songs, so during lunch today it felt suitable for me to play the national anthem while the whole camp sang along.
And finally, by far the most famous Timanous Independence-Day tradition is the bonfire. A few days in advance of July 4th, campers and counselors work together to collect wood all over camp to burn in one huge communal bonfire. People collected wood in every way imaginable, whether it be one guy carrying a handful of wood to the fire, two older campers lifting a heavy log, or a huge stretcher of wood manned by ten or twenty campers. The end result was a huge stack of wood three times my height, and the fire will be three times taller than that! Normally, we would burn the bonfire on July 4th, but unfortunately the fire warden declared it too dry to burn a bonfire on July 4th (dry weather can cause ashes from the fire to start a more serious fire). As this has happened before, I look forward to us burning the fire soon. Having seen seven Timanous bonfires now, I can tell you with absolute certainty that it is a marvel to the eyes to see a fire as spectacular as ours, both because of how big and beautiful the fire is and because of the feeling of satisfaction knowing that we built it together.
In the least corny way possible, community and tradition are the two words that come to my mind when we have the Fourth of July at camp. We as a camp work hard together towards a goal and then enjoying the reward of that goal. We’re having fun together and building memories, and these traditions are uniquely shared by every Timanous camper or counselor. Whether you came to Timanous in the thirties, the eighties, or the 2020s, you have the common experience and shared stories of Fourth of July at Timanous.
It’s hard to believe we are now into July! We continue to enjoy beautiful summer weather and the benefits of a camp community becoming increasingly close with each other and comfortable with our routines.
We certainly try to provide a variety of different activities throughout the week to keep things from becoming overly routine for our campers. One of these activities that add variety is Friday Trips, a special extended activity period on Friday afternoon that affords campers the opportunity to explore a bit more of the beautiful area around us. This week, we offered five different activities: a hike of nearby Rattlesnake Mountain (don’t worry, there are no rattlesnakes here in Maine!), a canoe to and a swim at nearby Hawthorne Cove, extended sailing activity on Panther Pond, a water polo extravaganza at our swim area, and a disc golf outing around the grounds of Timanous. We are so fortunate to have so many wonderful natural resources close by here in Vacationland.
Friday trips are a grand Timanous tradition and perfect way to get out and see just a little bit more of the area. While the trips are a highlight, I imagine some campers may ultimately prefer the Friday soda and candy that awaits as a perfect treat after their afternoon outing. What activity would you pick if you could do a Friday trip?
It’s a beautiful Wednesday afternoon here at camp as I write. We are so fortunate to have wonderful weather and happy campers- a perfect mix for summer fun! Camp is full of activity right now. We have a guest instructor here to introduce us to Pickleball. Panther Pond is warming up perfectly for swims, and tonight is our traditional “Jimmy” buffet dinner. The Aides are about to return from their trip to Baxter State Park and Mt. Katahdin, with the Crows and Ravens out on their camping trips. The Falcons leave on Thursday while the Crows return.
We hope you enjoy the following “guest blog” from counselor Kevin Seiter as he shares his appreciation for our Sunday traditions.
Sundays at Timanous are unique from any other day of the week at camp. They are a day in which the entire camp takes a break from the daily routine of fun activities to reflect on the past week. The main difference in the program from a normal day is the addition of Chapel in the morning and Council Fire that evening, two weekly events that are integral to the Timanous experience.
Chapels at Timanous are non-religious and consist of a head counselor addressing the whole camp with a predesigned speech that touches on that counselor’s topic of choice. These topics can range from stories of that counselor’s own camper experience, to broader ideas such as the importance of family and living in the moment. The older that I get, the more I learn to appreciate Chapel. Nowhere else in the world can you absorb life lessons from people with such a wide variety of backgrounds, ages, and experiences. Listening to the lessons of a Chapel while staring up at the swaying pine trees is a truly sensational experience.
Council Fire brings up many of the same feelings of nostalgia and spirituality that Chapel invokes. Standing in the same circle where generations of campers have stood before you gives context to why so many people return year after year. The glow of the fire and the thoughtful commendations from counselors recognizing camper acts of kindness and perseverance create a powerful setting for reflection on the past week and the weeks ahead.
Sundays at Timanous can be perfectly summed up by the message of the Timanous Prayer - a day in which we reflect and give thanks for the opportunities and experiences that wouldn’t have been possible without Timanous.
- Kevin Seiter
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