Friday, August 3, 2018

Session 2 Super Senior: East Coast- Niagara Falls, Cedar Point, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Hershey Park, and Morry’s Camp

The super seniors hit the ground running with their skills checks on Sunday shortly after arriving. Following an Early Morning Riser wake surf session on the first full day of camp, we packed and headed to Lake George for some laser tag and go-carting after dinner. The evening ended with an ice cream stop at Martha’s and the it was back to camp for the night. Tuesday morning we hit the road after breakfast. Following lunch on the road we arrived in Niagara Falls where we immediately headed for the Maid of the Mist boat tour. Everyone enjoyed the view of the falls while getting soaked! We headed to our hotel, relaxed and dried off and headed to the Rainforest CafĂ© for dinner. Following breakfast Wednesday morning, we hit the Niagara River on a jet boat; we enjoyed the beautiful views of both the Canadian and American sides of the river while experiencing the drops, bumps and power of class 3 and 4 rapids. After drying off, we hopped back in the vans and headed for Ohio where we arrived in time for dinner and a trip to Wal-Mart.

We woke up Thursday morning and headed to Cedar Point amusement park (in time for early entry), home to some of the largest roller coasters in the world! We enjoyed a sunny day full of high speed, adrenaline rush, rides. After a brief break and pizza dinner in the late afternoon, we headed back to the park and enjoyed more rides until closing time.

Friday morning we enjoyed sleeping in and a nice breakfast at Cracker Barrel before heading to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Everyone enjoyed seeing memorabilia from some of their favorite artists and learning about the history of Rock and how it has helped shape some of their favorite genres today. After the Hall of Fame, we headed east and arrived at our hotel.

Saturday morning, we headed to Hershey Park where we enjoyed learning about how our favorite Hershey’s candies are made before heading into the park and enjoying more rides! We headed to the hotel to relax for the afternoon and then headed back to the park where we took advantage of shorter lines on the rides.

Sunday it was off to Morry’s Camp! We arrived mid-afternoon and were immediately greeted by many Morry’s Camp campers about the same age as the Super Seniors. Everyone was so excited to see camp and exchange camp stories and traditions over a friendly game of basketball. Sunday evening at Morry’s Camp is BBQ dinner night; we enjoyed eating some delicious food with many of our new friends while swapping more stories. After dinner, we were able to have a campfire with Dawn Ewing, executive director of Project Morry, where we learned more about Project Morry, Morry’s Camp and how important camp and education are to all! The super seniors asked some very thoughtful questions, which sparked a great, reflective conversation with Dawn. We woke up Monday, ate breakfast and headed to first period activities. The Super Seniors were split up into groups where they played with some of the younger Morry’s Camp campers. The girls went to dance, and the boys split between media and land sports. We said our goodbye’s mid-morning and hit the road back to camp.

Tuesday we had fun volunteering some community service hours with Champlain Area Trails cleaning up and cutting some hiking trails around the Champlain Valley (near camp); we even met a friendly golden retriever puppy! After returning to camp, we packed our bags and enjoyed a beautiful evening on the lake tubing and hanging with Scott on Southwoods’ new custom pontoon boat, the SS Ellie Mae, complete with 2 floors, water slides, music and all around fun!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

West Coast Part 3- Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego

We arrived Tuesday afternoon in Las Vegas with time to explore the Mandalay Bay Hotel before cleaning up and heading to dinner at the House of Blues, with great music and singing by all. Following dinner we walked down the strip to the Miracle Mile Shops where groups were able to explore over a mile of indoor shopping, grab Starbucks or ice cream and hang out. Wednesday was a late wake up day before heading to the MASSIVE brunch buffet at the Mandalay Bay. We got our moneys worth here...Following brunch, we explored the amazing Mandalay Bay pool complex. We enjoyed splashing in the wave pool and hanging out in the lazy river! Later in the afternoon we returned to our rooms to shower and dress for an evening out in Vegas. At the Mirage hotel we enjoyed a delicious and relaxing Italian dinner at Osteria Costa Restaurant. We then headed over to our great seats at The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil. What an awesome production, Everyone enjoyed watching the amazing choreography to the Beatles greatest hits. After the show we strolled the city that truly never sleeps and concluded with shopping at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.

After checking out of the Mandalay Bay on Thursday morning, we stopped for a bagel breakfast and began the drive to Los Angeles. We made a quick stop at the Seven Magic Mountains art exhibit (a huge Instagram hit!) on the side of the road and for lunch. We arrived in L.A. mid afternoon and headed to the Hollywood Walk of fame and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. We enjoyed seeing the stars on the Walk of Fame and wax figures of some of our favorite actors, singers and idols. Following a diner at California Pizza Kitchen we walked around a bit more, grabbed some ice cream and headed to bed. We awoke Friday and headed to Universal Studios where we enjoyed the back lot studio tour before splitting into groups and experiencing Harry Potter World, the Jurassic Park and Mummy Rides among other themed favorites. After Universal Studios we headed to The Grove, one of L.A's premier shopping destinations (also a popular hangout for many popular YouTuber's and Instagram celebrities). Each group enjoyed shopping and snapping photos with some celebrities (we saw 4!). We headed back to Hollywood Blvd for dinner and the TMZ tour where we got the inside scoop on Hollywood, Beverly Hills and many other locations that celebrities frequent and live. 

Saturday was a day of relaxation as we went to the Santa Monica Pier and enjoyed the beach and pier for the morning. After a late lunch, we headed south to our final destination, San Diego! We checked in to our hotel, grabbed some dinner and went to bed in anticipation of Surfing Sunday morning. We woke up Sunday morning, ate some breakfast and walked down Mission Beach in San Diego for our surfing lesson! We started on land and learned the basic movements and positions needed for surfing and then took what we learned to the water for some challenging fun in the Pacific! After grabbing some beachside lunch, we headed to the hotel to relax and swim in the pool. Shortly we will head to dinner.

As we reach the bittersweet final full day of the Super Senior trip, we will go sailing on the former America's Cup race boat Stars and Stripes. It seems like just yesterday we departed on the west coast part of our journey. Each and every camper has experienced many firsts with some of their best friends (new and old). They have strengthened and forged new bonds with their peers, learned valuable skills about living and traveling with others and had an overall awesome summer! 

Monday, July 9, 2018

West Coast Part 2- Grand Junction, White Water Rafting and Moab

The Super Seniors were greeted with another early morning on Friday in anticipation of a fun filled day of hiking and rappelling at the Colorado National Monument. As we ascended the Devil's Kitchen trail with our amazing guides, we got to enjoy some wonderful views of the vistas and wildlife. We put our teamwork skills to the test as we worked together to climb through the chimney, a narrow rock crack, on the way to the summit. Following a quick water and photo break, we harnessed up and did a little bit of rock climbing on our way to the Lemon Squeeze, a small hole which each of us climbed through to reach the beautiful view at the summit. After returning to the bottom of the hike, each of us got our chance to rappel down a 100+ft rock face. Following a morning of challenge, fun and teamwork, we got some much deserved lunch and cooled off at the hotel. After dinner we caught a movie and headed to bed. 

Saturday morning we woke up to a beautiful day to go white water rafting! After breakfast at our hotel, we loaded up and headed to Cisco, Utah where we met our rafting guides. After putting on LOTS of sunscreen, we got suited up with life jackets and boarded our rafts to begin our float into Westwater Canyon. Shortly after casting off, we went swimming in the river and played lots of games. We reached our campsite and spent the afternoon relaxing, playing games, and doing a lot of swimming! After a wonderful taco dinner prepared by our guides, we settled down and relaxed as a group (without our phones). After a beautiful night sleeping under the stars, we woke up, ate breakfast, and headed to the rapids. After a whitewater safety talk from our guides, we hit the rapids and had a soaking wet fun time! Following the rapids we enjoyed lunch and more swimming before arriving at the end of our rafting experience. 

We headed to Moab, Utah mid afternoon, checked into our hotel, and enjoyed some nice shower and relaxation time before heading to dinner. Following dinner and a FroYo stop, we headed to Arches National Park to enjoy sunset. We woke up this morning, enjoyed some breakfast and headed mountain biking. Everyone enjoyed seeing the beautiful views that Moab has to offer while challenging themselves with a great bike ride. Following lunch and some shopping time in Moab, its off to Cedar City, UT for the night before heading to Las Vegas on Tuesday.  

Friday, July 6, 2018

Morry's Camp and the West Coast Part 1

Following a hot and sunny day at Hershey Park, the Super Seniors crossed the NY border and arrived at Morry's Camp Sunday afternoon. After meeting with some of the oldest campers for a tour of the camp, we joined Morry's campers and staff for line up and a wonderful outdoor BBQ dinner. Southwoods campers were excited to sit with and get to know the Morry's Camp Post Grad 3 group who are approximately the same age as them. They enjoyed swapping camp stories and songs and learning about the power of camp! Following dinner, we were invited to a campfire with Dawn Ewing, executive director of Project Morry who spoke with our group about the wonderful mission of Project Morry and the impact that camp has on her campers lives.. The next day we woke and joined campers of all ages in the Morry's Camp dining room and then headed to morning line up. Following line up, the Super Seniors were divided among the many Morry's Camp age groups and we were able to participate, lead and get to experience Project Morry in a real way. We also got to know some of the PM campers really well. After a day of fun, we packed up and headed back to Southwoods.

Tuesday morning back at Southwoods consisted of community service with the Lake Champlain Trail society and a picnic lunch. After returning to Southwoods we packed our bags and then were able to get a break from the heat and enjoy free swim, free-play ski and a special evening activity with Scott of tubing and rocking the evening away on the SS Ellie Mae, (Southwoods' new double decker pontoon boat)! We slid down the two slides, leaped from the upper deck and danced like no one was watching, even though everyone on the lake came to check out this amazing new addition to the Southwoods fleet!

Wednesday morning was bitter sweet as we ate breakfast and headed to the airport. We arrived in Denver, CO around 3:45pm and headed to the hotel. Following dinner, we went to bed in anticipation of an early morning on Thursday. After a beautiful drive through the Rocky Mountains, we arrived in Grand Junction, CO and went rock climbing! Everyone enjoyed their choice of 5 different climbs bringing challenge, encouragement and a LOT of fun! Tomorrow we go hiking and rappelling at the Colorado National Monument. 

Super Seniors Take the East Coast by Roller Coaster!

After departing Southwoods Tuesday morning after breakfast, the Super Seniors headed straight to Niagara Falls. Following an awesome tour of the falls on the Maid of the Mist, we headed to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, followed by fireworks overlooking the falls. Wednesday morning was full of soaking wet smiles from jet boating followed by a road trip to Sandusky, OH (home of Cedar Point!). After dinner, it was off to bed for an early morning in the park! Following breakfast by the pool, we headed to Cedar Point where we rode many of the United States' largest roller coasters and had an overall great day. We returned to the hotel mid day for some cool-off time and pizza by the pool before returning to the park for some fun under the stars. We woke up Friday morning and headed to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH. Campers enjoyed learning about the history of Rock and Roll and how it has helped to evolve music into the genres they listen to today. We arrived at our hotel in Somerset, PA in time for dinner and bed time. Everyone is enjoying an awesome trip and is very excited to visit Hershey Park and Project Morry in the coming days. More to come soon!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Southwoods Story: Johnny Drucker

My experiences at Southwoods, both as a camper and a counselor, are in many ways more than memories. They are more than hot summers days in the Adirondacks and they are more than cool summer nights out by the campfire. They are proof. Proof that I am always a work in progress. As a camper I learned how to be a part of something bigger than myself, while at the same time learning how to shine as an individual. I was part of a cabin, an age group, a tribal team, a camp, and through the years I began to understand what it meant to contribute to a team. There were always more goals to accomplish and there were always more people to learn with. While I was becoming more and more comfortable with being part of a community, I was also able to blossom into a unique person. At Southwoods I recognized my creativity. I recognized my ability to empathize. I recognized the need to keep blossoming. As a counselor I not only learned how to be a part of a group, but how to lead one. It was my turn to foster an environment that nurtured teamwork and interdependence. As an experienced member of the Southwoods community I was also able to empower young people to shine in their own way. Few things bring me more joy than seeing someone believe in his or herself. As always, I was learning, growing and changing. Over the years the people and the programs at Southwoods have taught me how to reach beyond my own expectations for myself- more times than I can count. Here, I learned how to locate my comfort zone and how extend it. This idea means more than simply trying new things, meeting new people, and visiting new places. It means being able to redefine yourself as your adventure continues. At the end of the day I can say that I share love and friendship with people across the globe and I carry what they’ve given me wherever I go. Their words, their jokes, their demeanor, their perspective. But even more so than all of these things, they have given me proof. Proof that I can make it. Proof that I am always making it. - Written by Jonny Drucker, Former Southwoods Camper & Counselor

My Southwoods Story: Taylor Dyer

My camp story began my first year of University. Young and full of adventure I was on the hunt for an amazing summer job.  Growing up in a small town in Saskatchewan, Canada,  summer camp wasn’t something I had experienced as a kid. Instead my summers were spent camping with my amazing family.
I knew that I wanted to do something exciting and fun and that my educational goal was to work with kids. So to the internet I went and one of the first jobs that caught my eye was camp counselor. I perused some camp websites, and I’m not sure exactly what it was about Southwoods that caught my eye but for some reason I had to apply.  The thought of working in the mountains in New York sounded too good to be true, and every person portrayed on the website looked like they were having the most incredible time!
I applied, and a few days later had a phone interview. Just listening to the enthusiasm of the voice on the other end of the phone, I knew that this was the place I wanted to spend my summer.
A little over 3,000 km from home and the minute I stepped onto camp I knew that this place was special. You get to camp and you are surrounded by like-minded people with a passion for life and contagious energy. I still, 14 years later talk to some of those people who I started my Southwoods adventure with.
The day I left camp I knew that I had to come back, I was unable to return the following two summers, but then my little brother and best friend just finished his first year of university. It didn’t take much to convince Austin that Southwoods was a great place to spend the summer. I was so excited that he was going to get to experience camp! I was also really excited that we were going to come together. It might have been my favourite summer of my 4 years at Southwoods. I knew what to expect this time around plus I got to share and experience it with my brother and a good friend of ours.
I’m not sure if people got sick of camp stories or listening to us talk about the amazing people we met while at camp, but the following year we convinced (fairly easily mind you) 7 more of our friends to travel 3,000 km away from home for the summer to experience Southwoods! The Saskatchewan invasion was on and I was sooo excited that they all got to come and experience camp!
It is amazing to think back on all the memories! Being able to impact a camper’s life and see them grow, how camp brings out the best in you and your day is spent playing and laughing and making new friendships. Southwoods helped make me the person I am today and I wouldn’t trade those summers for anything!
Southwoods is truly a special place! No words that I write on this page can describe the experience of Southwoods. You have to experience it yourself!
-Written by Taylor Dyer, former Southwoods counselor