My once-every-session game of Geronimo at Farm Camp coincides with the usual return of one or another CIT hiking group. They’ve been out for five days or so and have hiked down from the top of Slide Mountain, down to the Denning side of the trail—which emerges at the Tison property and then they walk a few miles west along the East Branch Neversink Road, past our East Valley Ranch, and to Farm Camp. They typically stop at the Farm and hope for some leftovers from yummy Farm lunch, and then they proceed to hike back over Wildcat Mountain, into the West Branch Neversink Valley, where Frost Valley’s main camp of course is located. They will camp on their final night out over there, typically at High Falls, and then make their triumphant re-emergence into camp the next day.

Yesterday was no different. I went to the Farm to play Geronimo and there came the CITs, hiking happily in the sunshine and longing for that good meal. Here are some photos I took of these good moments.

Our August (“session B”) CITs this summer were an extraordinary lot of long-time FV’ers. The hiked intensely, discovered their individual passions for counseling during their “in cabin” experiences, and played a lot. They and their July ’18 CIT colleagues form a crucial Frost Valley generation. We expect them to lead in just a few years. On the final day of the summer we had our usual last-day rollicking game of Geronimo. I took these photos in the moments of pre-nostalgic elation immediately following the game.

Pac, Windsong, and Sunburst—they point in the positive direction! These programs are our future leadership and thus, of course, they are crucial. As many reading this blog will know, most of these campers, each session, will leave camp for a several-day, several-night overnight hike. It’s a challenge and we are very flexible in case some of the campers are unable to do some or all of the hike physically. It’s a good anticipation of the CIT (counselor-in-training) program, which some of these campers will join next summer. A great percentage of our staff emerge from these oldest-camper villages and the various “in-Training” programs. This pathway is key to Frost Valley’s extraordinary continuity.

Here’s a photo I took of Pac near the beginning of the current session, #2.

I visited the Farm yesterday—to lead another Farm-wild-style game of Geronimo (the legendary elaborate chair game). What fun! Then joined them for another delicious Farm lunch. Here are some photos.

Aoife, proud F.I.T.*, has set the tables while we were all outside playing Geronimo. Thanks, Aoife [* Farmer{=counselor}-in-Training]

In the middle of the game, a group of 8 CiTs and their CIT coordinators, Pat (white shirt and bandana) and Elodie (cooking) arrived from their multi-day hike. They were wet and exhausted, and happy and proud. They immediately set to cooking “brunch” (as they styled it): griddlecakes cooked in a pan over a propane stove. Can you see from the photo how hungry they are? Welcome home, people!

Maya played the game hard but not a trace of grass or dirt on her sweatshirt! Her hands are washed and she’s ready for lunch. I showed this pic to her mom and she was thrilled to see such a smile! Camp’s fun.

Brother and sister farmers!

Nicky Macy, Farm Director, has a few announcements before lunch gets started.

Boys CITs in 1970. It was the first summer in brand new Hayden Lodge. Frank Meigs was the CIT Director. Among the CITs are John Mumford, Stu Sherman, Mark “Snake” Nathanson.

I’m honored to have, daily, a view of the most various imaginable scenes at Frost Valley. Yes, it’s an honor to see all this. Early morning beauty and quiet, gives way to hilarious crazy noise of breakfast in the dining hall, exciting chats with counselors in training in the midst of their greatest challenge (a rigorous six-day hike), and the paradise of a farm in the midst of it all. I’m blessed to have two months of such days each summer. But here are a few takes from one of those days.

Early morning run down the road. There’s Chuck White Pond, and the sun comes up and out at just the right moment and angle to create a sudden foggy realization: that I think about the late Chuck White a lot, and certainly I did when I snapped this photo.

A little further down the road, still before 7 AM, this little guy had some reluctant feelings about my being up so early in his space by the lake:

At breakfast, I hung out with Pokey-Totem. Did calisthenics (do they still call it that? – you know, jumping jacks and so forth) with some of the boys, whereupon the girls came running over and wanted a photo, joined by two of their counselors and one of their directors:

Off to the Frost Valley Farm, an especially utopian spot in camp. Love it there. We played a nutso game of Geronimo in the field and then I joined them for lunch. Every item on my plate was raised/grown/harvested there at the Farm. Amazing. And so yummy.

I ran into Dexter, one of the older campers at the Farm. Asked him why he keeps coming back, and why the Farm in particular. “It’s my happy place,” he told me. Here’s Dexter:

I walked to my car after my farm lunch and there, there, there were a group of CITs, hiking through the East Valley (along the east branch of the Neversink River, where the Farm and East Valley Ranch [EVR] are situated) on their way back across toward “main camp” over Wildcat. They were a day short of completing their six-day hike. They were smelly. And exhausted. And thirsty (they’d run low on water and were happy to fill up in the farm kitchen). But they were also proud and wanted to pose for a photo. This one:

Back to main camp. The fabulous smile of Isabel, a long-time camper now in Tacoma. And a meal with Tim and Kat, our MAC directors — talented, thoughtful, smart, both long- long- long-time FV people.

Long day. Many many steps taken (figuratively but also literally: ask my Garmin sports watch). But not so busy that I couldn’t stop to admire the end of the day at the quiet waterfront while everyone else was at dinner.

See you tomorrow, FV people. Let’s do this 60 times or so.

Several groups of CITs have been hiking through the Catskills. One group arrived at the Farm in the East Valley just at noon today. I was at the Farm to lead a game of Geronimo and decided, afterwards, to join them for lunch. And then, there they were: these happy and tired and dirty (and smelly) CITs. Their spirits were soaring. They had hiked and camped together and well. They had significantly bonded. When I asked them if I could take a photo, this (below) is the confident pose they struck.