Yes, it’s a once-per-session custom. The middle Sunday of each session is devoted to preparing a big harvest feast at our Farm Camp. Everyone, from the most senior counselor to the youngest camper in the youngest yurt—gets involved: harvesting, cleaning, preparing, cooking, table-setting, serving, and of course happily consuming the yummy spread. Yesterday was no exception. They prepped all day and the results were amazing—so delicious. Every dish was as fresh-tasting as it could be. I had the honor of being invited to join them and had such a lovely time chatting with the campers and staff, filling my plate full of brightly colorful and delicious food.

It’s become a tradition. Once each session we arrange for the East Valley Ranch people to ride on wagons and in vans over to the Farm, just a mile or so west along the road along the East Branch of the Neversink River. And there, in the Farm dining hall, they meet up with all the Farm people—and I host what is always a loud, rousing, spirited, fun all-East Valley Challenge Night. Here are a few photo from this week’s event.

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.

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.

The spring season has been a welcome sight after such a long and harsh winter.  Our garden manager Hannah and property manager Beth has been on the job since the start of May to help prepare the soil, weed the rows, and get some seeds into the ground.  What has made this year so different from past summers is the amount of planning and attention to detail that has jumpstarted the garden.  We typically don’t see much produce from the garden in the Farm dining hall up until later in first session, but this summer we’ll have produce available for our camp staff training week!  Have a look at some of the early progress:IMG_7771


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So we’ve got a lot of news to share with you!

Seedlings fo cut flower garden in the Greenhouse

Seedlings for the cut flower garden in the Greenhouse

From the Greenhouse at Main Camp we have a bunch of new seedlings popping up!  Matt and I have been working hard to make sure that there are veggies out in the beds at Main Camp and in the Greenhouse.  I have started a couple flats of seeds for a cut flower garden.  In that mix is going to be: Coleus, Cosmos, Morning Glory, Celosia, Snapdragons, Zinnias, Bells of Ireland, Larkspur, Hollyhocks, Lavender, Lupine and a lot more!

Here at the Farm Camp we are getting beds ready to go with broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, spinach, squash, tomatoes, blueberries, sunflowers, marigolds and I’m just about to go out to check on everything else!  I’ll keep you posted on what I find!

Another excitement – our Summer Staff is arriving! The lifeguards are here a to train before our regular Farm Camp training starts next week.  A good portion of them are from around the world – the UK, Scotland, Australia as well as from the States.  We met up earlier this week for some staff bonding and ice-cream in Liberty and took our first official summer camp photo on the Neversink Reservoir nearby.  So much fun already!



Summer Staff at Neversink Resevoir (L-R) Finbarr, Greg, Kris, Penny, Cara, Leigh, Amadu

Summer Staff at Neversink Resevoir (L-R) Finbarr, Greg, Kris, Penny, Cara, Leigh, Amadu