Something surprising happened in the off-season this past year. While at the Tri-State Camp Conference— a huge convention that brings camps from around the country to Atlantic City in March each year— David Fleischner had an unexpected run in. He was walking the vendor floor, where various companies sell things like lake inflatables, magician services, peanut butter alternatives, and logo-d gear (you know, camp stuff), when a woman stopped him.
“Scatico?” she asked, pointing to the name emblazoned in the corner of David’s shirt. “Where did you get that name from?”
“I believe our camp was named for the Native American tribe that used to live around the area where our camp was founded,” David explained. “A lot of camp’s started in the 1920s and 30s did that.”
The woman smiled.
We soon discovered that she was none other than the spouse of the Sachem, or chief, of the Schaghticoke Nation… the very tribe Camp Scatico was named for. Her husband is a consultant on conservation and an environmental educator (who has even worked on projects for the United Nations).
As David always says, things happen for a reason. We knew this was an opportunity that the Scatico community could not miss out on— an opportunity to connect with our true history, and to form a new tradition at camp.
And so this past week, we invited the Sachem, Hawk, and other members of Schaghticoke Nation to come to camp to lead a ceremony. They led one campfire on Boys Side and one on Girls, teaching us their traditional songs, about the plants they hold sacred, and what the Schaghticoke Nation is up to today. We learned what the word Schaghticoke actually means— “mingling waters”— a metaphor that works beautifully at a camp centered around a lake, where we welcome people from all over the world, and invite them to share in our community. We learned that cedar and sassafras trees— found all over camp’s property— possess important healing and ceremonial properties. On Girls Side, camp’s resident bald eagle even stopped by, and perched upon a low branch directly over the campfire site, as if he were participating in the night’s events. It was one of those magical camp evenings.
At camp, sometimes the unplanned, unexpected moments are the ones that eventually become the longest-standing traditions. Who knew a chance encounter at a convention center in Atlantic City, would help Scatico connect with its roots.
Over on girls side it has been a very busy week. From birthday ball to a fantastic media show, to tournaments and hikes, camp has hit its true jam-packed stride.
First up… birthday ball! To ensure every camper experiences the excitement of celebrating a birthday at camp, girls side hosts a birthday ball every year. A tradition started in the 1980s, for the special evening girls are divided into their birthday seasons and decide on a theme related to their season name. This year campers opted for some TV-centric themes: Stranger Springs (like Stranger Things), What time is it? Summertime (a Highschool Musical reference), Fall House (like Full House), and Winter Mifflin (like Dunder Mifflin from The Office). Campers and counselors spent the afternoon decorating murals to hang in the dining hall, and then before dinner got into costume for the dinner celebration! Naturally it all ends with birthday cake— with 99 candles, one for each Scatico summer.
This summer also brought us our inaugural Girl Side Film Festival! CIT DL Kate Rosenfeld, a longtime Scaticonian, introduced a media program to girls side this year, and for her first project the Debs and Subs created their very own original film shorts. Over the last two weeks, they have been hard at work, taking on every role involved in the films’ production including director, cinematographer, costumes, prop technicians, screenplay, editing, and acting. With popcorn in hand, the whole girls camp gathered in the social hall and watched the films together. Needless to say it was a successful opening night!
Monday we also hosted the Girls NAT Basketball tournament! With a record seven camps Participating this summer— Surprise Lake, Watitoh, Pontiac, Lenox, Wah-Nee, Eagle Hill, and Scatico— the competition was fierce. Our team played incredibly, winning both their first and second games, before losing to Pontiac in a close semifinals game. The bleachers (as always) were full of campers from both boys and girls side who kept the cheers going all day long.
This week the boys kicked off their much-anticipated College Bowl competition. College Bowl is an event where campers are divided into four colleges: Michigan (dark blue), USC (yellow), UCLA (light blue) and Ohio State (red). Over the course of an evening and an entire day, campers compete in a series of creative activities including full- camp capture the flag on the golf course, full-camp dodgeball on back campus, mass softball on the ballfields, a slapball home run derby, and an apache relay. Two new games introduced this year included “the greasy watermelon” (yes, as strange yet fun as it sounds… involving boys in the crib of the lake attempting to get a floating watermelon to their side), and a Bucket Brigade. A longtime girls side Color War activity, the bucket brigade has boys in a line along the lake dock stretching from the deep end to the beach, passing buckets filled with water in an attempt to fill a giant garbage can with a ping pong ball in it. The first team to overflow their garbage can so that the ping pong ball floats out and onto the dock, wins. The day is then finished with a traditional boys side campfire.
Boys side also participated in the fan-favorite Gong Show on Wednesday evening! Always filled with hilarious and unique acts, this year the Sub Seniors took home the gold. Highlights included Diego Groom doing a strong man act that involved lifting counselors, and a ribbon dance performance (which the Sub Seniors learned in girls gymnastics) while Nick Mozga and Isaac Greenblatt discussed philosophical issues.
This week also marked the official annual decoration of the boys HC porch. The porch has always had a pair of seats from the original Yankees stadium set up in one corner— a popular hangout spot during down time— with Yankee paraphernalia hung around it to match, but as soon as Cory Schwartz took up residence in the HC he made sure we evened out the fandom. Now an accompanying set of Mets seats are positioned on the opposite end of the porch, with accompanying Mets decor. The Subway Series setup has taken on a life of its own, with campers and counselors bringing their own photos, posters, and swag to add to the mix.
MYSTERY RIDES + OVERNIGHTS
This past week also marked the start of mystery rides and camp overnights! On Mystery Rides divisions head out of camp to a destination that is a surprise until they arrive. Some highlights from this week included the Upper Seniors trip to Art Omi, a giant outdoor sculpture garden, and blueberry picking at a local farm with The Centers. The Sophomore boys and Junior girls kicked off the summer’s overnights with evenings filled with s’mores and stories around the fire.
Next week stay tuned for some major camp events, including Scatico Legends (this year’s theme centers around overcoming obstacles), the brand-new Scatapalooza, Carnival, Minicamp, the Art Show and much more!