Press-Republican

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February 10, 2013

The way camp should be

WILLSBORO — Forty seventh-grade boys from the Fairfield Country Day School hiked four to six hours in single digits in the High Peaks to challenge each other and foster teamwork.

This is the third year the Connecticut students have traveled to the Outdoor Education Center at Pok-O-MacCready Camps, dubbed “the greatest camp in the universe.”

“We don’t really have specialists here,” said Brian DeGroat, director. “Everyone teaches everything. One of the things I really pride the center on is that we can offer many different classes, and we can be extremely flexible with whatever group is coming. So, we can offer a custom experience for every single group. And even when they get here, we can make changes on the fly. Just like last night, when we realized it was going to be 65 (below zero) on top of Hurricane Mountain, and we thought we should probably hike something different.”

EXERCISING BODY, MIND 

Pok-O-MacCready Camps is the amalgamation of Camp Pok-O-Moonshine for boys and Camp MacCready for girls.

The boys’ camp was founded in 1905 by Sarah Westcott and Dr. Charles Robinson, headmaster of the Peekskill Military Academy.

“A lot of the parents of the students attending Peekskill Military Academy asked Dr. Robinson if there was something that their children could do in the summertime,” said Sarah Disney, executive director. “At that time, a lot of the students came from Venezuela. By the time those students took a boat all the way back to Venezuela, it was time to turn around and come back for the next school season.”

Robinson purchased the 300-acre tract in Willsboro to establish the camp on a peninsula on Long Pond. The camp’s philosophy is “to help each camper develop an awareness of, and appreciation for, the natural environment while participating in new experiences, learning new skills and making new friends.”

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