Winter Adventure Camp 2018

Feature Image: Winter Adventure Campers in 2018 looking back at their counterparts in the Roost, Camp Marbury, 1926 (historic image courtesy Vermont Historical Society)

What a week of Winter Adventures we had!

Hot chocolate on the fire

Despite the lack of snow cover for a Vermont February, we spent plenty of time outside exploring the frozen landscape, its plants, animals, weather, and even life under the ice of Lake Champlain.

Ten campers spent five days on and around our Basin Harbor campus and in The Roost, a early 20th century summer camp cabin from Camp Marbury. The Roost has now been incorporated into LCMM’s campus and is where we made a nice cozy fire each day at noon to enjoy our lunch, hot chocolate, s’mores, and even sugar on snow (a traditional local treat made by pouring hot maple syrup over snow).  Each day we welcomed a “Guest Expert” to learn about our topic of the day.

Camp kicked off with LCMM Director Erick Tichonuk teaching about the history of ice yachting and ice harvesting on Lake Champlain. The iceboat Storm King fully rigged and looking like she is ready to go for another cruise over the lake is an impressive site in LCMM’s Hazelett Watercraft Center.

Burdock seed pods that hitched a ride home on a camper’s sweater.

To learn about plants we were joined by botanist and LCMM AmeriCorps Member Carissa Leeper who taught us the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees and led a hike to identify trees and plants. We took careful samples from some of the plants we found, and brought them back to observe and photograph under the microscope back at camp headquarters. Some samples such as the burdock seed pods came back without even being intentionally collected!

Measuring animal tracks to determine species

Of course we kept a close eye on the weather all week– each morning campers recorded the temperature, wind speed and wind direction (including making their own anemometer to check the speed), and observed the cloud cover and precipitation. John Goff, a National Weather Service meteorologist, shared how professionals use measurements just like ours to study the climate and forecast the weather.

While out collecting and studying plants and trees the campers noticed a lot of animal activity even in the cold temperatures. Naturalist and LCMM Education Director Elizabeth Lee took the camp on an animal tracking and sign discovery adventure on Wednesday. We found sign of gray squirrel, red fox, voles, and whitetail deer!

Drilling holes in the lake ice looking for fish

Thursday was ice fishing day (notice we didn’t say catching!) with Corey Hart of Vermont Fish and Wildlife. Corey taught us all about ice safely, how to make our best guess as to where the fish would be swimming under the ice, all about the special gear for cutting holes in the ice and fishing though it, and of course we all tried our hand with a line or two. Vermont Fish and Wildlife offers both ice and open water fishing classes to the community through their Let’s Go Fishing program.  It turns out there was not a single hungry fish in the lake on that particular day, but we still had fun and learned a lot about ice fishing.

Meeting the sled dogs

Friday was all about the dogs. Sled dogs, to be exact. LCMM friend Ed Blechner joined the camp along with his assistant Ethan and a full team of very energetic sled dogs. The campers started by playing the part of the dogs themselves, pulling the sled over the snowless but frozen ground. They learned how the dogs are cared for, how the sled works, and how to harness the team to the sled. Even without snow, the dogs were able to easily pull the sled and really seem to enjoy it!

Winter Adventure Camp has come to an end for 2018, much like winter itself will soon, but we are already looking forward to summer Lake Adventure Camps with a packed and exciting lineup of adventures! Registration is open and filling fast; see you in, on, and under the lake this summer!