Can You Please Explain: Trail Mix and ADK Wild
To the unfamiliar eye, Fowler's summer schedule can seem a bit confusing. What does Una Tierra mean? What's the difference between Horizons and Adirondack Week? Why is it called Triple A? And can someone please explain what S.W.i.M. stands for?
We'll admit, it's not very self-explanatory. So we want to use the month of March to explain a little bit more about each of our weeks of Camp. We're going to do our best to outline the following: where the name of the week comes from, distinguishing features of the week, the rationale behind the targeted age group, and the history behind how the week came to be. We're excited to share a little bit more about how we do things at Fowler and we hope this is helpful for you as you consider when to come to camp going forward.
To start, we want to talk a little bit more about Trail Mix and ADK Wild. The nuts and bolts: Trail Mix is for 3rd-5th graders* and is the only option exclusively for this age group. ADK Wild is for 5th-6th graders and is considered one of our Outcamp** weeks. ADK Wild is the only Outcamp option for 5th-6th graders. Both of these weeks are designed specifically for groups of our youngest campers who fall between a short age range. This is part of what makes these weeks unique. We think that there is something special about being with a group of people who are similar in age because there are often physical, social, and developmental similarities between the group of campers. This allows us, as Staff, to better meet the needs of our campers because we can design activities geared specifically toward this more narrow set of needs.
With that in mind, Trail Mix is designed for campers who have less experience with Camp. We give everyone a chance to try everything: from hiking to canoeing to arts to games to playing in the woods. During the day, Trail Mix campers will experience activities through rotations so everyone can try everything. We have cabin time in the afternoon to make sure everyone is rested for an evening filled with crazy all-camp games, campfires, and stargazing. Campers get daily free time as well.
If you talk to the majority of Summer Staff, the first week they came to as a camper was Discovery Week; it's often what hooked them on the summer camp experience from a young age. Trail Mix is the newest iteration of Discovery week. We changed the name to Trail Mix in 2009 because, just as the peanut-y, raisin-y, chocolate-y goodness is the iconic camping snack, Trail Mix is the iconic camp week. Our goal is to make this week the beginning of a lifelong love of Camp.
In a similar vein, ADK Wild is the updated version of a longstanding Fowler program: our Wilderness Weeks. Wilderness Weeks started as a way to help young children fall in love with the wilderness by spending time in it. Basically, it's one week of pure, unspoiled play outside. It's fun, it's playful, and its wild. We changed the name to ADK Wild in 2013 because we felt it better captured the playfulness and craziness that always seems to happen during these weeks. Just like Trail Mix is often the beginning of a lifelong love of incamp, ADK Wild is often the first step in becoming a true Outcamper.
Like all our Outcamps, ADK Wild is a week for a small group (usually 10) to bond by playing outside together. Led by two of our trained wilderness guides, the group spends all week exploring different ways to experience the wilderness. They'll sleep in the Wilderness Area on camp property where we have two rustic Adirondack-style lean-tos. They'll get to help cook all their meals on campfires and camp stoves and live out of their backpack for the week. They might spend one day hiking a mountain, another day paddling canoes, and another day learning important wilderness skills like map-reading, fire-building and knot-tying. The last night of the week, they'll pack up their gear and head into the wilderness for a backcountry overnight. We often say that once you try Outcamp, there's no going back. This is where you start.
We hope this was helpful as you consider how you want to spend your summer. We can't articulate enough how much we love both Trail Mix and ADK Wild weeks. Watching young people's eyes sparkle as they watch a sunset over the mountains, hearing them scream with delight as they run into the freezing cold lake in the morning, and watching them try to stay awake in the last hour of the day because they're so tired, but they don't want to miss anything is one of our great joys as Camp Staff. It's a tremendous privilege to be present for such an important part of their lives. On behalf of your children, thank you for sending them to Camp.
*When we say 3rd grade, we mean coming out of 3rd grade; as in, you just finished third grade in the school year prior to the summer.
**Outcamp is distinct from Incamp in that it's focused on a wilderness camp experience. Outcamp trips are for smaller groups of campers (usually 6-10) who spend the whole week with 2-3 staff wilderness guides exploring the wilderness around the Adirondacks. They make their own food and spend the nights in tents, hammocks, and lean-tos and they typically spend most of their time off of Fowler property. You can think of it as the more "rustic," adventure-based camp experience.