The Morning After Visiting Day

Yawn! Late sleep for all, as campers emerged from their sugar-induced cocoons and awoke to a bright and sunny day at Owego. Was yesterday just a dream? Hugs and kisses from Moms and Dads, care packages of favorite snacks, Magic Cards, Jibbitz, and quality time with siblings…our first in-person Visiting Day since 2019 was a huge success! Today, it’s back to business as we start a new week at camp. The anticipation of what’s to come is palpable.

This coming week, the Seniors and Hi-Seniors embark on their out-of-camp overnight trips. On Tuesday, the 9th graders will depart for New England and the 10th and 11th graders will head to Niagara Falls. The following day, 7th graders will leave for the Adirondacks and the 8th graders make their way to the Finger Lakes Region. All trips are scheduled to return to camp on Thursday evening.

While the upper camp is away, the Juniors will play! There are a number of special activities planned for the Juniors this coming week, aside from the awesomeness of having the entire camp to themselves. Stay tuned to this blog for more details on Switch Day and other exciting events!

Back to today, a typical fantastic Monday at camp. While the Seniors and Hi-Seniors packed for their trips, the Juniors had inspection and set off for first period choice. Those campers who are in the second session show, “Wicked Hamilton,” reported to the stage to meet with Scotty and kick off rehearsals. In ten short days, the show will make its debut. Between now and then, the cast will be working NON-STOP.

With just 18 days remaining, there is still so much to do and so many memories to be made. The good news is that tomorrow is another camp day, just waiting to happen!

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On any given day at Owego, you will hear the piercing sound of Unit Leaders’ voices as they signal the start of sixth period: “Rrrrrrrrrrrec swim!” Campers repeat the call, as if declaring it multiple times will make it happen quicker. Throngs of campers head towards the pool – clad in bathing suits, towels slung over their shoulders, goggles perched on their heads. Rec swim is a special time at Owego. A boys’ paradise, so to speak. On a day like today, when the sun shines brightly and the air is perfectly dry, rec swim is the ultimate punctuation to a delightful afternoon.

There are three distinct groups of campers at rec swim: The picnic grove gang, the recreation lovers, and the fish. Campers move between these groups on occasion, but most of them have a favorite way to spend sixth period. Whether it’s a card game, a ping-pong match, or a relaxing float on the surface of the pool, Owego campers make the most of their 45 minutes.

The picnic grove looks like Central Park on a Sunday afternoon, with campers deeply engaged in card games. Gin Rummy, Poker, War…they play anything and everything. Magic the Gathering brings all ages together. Campers debut their new card packs sent from home and while some enjoy just collecting the cards, others take the game VERY seriously. The sixth-period card games represent the ultimate “unplugged” camp experience: hanging out with your friends, talking, laughing, and passing the time with some old-fashioned fun.

Recreation lovers gravitate towards the ping-pong tables or the volleyball pit. Over by the sandpit, campers take turns at the tetherball court, whipping the imposing yellow ball around the pole and then ducking in sheer terror. Tetherball is a camp icon. It has been around forever, but it never gets old. Boys seem to find great joy in launching a ball with all their might and trying to knock out their opponent. For those who don’t relish the thought of getting beaned in the head by a tetherball, there are two brand-new ping-pong tables to keep them occupied during rec swim. Ping-pong is a competitive sport at Owego, with even the tamest campers fist-pumping the air when their opponents miss the ball. Campers take their recreational games very seriously at Owego.

Believe it or not, there are campers who can actually be found in the pool during rec swim! When the refreshing water beckons, it’s hard to stay away. Campers splash with their friends, glide along on floats, sword fight with noodles, and join in a pool basketball game – all the while keeping cool and fulfilling rec swim’s true intent. As division leaders cannonball into the pool, campers giggle with delight. There are smiles as far as the eye can see. Sixth period is a joyful ending to a beautiful day! 

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The Gift of Choice

The first day of the session can only mean one thing: It’s time to choose! Campers can choose what clothes to put on when they get out of bed. They can choose to some extent what to eat for breakfast (and how much syrup to pour on top). But what makes Owego truly unique is the campers’ freedom to choose their activities. Which brings us to Pioneer Village 4th period choice sign-up and Ridge choice sign-up.

Following lunch and rest hour, all campers, including our new second-session friends who joined us today, made their way across camp to either the Lower Field or the Picnic Grove. Juniors gathered by the rocks on the Lower Field and listened intently as counselors took turns “pitching” their periods. The goal? To entice campers to join your activity. One counselor enthusiastically described his golf period. Another asked campers to join him on the Ropes course. One by one, the counselors appealed to every camper’s interests – on the court, in the water, at the fishing dock, or in the fields. Juniors scattered in every direction, eager to participate in the activity of their choice.

Meanwhile, over in the picnic grove, the Seniors and Hi-Seniors received instructions from a division leader on how to secure their spots in a wide variety of choice periods. Older campers have the privilege of six choice periods a day, and they “refresh” their schedules every week. Owego is a boy’s paradise, where you can go from tennis to lake to rocketry – all in the course of a morning at camp.

Today, after counselors separated into camp “areas” – waterfront on one side of the grove, athletics on the other, creative arts on the dining hall porch – campers dispersed in all directions, excited to secure a signature and a spot in their favorite activities. Friends sat together and strategized on how to match up their schedules, water-lovers rushed the lake counselors, and Scotty signed up campers for the second-session play. Campers who have not yet been a part of Kyle’s BBQ period were given first dibs on the popular choice. The campers’ schedules took shape, one activity at a time, and another week at Owego came into perfect focus.

Same time, same place, next week. Campers will return to favorite periods, try something new, and debate the merits of ultimate frisbee versus hockey. No matter which activities they choose, Owego campers are given the gift to embrace who they are and what they love to do, and to celebrate all of the dimensions that make each and every one of them truly unique.

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One Session Ends, Another Begins

The morning dawned bright and sunny as we bid a fond Farewell to our First Session campers. As the buses rolled in and out of Owego, there were hugs and fist-bumps and echoes of “See you next summer” reverberating throughout camp. Campers shed a few tears, as they said goodbye to bunkmates and hello to parents. Following last night’s division campfires and awards ceremony, and the viewing of the first session video, we sent our First Session campers home and began preparing camp for the arrival of our Second Session campers.

All full session campers rolled out of camp at noon for a day at Montage Mountain waterpark. While the campers floated along the lazy river and whooshed down the waterslides, Key Staff and a handful of counselors stayed behind at camp to clean, organize, and prepare the bunks for tomorrow’s Second Session arrivals. Cubbies were moved, floors were swept, and repairs were made. When the full session campers returned from the waterpark to shower before dinnertime, they were pleasantly surprised to see their bunks looking so spiffy and clean.

Tonight’s Evening Activity was a good one: Best of Owego. During Best of Owego, campers rotate to different stations throughout camp and complete silly 10-minute activities like rubbing shaving cream in a counselor’s face. 

Tomorrow morning, campers will enjoy a double SFA period while their Second Session friends arrive via planes, buses, and cars. By lunchtime, camp will be whole once more. The Owego Brotherhood will continue.

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A Scotty Myers Production

Lights! Camera! Action!

Each summer, Owego presents two musicals under the direction of Scotty Myers. Drama instructor, experienced performer, former school principal, and long-time Owego treasure, Scotty works tirelessly from the start of the session to write the script, cast the show, and rehearse every day to ensure that opening night is a huge success!

Tonight was the World Premiere (and final performance) of “Matt Tilda – The Musical,”  an all-boys version of the Roald Dahl classic. From the moment the curtains parted and the lights went up, the audience was transported to another world. “Matt Tilda” is the story of a boy who loves to read and is sent away to Lake Owego Camp by his impatient, intolerant, TV-obsessed father. At Owego, Matt forms a bond with his fellow campers and celebrates his special abilities and his independence.

In just 3 short weeks, these campers have memorized lines, learned songs, and formed a bond as a cast. Their discipline and dedication was evident. These campers had their moment in the spotlight, and they shone brightly. The show was adorable, with lots of laughs and surprises.

After the curtain call, Kyle takes the stage to present Scotty with a custom “Matt Tilda” t-shirt. This tradition was established years ago, and Scotty’s t-shirt collection is impressive! Tonight, however, the pomp and circumstance does not end there.

Much to Scotty’s surprise, there was a special presentation in honor of his many years of dedication to Owego drama. Key staff took the stage and unveiled three large vinyl banners listing all of the shows that Scotty has directed since 1977. These banners will henceforth hang along the side aisle of “Scotty’s Stage” so that every camper who passes through can take a moment to appreciate the impressive contributions of this beloved leader.

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Everyone Goes to the Super Bowl!

The Olympic torch is extinguished. The t-shirts are (thankfully) in the campers’ laundry bags. The camp has been reunited as one. It’s the day after the Olympics Closing Ceremony. Team Wales is still celebrating its victory, but everyone in camp is ready for the next fun activity!

Having waited patiently for their turn, the Hi-Seniors took a trip to Costas Family Fun Park this morning. With the glee of an 8-year-old, the oldest Owego campers enjoyed waterslides, Go Karts, and mini golf. Ice cream provided a sweet ending to a fun morning! While the Hi-Seniors frolicked at Costas, the Juniors and Seniors enjoyed a double SFA period. 

After a lunch of B’s and D’s, all campers went to the Super Bowl!

The Timber Tops/Owego Super Bowl, that is. Outfitted in sharp new “Super Bowl” t-shirts, the campers engaged in a variety of activities both at Owego and Timber Tops. Hi-Seniors played flag football and participated in other football-themed activities. Juniors enjoyed a double lake period, complete with full access to the Wibit. Spending two consecutive periods at the lake was a special treat for the Juniors, especially on this hot day!  

On the Upper Field, counselors played an energetic game of flag football. Team Kyle, in blue, beat Team Dave, in orange, with a final score of 33 to 26. All rules were followed and all players took the game very seriously!

During sixth period, all campers headed to the pool for rec. swim, which perfectly punctuated the sunny, active afternoon. Passing thunderstorms couldn’t keep our campers from enjoying Evening Activity. Our Intermediate campers (6th grade) hosted Timber Tops at a social, while Seniors and Hi-Seniors enjoyed their own social over at Timber Tops.

What a great way to spend the day with our sister camp!

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Olympic Rings and Athletics Galore

Day one of Olympics started sunny and ended sunny, so everyone was a winner! The colorful team shirts sprinkled morning line-up with flashes of red, orange, yellow, light blue, navy blue, and white. The excitement was palpable. By mid-morning, the Olympic Rings competition was underway. Comprised of a series of intellectual contests, Olympic Rings involves puzzle-solving, games, and trivia – all relating to camp. Unlike other events which feature a single age-group or a handful of stellar athletes, Olympic Rings includes all divisions working together to advance to the next station. Juniors run next to Hi-Seniors, cheering each other on in the pursuit of victory.

At lunch, each team tested out their newly-written team chant. Marching into the dining hall from the outside porch, the teams took turns clapping and stomping their way into the center of the room. The chants were loud and spirited, and got everyone hyped up for the afternoon competition.

After a much-needed rest period, the afternoon kicked off with the Athletic Games. Teams rotated through sports like basketball, ultimate frisbee, and bombardment for Seniors and Hi-seniors, and kickball and newcomb for Juniors. The pool featured water polo, and everyone was happy to participate after yesterday’s deluge! During sixth period, rec swim brought all of the countries together for some fun in the sun (YAY!). 

This evening, the teams returned to the courts and fields for more athletic contests. New match-ups, new winners, renewed team spirit. Sweaty, but elated, faces. Captains praising their teams for a job well done. The Owego brotherhood was on full display. We may be competitors on the playing fields, but we are family at the end of the day. Those bonds are unbreakable.

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Costa Rica, Taiwan, Canada, Kenya, Wales, Djibouti…Owego Olympics are here!!!

4:45 pm. Torrential rain. Campers cozy in their cabins. The air horn sounds. Everyone pours from their bunks, running with glee across the Lower Field. As they approach the Silverdome, dozens of miniature basketballs come pouring down like the rain. Red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, black. It’s Olympics break-out!

As the campers get closer and begin to examine the balls more closely, they notice that each ball is etched with an individual camper’s name. For the next ten minutes, each camper gathers on the field and searches for his ball. Some pick up a ball, look at the name, and toss it aside. Others call out to a friend, arm extended with the friend’s ball. As the balls are claimed, campers run up to the HBC where each color gathers together and waits for further instructions. There are hugs, hi-fives, and a few confused-looking Junior campers. 

Once the teams are assembled, Kyle introduces Olympics 2023 and the crowd goes wild. He emphasizes that we are 6 teams, but one camp. Olympics take place on the fields and courts, but not inside the bunks. Then he turns it over to Dave, who begins the suspenseful process of announcing captains, head coaches, and of course, the countries being represented this year. Big cheers from the campers as each flag is unveiled and each team assembled.

Over the next three days, campers will compete in their colorful Olympics shirts as the flame burns brightly. There will be athletics, art (in the form of a banner contest), singing (team chant and team song), and a hearty team meal. Rain or shine, it’s Olympics time!

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Play the Day Away

The morning dawned sunny and warm, and campers scurried out of their bunks and off to line-up and breakfast. Saturdays are anything but quiet at Owego. Today was no exception. Owego hosted 6 prospective campers for the first of our four “Play Days.” The families toured camp while the (possible) future Owegans got to experience a taste of camp culture with activities like Arts and Crafts, Ropes, Swimming, and Tennis. Perhaps there’s a future Frontier Week Chief among them. 

Many of our campers had the opportunity to make their very own pens with returning master carpenter and pen-maker, Ryan Carrol. From choosing the wood, to sanding it down, and learning to use a lathe to shape the barrel, campers constructed their pens from scratch. Ryan has been visiting Owego for several years and sharing his talents with the campers. Originally from Cincinnati, Ryan works as a high school teacher and wrestling coach during the school year. Owego is lucky to have him as our special guest this weekend! Your next letter from Owego may have been written with the very same implement your child created himself! 

The afternoon was a flurry of activity, as many campers participated in various Intercamp games with Timber Tops. There was a Tennis tournament at Owego, an Art competition at Timber Tops, and a Fishing tournament running simultaneously at both Owego and Timber Tops. Campers who opted to join these Intercamp games got to engage in friendly competition in areas typically reserved for team sports like basketball or soccer. One of the most magical things about Lake Owego Camp is the opportunities for everyone to excel at what they love. If you’re an athlete, that’s awesome! If you love art, that’s super-cool! If you prefer water activities, we’ve got you covered! On the fields, on the courts, and in the art studio, Owegans always shine.

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The Land of Go-Karts and Pure Joy

Costas is a magical place located just miles from camp, but for a camper it can feel like heaven on Earth. The Junior division loaded onto buses after breakfast and were transported to their favorite Family Fun Center. During the two hours they spent at Costas, the campers enjoyed miniature golf, Go Karts, and everyone’s favorite – the waterslides. What a perfect day to stay cool in the water! To cap off a super-fun morning, campers enjoyed an ice cream treat before heading back to camp.

The Hughie Black Basketball Tournament took place at Pine Forest this morning. Named after the camp’s founder to honor his storied history and career as a basketball player, the competition is for campers 12 years old and under. After a four-year hiatus due to Covid, the tournament returned this summer with much fanfare and excitement. Owego sent a team of campers to play against two Pine Forest teams and a team from neighboring Camp Shohola. Aside from the pride they feel for having been a part of such a long-standing camp tradition, the Owegans who participated will receive a much sought-after t-shirt. Apparently, these shirts are harder to get than Owego jibbitz! These campers will wear their shirts proudly.

As the sun set and the air finally began to cool down, each division assembled for Evening Activity. Juniors played a rousing game of kickball. Hi-Seniors headed over to Timber Tops for a social. Seniors played Steal the Bacon, which involves answering questions such as “At what temperature does water boil” and “Where does the Super Bowl MVP go after the game?” Correct answers allow the designated runner the opportunity to grab an object (the “bacon”) before his opponents get to it.

Hot, sunny days that end with laughter and friends is why we love camp!

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