To Dip or Not To Dip…


“There is no question! If one has the ability to dip, a dip should be had!’
                              -An Ancient Camp Proverb

                All those who have spent summers at Pok-O-MaCready Camps know that the “polar bear dip” is a tradition that has lasted through the ages.  For as long as there had been a pond, there have been kids jumping in at the first hours of the morning.  This is no easy task!  Nights here can be surprisingly chilly and once 7am rolls around, the warm sheets and an extra few minutes of sleep can keep a camper from experiencing this magical swim.

                The magic goes beyond this camp.  People all around the world partake in the phenomenon of the polar bear dip.  We do it in the summer, but the name typically means someone who is jumping into very cold water, usually in winter.  Whether you call it a ‘plunge’ or a ‘dip’, the result is refreshing and awakening.  The electrifying moment is even thought to prevent disease and sickness.  Exposing the body to these low temperatures for a short time brings about “hardening”; a strengthened immune system which could prevent those small camp sicknesses.

                Perhaps that’s why the notoriously rugged ADV section gets up every morning for a mandatory dip.  Leonard, a steady dipper for his few camp years, says “the cold makes you appreciate the warmth and dryness of the rest of the day… it wakes you up… and is a fun activity for the whole section.”  More than just taking a dip, the ADV section often turns this time into a diving competition.  Here’s a little description of Leonard’s thoughts as he gets to the diving board:


“…it gets me very motivated because most people in this section are pretty good at diving. I always, in mind, say I’m ready to go, I’m hyped up and this is going to be the day I successfully pull off a dive. I walk up to the board take a running start jump and I rotate in the air, but then I just curl up  into a ball and flop onto my side like I’ve done for every day in my camp experience.”


(Footage of one of Leonard’s epic flops can be seen briefly in this Polar Bear Dip Montage.)         

        Despite a lack of grace, Leonard dips, but it can be difficult for new campers to get into it.  Stan has been taking that challenge head-on. Even though an injury has prevented a full submersion, he speaks positively on the activity. “Polar Bear Dipping is fun. You wake up in the morning and it makes you feel better the whole day.”  He also said that the biggest factor to the dip is not getting in the water, but “getting out, because it’s colder outside than in the water.” 

                Overcoming this obstacle has become second nature for Assistant Headmaster Caleb Balderston.  He has been a dipper since 2010 and is unofficially the ‘senior statesman dipper’.  The dock of choice varies, but his wisdom is solid.  “There’s no better way to start you day off than diving into the magical wonders of long pond…” He also believes in the power of consistency when dipping. “Go today when gross and tomorrow when great.”

                To dip it is! So get out there, pool or lake, pond or ocean.  Get there early, and wake yourself up! Try something new! That’s what the campers are doing this summer at Pok-O-MacCready Camps.  Why not you? As Caleb says “don’t knock it till you try it”.


Pok-O-MacCready Camps
1391 Reber Road, Willsboro, NY 12996

Located in New York’s Adirondack Mountains

[email protected]

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