Robots, Wrecks, Eagles and a Buffet Lunch.


Camper Matt and his peers aboard the EScape

  Nearby bodies of water are gems of being a Pok-O-MacCready camper.  Surrounding our peninsular grounds is the magical Long Pond. East of camp, bordering Vermont and New York is Lake Champlain. From a short hike up one of our “Pok-O Patch” mountains, Rattlesnake, the lake and Vermont can be seen stretching far south and all the way beyond sight north, to Canada.  As impossible to see from the mountaintop are the lakes’ hidden gems; a count of 300 shipwrecks.  Today, a group of 26 campers had the opportunity to take a closer look.

                The Champlain II was used on Lake Champlain for passenger transport.  Originally, it donned the name the Oake Ames and ferried rail cars from Burlington to Plattsburgh. In 1874 it was purchased by the Champlain Transportation Co. and converted. Its life, here on out, was short lived.


Campers in front of Champlain II’s rudder.

          July 16, 1875 John Eldridge took over the wheel. He was without qualifications and had medicated his painful gout with doses of morphine.  Not far from port, the 244’ steamboat, with its massive engines at full speed, ran directly onto land and was stuck. There wrecked, it was stripped of any salvageable parts, including its massive rudder. The remaining body slipped slowly under water to where it now remains; a mere 40ft below the surface. Campers rode out to the site for an exploration of the wreck with a remote-controlled robot.

                Unfortunately, the heavy rains of the past week aggravated the silty floor where it sat and made visibility low. Matt, a senior camper, recounts the ride: “We dropped the ROV in, but it was too murky and then we had to pull it back up because it was in danger of hitting the wreck and it can’t do that because it’s a historic site.”  However, this was just one aspect of the trip. 


No view, but all smiles!

      The ride toured campers along huge cliff sides where eagle’s nested atop trees.  A bald eagle took an inspiring fly-over and grabbed the attention of the whole boat of campers. Matt cited this as a cherry-on-top of what seemed to be his greatest passion of the day: the Champlain II’s huge diesel engines.  Jumping at the chance to spend time with our captain, Matt was able to discuss our ships engines in comparison to the older Champlain II’s.  Then, at the “Maritime Museum”, our next stop, he saw the Holy Grail. 

                Next to the blacksmith shop, there was housed a massive 4-cylinder diesel engine.  This was not from the Champlain II, but the Valcour, a similar ferry boat that is still used today. He took his time inspecting the engine, which stood upwards of 12 feet. Many of the other campers lounged on the grass.  They had all just spent time on another attraction to the Maritime Museum; an exact replica of a Revolutionary War gunboat called the Philadelphia.


Together on the gunboat

                On the significantly smaller wooden gunboat, campers were taught about how men lived their lives aboard in wartime.  Eyebrows were raised when they learned that over 40 people would be working on this ship at a time.  Its 2 ton cannons, capable of being thrown back 6 feet when shot, took up most of the room. This boat was used to quickly maneuver around larger British ships, in hopes of capturing them.  However, both ships had cannons and the larger the ship, campers learned, the greater the store of ammunition. Also, campers were taught how the men only stood or sat in the same four foot space for many days, sitting only to sleep. They were without rest hours, section activities or Saturday Sleep-in’s.


Pok-O table for 30

                The tour took most of the museum time and then it was lunch.  Matt described the feast perfectly, “(lunch) was amazing.  All of us got full.  There were waiters, which is foreign to me, cuz we’re at camp. They cleared my dirty plate for me.”  Glenn, our dining room captain had such positive feedback on the whole group’s behavior and was blown away as Sean went up to him for a handshake before leaving. It was a wonderful day and this newer trip is beginning to grow in popularity.


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

Located in New York’s Adirondack Mountains

[email protected]

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