Pioneers Win the Hike Day

         It’s that day again. The day for the Pok-O-Moonshine campers to shuttle out into different areas of the Adirondack Forest. Some didn’t go so far and others ventured out to the High Peaks for the summits of Phelps, Street and Nye. All-in-all, a two thumbs up, pleasant day. This exploration will follow the Pioneer section and their unique way of hiking. 

           Let’s be honest, hikes can be tedious and borderline dreadful.  Whether in the early A.M, the heat of the afternoon or on a rainy day; walking up a large mountain in hopes for a quick view can seem like a little pay-off for the effort.  Still, there is something magical about the absurd accomplishment. Campers learn the gift and strength of majestic nature, keep active, work as a team, push through personal boundaries and accomplishment something unique.  How, though, could a hike’s tediousness be disguised for the universal camper?

           In Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center’s climbs up the local Rattlesnake Mountain, they use a method involving cards with questions pertaining to areas on the trail.  This keeps hiker’s heads up and aware; it also breaks the hike up a bit.   Nate Blum, Pioneer section head, employed a similar tactic for his Pioneer Section Hike Day.  On a day off, Nate spent his time coining clever riddles to be used as clues in a scavenger hunt.  This hunt, would be the Pioneers day of hiking.

        “Pioneers to the Rock!” The young group of campers received their first clue directly in front of their section.  This was not to be a hunt up a mad towering mountain, but a guided hike of the Pok-O-MacCready grounds.  The group read the clue to themselves, Felix displayed an aught-to-be mentioned reading proficiency, and they were off to what they decided was the first location: the MacCready Field dugout.

           Spirits were mixed from the start.  Veteran Pio, Owen, was almost pulled off trail after passing the Robinson Hall.  A piece of fruit called his name, “I’m hungry!” he exclaimed. Luckily, he was corralled back onto the right path forward after some persuasion. There would be food ahead along different stops of the hike.  This is similar to any on-trail situation; food is a wonderful motivator. Yet, the dugout was not the snack stop.

          Their next clue brought them to the low ropes course; not a short walk, even for long legs. Before the traditional trail snack GORP (a trail mix of sorts), could be had, some challenges were to be completed.  This is a successful diversion of what could be an otherwise tedious hike. 

           The Low Ropes are versatile challenge courses that never have to be the same.  It was not an easy hurdle for the Pioneers.  They moved quick, fell off some obstacles (while being safely supported) and argued even.  Then, they always found a way to complete the task; including guiding Hugo, blindfolded along a rock climbing wall.  After snacking, the Pio’s discovered their next destination: The Boat Docks.

           Rowing a rowboat is not an easy task.  Rowing the boat to a destination across the pond and keeping a straight course is even more difficult.  Ethan, however, decided it was his day. He must’ve ate his Wheaties or an extra pancake for breakfast, because he was able to row the boat from the docks, most of the way to Tribal Rock and all the way back. There was even a diversion as the group ran into the Long Pond Adventure trip and had to change their landing choice. It was an amazing feat which did not seem to withdraw much energy from him. He was not the only one to take on the task. Ben, gave rowing a strong physical and verbal effort. Once back to the docks, they wasted no time to the next destination: The Native Village, for shelter building.

           The sun was beginning to bring it’s afternoon swelter and the last snack seemed to not hold off hunger too well.  Lunch must’ve be on the horizon, but first, the Pio’s needed to build a shelter.  It was a remarkable sight.  Campers shorter than some stumps on campus were unearthing logs 6+ ft tall and were gathering them in a pile.  Once their lean-to method shelter was built, the rain came. A Nalgene full of water was splashed over the weak spots of the shelter, with the kids inside.  There were screams of shock and triumph as only a few drops made it through the structure.  Another successful endeavor as this trip approaches 3 miles walked. 

                Lunch was in the shade: cheese, pepperoni, bagels, PB &J and gluten-free options for who it pertains. An inclusive and energizing camp trail lunch; the only kind Pok-O-MacCready knows how to pack.  Afterwards, the pioneers set about their next on-hike task.  A section poster with all their names on it.  This creative time allowed them to cool off and use a different muscle.  It soon turned into bracelet making time before the trip was once again on the move.

                Back at Pioneer section. It was rumored from the clue-master’s “Magic Box o’ Clues” that this could be it. The last stop. Time for a surprise! Well, a surprise indeed as a new leg was announced.  A Bare Mountain ascent.

                The news brought about mixed reactions; cheers for some and others grumble.  A free swim was rumored or some nice section time, but now more hiking.  This can be a tedious hike for those who have hiked it numerous times, but for the 3-weekers this is a new experience. Also, a new promise came down the chain- of – clue- command; there would definitely be an ‘edible’ surprise at the top.

                Stones were kicked by dragging feet, but when the road was crossed and trailed entered, the timer began. The challenge was to break the Pio Bare Mountain summit speed record.  Fast forward to the end, because it was difficult to keep up with these campers once they took off.  Ethan, the rower and Felix, the reader, were up ahead motivating the group to keep moving.  When they reached the top, there wasn’t a single sad face in the bunch.  Finally, came the sur-prize. Candy bars; another perk of hike day for all the campers, as this is a staple in the trail rations.

                Once down to the street, great relief washed over the Pio’s. They celebrated with hugs. Ethan, one of the first to finish cheered “Woo. We did it Hugo.” They both said they felt great and Ethan added that he felt he could “run another mile”.  A couple laid down, but an un-phased Ben focused what was to come. Along the calming walk back, Dave Matthews Band played through the mobile speaker of our trip leader Sebastian Moody and kids chatted.  Favorite legs of the hike were discussed, but it seemed like the poster making was the overall favorite.
                Sometimes, hikes do not have to be so straight forward. With some creativity, a hike can be elevated into something different.  In total, the Pio’s hiked around 5 miles.  Within this, they handled numerous tasks, and overcame plenty of hurdles.  A double thumbs-up day for the Pio’s.


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

Located in New York’s Adirondack Mountains

[email protected]

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