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  • Bruce Moreton

Water, Water, Everywhere!

Updated: Feb 17

For forty-five weeks every year, the moose, otters, blue herons, beavers and their wilderness playmates have Night Eagle to themselves and enjoy the lakes, wetlands, and solitude of camp. However, when June rolls around, they have to move over and learn to share their adopted part of the Green Mountain Forest with thirty-six boys who are anxious to become part of nature.

Adults seem to be drawn to water, and campers are no different. They love the water, and at Night Eagle we have plenty of it! Our two private lakes, nearby streams, and surrounding wetlands provide an ideal setting for all types of water related activities and are perfect for satisfying a boy’s curiosity and developing his self-confidence and physical coordination.

Canoes on Vermont lake

Waterfront activities may begin before breakfast with a brisk dip as a member of the Polar Bear Club, or they may start with a community water safety class later in the morning. In the afternoon, a session in canoeing or lifeguard instruction might be followed by a general swim, a watermelon scramble, or even a log rolling challenge.

At the waterfront, campers and counselors have worked together to make lasting contributions to the swimming area by designing and building a tripod rope swing and a floating dock, which they ceremoniously launched. On such fun projects, work and play become one and everyone is proud of the results!

Of course you would expect anyone participating in canoeing, raft building, lifesaving, or fishing would end up at the lake(s), but others eventually show up there as well.

Campers and staff enjoy exploring the aquatic habitats of the animals that live at Night Eagle. They have waded through the wetlands in search of cattails and clay; crawled into an abandoned beaver lodge and lain where the beavers slept; walked on a ten-foot-tall beaver dam; watched a counselor as he captured a huge snapping turtle by the tail; stared in awe at Great Blue Herons as they gracefully lifted off the water and took flight; listened to the mournful calls of loons; and heard belted kingfishers rattle overhead as they patrolled the lakes before plunging into the water to grab their prey. One evening as we were sitting in the woods next to the lake waiting for a beaver to appear, we saw a Bald Eagle fly the length of the lake - - a Night Eagle first!

One summer, the campers were baffled when they discovered a bare, dirt hillside near the lake that was peppered with large holes. Later, they returned to see young kingfishers waiting to be fed standing in the entrances to the holes. That’s when they learned that kingfishers burrow three to six feet into the sides of the bank or gravel pit to lay their eggs.

Sometimes, while practicing stalking techniques, campers are able to catch a glimpse of a bull moose or cow as it browses for food along the lake’s edge or surprise a family of otters as they frolic around the floating dock. On one stalking activity, campers stumbled across some bones in the woods that were all that remained of a bull moose.

Moose on the edge of a wetland in Vermont

Campers and staff who take an early morning or rest hour jog invariably end up at the lake for a quick dip before returning to camp to do chores before breakfast.

Campers are always ready to join our famous "swamp romps," both planned and spontaneous, and never fail to end up at the waterfront covered with mud and brimming with stories of things they saw and did. Boys arrive at the lake raring to share their stories while washing off a portion of the wetlands.

Campers returning from “Get Lost” hikes, three-day hikes, survival hikes, and day hikes to White Rocks, Little Rock Pond, and Wallingford Pond also stop at the lake for a quick, refreshing plunge before heading back up to camp.

But it doesn’t stop there. Camouflage is a popular activity at Night Eagle that sooner or later concludes at the lake with campers scrubbing the “camouflage” off their skin -- or at least trying to. There’s something about Night Eagle camouflage, however, that just does not seem to want to come off. Nevertheless, Dr. Bronner does his best!

After supper may find campers enjoying some twilight canoeing. Then after a rollicking evening game of Sticks, Battle Ball, or Crack About, campers are quick to convince a lifeguard to lead a group down to the lake for Coyote Coolers before the sun sets, and they have to turn in for the night.

Without a doubt, water is a key ingredient to a lot of the fun at Night Eagle, and we haven’t even mentioned Musical Buckets, sudden downpours, air rescues, slip and slides, canoe races, the rocks at Little Rock Pond, the Swinging Bridge, or Buttermilk Falls! I guess you just have to be there to fully understand.


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