Wednesday, February 29, 2012

YMCA Pine Crest

This coming weekend I will up in Gravenhurst at YMCA Camp Pine Crest. My Brother in law is the team leader for Pine Crest's teen and youth programs, and my wife and I usually make a couple trips up per year to hang out. The camp is quite a historic camp here in Ontario, in fact it is thee longest operating camp in North America. The story began in 1896 when C.J. Atkinson started the Broadview Boys Institute running summer camps for boys across Ontario. In 1910 the BBI opened it first camp in its current location on Clear Lake, and originally called "Camp Clear Lake". The following year they expanded the camp around what is known as First Point. One interesting fact about the early days of the camp, is that actual summer camp participates helped in the actual construction of the camp. Imagine having to help build the cabin you and your group is sleeping in, fantastic.  During the 50's - 60's the camp grew tremendously, and now owns almost 650 acres and 6km of shoreline. In 1980 the camp was finally changed to accommodation a separate girls section. At Pine Crest everyone who attends goes on a canoe trip in their stay, and good thing as the camp has one of the largest fleets of cedar canvas canoes in Canada. The Trip duration is usually governed by how long your stay at the camp is, your program, and your age. Some of the trips are up to 30 days. The camp also has Pine Crest Games, a two-day event that takes place on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of each summer involving competitions between two teams, the Lumbermen and the Voyageurs. This is quite a event at Pine Crest involving numerous events, a hopefully good description is from Wiki (for what its worth).

"The Pine Crest Games are an annual two-day event in which a series of competitions takes place between the Lumbermen and the Voyageurs. The Games begin with the announcement of the two team leaders. The leaders are camp staff, one man and one woman, who each have to hold their team's symbol - an axe for the Lumbermen and a paddle for the Voyageurs - without allowing it to touch the ground over the two days.
Three different sets of competitions are held. Swimming is held at the swimming docks, Boating is held at the boating docks, and Woodcraft, competitions which do not occur in the water such as portaging, tug-of-war, and giant jenga, is held at the Adventure Field.
On the afternoon of the second day, three marathons occur. The Neanderthal Crawl is done by Bantams and Juniors - the competitor must paddle in a kayak around a marker in the water, and then run to the adventure field and complete an obstacle course. The Snake Island Marathon is a canoe race completed by two-person teams of Seniors, in which the team must paddle from the Boating Docks, around Snake Island, and back – roughly 3 km. The Tri-Lakes Marathon is a longer race run by Pioneers and Leadership participants, in which two-person teams, which can have up to one staff member, pick up a canoe near the boating docks, carry it and two paddles 300 meters to Gullwing Lake, paddle 4 km through Gullwing Lake, the narrows, and Echo Lake, complete another 200 meter portage, and then sprint 500 meters across Clear Lake to finish the race.
At the end of the Games, a campfire is held in which the winners of each marathon are announced. Then, a four person relay occurs in which one member from each team paddles from Willison House to the swimming docks, then another member from each team jump off the jumping tower and swim a pool length together, and then the third members from each team run together back around to Willison House. At the end of the relay, each team leader drinks an unknown beverage, and then a letter on Sunset Bridge is lit on fire and spun to indicate either a V or L, whichever has won the Games.
The rules for deciding the team leaders and the winner of the Games was made into a sworn secret in the 1970s. Only Games leaders and Camp Directors are offered the secrets. Once one knows the secrets, he/she becomes a Referee-in-chief, or RIC, and can no longer compete in the Games. Additionally, he/she is sworn to secrecy and cannot tell the secrets to or discuss them with anyone who is not a RIC. Games leaders have the option to defer knowledge of the secrets, in which case he/she can continue to compete in the Games with the team that he/she led. To date, only two have done this, of whom only one still does not know the secrets."

On the Pine Crest Facebook page there are some great photos of old and new, including many of the Pine Crest games. Take a look and enjoy.  I will have some more photos after the week-end, stay tuned.

While rebuilding their Centennial Lodge one of the main
beams was carved with the original date of construction.

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