Above: The campers quench their first mid-long run.
Thursday is a day of a mixed emotions here at Stowe Running Camp. The camp is entering its finale and much like watching the last episode of your favorite television show, you approach it with a mixture of both excitement and apprehension, knowing that the end is just around the corner. The long run is a microsom of the day itself…the miles stretch, much like the week seemed to stretch on during the halcyon days of Sunday…yet before you know it, the long run is over and the camp is reaching its conclusion. The morning minutes preceding the long run is also a mixture of excitement and fear. The short bus ride to the start of the Stowe rec path is typically a quiet, somber one, with the runners and counselors contemplating the task which lies ahead.
We were very lucky this year to get the best weather imaginable for such an endeavor: 70 degrees and slightly overcast, with intermittent rain acting as a de-facto sprinkler and popping up at precisely the right time over the course of the five to fourteen miles traversed by the Stowe Running campers. Partly because of this weather and partly because of the grit and toughness of the athletes, the long run was smashing success. Everyone was able to complete their run in one piece and other than an early bee sting, there were no injuries to speak of. The runners finished back at the bike path with a triumphant and elated look in their eye that only comes from accomplishing a challenging task.
Chocolate milk, granola bars, and fruit snacks were consumed with ferocity at the finish line, though this created two controversies. The first was a debate which had raged all week over whether Welch’s or Mott’s could lay claim to the title of best fruit snack at camp. In this author’s opinion, the answer is clear: Welch’s is the superior form of fruit snack, at least for those of us who prefer not having fruit snack remnant stuck in our teeth for hours post-snacking. Nevertheless, this debate had polarized the camp, recalling the similarly charged “pencil-lead debate” of 2017. (FYI: the correct answer on that one is: 0.7mm). The other controversy that erupted was when the 13 mile group got back, anticipating chocolate milk, only to discover that the chocolate syrup had been pilfered by the earlier groups. Though such a devastating occurrence may have felled a weaker group, the guys and girls of this hearty contingent handled it with aplomb, not letting the lack of the sweet, syrupy milk damper their enthusiasm.
Post-long run, the group jumped in a nearby stream for an ice-bath and some good conversation, then walked back to the Round Hearth to take on the rest of the day. The happy campers headed back to the Round Hearth to grab some lunch and gather their energy for the remainder of the day. Next was the Nuke Em’ tournament. For those of you reading who are not familiar with this dangerous sounding game, it has become a Stowe Running Camp classic over the years. To this day, no one knows who brought the game to camp or when it started, but whoever did is responsible for one of the great compromises in camp history. Here’s the reality…volleyball is a great game, but it requires a degree of skill and athleticism that necessarily precludes the great majority of people from participation, particularly runners known for lack of hand eye coordination. Also, only six people at most can play on a team. Thus a volleyball game thus often descends into a Key-Stone Kops esque comedy of errors, with no momentum and a lot of ball chasing and frustration. Nuke Em’ on the other hand, requires a low level of skill, can be played with massive amounts of people, and promotes team spirit and group bonding. Thus, the change a few years ago from a volleyball tourney to a Nuke Em tourney.
Next up, we had a very popular second season of our version of the show Chopped. This proved to be very popular last year…for those who do not know, contestants are given a limited number of ingredients and must use their creativity and artistic flair to create the best possible dish in the limited time they have. This year, the ingredients were a glazed donut, grapes, maple syrup, sliced cheese, cucumbers, and dried mint. The real award for this competition should go to the judges, for they had to sample every dish despite seemingly conflicting flavor combinations.
After Chopped, we had a quick turnaround to a speech by Jason Saretsky, the head coach of track and field and cross country at Harvard University. Coach Saretsky has been speaking at Stowe on and off for the past 8 years, and after discussing “critical non-essentials” with us he took the group out to the lawn and put them through an active isolated stretching routine using ropes cut just a little too short by Kevin Greene. The campers were allowed to keep their ropes and head home with a good start on a way to warm up for runs and races.
After Coach Saretsky was the annual cookout and ice cream…which was followed up by the highly anticipated lip-sync. In what was maybe the best lip sync we have ever seen at Stowe, the CIT’s won for their rendition of “I Will Survive.” I must say, I have observed all of the lip syncs since we first started doing them and they range from creative and fun to excruciatingly awkward. This year, for the first time ever, all of them were in the former category and none were in the latter! Special shout-out here goes to the Janie/Callista/Malinn/Sierra/Stephanie group who performed a Spice Girls songs and brought costumes from home in accordance to their plan they’d been working on for about a year.
The lip sync wrapped up and we were on to the dance, an event which I stay far away from! But the kids seemed to have a great time and before we knew it, it was over. Bed time on the final day is always a little relaxed, and the kids spent their last night playing games and chatting with new found friends for what we hope is not the final time. One of the highlights of this few hour period was a controversial Scattegories game, eventually won by the dynamic team of Lilly and Peyton, though under controversial circumstances (soy sauce is a health food?).
Sophie E, Lucas, and Sophie C survey their options in the early stages of the Chopped competition.
Coach Saretsky demonstrates some of the Active Isolated Stretching techniques.