Since last October, the Artisan family had been planning for a July vacation. Our church in Georgia planned to spend a week “at camp” in the Adirondack Mountains and we decided that we would join them. By the time camp rolled around, a total of 51 of us made the trek to Camp-of-the-Woods in Speculator, NY.

As we left our Poughkeepsie Play, It was an easy drive north on the NY State Thruway towards camp – early afternoon we left that roadway in New Amsterdam and had a quick lunch, a quick Walgreen’s stop & filled up the tanks before the final hour drive up through the mountains to camp.

The first view of the lake...amazing!

The first view of the lake…amazing!

By mid-afternoon, we had made our way into the mountains and were checking into camp. As Mom & Dad settled into their adorable cabin with the screened in porch and Rebecca & I were settling into our room in the longhouse, Rebecca’s phone was abuzz with others from our church group arriving. Before long we were all gathering at our group of tables in the dining hall & our camp adventures began.

The sunsets were spectacular. Our first night there, as we came out of the great concert we were treated to a beautiful sky and a view of the new moon and Venus.

A few of the amazing sunset views from the week...

A few of the amazing sunset views from the week…

Where to begin with recounting the time that was our camp vacation? Our pastor likened it to a “landlocked cruise” in that there were more activities than you could possibly do and you could choose as many or as few of them as you wanted and make the week your own.

The daily chapel sessions were powerful – the speakers for the week were Dr. Ravi Zachariah and Dr. Nabeel Qureshi and each time they spoke you were filled with new insights. And my virtual book stack grew with several titles from them and that they mentioned.

The music programming was top notch – great singing during chapel sessions and so much more. Stellar concerts from the camp music staff: on Saturday night the concert included selections from “Oklahoma!” which made us smile; on Thursday evening a great recital from some of the staff; to close out camp on Friday evening another great concert which featured “Phantom of the Opera” selections. The sounds of Brass on the Beach filled the air several times during the week.

Artisan sisters having ceramic fun in the arts & crafts cabin!

Artisan sisters having ceramic fun in the arts & crafts cabin!

After morning chapel, the days were wide open and the possible activities vast. A couple of mornings, we wandered over to the “Tee Pee” & picked up some of their famous cinnamon rolls and cups of coffee for a late morning snack at the lakefront tables. A few afternoons, we ended up at the beach of the gorgeous lake – our group had “a spot” staked out in front of the accommodations of one of the families so we always a place to enjoy the sun, sand and water.

The Monday afternoon canoe race to the island & back

The Monday afternoon canoe race to the island & back

On Monday afternoon, Mom & I cheered on Rebecca & several others from our crew that were doing the canoe race out to an island in the lake and back to shore. A couple afternoons, the Arts & Crafts cabin provided fun in the form of painting ceramics. One afternoon, I spent time with our pastor’s wife and she taught me shuffleboard. There was always the lure of the fabulous screened-in porch at the folks’ cabin – I didn’t read nearly as much as I had hoped, but just being in that porch was so restorative.

So much to do & so much nature to just enjoy!

So much to do & so much nature to just enjoy!

As we confirmed plans for the week at camp, I was only able to stay through Tuesday morning chapel – work commitments required me to be back in the office for the rest of the week…or so I thought…when I got to the office on Wednesday morning, the big item got rescheduled and so I decided to turn around and go back to camp. Since I had done camp laundry (but not unpacked the rest) on Tuesday evening, I was able to quickly load the car on Wednesday afternoon and head northward – I pulled into camp around 8:30 and in no time was around the campfire with the church group. Thursday and Friday at camp were definitely bonus days of fun and family for me.

Not a bad "office" on a Friday morning...

Not a bad “office” on a Friday morning…

Friday morning I had to do a little bit of work before starting my day. So I grabbed my laptop & went to the TeePee for coffee, a pastry & a stronger wifi connection. The view from this “office” was pretty inspiring and in no time, my work was done so that I could enjoy the rest of the day.

A quick family pic...maybe a Christmas card contender?

A quick family pic…maybe a Christmas card contender?

After Friday morning chapel, our family loaded in my car for a bit of local exploring – we picked up a few souvenirs at the fun department store in town and picked up delicious iced coffee from the local café – then we decided to drive for a bit and enjoy the scenery. Right about the time we needed to find a spot to turn around to head back to camp, a sign appear for a scenic stop overlooking a beautiful lake – so, we pulled in and found a great spot to snap some family selfies, listen to the sound of the water against the shoreline below us and just take in the scenery.

Our last night of camp included a large crew of us piled into several vehicles and ran into town for one last vacation ice cream at Lakeside Licks. Much too quickly, we arrived at Saturday morning and it was time for everyone to scatter from camp. Rebecca was the first to leave at 7AM – she was riding/driving back to Georgia with a family who first needed to deliver some folks to the Syracuse airport to catch flights back to Atlanta. After one last meal in the dining hall & picking up our glazed ceramics from the arts & crafts room, our vehicles were loaded and we reluctantly pulled out of camp – at the camp entrance/exit, I turned right to follow my route back to PA and Mom & Dad turned left to head west to visit family in Ohio.

Family fun at the camp carnival!

Family fun at the camp carnival!

One of the families in our church has been going to this camp yearly for more than 30 years. After our week there, we can see how this becomes a family tradition. We all hope to return there in future summers for additional spectacular weeks in Speculator, NY. Since camp, it is amazing how often it peppers our conversations – without a doubt, we are hooked.

What summer camp adventures have you had?