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Paynesville Press - Jan. 22, 2003

Sixth graders reflect on winter camp

By Michael Jacobson

(Editor's Note: Going to winter camp has been a sixth grade tradition at the Paynesville Area Middle School for 27 years. Money is earned by sixth graders through fund raisers and generous donations of community organizations to support the trip to winter camp. This year 90 sixth graders left with their chaperones on Wednesday, Jan. 8, and returned on Friday, Jan. 10. The following story about winter camp is a composite of quotes taken from the journals of the students attending this year.)

Dear Diary,
Winter camp...WOW!! Well I'm finally up here at winter camp. The bus ride seemed to take days. Actually it was only about three hours.

There are eight people in a dorm. In the dorm are four bunk beds, a shower, a toilet, two sinks, and eight little shelves for our stuff. We are at the LLLC. That stands for the Long Lake Learning Center.

Sixth graders at winter camp - submitted photo I was a little scared about going, but I am having so much fun already!

This morning, Mr. Bowden and Jim O'Fallon came to our rooms and sang to us. That sounded beautiful! NOT!!

A group of sixth graders tend their fire during the wilderness meal, where the groups have to start a fire with only one match.

We did orienteering. That's compass work. She taught us how to use it, then we went outside and had to find our way through some poles. I got lost and didn't do so well.

We learned about the state bird in "Loon Lore." We learned how they moved in the water and where they lay their eggs...and some sounds they make to protect themselves.

Later on we got to play "Deer Browse." We went out in the woods and pretended we were deer. We had to gather little twigs and watch out for the wolf! That was pretty fun.

At lunch we did "Wilderness Meal." It is when you try to start a fire on the ground. We only got one match. I got mine started! Our wilderness meal was sort of gross because in the hot chocolate there was a bug...but it was still good!

Girls with snakes - submitted photo "Snakes Alive" was the coolest thing! The person that was in charge of the snakes told us a lot of cool stuff about the snakes. At the end when she was done showing the snakes to us, we got to pet the biggest snake.

Sixth graders Jessica Nietfeld (left) and Jessie Klein (right) handle a pet gopher snake with the help of a Long Lake Learning Center instructor. Ninety sixth graders from PAMS attended winter camp this year.

Right when I was going to pet the snake, the snake put its head up by my hand and I pulled my hand away in a heartbeat! When it put its head down, I petted it. The snake felt like rubber. The biggest snake was seven feet long. I got a picture taken of me touching the snake. That was really cool!

Today, the funniest activity was "Quick Frozen Critter." It was based on predator/prey relationships.

We also had "Resource Distribution" today. We talked about natural resources and how we waste them.

"Night Trek" was really awesome. We went far out in the woods. When we got so far out, the leader made us sit down on each side of the path. We sat down for about 20 minutes. Then our leader gathered us in a group and made wolf calls, the horned owl call, and just the regular owl call. It was really loud!

The food is really good. You have to eat all your food here. We went to supper. I was on K.P. so I had to help set up and clean up.

We also cleaned our rooms before supper because they check your rooms. If it's clean, you get points, and if you do that for all of the days we are here, you get a prize. I'm having a blast but miss my family. I didn't think it was going to be this fun!

This trip has gone fast. We are drawing near the end and well, that's too bad. I'm going to enjoy it while I can. I want to stay at camp for two weeks!

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