Appreciation of nature
This generation of children, in general, is far less connected with the outdoors than their parents and grandparents were when they were kids. While technology has given us access to so much information, it has also given rise to what some have called a Nature Deficit Disorder (Louv, 2006).
At Flying Moose Lodge, boys learn how to hike and camp in the woods with minimal impact. They develop canoe skills on rivers, lakes and protected bays. Through direct experience they understand what kind of wood to collect for a small but efficient fire. From the skilled outdoorsmen, peers, and their own adventures, they learn how to pack well, how to stay safe, and other tricks and skills of the trade. Everything we do demands a respect, appreciation, enjoyment, and understanding of nature, in the Maine woods and on its mountains and rivers.
His own experience
At Flying Moose boys becomes part of something special and different than anything they could do at home during the school year. This happens without the distractions of their peers at school, sports programs, girls, computers and other mass media influences. And although it is a personal experience, they also realize they are part of a long history, as so many boys have before him. Some boys, though certainly not all, are sons or nephews or younger brothers of previous campers. Others bring friends from their school or neighborhood to share an experience that is far from that of classrooms, halls and schoolyards. Our camp provides a unique combination of private experience and the feeling joining a legacy of adventurers at the same time.
We are a camp where boys get back to nature, and come home with skills for life. Those skills extend far beyond outdoor skills. The boys learn the importance of cooperation, in a very literal sense of the word. In a small group on a camping trip, the boys must (and naturally) work together for the sake of the group. If only one person works toward making the evening meal, it will be very late by the time they eat. One camper can carry wood, another can lay the fire, another can prepare the ingredients — camping is a very concrete exemplification of cooperation. Another skill, not at all contradictory, is independence. All campers must pack for their trips. If you don't pack your rain coat, you get wet. (Let us reassure: the campers are supervised and reminded what to pack, especially the younger boys.)
As parents, we sometimes love out kids to the point that we do things for them that they need to learn themselves. At camp, they gain self-sufficiency. With so much to learn at camp, the boys add to their personal base of achievements, and the harder-won the achievements garner more pride. Canoeing in a straight line is not easy if you paddle only from one side, but it is more efficient if you do it well, and it's an art we teach. Starting a fire on a wet day can be quite a challenge, but the confidence in knowing that you can do it can change your attitude and outlook on life. FML provides tangible tests and evidence of accomplishment.
This seems to be a given, and of course boys do have fun at camp. But at Flying Moose Lodge, boys lose the sense of time and the distractions of school. Our setting is truly the epitome of peace and quiet. Boys in the woods, no electricity, leads to riveting games of Wood Pile (our version of Capture the Flag), swimming, and campfire singing at night. Some first-time campers are a little reserved at campfire, but that doesn't last for long. They see their peers singing old songs with great gusto, and soon join in. You don't have to sing well, just with enthusiasm! Really, what we do, opens boys to simple pleasures in life: a warm fire, singing, a story read aloud before heading to bed. In the everyday world, these things get lost, so having strong memories of simple peace provides a solid foundation for dealing with the sometimes-hectic world.