Newsletter Detail

      The William H. Parks Family Center for Environmental and Outdoor Education at Raquette Lake has served the College community for more than 68 years, beginning with the acquisition of Huntington Memorial Camp in 1948. Little did professors Harlan “Gold” Metcalf, the late professor emeritus of recreation education, and Walter Thurber, the late professor of science, nor the late President Emeritus Donnal Smith know what lay ahead for Archer Huntington’s Great Camp gift. At the time, Camp Pine Knot had not been occupied for some 48 years and barely resembled what it has become today. Antlers was acquired in 1965, originally as a launching point for access to Camp Huntington.

        Over the decades, each administration and generation of students and faculty have added their own contributions. The College celebrated a number of landmarks along the way, including the 50th anniversaries of both Antlers and Camp Huntington. Throughout the changing times, curriculum has evolved, outdoor education has become more formal, and the appreciation for experiential education in a high-tech society has increased. Raquette Lake has embraced these changes and is prepared for the next chapter in its story.

        The goal over my tenure has been to increase and diversify student use of Raquette Lake. We achieved this by introducing new groups such as history majors, chemistry students, first year and transfer student orientations, Liberty Partnerships, and several sports teams to the benefits of outdoor education. In the meantime, programs for traditional users such as physical education, recreation, biology and education students have continued to flourish. Thanks to generous alumni and an active Development Office, funds have been raised that now underwrite the travel and program enrichment of many of these. Students attending required courses are eligible to have their room and board costs reduced or entirely reimbursed. Facilities and equipment have been upgraded to provide greater capacity and program options.

        The academic connections between Raquette Lake and main campus have been increased by the formation of an advisory council that meets regularly to promote new curriculum ideas and outreach to underserved departments and students. The addition of the Outdoor Pursuits program, a component of Recreational Sports, has become an important tool in attracting more students to Adirondack activities. Research in geography, biology, chemistry and history has been revitalized and supports both student learning and our knowledge of the Adirondack region.

        Facilities at Antlers are improving each year under the auspices of the College’s 30-year lease arrangement with the Cortland College Foundation. The campus now operates its own water system, includes a self-service kitchen for 20 residents in the Main Lodge, and will soon operate on generator power when storms disrupt the electrical supply. New refrigeration in the Casino and a stand-alone storage shed/workshop improve the operating space. Plans are in place to improve insulation and heating options to extend the operating season. 

Challenges still exist, but the possibilities for progress are endless. As long as the College community of faculty, administration, students and alumni has the will to support outdoor and environmental education, the future looks bright indeed.