Winter/Spring 2017 Newsletter
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.
By the time you are reading this, I will be off on a new adventure called retirement. The past seven years at SUNY Cortland and Raquette Lake were everything I could have hoped for and the most challenging of my entire career. I leave feeling grateful for the opportunity to serve and humbled by the power of this amazing place and the people who keep it vibrant.
During the annual Camp Abilities Winter Camp put on by the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired this past February, a team of Siberian Huskies trained and led by experienced dog musher Spencer Thew arrived at Camp Huntington to take campers and counselors for a thrilling sled ride on the trail system. This is the first time we’ve offered dog sledding here, and from the enthusiasm it created throughout the camp, won’t be the last.
Along with the bouquet of balsam needles, the sweet sound of hermit thrush echoes through the Adirondack forest. The bird sings to train the next generation of singers. Without doubt, Harlan “Gold” Metcalf and Walter Thurber heard the ancestors of our current thrushes as they disembarked from a canoe in 1947 to unlock the future of natural history exploration at Raquette Lake.
Winter camp picture of participants. Photo Courtesy of Lew Cowan '73
A little known aspect of programming at Camp Huntington is the historical interpretation we provide almost on a weekly basis in the summer and occasionally even during the winter season. The camp received National Historic Landmark Status on Aug. 18, 2004, and over the years we’ve spent many hours and dollars to restore some of the original Camp Pine Knot buildings to their original condition.
A giant in field biology at SUNY Cortland, Eugene Waldbauer, passed away peacefully this January in Cortland, where he lived with his wife Florence since joining the College faculty in 1956. The contributions he made to what is now the William H. Parks Family Center for Environmental and Outdoor Education cannot be overstated.
During the restoration of Kirby Camp in the summer of 2002, several items were discovered. A few small shelving units were moved to the front porch as work began. Careful inspection of the units revealed that the shelves were in fact crates that had been nailed together and covered with oilcloth. As the oilcloth was carefully removed, a bright yellow paper label displaying T. Kingsford & Son Corn Starch affixed to the wooden box was exposed.
Camp Huntington operates three separate challenge courses for Cortland students and outside groups looking for teambuilding and personal growth experiences. They include a low course, often referred to collectively as group initiatives, a high challenge course that employs a technical belay system, and a rock climbing and rappelling tower.
There is forest beneath the surface of the lake. Stands of pondweeds, free-floating bladderworts, and short-statured isoetids occupy the water column as far as light can penetrate. Water lilies float atop the shallows, and the stiff, bayonet-like blades of rushes seem to guard the entrance to this underwater realm. The freshwater forest is a key component of the lake ecosystem, providing habitat for fish and a diversity of invertebrates, stabilizing sediment and improving water clarity, and playing an important role in nutrient cycling within the lake.
Enjoy a memorable summer experience in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. Activities might include canoeing, hiking, kayaking, relaxing, star gazing, games, campfires, and much more. Meals are provided.