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On Saturday night the Frost Valley Farm campers spent the night close to Red Hill at an amazing overnight site called the Merrell Pavilion!  After a Friday night of being rained out from the overnight trip, we decided after checking the weather that Saturday would be the ideal day.  There was a 0% chance of rain and the wetness from Friday night would have dried up throughout all of Saturday.  After a most excellent afternoon of tie dying, ice cream making, pizza dough making, and a relaxing story time in the shade, right after the homemade pizza dinner, campers donned their water shoes and forded the creek to the trailhead.  From there they hiked up to a newly created trail extension that brought the whole group up to the open field just below the Merrell Pavilion.  The Pavilion was dedicated in 1982 and has served as an amazing camp out site for every summer since to campers over the years.  The final leg of the hike has campers climbing the open field to the Pavilion itself and rewards them with a beautiful sweeping view of many of the Catskill High Peaks.  The setting gives the campers an opportunity to run around, roll down the hill in sleeping bags, and once darkness falls, stargaze the great big sky!  Check out some snapshots from the night!

Morning Programs

Every camper gets a chance to dive deeper into the life of a farmer during morning programs. The yurts rotate between hands-on lessons with the animals and in the garden.

Our animal specialist Emma helps the campers to feel more comfortable safely interacting with farm animals while learning the in’s and out’s of taking care of them. Here campers from Yurt 1 take time for a bunny cuddle.

 

Kara, the garden specialist has been teaching the campers not only what kind of plants you can grow and eat, but also what  those plants need in order to grow. Campers have been getting a chance to connect with where their food comes from and participate in the growing and harvesting of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yurt 2 has weeded and prepared a bed to be planted.

Farmstead crafts are also offered during morning programming. Campers learn to take the products from the farm like wool, milk, and berries and turn them into yarn, butter, and jam! One of the favorite morning programs is a session we like to call wild card. This program is anything from team building to yoga. Here the boys yurts 6 and 7 perfect their balance by the stream.

By lunch the campers have already grown their food, cared for animals, and found a peaceful place to breath!

Grow it yourself!

 

This is the second summer at Farm Camp  for our chefs Anna and Elliot. They do an amazing job of preparing nutritional meals using as much food grown and raised at the farm as possible. And of course the food is always super yummy! Anna and Elliot are working on a Farm Camp Cookbook with simple, kid-friendly meals made with farm fresh ingredients. This summer all of the campers are learning to make pizza dough from scratch and choose their own toppings. The campers are proud of their hand made creations and definitively enjoy eating their hard-earned dinners!

Farm Chores

Session A farm campers got their first taste of farm life this morning. The wake up call came at 7am  (some farmers would call that sleeping in, but our campers need plenty of rest for all the other fun activities of the day). After getting ready for the day each yurt takes on a chore. The older girl’s yurt, who have named their yurt “the Flying Moostaches”, cleaned and set up the dinning hall for breakfast.

The younger girl’s yurt, now known as the “Yogurt Yurt”, got to know the chickens and the quail during chores. The girls learned about the breeds of birds we have here on camp and how to collect eggs from the coop. The chicken coop was filled with squeals as the girls tried to carefully scoop up a baby quail or a chicken to hold.

In the barn the boys did a great job of mucking the stalls and feeding the goats, sheep, llama, alpacas, pigs, and rabbits. They even got to experience being a surrogate momma cow for our calf named Ghost who is still being bottle fed.

These guys are not afraid to get dirty, that is why they nicknamed their yurt “the Dirt Yurt”. I’ve never seen kids so excited about shoveling poop before!

After morning chores the kids gather for flag raising then head inside for a delicious breakfast including farm fresh eggs.

 

 

Not long after the snow melted and the ground temperature slowly began to climb, this year’s

green strawberry leaves began to poke through the brown, shriveled remains of last year’s foliage.

Strawberries have been celebrated this year at the farm, as we’ve been scurrying to get seeds sown, weeds pulled, rows hoed, and mulch put down, the strawberries (a perennial that has already been well established in the garden) have been producing like crazy and not asking us for very much attention.

A little weeding and compost has gone a long way in producing a bumper crop of strawberries. Now all we need is for all the campers to arrive and enjoy the sweet, red bounty of the Frost Valley Farm!

If you’ve never picked a strawberry before you may not know that they come in all shapes and sizes. Homegrown, organic strawberries have a juicy sweetness that is unrivaled by their super-market replicas.

Here at the farm we don’t use pesticides to keep bugs from eating our delicious crops, but we have employed two guinea hens that work night and day at bug removal.  Here they are before they were let loose for a bug feast.

And if the bugs get to the strawberries before the guinea hens do their security rounds…we just make bug-eaten-strawberry art and feed them to the chickens.

In parts of Bavaria, country folk still practice the annual rite each spring of tying small baskets of wild strawberries to the horns of their cattle as an offering to elves. They believe that the elves, are passionately fond of strawberries, will help to produce healthy calves and an abundance of milk in return.

I am hoping that the strawberries we have sacrificed to the bugs this spring will help to produce healthy, bug free produce for the rest of the summer.

 

Strawberries have many culinary friends (chocolate and shortcake are a couple of my fav’s), but who can resist the classic spring pairing of strawberries and rhubarb?  The elephantine rhubarb growing in the garden is a perfect match!

Right now you may be asking yourself, “what is more exciting than strawberry-rhubarb sauce on vanilla bean ice cream with whipped cream?” I’ll tell you what- CAMP STARTS TOMORROW!! Pretty soon the kids will be as prolific as the strawberries and the real magic of the Frost Valley Farm will begin again!

My name is Kayla and I will be the Assistant Farm Camp Director this summer.  I am from Northville, Michigan and just graduated from Lake Superior State University with a degree in Sport and Recreation Management.  I have worked for several YMCA camps throughout the United States for the past five summers and attended YMCA camps as a child.  This summer I am very excited to share my camping experiences with campers and learn more about farming. Since I have been at Frost Valley farm camp I have learned how to do felting and spindling which are just a few of the many activities that the campers will be able to participate in this summer. Recently, Andy and I have planted several vegetables in the garden beds and planted tomatoes in the greenhouse.  I am very excited for these plants to start growing and have the children care for these plants.  Every day I am learning something new about our garden and greenhouse, throughout the summer campers will be able to learn and care for the garden and greenhouse. I’m looking forward to a great summer and can’t wait for the campers to arrive!

During the past few weeks as I have been learning the ropes at the farm, I have been very fortunate to get a good amount of help from Frost Valley Staff and Alumni!  Collectively, there has been about 10 different folks put time in at the farm and they have worked a total of over 80 volunteer hours!  From weeding the beds, to building new compost bins, to loading up the greenhouse with fresh tomatoes plants, they have done a ton to get the farm ready for all the campers making their way here during the summer!  Take a look at some of the things they have gotten done and some of the sights they have seen in and around the farm this spring.