Happy February from Midcoast Maine where it’s snowing one day and almost 60 degrees a day or two later. We have been busy in the camp office talking with families, meeting new staff, and planning the most amazing summer. We look forward to sharing the summer experience with you.
What have you been up to? We hope that you’ve been getting outside and exploring the world around you. As you can see from the main image our very own Zachary Whiting (far right) has been building snow forts. There’s so much to see and so many interesting places to visit. Drop us a line and share your adventures. We’d love to hear from you.
In this issue we welcome back folks to our Health and Wellness Center. Our Traveling Natural History Program teaches us the difference between a hibernator and a winter sleeper and our Kitchen Team shares a food fact and recipe. We learn about beets and the process of making a delicious Chocolate Beet Cake. It’s amazing!
With best wishes from all your friends at Camp Chewonki!
From the Camp Office
From the Archives
The Art & Craft of Wooden Kayaks
Read “A Woodchuck’s Dream” From 1928
Are you signed up for one of our trips that head to Canada? Get started on obtaining your passport now. The process can take up to 11 weeks. We suggest expediting the process. Already have a passport? Please verify that it has a valid date past 8/13/22.
Here is a link on how to obtain or renew your passport.
Packing lists for the 2022 season are updated and can be viewed here.
Virtual Information Sessions
We have several virtual information session options. Register now for a General Information or Leadership Expedition information session here.
Information Session topics coming in April: getting ready for camp, homesickness, new parent orientation, health and wellness and more.
From the Health and Wellness Center
Angie Klein has returned as the Director of Health Services and Liz Taggie as the lead nurse for Leadership Expeditions and Outdoor Education. We have been busy getting ready for a safe and healthy camp season following updated American Camp Association Standards. Our goal is to set each camper up for success during their camp experience! The Health and Wellness staff consider families partners within the Chewonki team to keep campers healthy and safe as our first priority. If there are any updates in your camper’s physical or mental health, please update the CampinTouch Health History form.
The Health and Wellness staff wish parents and campers a mentally and physically healthy spring and hoping we can add some refreshing time this summer.
Now Hiring For Summer
Every year we welcome former campers, alumni, and new friends to join us as part of our summer team. We want you! We’re already hiring for the 2022 summer season – cabin leaders, trip leaders, activity heads, support staff, kitchen staff, facilities support, and much more! If you would like to step out of the ordinary and spend an extraordinary summer making a positive difference in a child’s life, please check out our job board.
News From The Neck
From the Traveling Natural History Program
Spring is right around the corner, and many animals eagerly await the return of warmth and resources. While some mammals – like us humans – have pressed on through the colder months, many have been ‘slumbering’ the darker days away in burrows and dens, and are only now beginning to stir. Indeed, the very reason we say we have ‘Six More Weeks of Winter’ is due to the old tradition of observing Groundhog Day, where a hibernating groundhog emerges from their den for the first time that year.
Hibernation is a Winter Adaptation (the word Hibernus is latin for wintry!), a strategy for survival when the world becomes cold and scarce. It might look like a deep, cozy sleep – but hibernating creatures aren’t really sleeping!
Their bodies undergo some major changes to slow them waaaay down.
Their temperature cools, and their metabolism slows, so they are no longer digesting food, and do not need to eat during this time. Their breathing and even their heartbeat slow, some having a pulse as low as 4 or 5 beats per minute..! (That’s one heartbeat every 12-15 seconds!)
Shutting down like this is really demanding, and it is not as common as you might think – only 3 species of mammals in Maine are considered true Hibernators: Our bats, jumping mice, and the infamous groundhogs.
Chewonki was proud to be a home for a resident groundhog named Clover for several years. She was an educational ambassador who lived the entirety of her adult life with us, having some physical and mental handicaps that prevented her survival in the wild. She visited schools and libraries across Maine to help teach about mammals and winter adaptations.
Chewonki is currently home to a new furry friend, a young Virginia Opossum named Ginny. Ginny lives with us as a permanent resident, because she is missing her prehensile tail, a handy tool that allows opossums to gather denning materials and aids in climbing. Without this tail, Ginny would struggle to survive in the wild, especially in the winter.
Ginny could be considered a ‘Winter Sleeper’, similar to other mammals like skunks, raccoons, and even bears. These creatures will den in the winter, and they do slow down a little bit, like the hibernators do – but they won’t ‘switch off’ in the same way.
Unlike the hibernating woodchuck Clover, Ginny may leave the den on warmer days to stretch her limbs and seek out food and water. Opossums might even change dens altogether multiple times in the winter, in an attempt to avoid predators.
Ginny has been ‘denning’ indoors with us in our Wildlife Center, to ensure her comfort and health. In a few weeks, once temperatures begin to stay above freezing, we’ll be returning her to her larger outdoor enclosure to explore a more natural and enriching environment
All of us here at the Traveling Natural History Department, animals and educators alike, are wishing you a safe transition through these last few weeks of winter, and look forward to seeing you in the sunny days ahead!
From the Kitchen
In honor of St. Valentine, Chocolate Beet Cake
Food fact: Beets – Last growing season Chewonki farmers harvested 416 lbs of beets. We store the beets in our temperature controlled root cellar where they will keep until the end of February. Beets have the highest sugar content of any vegetable with 7.96 grams of sugar per 100 grams. This makes them perfect for things like pickling, think sweet and sour, or as an accompaniment to something rich like a beef stew. Not everyone cares for their earthly sweet taste so we were excited to find a chocolate beet cake recipe which turns out to be a favorite of our current MCS students. Although we served shortbread hearts on Valentines Day this month, I thought I’d share the chocolate beet cake recipe so our MCS students will have the option to make this cake at home for family and friends. Beets in a chocolate cake means less cane sugar in the recipe which is something we strive for.
Chocolate Beet Cake
Prep time: 1 hour
Bake time: 25 minutes
- 4 cups beets, cooked, peeled, grated (boil whole beets until they are tender. When you remove them from the pot the skins should slip off very easily.)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup oil (sunflower or canola)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup maple syrup or honey
- 5 eggs
- 2 t vanilla extract
- 4 cups cake flour
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 t baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- Confectioners sugar for dusting
- ~Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 inch cake pan very well with vegetable spray and dust them lightly with cocoa powder.
- ~In a large bowl, whisk together butter, oil, sugars and maple syrup or honey.then add eggs and vanilla to combine.
- ~In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients.
- ~Slowly add dry ingredients to wet. Stir gently. Then fold in the grated beets.
- ~Pour your batter into the prepared pan. Any extra batter can be used for cupcakes.
- ~Cook for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
- ~Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then run a knife around the edge and invert the cake onto a cooling rack.
- We have been dusting the cake with powdered sugar but you could amp it up with frosting or cocoa whipped cream. Enjoy!
Can you find Ginny? Ginny, our newest mammal ambassador, will be hiding out in our feature picture each month. Submit your solution to firstname.lastname@example.org. Can’t find her? We will share the solution in next month’s newsletter. Here is January’s solution.