Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Life at August Camp

I spent a week at Appalachian Mountain Club's August Camp from August 8 to 15, and did a lot of hiking, which I've discussed in my blog.  But I also wanted to include some accounts from camp itself.  What's it like?  Well, it's a lot of fun if you like camping out.  It is way more comfortable that backpacking, and even than just camping out of your car.  For one thing, I had a good sized tent, and the tent had a cot - much more comfortable than being on the ground.  Most people are two to a tent there, but in my case, I ended up with my own tent which was nice because I could lay my stuff out on the other cot.  Here is the view looking out the back of my tent:

We had about 80 people in camp, and the 8 most important of them were the members of the "Croo." These extremely hard working young people made the camp run.  They got there a week early and set everything up, cooked for all four weeks of camp, and stayed behind and took the camp down.  I can't say enough about them.  They had to cook two meals a day for a big group and do all of the prep and clean up.  And they baked cookies and bread and deserts every day.

A day at August Camp started whenever you woke up, and you could get up and go to the Tea Tent for coffee or tea.  In any event, by 6:15 one of the Croo walked through camp blowing on a type of bugle - although it sounded more like a bugler being tortured - and that generally, but not always, woke people up.

Sometime about that time, the hike leader posted the hike clipboards for the day, and everyone could see what hike they were assigned to.  In every case but one, I got assigned to my first choice hike.  And every hike was really good - you could not go wrong.

Then, it was time to make your way to the lunch tent and put together your lunch for the trail.  They had most things you could imagine for sandwiches and fixings, and there was always carrot and celery sticks, trail mix, fruit, and cookies.  Oh, the cookies! We each got two every day.

After that, about 7:00, it was time for breakfast at the dining tent.  The meals (two a day) were really good, and quite varied.  There were vegan options if you told the camp in advance that you were on a vegan diet.  Breakfast always had hot and cold cereal, and there was always a main course and breakfast meat.  Dinner always had soup, salad, and some kind of fresh bread, a main course and sides, and a desert.  Really good food!

After eating, it was time to get ready for a hike.  Make sure your water bottles and sun shower are topped off at the "water buffalo," the source of all potable water in camp.

If you want a shower later, better make sure and lay your sun shower out in a sunny spot.  The camp was at a ski area, so there were also coin operated showers a short walk away, but that is a rarity at August Camp, I think.

Then groups would gather for their hike at a designated spot and tim, and the leader would go over the plans for the day.

A few other things - 80 people produce a lot of waste - there is no getting around that.  We had a porta-john service that was appreciated, although as one might expect, it got a little gross after a few days.  It was very welcome when the service came and pumped everything out.

After hiking, most people would get back and take a shower if there was time.  Here is what the shower stalls looked like.  They had an ingenious rig inside.

You hang your sun shower on  the hook, hoist it up to the desired height using the pulley, and, voila! hot running water for a shower!  My bag held four gallons, but I found that I could get a nice little shower with less than two.  The last night of camp was a cool and cloudy day, so I ended up taking a shower at the ski center - the best 75 cents I ever spent!

After a shower, you had about an hour to relax before dinner if you were lucky.  Some people scored chairs for outside their tent, but I didn't.  Those that did might read outside or socialize at their tents.  Others gathered for a group happy hour before dinner.  After dinner, we had "camp fire," with no fire because of wild fire dangers.  That involved trip reports, reviewing the next day's hikes, and singing around the "non-campfire," while some talented folks played musical instruments.  That was something that I enjoyed doing most nights.  Quiet hour was at 10:00.  A couple of nights, the Pleiades meteor  shower was going on, and was spectacular with the extremely dark sky - one of the best skies that I can ever remember.

August Camp is not for everyone - several women told me that their husbands would hate it - but it sure was for me.  I hope to go again!


  1. Looks like a good time but not for me. I like my comforts too much for camping. : )

  2. Definitely not for everyone. Camping out is never going to be as comfortable as one's home. One lady told me "My husband would look at the tent and start having regrets. Then, he would see the portable toilets and say 'I'm out of here!'" But I sure enjoyed it!