In Search of the Golden Monkey

Week 7: Wilderness Survival II

Camp Elachee was quite the experience this week as all 106 campers, ages 3 to 13, learned age-appropriate first aid and wilderness survival skills. From making fire, ‘aiding’ their fellow ‘downed’ camper in need, mastering the ‘Survivor Games,’ creek hikes and then engineering a parachute to give safe landing to their pet egg, this week was one of mental, physical and admittedly wacky challenges. And, we’re proud to report…THEY ALL SURVIVED! (see Photo Gallery)

The camp-wide friendly competition to find the Golden and Camouflage Monkeys hidden in Chicopee Woods brought the entire camp family together. Daily skits mimicked the tribal councils (you know, from the TV series Survivor) with counselors competing for camper audience polls (who got the loudest roar).

It’s for sure, by the time the parent presentation rolled around on Friday, campers were giddy. Spontaneous dancing broke out as the first bars of Cotton-Eyed Joe sounded. They did their best interpretation of a zombie apocalypse with a healthy dose of tag thrown into the mix.Learning camp fire safety at Camp Elachee 2016

These lively antics have become the hallmark of this summer’s school break adventures. In other words, a loud celebration of being a kid and having fun outdoors with new friends!

All campers, Pre-K through Middle School, really got into camp fire safety. Campers learned the proper way to start a fire using sticks, and just as importantly, they learned how to extinguish it. 

Counselor Chris brought his personal didgeridoo, sharing this Australian musical instrument with campers. They then crafted their own rain sticks and decorated them with tribal patterns similar to the didgeridoo.

Special ‘guest’ Dr. Le’Trail Cope-on-land taught campers basic first aid and each made their own first aid kits. Then, the fun began. They hiked along the ‘Trail of Disasters’ finding scenario clues hidden along the way. Each clue revealed a type of injury or illness that hikers could encounter on the trails. In this competitive and instructional challenge, campers then got to demonstrate how to use their newly found wilderness survival skills to render first aid to a 'stricken' fellow camper.

What’s Camp Elachee without hare-brained team competitions?

“Survivor Games was THE nastiest we’ve ever had at Camp Elachee,” confesses Ciara Frakes, Camp Elachee 2016 director.

She and her counselors extraordinaire conceived four challenges, putting their spin on the dizzy waiter contest, a bobbing for gummy worms challenge inspired by Elachee’s composting practices (which for some strange reason really grossed out the campers), the now infamous frozen t-shirt race, followed by the mash potato pit challenge (yes, a baby pool was filled with instant mashed potatoes – something the squirrels really enjoyed the next day).

Middle school campers were part of all this fun, but had their own challenges, too. Split into two camp-wide tribes this week, Fire and Ice, they competed against one another which ironically brought them closer by week's end. Camp culminated with an Elachee overnight where the ‘Scary Preserve’ game stole the show. This 'tween version of hide’n’seek got the highest accolades from campers: “This is so AWESOME!” At dawn’s early light, one young man told his counselor that he wished there could be a weeklong Elachee overnight camp for middle schoolers, not just two times during the summer.

What’s Next?

The biggest camp week of the summer, Creek Days, is July 18-22. It’s going to be grand!

“The campers have voted on what they want to the last week of camp, July 25-29,” shares Ciara. “It will be a Free-for-All! We’re bringing back Mud Day, the Bat Cave Rave and the Extreme Obstacle Course!”

Looking ahead to the final week of camp July 25-29 (can you believe the summer is almost over?), limited Elementary Camp spots remain (REGISTER NOW). Please note, the Pre-K and Middle School camps are now full.

Camp Elachee: Where Nature is the Adventure

Camp Elachee 2016 goes through July 29. Camps are held at Elachee Nature Science Center in North Georgia's Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve, Gainesville, GA.