...and I am very happy there.

...and I am very happy there.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Escaping from the World...

Last weekend Jim and I set out on a quest to find an overlook that I used to pass on my way to a Women's Retreat in Spofford, NH. We have set out on this trek in the past with no success. This weekend we hit paydirt!

Since it is Leaf Peeper time here in the northeast, once again we decided to take drive from our home in Saugerties to head over to Spofford to see if the route we chose would help us locate the overlook. We took Route 7 & 9 across New York and Vermont. We have been on these routes many times in the past but never found the scenic overlook I had remembered. It turns out we just didn't go far enough. Route 9 is also known as The Molly Stark Trail and at the highest point on this "trail" is the overlook I remembered.

Unfortunately due to our poor timing the colors were not quite a magnificent as I remember. We were about two weeks later than when I used to travel this route. We also had just experienced heavy winds and flooding rains due to hurricane Nicole this past week. Hence many leaves that were in full color were torn from their branches and blown to oblivion. (One bit of advice - don't trust The Weather Channel's Fall Foliage maps. They had the area as near peak when it was actually past peak.)

So we drove on to our destination of Camp Spofford near Keene, NH. It was nice to see the camp was still there.

The sign deceivingly gave evidence of neglect and wear, but actually I was quite surprised by what we found. We tried to find someone to tell that we wanted to park in the lot and walk around but the one man I did see disappeared before we could catch him. So I headed to the office to see if anyone was there.

The left side of this building is the office/registration area and it was locked. Not a surprise. The right side of this building is the gift shop (closed). It looks small, but this shop could hold almost a ton (ok, a lot) of ladies during our retreats. One time I remember feeling the floor giving way to the weight of all of us (no where near a ton!) traipsing through looking for gifts to take home to our families or to remember the experience by.

We then headed for the Dining Hall to see if anyone could be found and I gave Jim a tour of where we ate many meals during our stays. Hundreds of women took turns eating, serving, setting up and cleaning at this buffet style eatery. (We were told there are plans to rebuild this in the future.) It was here we ran into (almost literally) a young man who was on his way to the refrigerator. We told him that we just wanted to walk around the camp and he was more than obliging. Jim thought we probably caught him taking food he wasn't supposed to be taking and was just happy to send us on our way.

So we started our tour of the camp. First to the little Tentels that I did share once with some friends.

These actually have a wall in the middle and an access door on each side to house up to six people. They offered a full size bed and a single upper bunk bed. They were great for rainy weather, and offered great shelter from the cold. Our retreats were usually held in late September and there could be a nip in the air in the mornings. I imagine they were pretty hot in the summer.

Continuing our tour, we then moved on to the "Lodge" which had a living/gathering room in the center with cathedral ceilings and a fireplace. We tried to get our whole group in here once, but as this was one of the most popular facilities --with real bathrooms -- it was often booked by the time we made our reservations. I did stay in here once with some gals. Most of us would stay in cabins where we shared dorm style rooms. I remember them being really rustic and crude, but I couldn't find them on our visit. So I assume they rebuilt new ones like these to replace them.

We learned the chapel had been rebuilt after a fire destroyed the one I remembered.

 The beach of course was very scenic. It was always too cool to swim here whenever I attended a retreat, but we did go out on the lake on the pontoon boat or rowboat when we had time.

Special Note here:  Jim and I had planned to walk around the lake. I had done it once before and seemed to remember that it was an easy walking trail. Here's a funny - you know how sometimes people remember things BIGGER than they actually are (i.e. the fish we caught). I seem to have a tendency to go the other way...the lake was a lot larger than I remembered. When Jim caught sight of it through the trees as we drove in he said it looked too large for us to make it around before we lost daylight. (We had arrived around 4 p.m.) He was right. The lake was six miles around and thinking my memory of the trail might me off as well, we ditched the hiking idea for a stroll around the camp.

Now back to our tour...
Many heartfelt stories were shared around the campfire. We sometimes reverted back to our childhood and roasted marshmallows or made s'mores.

This gazebo was good for gathering in the rain. It also offered a peaceful getaway when no one else was using it. There is an attached deck that we would come out at night and look at the stars. I remember Louise McClelland, our pastor's wife, sharing some Biblical teaching in this gazebo.

These retreats offered the women of the church a quiet respite from the busyness of their lives. The grounds offered many places to "retreat" and get closer to our Creator.

A view of the camp from the beach.
 The two newest additions that we found were this kayak and the gymnasium.

We assume practicality and building codes forced the camp to build the gym in such a way that is so out of character with the rest of the camp. It is a nice addition however for activities and large gatherings.

While we were there it seemed to be offering itself for some teen party, as balloons were on the door and teenagers were
popping out from all over as we toured.

I hope some of those that have been on these retreats with me will share their memories. The camp provided a great way to get to know each other and to learn more of what God created us all for. Be blessed!

PS - Missing from the pics are the campers. I had the privilege of staying with Louise in her parents camper one year...Camping to the ultimate -- in house bathroom, hot showers, fridge to supply midnight snacks...electric blanket...To think I had swapped out to let Miss Lillian (an elderly sister in the Lord) have my Tentel and ended up with this made me guilt ridden --- not enough to give it up though, lol.


  1. Wow, what a shot of nostalgia! I love all the pictures. How neat is it that you and Jim were able to tour the camp?

    It's amazing how many memories I have of Spofford, though my family only spent time there one week a year (for the homeschooling retreat)for -- maybe -- four years . We have pictures of Mom and Dad chilling in those Adirondack chairs on the beach, right where Dad and I built a sand castle when I was (I think) thirteen... and sunburned. Quiet times out on the lawn, talent shows in the chapel, nervous butterflies while hanging out with more social (read: popular) girls at that cafe spot. What was that called? Do you remember?

    Gosh, I haven't thought about Camp Spofford in years. Thanks for the opportunity to reminisce. :-)

  2. Thanks for the great pictures/memories!!! So much has changed there, and yet the essence, the natural beauty remain constant. I saved a letter David wrote us from CS and put it in an album....to treasure. :)