By June S. MacArthur
OSWEGO TOWN, NY – When was the last time you went camping with a bunch of people that you didnâ€™t know?
Where men bunked down in half the cabins and the women stayed in the other half, talking about the men. Or maybe not, but you know the women will be talking, making new friends or showing photos of their grandchildren or volunteer work they do.
Well, maybe the men will too.
How about a day where you participated in all the activities and have none of the work? Where you can make a kite and fly it, build a small rocket, do crafts, have a lesson in Zumba or line dancing, or play bocce ball, croquet, horseshoes and ladder golf.
You can drink coffee or tea, and listen to authors, such as Gerry Smith, president of Onondaga Audubon Society, talking about where to go birding in Upstate New York and his book, â€œBirding the Great Lakes Seaway Trail,â€ or Robert Molinari, author of the heart-warming book â€œJoyceâ€™s Ark,â€ and then the Master Gardener Vickie Mather, who will talk about gardening to attract winged friends.
Senior Camp at Camp Hollis is having all this and more June 7 and 8.
There will be plenty of food and drink for two days, beside hang gliding talk and demo, a visit by the Hawk Junior Aviators (small flying planes flown by a high school club), a sing-along at the campfire during the evening, and cards and board games if youâ€™re still energetic before bed.
Did I mention that the whole two days and one evening only costs $20?Â Day-only program is $10 per day. If youâ€™re 50 or older, and this two-day program at Camp Hollis might sound interesting and affordable.
I know when I heard about it a few years ago, I thought it was a unique idea. In retirement, we often get set in our ways, used to a certain routine. Many of your friends have moved away, or passed on, and it doesnâ€™t seem as easy to make friends as it used to be.
You wonder where you can go to meet new people. Or like my husband and me, weâ€™d moved back to the area after being gone 40-some years. Believe me this Senior Camp is a great way to make new friends and learn some new hobbies.
I had been a Campfire girl and my husband had been a Boy Scout and we had both camped as youngsters. Iâ€™m sure many of you had been in the Scouts or Explorers or had gone away to some type of a camp.Â Camp Hollis on County Route 89 west of Oswego is high on a bluff overlooking Lake Ontario with the sea breezes blowing across woods and fields.
Why should only children have the experience of spending a couple of days in the outdoors in the early summer and sleeping in cabins away from the city sounds?
Let this be the year you let the volunteers of Camp Hollis bring nature programs and great food to you and your new friends.
I volunteered two years, offering to facilitate a poetry workshop.
Gerald, my older brother, whoâ€™s gone now, actually joined the class one year and I cherish those memories. In our family Iâ€™m known as the writer and poet, but Gerald, the retired forklift operator and meat cutter, wrote some lovely scenes about his dog and children that were beautiful.
He admitted heâ€™d never taken the time to think about it like he did during our hour at the picnic table and he was very pleased with himself.
Retirement can be a time to explore your options of hobbies or new passions, just because you were a heavy equipment operator or a professor, doesnâ€™t mean you canâ€™t try something entirely different in your later years. Iâ€™ve always wanted to try welding art, but havenâ€™t seen it offered anywhere yet.
Recently I talked with some of the volunteers about what they liked best about Senior Camp at Camp Hollis. Sandy Davis, a small wisp of a woman, said she loved the desserts and fruits and vegetables that are all donated by locals, like Eddieâ€™s Big M in Mexico and Ontario Orchards.
Karen Potter, another volunteer, talked about the smores they make for the campfire and the sing-along.
Karen said last yearâ€™s theme was â€˜being a kid,â€™ and they all did feel like kids.
This yearâ€™s theme is â€œcome fly with usâ€ which explains all the visiting kites, radio-controlled planes, hang gliding, and birding.
They were going to do a balloon launching event, but I suggested they do a homing pigeon release rather than the potential fish, bird and turtle killing that could happen from all those balloons coming down over the lake.
In Florida, where we came from, deflated balloons have been shown to kill the water creatures when they float back down to the water and get eaten by the creatures that donâ€™t know better.
In parking lots around the Syracuse area, Iâ€™ve twice seen a man release a cage full of homing pigeons from the back of his station wagon. They fly high overhead, circle a couple of times getting their bearings I suspect, then take off for their home.
Itâ€™s a beautiful sight and everyone in the parking lot stopped walking and watched them. You wonder how the birds can figure out where they have to fly?
If you know anyone who has the hobby of homing pigeons give Jim Farfaglia a call at 349-3451, heâ€™d love to talk with him or her.
At our senior age, food is an important issue and eating is something we all like to do. The group all agreed that Chris and Dale Bixler, owners of Serendipity B and B, on Route 104 west of Oswego, do a great job as the cooks.
They plan the meat and then take all the donated foods and make dishes that have both eye appeal as well as great taste.
You might want to have your friends stay at their B and B after you see what they do at Camp Hollis.
Volunteer and organizer Terry Wagner summed it up best when she said, â€œSenior Camp at Camp Hollis is a great place to meet a diverse group and to make new friends.â€
Why donâ€™t you come join them?
You can call Farfaglia at 349-3451 for more information, pick up a flyer and registration form at Oswego City/County Youth Bureau at 70 Bunner St., Oswego.
Make check payable to Friends of Camp Hollis.