Week two of Manhattan Country School’s Farm Camp featured our campers farming, gardening, cooking, eating, swimming and camping under the stars. I believe that the amount of work, responsibility and skills our kids possess is often underestimated. They are truly running a farm. Through barn chores before breakfast and again before dinner, they care for the animals that take care of us. They weed, cultivate and harvest the fruits and vegetables that we consume during Farm Camp and the rest of the year. They prepare meals for a group of 25 from scratch using products from the Farm. They keep the house they live in clean from top to bottom. They are responsible for their own social and emotional well-being and that of their friends. Unless you see these extraordinary people in action, it’s hard to imagine all they do while at the Farm.
On Wednesday we had the pleasure of hosting Alexandra Horowitz—a noted scientist, bestselling author and MCS parent. Alexandra helped our kids and staff explore the world of animal cognition. On a daily basis we interact with farm animals on several levels—feeding, milking, calling them from the pastures and socializing with them. Alexandra will be creating some simple studies for our students to conduct. They’ll gather data on animals’ behavior around different people, facial recognition between species and different cues for calling animals to the barn.
Thursday morning our second overnight camping group packed up and hiked to the Mountain Meadow. The first camping group had set up the tents previously, which allowed this group to move right in. They devoured bean burritos made over an open fire, read in hammocks and gathered around a roaring campfire at night.
Friday night was our first annual “Thrift Store, Farm to Porch Dinner.” The kids shopped at the Roxbury Library Thrift Store during the week to find an outfit for the night. Clothing ranged from vintage 70s to preppy. Some kids turned the items they purchased into something different, turning a t-shirt into a dress, for example. We dined on MCS Farm-raised pork chops, potato wedges, apple sauce and garlic toast. The group ate at a large farmhouse table on our porch, which was strung with lights.
On Saturday morning we traveled to the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown, New York. The museum is a living history village, complete with blacksmith shop, broom maker, apothecary, general store and an inn. Most of the buildings have been moved from around the region and reassembled at the site. A carousel with hand-carved animals is the centerpiece of the village.
That afternoon we went to Interskate 88 in Oneonta, New York, for laser tag and roller-skating. This trip is a long-standing tradition at Farm Camp and never disappoints. Circling the smooth wooden floor on four-wheeled skates while listening to the DJ’s music is something to be remembered.
Our campers’ families traveled to the Farm on Sunday for Family Visiting Day. This is such a sweet tradition that allows families to gather at their kid’s home away from home. This day gives our students the opportunity to lead tours for their families through the barn, the farmhouse, the forests and meadows. Following a casual lunch of barbeque, side salads and delicious desserts families gathered in small groups around the lawn, which made for a very special day.