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Rock On!

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Hey, Rockers!

Unlike any other sport, Rock Climbing presents challenges to both our physical and mental abilities. It’s an extraordinary test of one’s strength, endurance, agility, balance, and mental control. In order for climbers to reach the summit of their ascensions safely, they must study and train to use proper climbing techniques as well as proper climbing equipment.

Chinese paintings from a little over 2000 years ago depict men climbing a mountain. And cliff-dwelling Anasazi natives in 12th Century America are thought to have been excellent climbers. Early European climbers used rock climbing techniques as a skill required to reach the summit in their mountaineering exploits. But by the 1850s, climbing mountains was transforming from a necessity in travel into a distinct athletic activity!

This is where we meet the hero of our story: an avid climber named John Ball. He’s known for popularizing the Dolomites, a mountain range found in northeastern Italy. Throughout his research of the mountain range and his experiences climbing the mountains there, John founded the Alpine Club and became the first club president in 1857. He was joined by many other climbers who made their first ascents with his guidance.

Among many other accomplishments, John was the first in 1857 to climb a major Dolomites peak (Monte Pelmo). He also traveled in Morocco and South America later on in life and the recorded observations he made throughout his pursuits were published in scientific periodicals.

Not only famous for his Alpine club, John also published in the later 1860s his well-respected work of the Alpine guide book—a result of countless climbs and journeys that produced careful observation that was recorded in clear (and typically entertaining) style.

Since John’s days, Rock Climbing has only become recognized more so as a legitimate sport. In 2016, the International Olympic Committee made a formal announcement that Rock Climbing would be a medal sport in the next summer Olympics (which ended only a few weeks ago). Enjoy your climbing escapades in the future and, as always thanks for reading!


- John

Adventure Island Camp

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Hey, Camp Fans!

Door County was full of summer campers in the 1920s. Chock full of forests, fields, and bays, that Wisconsin State Legislature designated for preservation in 1909, the Peninsula State Park offers a breathtaking view looking northwest: the chain of Strawberry Islands as they skip through the Green Bay water. A world of fun was had here by children in the Midwest area who attended camps in this gorgeous part of beautiful Wisconsin such as the rustic Adventure Island Camp off the shores of Ephraim on the thumb of the state.

Check it out! 

It was a man from Illinois, Charles “Skipper” Kinney who spearheaded a boys camp on the largest of the Strawberry Islands (initially named Big Strawberry Island and renamed Adventure Island) in 1925. He kept dominion over the land and summer operations season after season, and remained true to the original purpose the camp was founded upon—“The Spirit of Adventure which is inherent in practically every boy.”  

Adventure Island Camp was truly a self-made camp. Aside from the cooking, all the work at Adventure Island Camp was done by the campers. They did it all and they did it without electricity or running water. In the very beginning, work included the construction of the camp’s cabins and other structures.

To compensate the boys, Skipper gave them incredible freedom. Every day, he would ask them individually what they wanted to do for the day and, as you weren’t going to kill yourself doing it, he provided the material and guidance for them to achieve their goals.  

The 7 to 14 year old boys would venture out on solo treks for overnights in the woods or build their own wooden kayaks. One year, the kids constructed their own Viking ship and named it ‘Serpent of the Sea’. They took it on a five-day cruise, a voyage off to distant lands like Escanaba and Marinette!

To make the freedom that much freer, the boys could even bring their dogs for the summer. The freedoms taught the campers invaluable lessons. They found that they were ‘free’ not to do their dishes, but then must eat on dirty plates. They were ‘free’ to stay up at night, but had to be up and at ‘em with the sun.

With further establishment in later days, the camp came to offer a baseball league, stamp club, journalism, orchestra, and shooting range to expand the activities, the boys created for themselves. A true inspiration to the very heart of why we have summer camp, the Skipper was a wonderful influence on the youth of his day. The camp stayed in operation until 1952.

There were a handful of other historic camps that operated in close proximity to Adventure Island such as Meenahga Girls camp and the Cherry Camp. I’ll cover these camps and more in future Blog posts. And, as always, thanks for reading, Camp Fans!


- John

On the Run

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Hey, Runners!

A fantastic activity that plenty are very passionate about, Track (also known as Cross Country or…Running) is a competitive sport that’s based in mimicry of predators in high-speed pursuit of their prey. It wasn't called Track or Cross Country to start. it went by 'Hare and Hound'. It originated during the 1800s in England with at least one runner taking the role of the Hare and getting a head start, and another runner or more acting as the Hound and chasing after the prey.


Alterations of the game involved the initial runner dropping pieces of paper or other markers on a random course and the hunter would have to TRACK the prey. This came to be known as ‘The Paper Chase’. Nobody really knows who invented these games. They just got started among kids of a neighborhood who were building upon the most basic of childhood games: Tag.

Public schools started holding events of these games, the first one being Rugby School in 1837. They called it the Crick Run. Soon enough Oxford and Cambridge Universities joined in on the fun and the popularity soared. Within four decades, England had officialized their National Cross-Country Championship in which the game became a long distance race along a course that was laid out in advance.

While we owe the invention of ‘Hare and Hound’ as well as ‘The Paper Chase’ to kid’s games, the United States owes its interest in Track to one New Yorker named William C. Vosburgh. It was William who got wind of this English Sport. He took a great interest in it and introduced it to schoolboards of his local community.

The same as England, it didn’t take long for the popularity of Track to rise here in the states—plus it was starting out as in a much more official capacity than its beginnings overseas. In 1887, just ten years’ time, the National Cross-Country Association was founded in the United States and the first championship event was held.

It wasn’t long before Cross-Country Running was offered at Harvard in the Fall Semester as a training event for Track and Field Distance Runners. Plenty of other colleges followed Harvard’s example. City College of New York, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania were the initial three to take part in the first intercollegiate meet in 1890.

Let Mr. Vosburgh teach us all a lesson about speaking up when we see something we like. Chances are other folks will like it too! Enjoy learning the ins and outs of Track this summer and, as always, thanks for reading!


- John

Just Kick It

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Hey, Kick Baseballers!

Kickball is a pretty big staple to any given recess session, gym class, and summer camp activity! Loved by many kids as their twist on America’s favorite pastime with ‘a little kick’ to it, Kickball came along about six or seven decades after the rise of baseball’s popularity in America. And it was all thanks to one man who invented it in 1917, named Nicholas C. Seuss.

Mr. Nicholas Seuss (who has no relation to Dr. Seuss) was the Supervisor of the Cincinnati Park Playgrounds in Cincinnati, Ohio. He saw kids in the park playing baseball despite being short on equipment. After all, back in those days, it was uncommon for everyone to have their own catching mitt, bat, and ball. Nicholas wondered how you might cut back on the equipment needed to play the game.

He introduced a new, oversized baseball to the park and taught the kids there a game he called ‘Kick Baseball’. It only took three years for it to grow in popularity and it spread like wildfire! By 1921, it started getting used by phy. ed. teachers in public schools in order to teach the basic rules of baseball to young students.

Through the early 20s, Kick Baseballs simply borrowed a ball from soccer or volleyball. And the rules weren’t quite the same as they are now to begin with; there used to be no pitcher—the ball was simply set in the ‘home base’ area waiting to for the next player to come along for their turn to kick. But as time went on, the name got shortened to ‘Kickball’ and changes were made to make it even more like baseball.

If you’re a fan of Kickball, get a group of your friends together for a friendly neighborhood game and let them all know about the inventor of the game, Nicholas C. Seuss. As always, thanks for reading, everybody! Till next time.

- John

The Art of Fencing

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Hey, Fencing Fans!

And I’m not talking about that white picket in the yard. I mean Fencing—the sport! From a distance, you could mistake this sport for the centuries-old dueling practice of sword fighting. Fencing players are dressed in padded gear which is loaded up with sensors that are designed to mark points scored by your opponent each time they strike it.

While people are naturally concerned with the safety of a sport that looks so similar to sword fighting, Fencing has an incredibly low injury rate compared to other sports like soccer or gymnastics. There’s tons of padding and a full facemask that players wear. And Fencing swords come to a blunt end without being sharp in the least. The only injuries that happen are ones that would with any other sport.

So who was the daring pioneer who saw the art of sword fighting and said to himself, “I’d like to have fun in a swordfight without the risk of serious injury or death”? It was Domenico Angelo from the 18th Century. Sword fighting was part of military training back then, but Domenico considered the enjoyment one could derive from studying the strategy and skill involved in sword fighting without actually fighting.

It was in 1763 that Domenico established Angelo’s School of Arms in London where he taught a class called ‘The Fashionable Art of Swordsmanship. He established the basics, giving rules to posture and footwork that are still taught in modern Fencing. While his class was meant to prepare the students for real combat with a sword, he always reminded and encouraged the health and sporting benefits in Fencing above its use as a weapon.

Domenico’s family—experts in the art of Fencing—ran the school for a following three generations. They would also remain the reigning champs of European Fencing for nearly one hundred years!  

Fencing is an awesome and adventuresome activity! If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, look into your summer camp’s activities. Do they have a Fencing class available? Maybe your school offers a Fencing class. Otherwise, there’s likely a class you can find elsewhere not too far outside your local area.  Have fun with Fencing and, as always, thanks for reading!


- John