Red…Owl…Go down a really steep hill…Got to be LaLande!
By Pati Egan
Grandma, this is not the LaLande you remembered!
Grandma or grandpa would be right about the location. LaLande has essentially never moved since 1959. It has the distinction of being open the first week of summer camp and still exists today. But it certainly has changed!
This picture was taken pre-Lake Echon – notice the screens on the windows and doors. There was no camp road for easy access but there was the steep path that became known as “heart attack hill.” There was the real path and then a shorter steeper path that “brave staff” would use to get to the main area. Actually, you didn’t have to be super brave staff, I think all staff did this. I sure hope the ladies in this picture did not have on heals!
Old LaLande was very pretty with the rock face behind it. It was also nice and cool.
After Lake Echon was finished, LaLande was then a lakefront unit (sort of). There was a road going through it and there was now an alternative to going up “Heart Attack Hill.” BUT – to put it mildly, LaLande was “damp.” The path was constantly wet. The new lake created pools by LaLande that the mosquitos found especially appealing. The area between the lake and the cabins was “mushy.” But IT WAS CLOSE! Closest to everything! It’s always been a popular unit, recommended for the younger campers.
That certainly changed! Geno did a rebuild of LaLande and I must admit, I think it is one of the prettiest units he built.
Gene had the remarkable ability to build around natural features and incorporate them into the unit. Gene did not cut that big tree, he built the staircase around it. Two cabins now had a waterfall behind them and a little observation spot. The cabins are spread out but it’s easy to see the whole.
The rebuild was completed in 1979. That makes the unit 40 plus years old! It still seems new thanks to the continual dedication to upkeep.
In the 80s a shift occurred in unit selection by campers. The older kids would pick LaLande because it was so cool looking and, well, close! The 10-year-olds would usually end up in Tekakwitha.
Didn’t Grandma & Grandpa say this was the closest unit?
With the construction of the new dining hall LaLande lost its appeal as the closest unit because…well…it wasn’t the closest unit! It was close for some things like swimming but far for other things like Archery and meals.
It’s never really mattered to the campers if LaLande was swampy cabins or very cool treehouses; close to meals or far away; younger campers or older campers. None of this was important. Being in LaLande was an awesome experience because, like all units, of the staff that leads it and the campers that fill it!
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