Camp Woodland Blog

Woodland’s Climax Forest and Other Delightfully Sensorial Experiences

Posted by on July 31, 2021

Let me tell you about the “Climax Forest.” That’s the name for the untouched virgin forest located that makes up a large portion of the 80 acres of Woodland property. It is on your right as you drive down the Woodland Road. It is quite possible that you would see several whitetail deer scampering across the only artery leading into camp. The Climax Forest has various trails that wind their way through this enchantment of trees and other natural habitat. You may even notice that it is a few degrees cooler once several steps inside this magical place. The canopy trees are so incredibly tall that sunlight has a hard time slicing its way to the forest floor.

The Climax Forest itself is beautiful. It feels like an opening to something special, a secret part of the forest preserved for those lucky enough to stumble upon it. Yet, it is right off the main road into camp with several other access points in various locations. I like to wander in deep enough so that the County D traffic is barely a hum or noticeable at all. There is something about it that’s immediately attractive. You can’t help but think, “Wow, this is really cool.” You may even expect to find fairies and gnomes hustling about as that is precisely who would spend their days in such a mystical place. The fuzzy green moss and leafy ferns are the perfect decor for their forest home. A few days ago, several riding classes took a trail ride in this extraordinary spot. It feels like you are miles away from camp civilization, but actually, it is only a few hundred yards. We are so fortunate!

Visiting the Climax Forest, like so many of the experiences at Woodland, is delightfully sensorial. It quite literally bathes these girls in sensations, rich experiences that stimulate all their senses. The examples at camp are endless— the firm muscle of the horse they’re riding, the soft fur of the bunnies at Farm Zoo, the refreshing chill of the lake water. At camp you hear amazing things too: nighttime forest animals, loons calling, the 50-year-old camp bell, and the occasional intense thunderstorm, for example. And taste! —the homemade lasagne we had earlier this week, a different cookie flavor every few days, and the explosion of cool watermelon in your mouth when you take that first bite. At camp we get to smell the earthiness of the forest all around us, encounter the sharp smoke from a campfire, and breathe in full lungs of the freshest air. And of course, what we see everyday is the beauty of Woodland, this historic camp snuggled up close to our very own Climax Forest.

You have to love this for your kids! When so much of their ordinary lives is spent staring at screens, passively receiving a filtered, curated version of the world— and even more so during the recent pandemic restrictions —they really need all their senses exercised. You might even say that their longterm cognitive and emotional health depend on it! They need rich real world experiences like taking the plunge off the Aqua Tramp or a bite out of a freshly roasted s’more. Camp teaches them that feeling these things is normal and good, that the diversity of sensations offered by the world can be experienced by simply reaching out. Children naturally do this. They’re curious and eager to explore. They instinctively revel in the sensorial character of camp life (no A/C needed!). Unfortunately, the tragedy is that those childhood instincts are being hindered by the all too common allure of technological entertainment.

Thankfully, life at Woodland is a relief from all that. We know how to break the spell of those screens and return to more genuine experiences, more rewarding inter-actions, to a more colorful world. Your girls love it because they need it. And at camp, they enjoy it everyday.

Reference: J Carter, RBC, 7-28-21