Kish’s and my road trip last week was one of the most enjoyable vacations we’ve ever had, and part of the reason was our two-day visit to the Rockywold Deephaven Family Camp near Holderness, New Hampshire. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get away from the hurly burly of the modern world for a while, reconnect with their family, and relax.
I’m not going to try to describe the camp, its history, or its activities, you can find that information at the RDC website. Instead, I just want to list a few reasons why I think this place is special.
First, Squam Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen, anywhere. Remarkably clear water, physically beautiful, perfect for sailing, canoeing, kayaking, or using the motorboat for a tube run. We used it mostly for swimming and floating and basking in the warm sunshine. Even better, it is absolutely, perfectly, breathtakingly quiet in the morning.
Second, you have lots of lodging choices. We were going to stay in a communal lodge, where guests share common areas, but there had been a cancellation and we got a small cottage instead. Ours was a one-bedroom enclave called Bungalow, and the cabin options — all of which have their own names — run the gamut from one bedroom to cabins large enough to accommodate multiple generations of a family. Our cabin had a porch that faced the water, a bench that was right on the shoreline with a great view, and its own little dock where we did our swimming. It was ideal for us.
Third, there’s not a lot of clutter with modern amenities. Don’t worry, there are plugs so you can recharge every one of your 50 electrical devices, and we had good cell phone and wireless coverage in our cabin, so you can still get your technology fix. But there was no TV, no refrigerator, no stereo or radio in our cabin — which encouraged you to get off your duff, walk the grounds, breathe deep the fresh air, hike, swim, fish, read, or join in one of the communal activities, and otherwise avoid the insipid cat videos and internet mindlessness that otherwise fill so much of our lives.
Fourth, there was an interesting tradition and dynamic at the camp. Many of the guests when we were visiting had been coming there for years, if not generations, and the RDC encourages that by using a kind of seniority system to assign cabins and tables at the dining hall. And because there is some separation between the Rockywold and Deephaven parts, which have different dining halls for example, the old pros have formed strong allegiances to their respective sides. Our cabin was in the Deephaven section, and when we got to talking to other Deepers at a picnic lunch it was clear that they would never consider the prospect of ever staying on the Rockywold side. Horrors!
Finally, the dining was all done in a communal dining hall. Meals were served at set times and announced by a bell ringing at the bell tower. The food was good, and plentiful, and served buffet style, and every family sits at its own assigned table. It was a pleasure to see parents, kids, and grandparents as they ate their meals together. There were other communal activities, too — a chance to make tie-dyed shirts, a picnic, a family movie (Frozen, of course), a talent show where little kids were the stars for a night, boat cruises, an ultimate Frisbee match — and all of them seemed to involve kids, parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I’d wager that the families that spend a week at the RDC grow stronger and closer in the process, which is probably why they come back.
The Rockywold Deephaven Camp has been around since 1897. It probably hasn’t changed much, while the world around it has changed a lot. It’s part of the reason why it’s such a great place. I wish we had known about it when Richard and Russell were kids.