All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘Lake Norman’

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Davidson Outdoors Best Thing Ever: “Fun As a Box of Puppies,” Source Enthuses


I had one of those days earlier this week that got just a little bit too file-management-y and status-update-y and sit-on-my-butt-y at my desk-y. By five o’clock I just had to get outside with Dodger and go jump in the lake.

“Aaaiiiieeee!” I went, as I hurled myself off the end of the dock into Lake Norman. The plunge purged and defragged my noggin to an extent that life in real space and time was good again under a darkening sky.

Some Davidson first-years relate to one another as paddle-mates on the river before they ever set foot on campus. (Click to enlarge.)

The simple combination of fresh air, relatively fresh water, and my own kinetic motion recalled to me how much I love to get outside. Sometimes my sofa makes me forget.

In the Carolina Piedmont region, we’ve got a great place to take advantage of the good green earth, right in our own backyard or further afield on the coast or in the mountains. Adventures with Davidson Outdoors, the student outing group on campus, are always special-favorite road trips. I particularly love plunging down the French Broad River with DO’s Summer Odyssey crews of incoming new students. Odyssey first-years are fun as a box of puppies, tumbling fast toward their freshman year all yap and pizzazz, bonding by backpack and relating on the river in small groups for a week before freshman orientation.

One Sunday afternoon in mid-August, I drove up the side of the Blue Ridge Mountain range and fjorded the stream at Silver Mine Camp in Hot Springs, N.C.  The DO river logistics crew, aka “river logs” or just “logs,” were away on a river paddle. They’d left me a “Welcome, John!” sign on the blackboard. I had also learned earlier that at the log camp when I arrived there would be a first-year student recuperating from the epizoodics contracted on the trail. Not a happy camper, that.

Click to read "Get Out There!"

So as not to disturb the napping student, I walked up the hill from the parking area quietly, past the familiar fragrance of the fa-foom facilities toward the picnic shelter. There on a long table, in wildlife-proofed disarray, lay the outdoorsy household accoutrements of a week roughing it. What caught my eye was the pile of reading material gathered on the end of the table: Fitzgerald, Hemingway, the Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s GameHealing Appalachia….

I snatched up the Fitzgerald short stories, dragged a camp chair into the brightest patch of light then making its way to the forest floor, and dove into “Bernice Bobs Her Hair.”

Ah, reading outdoors for the pleasure of it, there’s a status update for you. I need to remember to do it more often, away from that damn sofa. One man’s woo-woo, of course, is another’s deeply held belief system (lifted from a New York Times writer whose name escapes me just now, but I thank him), so I need the reminder of the Tao Te Ching quote taped to my computer monitor, to slow down and just be sometimes:

At the “River Log” camp in Hot Springs (l-r): Andrew Wilkins ’11, moi ’85, Lilly Wilson ’13 (Click to enlarge.)

“Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. Care about other people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work and then step back. The only path to serenity.”

Later back at the log camp after the crew had rolled in, we all shared a simple supper made more savory by the summer mountain air cooling to woodsy damp around our shelter. We took turns churning orange-coconut ice cream and played Liverpool Rummy by headlamp, until finally we started to melt away to our tents, one by one.

I slept like a puppy.

[Next up: Day Two on the river, Section 9, plus more photos. Meantime, Get Outside! with a Davidson Journal article I wrote about Davidson Outdoors in the Everglades.]

Ahh, Summertime…


One from Bill Giduz’s photo files: Ryan Cavalho ’04 takes a timeless moment in a hammock at Davidson’s Lake Campus. (Click to enlarge.)

Now that the Langtree Road Exit 31 has opened on I-77 just a couple of coves up Lake Norman from my humble abode, swimming at Davidson College’s Lake Campus in the morning before work is becoming one of my favorite perks of having a staff ’Cat Card. I can be there in about six minutes with my coffee and paper, watch the sun come on up over the boathouse, then have a dip in the swimming area while Dodger finishes his morning constitutional of harassing all squirrels and most furry woodland creatures.

Ahh, summertime.

I hazily remember another summer day, a late-August dog day at Lake Campus as a freshman in the fall of 1981, before there even was a boathouse: Freshman halls pitted one against the other in a “raft” “building” “contest” that involved nearly as much beer as lake water (times, and laws, were different then for 18-year-olds). Our “raft” sank. I think they all sank. It was loads of fun.

College kids these days enjoy Lake Norman as much or more than we did. There’s freshman orientation and outdoor concerts and departmental picnics and boating lessons and club crew and various bacchanal celebrations official and unofficial (some things never change), to name just a few activities that unfold on these banks. And not only do Davidson College students, faculty, and staff benefit from the 100 or so acres that Duke Power deeded the college soon after the lake’s creation in 1963. One notable community offering in summertime is Lake Campus Day Camp.

One morning earlier this week—while on a secret Lake Campus photo shoot that will be revealed, also secretly, to readers of the Davidson Journal later this summer—I talked to Lee Jones, Lake Campus Czar. He said there are still slots available for kids in grades 5 through 9, but folks will need to hurry to get their paperwork in under the wire. Activities include swimming, sailing, canoeing, water-skiiing, tubing and games.

Ahh, summertime at the lake. (Denizens of LKN, click now to reserve your kid’s spot!)