From Massawepie to Tupper Lake

by: Zach Lawrence
Julia Crocker

This past Friday turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day—perfect weather for doing chores. Every Friday all the students living at Arcadia pitch in to accomplish a few camp tasks that bring a bit of civilization to our small slice of the wilderness. Working together in pairs, we tackle the oh-so-fun chores of stirring our composting toilet, packing out our trash and kitchen compost, and cleaning our kitchen and community spaces. Last Friday, despite how much fun we were having during these chores, we were eager to finish so we could go on the town run that occurs every other week.

At our yurt village, we live the definition of the word Arcadia: a place balanced perfectly between city-life and the wilderness. Because we reside in a rustic camp with just eight students and a few professors, our assistant directors Kim Covill and Will Madison warned us at dinner the previous night that we should “act normal when we go to town.”

During last Friday’s town run, our transition from near-wilderness to civilization began with a transition from our scenic paddle across majestic Massawepie Lake to our van parked on the other side. On the water, we were met with the serene sounds of birds singing and paddles rhythmically striking the water. In the van, we listened to modern pop songs that would remain stuck in our heads until the next town run.

Once in town, many of us went to the Tupper Lake Public Library to enjoy one of today’s often taken-for-granted conveniences: the internet. After logging on to the computers, we cursed ourselves for forgetting our email passwords amongst the wonders of nature. We had also been looking forward to watching some YouTube videos that we had joked about since the start of the semester, but to our great disappointment, the library did not supply headphones. To mend our frowns, a few of us sought out a luxury that can’t survive at Arcadia: Stewart’s ice cream.

At our most anticipated stop of the day, Thrifty Nifty (Tupper Lake’s famous thrift store), the experience was somewhat jarring to be among so many material items after living by such simple means. After a week of thinking about what pieces of civilization we wanted to bring back to Arcadia, we came away from the thrift store with new clothes and a few CDs to share among our handful of Walkman CD players. At the nearby Kinney Drugs, a few of us also indulged in such modern luxuries as shampoo and chocolate.

Our successful town run to Tupper Lake concluded, we jammed out to one of our new CDs on the drive back to Arcadia. At Massawepie Lake, we carried our newfound treasures and the fresh provisions that Will Madison had picked up for us back to our canoes. As evening approached and our day in civilization drew to a close, we paddled back across the serene, glassy waters to Arcadia and the little piece of wilderness we have come to cherish.