This was the scene at the 2020 Garden State Koi Certified Aquascape Contractor (CAC) Pond Camp held at Camp Timber Tops in the Poconos from Oct. 4 — 6, 2020.
Although the contractors came to build, they would all unknowingly take a trip back to the “summer-camp” experiences of their youth by sleeping in unheated bunkhouses, eating camp food making tie dye t-shirts, competing in egg-toss and ax-throwing contests, playing cornhole and partaking in the CAC fishing contest — all while working and networking with some of the best pond builders in North America!
The second-annual camp event also came with a number of COVID-19 protocols, such as individual bunk houses, indoor face masks, designated table assignments for family-style meals and social-distancing practices.
Campers were up early Monday morning for a hike to Shohola Falls to seek inspiration from Mother Nature’s waterfalls. With the combination of recent rains and the fall leaf colors, the 75 contractors who managed to get up early did not come back disappointed.
Time to Build
Large Entrance Pondless Waterfall. Aquascape’s Ed Beaulieu, the Pond Professor, Artist of the Year Jaak Harju of Atlantis Water Gardens and Alan Decker of Decker’s Pondscapes led a group of 20 talented CACs to construct a 12-foot-high pondless waterfall using large native Pennsylvania boulders covered with moss and lichens. This waterfall will greet campers of Camp Timber Tops for years to come.
Ecosystem Pond. Tim Dille of Garden State Koi and Allan Schule of Sound Shore Pond, with the help of 25 contractors, worked on constructing an 8-by-12-foot ecosystem pond with a stream and waterfall in the Nature Center. This pond will be home to lots of different wildlife, including small fish, tadpoles, frogs, newts and the occasional turtle.
Bubbling Stone Pondless Feature. Set along a woodland trail in the arts and crafts section of the camp, Sean Frost of Naturescapes, Jay Duke of Rivercrest Water and Landscapes and Enrique Gomez of Garden State Koi led another talent-laden group of CACs on this unique, natural-stone, bubbling-rock feature. The finishing touches of moss, ferns and native plants made this feature look like it was always there.
With amazing precision, speed and attention to detail, all three water features were started Sunday afternoon and were 100% completed by lunch on Tuesday.
Of course, it wasn’t all about building water features. The CAC fishing contest on Tuesday morning saw David Speece of Dreamscapes Water Gardens catch a nice, 30-inch pickerel to win the Largest Fish and Most Fish trophies. A camp highlight was having Bernie Kerkvliet of Skyline Ponds travel all the way from California to demonstrate how to split stone with feathers and wedges.
Pond Camp provided a unique opportunity for teaching, mentoring and learning pond and waterfall construction techniques in an open-air environment with all the instruction, leadership and guidance provided by some of the top pond builders in the Northeast. It also provided contractors the opportunity to network and have fun while reliving the fond emotions of their youthful camp experiences. Although Pond Camp was a lot of work for the staff of Garden State Koi, they loved building one-of-a-kind water features with their customers, contractors and friends in the mountains while surrounded by nature.