Wanakee hosts 5K and homecoming

Story and photos by Beth DiCocco, director of communcations

August 18, 2015

About 100 folks got to see the beauty of Wanakee United Methodist Center at a quicker pace than most who tour the Meredith, NH, camp.

They were the runners and walkers who participated in this year’s Wanakee Homecoming and 5K Wilderness Run/Walk on Aug. 15, 2015.

So how much quicker? Overall winner Andrew Attorri finished the 3.1 mile-course in 24 minutes, 13 seconds; the first woman to cross the finish line, Ashley Polhemus, did so with a time of 26:26.

The first, second and third place winners overall and by age group are awarded trophies made by potter and former camp staffer Gary Storms.

The 5K is an off-road race along hiking trails that Mike Polhemus, who is co-director of the race with his father, the Rev. Phil Polhemus, described to racers as “grueling,” though he quickly added: “You’ll love it.”

The 5K started three years ago as the culmination of a week-long running camp. Now it’s been opened to the public and helps to raise funds for camp improvements.

The $10,000 raised by this year’s race, which has a number of corporate sponsors, will go toward re-siding the farmhouse.
This year’s event, which includes a homecoming barbecue, was a little bittersweet this year. Wanakee Director Michael Moore is leaving at the end of this camp season.
Moore, center, fills water cups before the race.

Speaking after the race Victoria Sheehan, chair of the Wanakee Site Committee, said: “Unfortunately, Michael Moore, who’s been our director here at Wanakee for 10 years is leaving; this is his last season, so we really want to take some time today and celebrate Mike and his family and the contributions they’ve made to camp."

Those attending were invited to share their good wishes and memories in a book, and a collection taken for a parting gift for Moore.

“Michael Moore and his wife, Jean, came here 10 years ago to be our directors. They have touched hundreds and hundreds of lives, and made Wanakee a truly welcoming place and we’re very fortunate to have had them here,” Sheehan said. “The Moore family has meant so much to all of us, so we really want to wish them well.”

Jean Moore, who served as co-director with her husband, died in 2010. Moore said he has no “set plan” after stepping down, but is looking forward to spending time with his three children.

“There have been a lot of great memories over those 10 years and a lot of blessings,” he said, adding that 75 percent of the current staff are past campers. “It’s a neat way of seeing them grow – 10 years ago they would have been in elementary school, and now they’re the leaders, so that’s pretty exciting.”

“Wanakee is an amazing place for watching children grow spiritually and in their faith, especially through the elements of Christian community, and the love and compassion that’s shown with the staff and the other campers,” he said. “To be a part of that is such a blessing.”