Just keep running

How to challenge yourself to get going, stay at it and get in a race — even now

Two years ago, I got my dad a shirt that says “I’m a streaker,” and he gets endless enjoyment out of allowing strangers to think he is in the habit of taking off his clothes and running naked in public. In reality, it’s a Runner’s World shirt created for crazy people like my dad who have (fully clothed) running streaks of days, months or years.

You don’t have to run every day, or far, or quickly, to reap the benefits of running. Find out how and why to get off the couch, why streaks are, in fact, awesome (should you choose to go that route), and why running a virtual race is a great way to alleviate the fear of the starting line.

Just do it

One of the best things about running is how easy it is to get started, no matter what your fitness level is, how much time or money you have — or how much you dread the thought of being seen by your neighbors as you struggle, red-faced and sweaty, around the block.

Millennium Running owner John Mortimer watched his mom become a runner, starting by walking one mile a day — and only at night.

“She would put her reflective vest on in the cover of darkness and walk the mile,” Mortimer said.

She then started adding jogging intervals, going from one mailbox to the next while jogging, then walking to the next, and so on. She worked her way up to three laps — three miles — and then ran her first 5K.

“You can take baby steps,” Mortimer said. “It’s literally just about trying to move a little bit each day.”

Christine Lewis, co-owner of Total Image Running with business partner Lisa Misiaszek, has similar stories; she’s been training runners for more than two decades. She remembers training a friend, Lisa Trisciani, who had lost 100 pounds and set a goal to run the Disney half marathon. But she had never run before and was afraid to take that first step because she thought people would judge her. Lewis worked with her on walk/jog intervals as well as strength, core and balance training.

“Within eight weeks Lisa ran her first 5K,” Lewis said. “We continued to train and she ran the Disney half and crushed it.”

Trisciani has since run several full marathons, relay events and half marathons.

“You’re never too young, too old or too out of shape to start running,” Lewis said.

Gear up

“The best part about running is you don’t need a gym membership or fancy, expensive equipment to begin,” Lewis said. “Just get yourself a good pair of running sneakers and step out your front door.”

She recommends getting fitted for running shoes at a specialty running store such as Runner’s Alley.

The Millenium Running retail store in Bedford can help you find the right shoes too, taking you through a full fit process that includes gait analysis.

Running too much in the wrong shoe can turn you off to the sport altogether, whether it’s because the shoes themselves are uncomfortable or because they cause aches and pains.

“I think runners or walkers often stop doing it because it starts to hurt,” Mortimer said.

Other gear might include reflective vests or headlamps for safety if you’re running in the dark.

But other than the right shoes, “There’s nothing overly critical that you need,” Mortimer said.

Start slow, but stick with it

Mortimer has three key suggestions to help people get in the right mindframe to start running. First, he says, is to find your motivation. Why do you want to start running? It could be to improve your heart health, to lose weight for a wedding or to change your lifestyle. Keeping that motivation in mind will help you commit to yourself mentally and emotionally.

Second, Mortimer says, is to be consistent; if you stop doing it after a week, you haven’t gained anything from the experience.

“But that doesn’t mean you have to run 10 miles every day,” he said.

Lewis agrees.

“The reason people get discouraged quickly is because they do too much too soon,” Lewis said. “Don’t plan to run the entire time. Start with very short jog/walk intervals, doing more walking than running at first. Do not be ashamed to walk. It’s all part of the process. Listen to your body and take a break when and if you need it.

Similarly, Mortimer’s third guideline is to be patient. You’re not going to see results overnight — you won’t lose five pounds overnight, and you won’t be able to go from running zero miles a day to running three overnight.

Lewis also recommends cross training, doing things like strength training and yoga to keep your body strong and limber. Mixing it up and balancing your body will help you stick with it, too, she said.

“It will help keep you injury-free and [avoid becoming] bored of the same running routine day in, day out,” she said.

Find support

There are all kinds of running clubs in New Hampshire, including the Millenium Running Club, the Runner’s Alley Club, and the Total Image Running Run Walk Brew Social Club. Becoming part of a club helps you meet other runners who will offer support and motivation.

“Our club is not just about running,” Lewis said. “It’s about motivating each other to work out then celebrate with socializing and a brew.”

Most clubs welcome all fitness levels and abilities, so even if you hesitate to call yourself a runner, well, you are.

“If you’re putting one foot in front of the other, you’re part of the running family,” Mortimer said.

Start streaking

Streaking runs in my family (yes, the terrible pun was unavoidable). My dad’s longest was 9,056 days; my uncle’s was 10,328 days (that’s more than 27 years of running every. single. day.). My cousin made it just past 1,000 days. It took an operation for prostate cancer to end my dad’s streak, and knee surgery to end my uncle’s.

I’m not a professional runner, but I have joined the streaking club (I’ll hit 1,000 days Aug. 16, barring injury or heat stroke), which I would say makes me qualified enough to tell you why running streaks are good for your mind, body and soul, whether you’ve never run before or you’ve run marathons.

1. They’re motivating. A streak will get you out the door when nothing else will. It was 96 degrees the other day, and the humidity brought the “feels like” temp to well over 100. If I didn’t have a streak to maintain, I absolutely would not have laced up my Sauconys and headed out for a run. I would have continued sitting on the deck in the shade at my parents’ cottage on the lake, justifying to myself that it was definitely too hot to run.

When I started this streak, I had no goal in mind. My thought was that I’d just run every day until I had a good enough reason not to and that hasn’t happened yet. Snowstorms, heat waves, being insanely busy none of those are real excuses. Dress warmly and watch for plows, dress lightly and drink plenty of fluids, bring running shoes everywhere so you can run after dropping one kid off at soccer practice but before picking up the other kid at football — “I have to run” means you figure it out. Without a streak, a million excuses can get in your way.

2. They’re better for your body than a Netflix streak. Again, I’m not a professional, and many runners and doctors might cringe at the whole concept of a running streak because rest days! but I personally think the pros outweigh the risks. (Still, talk to a doctor before starting any serious fitness endeavor or if you have any preexisting conditions or concerns.)

Every body is different, and so far mine is holding up just fine. In fact, I would argue that I’m healthier now than ever before. When I started running in my early 30s, I couldn’t even finish a mile without walking. I’m not a natural athlete, and I spent the first 30+ years of my life doing very little in the way of exercise. Now, I generally feel better, I’m stronger, and all my vitals are fantastic. If I weren’t streaking, I would choose the couch more often than not.

Still, if you’re sick, achy, or just not feeling it, there’s no need to overexert yourself. The running community generally sees one mile a day as the minimum you need to keep your streak intact. It’s unlikely you will die while running or jogging one mile if you don’t have any medical issues. But, you know, bring your phone just in case.

3. They keep you sane. Perhaps even more importantly than the physical benefits, my streak has provided a no-excuses outlet to clear my mind and alleviate stress. It’s built-in self care; my kids are almost always my priority, but because of this streak, I sometimes choose running over their wants and needs (I know, the audacity). If I didn’t “have” to run every day, I probably would put them — or work, or laundry, or lawn mowing — first 99 percent of the time. Running is my outlet. It’s where I can clear my head or think things through. I don’t even listen to music. I like the silence, the sound of rain, the quiet when the roads are covered in snow and no one else is crazy enough to be out. Not every run is amazing, and sometimes all I want is for it to be over. But I have never, ever regretted going for a run.

4. They make memories! Having to run means I sometimes have to carve out time in creative ways, and I’ve had some great experiences come out of that. I once ran laps around a parking garage at the Fort Lauderdale airport during a layover. During a trip out west last summer that was jam-packed with sightseeing and driving, I ran along the Grand Canyon, at Yellowstone (while stuck in not-moving traffic for more than two hours due to a herd of buffalo crossing the road), on a trail at the Grand Tetons, in a parking lot at Mesa Verde, in four states at once at Four Corners, and, less glamorously, on random roads when my family stopped for food on long days of driving. One of my favorite runs ever was with my brother on a snowy Christmas Day that was otherwise not very festive. I’ve also run races with my dad, my brother and my kids, because why not get some swag and have some family fun when you have to run anyway?

5. Anyone can do it. Your streak can be whatever you want it to be you make the rules. Run a little, run a lot, have an end goal in mind or just keep going until you can’t or don’t want to anymore. Some people do holiday streaks, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Some people start with 30 days. Just start and see what happens. That’s what I did and now I’m the proud owner of my very own “I’m a streaker” shirt.

Race your way

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been running for years, races can provide motivation in the form of time goals, finishing goals and community support — and the swag doesn’t hurt either.

Of course, the racing landscape looks a little different right now. The cancellation of road races in the spring quickly led to a transition to virtual races. Many organizations that typically held 5Ks as fundraisers turned them into virtual runs, and companies like Millennium Running in Bedford and Total Image Running in Auburn, which organize runs throughout the state, did the same.

There are some benefits to virtual runs, including their flexibility — most races offer a range of days and times you can run, and you can typically run anywhere you want.

Virtual runs can minimize race jitters, too.

“The fear of the starting line, the fear of that first step, is sometimes mitigated by [running virtually],” said John Mortimer, owner of Millennium Running in Bedford.

Millennium reintroduced in-person runs several weeks ago with exclusive 5Ks, keeping them to 100 participants, with two races every Saturday. The runners start one at a time, every five or 10 seconds, to avoid crowds gathering at the starting line and bunching up on the course.

Participants are taking the changes in stride, Mortimer said.

“By and large I think our running community has been super positive,” he said.

Virtual runs

Here’s a list of upcoming virtual races that under normal circumstances would be held at various locations around southern New Hampshire this summer and fall. A few are offering the option of running virtually or in person. Many races benefit local organizations. Check event websites for up-to-date information.

• There’s still time to participate in the Total Image Running Virtual Race Series’ Christmas in July Virtual 5K, going on now through July 25. Prizes will be awarded to the first-place male and female finisher. Registration costs $30 and includes a print-at-home bib and a downloadable finishers certificate. The registration deadline is Saturday, July 25. Visit totalimagerunning.com.

Goffstown’s Berry Classic Road Race is going on now through July 26. Participants must run a continuous five miles, which they can do on the five-mile loop around the Piscataquog River in Goffstown or at another location of their choosing. Registration costs $20 and closes on July 26 at noon. Visit runsignup.com/race/nh/goffstown/berryclassic.

• Swimming with a Mission presents Virtual Swim with a Mission. Participants can swim, paddle or kayak any body of water now through July 31. There are 1K, 5K and 10K options. Registration is free and closes on July 24. Visit runreg.com/swim-with-a-mission-virtual.

• The Colon Cancer Coalition presents Get Your Rear in Gear virtually. To participate, do a physical activity of your choosing between now and Saturday, Sept. 12, then join the virtual event on Facebook on Sept. 12 at 9 a.m. Registration is free. Visit donate.coloncancercoalition.org/newhampshire.

• The Fox Point Sunset 5 Mile Virtual Road Race is open now through Saturday, Sept. 12. Run, walk or bike a five-mile course anywhere. Registration costs $10. Visit foxpoint5miler.org.

• The Total Image Running Virtual Race Series presents the Hula Hustle Virtual 5K & 10K from July 26 through Aug. 9. Register by July 24. The cost is $30 for the 5K and $35 for the 10K and includes a race T-shirt, a print-at-home bib and a downloadable finishers certificate. Visit totalimagerunning.com.

• The Cigna/Elliot Corporate Virtual Challenge & 5K will be held July 27 through Aug. 23 and is open to corporate teams and individuals. Participants are challenged to run or walk every day to train for the virtual 5K, which they can complete between Aug. 20 and Aug. 23. Registration costs $25 per person and includes a race bib and race mask. The registration deadline is Friday, Aug. 14, at 9 a.m. Visit runreg.com/cigna-elliot-5k.

• Granite Ledges of Concord’s Race to the Ledges 5K Run/Walk will be held virtually from July 31 through Aug. 9. The deadline to register is Aug. 7. Registration costs $20 now through Aug. 5 and $25 on Aug. 6 and Aug. 7. Visit genesishcc.com/gl5k.

• The Alton NH Old Home Week Virtual 5K will take place Aug. 8 through Aug. 16. Registration costs $15 and closes on Aug. 16 at noon. Visit runsignup.com/race/nh/altonbay/oldhomeweekvirtual5k.

Lamprey Health Care’s Annual 5K Road Race will be held virtually from Aug. 8 through Aug. 16. Registration costs $25 and closes on Aug. 16. Visit runsignup.com/race/nh/anywhere/lampreyhealthcaresvirtual5k.

• You can do the Wine Run 4 Miler in person in Auburn, or you can do it virtually as part of the Total Image Running Virtual Race Series. The race takes place on Thursday, Aug. 13. Registration for the virtual race costs $35 and includes a race T-shirt or tank top, a print-at-home bib and a downloadable finishers certificate. Registration is limited to 300 participants, so register soon. Visit totalimagerunning.com.

• The Saunders at Rye Harbor 5K will take place virtually from Aug. 13 through Aug. 20. Participants can do a run or a competitive walk. The deadline to register is Wednesday, Aug. 19, at noon. Registration costs $30 and includes a race T-shirt. This race is a part of the Seacoast Road Race Series. Visit saunders10k.com.

• The Sabine Strong 3.3 will be held virtually on Sunday, Aug. 30. Registration costs $35 and closes on Wednesday, Aug. 12, at noon. Visit runsignup.com/race/nh/newington/sabinestrong33kidsdash.

• The Marcus Warner Memorial 5K Race will take place virtually on Saturday, Sept. 5, and Sunday, Sept. 6. Registration costs $10 and closes on Sept. 5 at noon. Visit marcuswarner7.wixsite.com/marcuswarner5k.

• Veterans Count presents the Wolfeboro Pirates Cove 5K Fun Run & Walk from Saturday, Sept. 5, through Monday, Sept. 7. Registration costs $25 for runners and walkers age 13 and up and $15 for service members, veterans and children age 12 and under and includes a printable bib and finishers certificate. The registration deadline is Friday, Sept. 4, at noon. Register by Aug. 12 to receive a free long-sleeved race T-shirt. Visit runreg.com/wolfeboro-pirates-cove-5k.

• Join the 12th annual Celebrate Pink 5K Run & Walk virtually between Monday, Sept. 7, and Sunday, Sept. 13. Registration costs $30 for adults and $20 for youth under age 14 and closes on Sept. 13, at noon. Register by Aug. 14 to receive a free race T-shirt. Visit cp5k.mybreastcancersupport.org.

• The Hunger is the Pitts 5K will be held on Thursday, Sept. 17, in person in Auburn and virtually as part of the Total Image Running Virtual Race Series. Registration for the virtual race costs $30 and includes a race T-shirt or tank top, a print-at-home bib and a downloadable finishers certificate. The registration deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 16. Visit totalimagerunning.com/hungeristhepitts.

• The 15th annual CHaD HERO will be held virtually from Oct. 4 to Oct. 18. Participants can run, walk, hike or bike, or they can complete their own “Virtual Quest” activity like hiking the Appalachian Trail or racing across the state. A virtual celebration with live music, special guests, raffle prizes and more will take place on Sunday, Oct. 18. Registration costs $15; register by Oct. 17. Visit chadhero.org.

• You can walk or run the Great Island 5K in person in New Castle or virtually on Sunday, Oct. 11. Registration costs $25 and closes on Oct. 10 at noon. This race is part of the Seacoast Road Race Series. Visit greatisland5k.org.

• The TangerFIT Virtual 5K takes place Oct. 11 through Oct. 18. Registration costs $25 for participants age 16 and up $15 for youth age 15 and under and closes on Friday, Oct. 2, at noon. Visit tangeroutlet.com/race.

• The Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire presents its Howl-O-Ween 5K virtually from Thursday, Oct. 15, through Sunday, Oct. 18, with a finish line celebration on Facebook Live on Oct. 18 at 11 a.m. Registration costs $30 for participants age 13 and up, $20 for youth age 12 and under and an extra $5 to include your dog as an official participant. The registration deadline is Friday, Oct. 16, at noon. Electronic bibs will be emailed to participants the week of the race. Register by Sept. 12 to receive a free race T-shirt. Visit rescueleague.org/howloween5k.

• The Pumpkin Regatta 10K takes place on Sunday, Oct. 18, in person in Goffstown and virtually as part of the Total Image Running Virtual Race Series. Registration for the virtual race costs $35 and includes a race T-shirt, a print-at-home bib, a training plan and a downloadable finishers certificate. The registration deadline is Saturday, Oct. 17. Visit totalimagerunning.com/pumpkinregatta.

• The Seacoast Half Marathon is going virtual. Participants can do a 5K, quarter-marathon (6.55 miles) or half-marathon anywhere, any day between Oct. 31 and Nov. 8. Standard registration costs $15. Registration for the 5K or quarter-marathon that includes a long-sleeve race T-shirt costs $35, and registration for the half-marathon that includes a long-sleeve race T-shirt and finishers medal costs $40. Registration closes on Saturday, Oct. 31 at noon. Visit seacoasthalfmarathon.com.

• Veterans Count, an Easterseals program, presents Penmen for Patriots Virtual 5K from Nov. 1 through Nov. 30. Registration costs $30 and includes a race bib and long-sleeve T-shirt. The registration deadline is Monday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. Visit vetscount.org/nh/events/penmen-patriots-5k.

Photo: Meghan Siegler proudly wears her “I’m a streaker” shirt on a (slow, walking) hike with her kids, Ben and Eisley, who have been very supportive of her streak despite constantly hearing things like “I’ll be back in time for the second inning” and “We can’t — I still have to run.”

Your backyard animal adventure

Hovering hummingbirds, colorful salamanders, the occasional porcupine and more neighborhood wildlife

Curious about the wildlife you’ve seen during your neighborhood hikes and backyard hangouts? Rebecca Suomala, a biologist for New Hampshire Audubon, and Lindsay Webb, wildlife educator for New Hampshire Fish and Game, shared fun facts about 22 birds, insects, mammals and reptiles you might see in the nature around you.

By Matt Ingersoll & Angie Sykeny

Birds

Blackpoll warbler
Most likely seen during the summer into early September, especially in spruce-fir forests
“Blackpoll,” Suomala said, refers to the black cap of this bird seen in males, similar to that of a chickadee or a goldfinch. Blackpoll warblers are characterized by their white breasts, black streaks and yellow feet. They also weigh less than half an ounce. Beginning in September, these birds make long-distance migrations, flying non-stop over the Atlantic Ocean for nearly 2,000 miles before reaching their wintering grounds in South America.

Northern cardinal
Most commonly seen at lower elevations
According to Suomala, the northern cardinal is the only species of cardinal you’ll find in North America. Over the past several decades the species has extended its range farther north, and it’s now found almost everywhere in the Granite State except in higher elevations. Males are bright red with a fat red bill, while females are a brownish color with red highlights and an orange-red bill. The northern cardinal is a year-round, non-migrating resident of New Hampshire.

Ruby-throated hummingbird
Most likely seen during the summer into early September
At around three to three-and-a-half inches long, the ruby-throated hummingbird, Suomala said, is the smallest bird that can be found in New Hampshire. It makes its home in the Northeast in the summer before migrating to Central America in the winter. Males have a bright red throat with feathers that are reflective in the sunlight. These birds feed on nectar from honeysuckle plants and cardinal flowers. According to Suomala, this hummingbird’s wings can flap up to 53 times per second and its heartbeat rests at 250 times per minute. A male can go into a dive at more than 60 miles per hour.

Insects

Green darner dragonfly
Most likely seen in your backyard if you live on or near a body of water
Green darners are among the largest dragonflies you’ll see in the Granite State, growing up to three inches long, about the size of a hummingbird, with a wingspan of another three inches, Suomala said. You’re most likely to see them around water — these dragonflies migrate to the north in the spring and south in the fall. Females will typically lay their eggs on vegetation in or near the water. In its nymph phase (or larva phase) it lives entirely underwater, feeding on insects, tadpoles and small fish, before the dragonfly emerges out of the water as an adult.

Luna moth
Not likely to see them often; your best chances are at night, or around big lights, in June or July, when the adults emerge from their cocoons
These bright green moths, according to Suomala, are commonly known as giant silk moths because of their size, which can be as large as seven inches with a wingspan of four-and-a-half inches. They used to be very common in New Hampshire, but their population has since declined. If you live in a city you’re less likely to see them, because the caterpillars feed on trees like white birches and hickories. Caterpillars will eat all summer before they spin a cocoon, where they spend the winter before emerging in June or July.

Monarch butterfly
Very likely to see them at the peak of summertime and into the early fall
Monarch butterflies are characterized by their large orange and black markings. According to Suomala, they spend their winters in Mexico, but the same butterflies don’t make it all the way back up north. In fact, it takes about three generations for them to return to New Hampshire in the summer. The caterpillars feed on milkweed and eventually make a chrysalis, which takes them about 8 to 15 days to hatch from.

Large mammals

Black bear
Common, with an increasing population throughout New Hampshire.
Black bears are omnivores, eating with the seasons whatever they can find. “They have a great memory and sense of smell, so keep your trash locked up tight and reduce other bear food sources such as pet food, bird seed, and keep your grill cleaned up and secured,” Webb said.

Bobcat
Sightings have been on the rise in recent years, especially in the southern part of the state
According to Webb, the bobcat gets its name from its “bobbed” tail, which is shorter than the tails on most domesticated cats. The average length of a bobcat tail is around six inches but can reach up to 10 inches. A mother bobcat may raise a litter of two to four kittens in the spring. Elusive and lovers of solitude, these nocturnal feline predators are always on the hunt for rabbits, squirrels, mice, chipmunks and birds, Webb said, adding that they can swim and have little hesitation going into the water in pursuit of their prey.

Moose
Reside throughout New Hampshire, but are most commonly seen in the northern part of the state
Moose are active all day but do most of their moving around in the early morning or late afternoon, when the temperatures are cooler. They’re also, according to Webb, “pretty good swimmers.” “They love to feed on wetland plants and will dive down under the water to get at aquatic vegetation,” she said.

White-tailed deer
Common throughout New Hampshire in a variety of habitats, such as fields, farms, neighborhoods and woodlands
Though white-tailed deer prefer to hide out in the woods, they often make an appearance along woodland edges of towns and cities and in many farming communities. “In the summer, you may be lucky to see a fawn curled up in some tall grass or in a hidden spot in the woods,” Webb said. “Don’t be alarmed; this young one is not abandoned. Fawns are left alone for long periods of time while their mother goes off to feed and lead predators away, but she will come back for her fawn.”

Reptiles and amphibians

Gray treefrog
Much more likely to be heard than seen
Despite their name, gray treefrogs have the ability to change their color to match their background, from black to almost white or even a greenish-gray. Suomala said you can identify them by their trilling call at night. They are year-round natives of New Hampshire, hibernating underground. In fact, about 40 percent of a gray treefrog’s body can freeze — it can survive freezing temperatures by producing its own glycerol that’s circulated through its bloodstream and vital organs.

Painted turtle
This is the most commonly found species of turtle in the state
You can find painted turtles statewide, anywhere there are ponds. They reach a maximum length of just over seven inches; according Suomala, their sexual maturity is determined by the length of their shell, not by how old they are. Males require a length of at least three inches before they can reproduce, whereas for females, the required length of their shell is about four inches. If you see a turtle moving away from a pond, don’t move it in the direction of the water; Suomala said this is because female turtles are moving toward an area with sand or loose soil to lay their eggs. Painted turtles are also year-round residents of the Granite State, hibernating below the mud in the bottom of ponds.

Red eft salamander
Most likely found in damp, rainy conditions
Also known as the red-spotted newt, this amphibian has two different stages, according to Suomala — a water stage where it is characterized by its olive-green color with red spots, and a land stage, where it’s a bright orange-red color. You’ll most likely see them on land if you’re walking on a trail just after it has rained, she said. The female will lay its eggs underwater. Once the salamander reaches the land stage, it spends the rest of its life that way, for about two to three years.

Small mammals

Beaver
Common throughout New Hampshire in ponds, lakes and other wetlands
“If you’re lucky to have a lake or pond in your backyard, beavers might be a common sight for you,” Webb said, adding that, if you see one beaver, a whole family, consisting of anywhere from three to eight beavers, probably isn’t too far away. They can be difficult to spot as their dark brown fur blends in well with dark water, but there is “no mistaking the ‘slap’ of their tail when they feel threatened,” Webb said. Beavers leave a lot of clear evidence of their presence, including chewed stumps along the edges of bodies of water; stick dams that hold back water, creating deeper ponds; and stick lodges that extend down into the water. They may also build their lodges on islands or along the shore.

Eastern chipmunk
Common throughout New Hampshire, in woodland edges and forests
Though similar to squirrels, chipmunks can be differentiated by their size — they are a bit smaller than squirrels — and by their coloring, which includes brown fur with black and white stripes that run down their backs. According to Webb, chipmunks also have extra skin in their cheeks, allowing them to expand their mouths to carry more food back to their burrows. They often build their burrows at the base of a tree or under a stone wall. In the winter they spend most of their time sleeping, waking up every few days to eat from their stockpile of food. In a good year, when food is abundant, chipmunks can produce up to two litters of pups. “If you see a lot of chipmunks this year, you can bet that food availability was really high the previous year,” Webb said.

Eastern cottontail
Common in southern New Hampshire, often seen nibbling on clover and grass in backyards and parks
Eastern cottontails have multiple litters a year. In New Hampshire, they can have up to four or five. The mother cottontail builds a small shallow nest in the grass, well-disguised, with dead fern leaves covering the hole. “She only visits [the nest] a few times a day, so if you find a nest of kits — baby cottontails — just leave them be,” Webb said. “They are not abandoned; their mother will be back soon.” A rarer species of cottontail, the New England cottontail, can also be seen within a smaller range, restricted to the southern part of the state.

Eastern gray squirrel
Common throughout most of New Hampshire in woods and neighborhoods with plenty of deciduous trees
While gray squirrels have, as their name implies, mostly gray fur, there can be some variations in color. “Melanistic gray squirrels are black in coloration and albinistic gray squirrels look white,” Webb said. “Sometimes, small localized populations of black squirrels show up and persist for a few years. Gray squirrels often bury more acorns and seeds than they can recover, facilitating seed dispersal and resulting in the growth of many new trees every year.

Fisher
Most likely found in forested areas
Fishers — or “fisher cats,” if you prefer — are not actually cats. According to Suomala, they’re part of the mustelid (or weasel) family, with brown fur, a long tail and a pointed nose. They have a reputation for emitting a loud, caterwauling scream. But in reality, Suomala said, this sound is more likely made by a fox, while fishers are generally silent, instead occasionally making low chuckling or hissing noises. They’re the only animal in the state that regularly targets porcupines.

North American porcupine
Most likely seen in forested areas, at night
One of nearly two dozen species of porcupines throughout the world, the North American porcupine is found throughout New Hampshire. According to NH Wildlife Journal, a publication from New Hampshire Fish & Game, porcupines are large rodents covered in around 30,000 sharp quills. These quills, Suomala said, are hollow hairs with barbed tips made of keratin. Some people believe porcupines have the ability to shoot or throw their quills. In reality, Suomala said, this is not the case, although they can raise their quills in self-defense. Porcupines are nocturnal animals that feed on woody vegetation. They do not hibernate in the winter.

Raccoon
Common throughout New Hampshire, in wetlands, woods, farmlands and neighborhoods
Raccoons often do their food hunting, with much success, in human-populated areas and claim their den sites under porches and sheds. In fact, raccoon populations tend to be higher in cities than in their natural woodland and forest habitats. “Raccoons have easily adapted to the presence of humans and will gladly check your trash can for scraps of food,” Webb said. “[If] you’re battling a raccoon family this summer, keep your trash locked up tight or store it in a secure building instead of outside.”

Red squirrel
Common throughout New Hampshire in forests with plenty of coniferous trees
“These chattery squirrels are quick to let you know when you are bothering them with their red bushy tails raised, announcing themselves with loud trills, chatters and chips,” Webb said. Surviving on food they stashed during the winter months, the squirrels often forget to dig up all of their hidden seeds and nuts each year, which then grow into trees.

Vole
Especially likely to be found if you have a garden in your backyard
Not to be confused with moles, voles are small rodents that are experiencing a population boom in New Hampshire right now, according to Suomala. They look similar to mice, except they have smaller eyes and smaller ears. Voles are a nuisance in backyard gardens and orchards, but are actually a key food source for large birds like hawks and owls, as well as foxes and coyotes, she said. There are two types — meadow voles, and pine voles, which are slightly smaller, lighter in color and have a shorter tail than meadow voles. One female vole can produce four to eight litters per year, Suomala said, with about five young per litter.

Have a Greek food weekend

Your guide to finding Greek festival favorites

Nearly all of this year’s Greek food festivals in the state have been canceled or postponed — but that doesn’t mean you can’t embark on a Greek food adventure of your own. Offering everything from savory dishes like pastichio and lamb shanks to sweet treats like baklava and loukoumades, several local Greek eateries talk about what they do best and what you can look forward to the next time you visit.

Pastichio

Known as a “Greek lasagna,” pastichio — sometimes also spelled pastitsio — is a baked pasta casserole dish with a creamy white béchamel sauce and meat, most commonly ground beef. Ioanis Kourtis, whose father and uncle together run Athens Restaurant in Manchester, said it’s available as a big, hearty serving on the eatery’s house specialties menu. It’s one of several dishes the two brothers prepare daily.

You’ll see different variations of pasta or meat. Peter Tsoupelis of Amphora Restaurant in Derry said he gets his macaroni imported directly from Greece to make the pastichio, which is often available out of the eatery’s refrigerated take-and-bake case. In Greece, because ground beef is not as readily available as in the United States, according to Tsoupelis, pastichio can instead be made with pork, lamb or even goat.

“The way we make it at Amphora, we use ground Angus beef, which is the way my father taught me how to make it,” he said, “but if there was going to be meat in my yiayia’s kitchen, it was going to be either pork or goat. We didn’t have ground beef or lamb often.”

At The Windmill Restaurant in Concord, pastichio is one of several rotating weekly specials prepared by Sofia Smirnioudis. She also has a hand in making the dish for the annual Taste of Greece festival at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Concord, normally held in September.

“I like to use a big [pasta] … like a ziti,” she said. “I do pasta on the bottom, then a red meat-based sauce in the middle, and creamy cheese sauce on the top.”

Gyros

Pronounced “YEE-rohs,” gyros are popular street food dishes all over Greece, consisting of meat, vegetables and tzatziki sauce wrapped or stuffed in pita. At The Gyro Spot in downtown Manchester you can order all kinds of gyros, from pork, chicken or a mix of lamb and beef, to vegetarian or vegan versions with mixed greens.

“It’s kind of like the perfect hand-held meal. It’s got everything from your carbs to your proteins and veggies, wrapped up together,” Gyro Spot owner Alex Lambroulis said. “Most gyro shops in Greece will have a counter right outside the window in the summertime.”

The meats used for all gyros at the restaurant are hand-cut and marinated before being stacked as a döner kebab, or on a vertical rotisserie. The cone-shaped stack of meat is then layered with fat on the top and sliced into thin shavings when ready to be stuffed in a gyro.

Down in Nashua, Main Street Gyro offers more than a half dozen types of gyros daily, including the traditional pork but also chicken, lamb and bifteki, or a mix of pork and beef. Those are also stuffed with meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie.

“We make all our sauces in house as well, so we have tzatziki, and also kopanisti, which has roasted red bell peppers, feta cheese, olive oil, hot pepper flakes and Tabasco, so it’s a good spicy spread,” owner Basil Tourlitis said.

The traditional pork gyro is not only one of The Gyro Spot’s biggest sellers, but it’s the most common filling you’ll find in Greece, according to Lambroulis.

“We make our own tzatziki with Greek yogurt, garlic and cucumber, and then it comes with onions, tomatoes and our hand-cut fries,” he said. “Now, you might find different regional variations on the sauces, like tzatziki, ketchup and mustard, [but] everywhere you go [in Greece], they put fries in it.”

The eatery’s chicken gyro features a spicy mayonnaise known as its signature “G sauce.” Other less traditional options at The Gyro Spot include gyros reimagined as loaded french fries or burritos with rice.

Spanakopita

Also known as “spinach pie,” this popular pastry dish features layers of spinach and feta cheese stuffed inside phyllo dough, often also with scallions or onions, Tsoupelis said. Its phyllo pastry cousins include “tiropita” — with cheese and egg — and “kreatopita” — with meat, usually beef or pork. Variations on spanakopita might include the types of cheeses or vegetables used, or even the portion sizes. Main Street Gyro, Tourlitis said, makes its own spanakopita with spinach, feta cheese, dill, salt and pepper.

“Some people use leeks, [or] some use a majority of egg and feta,” Kourtis said. “My uncle makes it fresh with phyllo dough, spinach, feta, eggs and spices, and he butters the dough, so it’s very rich and delicious. … Spinach is the most universal.”

In some Greek households, according to Tsoupelis, it can be customary to bake an entire pan of spanakopita at a time, with large square-sized servings.

“My aunt lived in a small house outside of Athens, and she’d make a big pan of it,” he said. “It was almost like having a cake at the house for when somebody would come over. It might last 15 minutes or it might last a day and a half.”

But at Amphora, Tsoupelis said he likes to roll his spanakopita into individual 3-by-3-inch triangles and cook them to order, serving them more as intimate appetizers.

Spanakopita is also available homemade year-round at Chrysanthi’s Restaurant in Brookline, manager Amanda Pelletier said, as large pieces per serving.

Moussaka

Like the pastichio, moussaka commonly has ground meat and béchamel, only it’s baked in layers of eggplant, potatoes, or sometimes zucchini instead of pasta. Also known as an eggplant- or potato-based casserole, it’s another dish that Smirnioudis will often bake as a special at The Windmill Restaurant and for Holy Trinity Church’s Taste of Greece festival. In fact, she said she’ll use the same type of béchamel sauce used in the pastichio.

It’s also a frequent special at Chrysanthi’s, especially during the colder months, Pelletier said. Their version features layers of sliced potato and roasted eggplant with seasoned ground beef.

Amphora makes it with ground Angus beef, but Tsoupelis said he’s seen it with just about any other type of meat, especially lamb, pork or goat.

Souvlaki

Souvlaki features skewered meats and occasionally vegetables that can be consumed either as side dishes or as full meals over rice or with pita bread and tzatziki.

“[An order] comes with six pieces of lamb per skewer, and you get a Greek pita, tzatziki sauce, salad and hummus with that,” Pelletier said of the souvlaki offered at Chrysanthi’s.

Tourlitis said both pork and chicken souvlaki are options as dinners or sides at Main Street Gyro. A souvlaki dinner will include two skewers of meat, served with a side salad, hand-cut fries or rice pilaf and warm pita bread.

Souvlaki Pizza & Subs in Manchester, in addition to offering marinated pork souvlaki as a dinner with salad, rice or fries, prepares souvlaki as grinders on Syrian bread or as meats for salads. Pork and chicken souvlaki are also available at Salona Bar & Grill in Manchester, according to manager Maria Kostakis.

Even though pork is more traditional, Smirnioudis of The Windmill Restaurant said chicken tends to be the more popular meat for souvlaki. When it’s served as a special, the dish features chicken cut into cubes and cooked with garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.

Lamb shanks

Hand-cut marinated lamb is one of the biggest draws at many of the state’s Greek food festivals, whether it comes fresh off the skewer or in a gyro. At Amphora, you can get lamb shanks, or roasted leg of lamb, one of the eatery’s many Greek specialties. Each order comes with a side of lemon-oregano potatoes.

“We braise the lamb slowly until [the meat falls] off the bone, and then we … [make] a very rich sauce from all the drippings of the lamb that gives it a very nice flavor,” Tsoupelis said.

Lamb shanks are prepared similarly at Athens Restaurant in Manchester and are, according to Kourtis, a special item made at the request of customers. The meat is baked on the bone in a tomato sauce and spices, and served with a side like rice or vegetables.

At Chrysanthi’s, lamb shanks are on the menu during the fall and winter. They’re slow-roasted for 12 hours in a homemade sauce before they’re served over vegetables and rice, according to Pelletier.

Dolmathes

Featuring meat or vegetables with assorted spices, dolmathes are often sold as an a la carte item at Greek festivals, or sometimes as part of meals. They’re most commonly rolled and stuffed inside of individual grape leaves, but Tsoupelis said you might see regional variations of dolmathes that use larger cabbage leaves.

“We do them vegetarian style with the grape leaves, so they’re small. They’re the size of your hand,” he said. “We put them on our antipasto salad or on the side. It has seasoned white rice, lemon juice and mint.”

Salona Bar & Grill, according to Kostakis, offers the stuffed grape leaves with beef, while at Athens Restaurant, Kourtis said, the dolmathes can be made in both variations of leaves. You get three stuffed grape leaves and two stuffed cabbage leaves per order, from the appetizer menu, with either lemon or tomato sauce. The dolmathes are also incorporated on the eatery’s house specialties menu, coming with rice or potato or as part of a combo special with roast lamb, chicken or meatballs.

“It’s ground beef, spices, lemon and rice, and the lemon sauce is really thick. They’re very popular,” he said.

Baklava

Perhaps one of the most recognizable staples at Greek festivals and restaurants, baklava is a dessert featuring layers of phyllo dough, honey or syrup and chopped nuts, most commonly walnuts or almonds. Variations can include pistachios or hazelnuts, or a simple syrup made with sugar and water, or lemon juice, instead of honey.

Youla Winarta of Youlove Bakery, a homestead business based in Nashua, said even though the word “baklava” has roots in the Turkish language, the word “phyllo” comes from the Greek word meaning “leaf.” Indeed, baklava is often characterized by the leaf-like texture of the dough.

The phyllo dough can be either made or pre-bought at a supermarket or wholesale grocery store. Church members who make their own baklava for the festivals will use large cooking pans, because the baklava is easier to roll in larger quantities.

JajaBelle’s in Nashua doesn’t use honey in its homemade baklava, but rather a house syrup, a homemade phyllo dough and tons of butter. In addition to offering it in the case at the cafe, owner Jessica dePontbriand sells it at the Nashua Farmers Market at City Hall Plaza on Sundays.

The Puritan Backroom Restaurant in Manchester, according to manager Eric Zink, makes its own baklava, as well as a baklava ice cream, which features a vanilla base with cinnamon, honey, walnuts and baklava pieces.

In addition to offering a traditional baklava, Winarta makes a version with hazelnuts and a chocolate drizzle, or “chocolate rolls” with walnuts, almonds, chocolate and organic milk rolled in phyllo dough. All are available to order per eight pieces, for local pickups or shipping.

Loukoumades

Many Greek festivals in the state will have special stations for loukoumades made to order. More colloquially known as “Greek donuts” or “fried dough balls,” these bite-sized morsels are deep-fried before they are often drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, or both.

You get eight loukoumades per order at The Gyro Spot, according to Lambroulis, which are made from an old family recipe. Regional variations of the dish might include a simple syrup in lieu of honey, or with chopped walnuts as a garnish.

“It’s a very loose dough, almost like a fluffy pancake batter,” he said, “and we just drop them into the fryer and then drizzle with honey, cinnamon and sugar or give it to you on the side. … I like to soak mine in honey.”

Greek cookies
Most Greek food festivals in New Hampshire have a wide selection of desserts, and while baklava is often the star, you’ve probably seen all kinds of cookies for sale too.

If you want to try Greek cookies you’d normally see at festivals this time of year, you can order them from Youla Winarta of the Nashua-based Youlove Bakery, who bakes them to order in a fully licensed commercial kitchen. She’s not currently at any farmers markets or public events, but offers her full product line for online ordering at youlovebakery.com/shop. One of the most traditional Greek cookies — and one of Winarta’s biggest sellers — is the melomakarona, or honey cookies with walnuts. Similar to melomakarona, she said, is finikia, with slight variations on the cooking method or toppings, from nuts to dates.

“I make them … with flour, olive oil, honey and then they have a lot of good flavors like orange zest and cinnamon cloves,” Winarta said. “It’s a cookie primarily prepared during Christmastime but one that everyone enjoys throughout the year now.”

She also makes kourabiedes and koulourakia. Kourabiedes are shortbread cookies also traditionally consumed around the holidays, covered with powdered sugar and baked with flour, butter, canola oil, eggs, baking powder, baking soda and natural flavors.

Koulourakia are butter cookies shaped in a twisted design and topped with sesame seeds.

“Those are traditionally prepared during Easter,” Winarta said. “They are very good with a cup of coffee or tea. … They are not really sweet and have a good crunchy taste to them.”

All of Winarta’s cookies are available for shipping or local pickups in the Nashua area.

Summer bookcation

Laughs, adventure and more for your summer reading list

For this year’s summer reading guide, we asked local library staff and indie booksellers to recommend some of their favorite fun or inspiring reads published since June 2019, and they came up with more than 50, including memoirs, offbeat graphic novels, self-improvement guides, magical tales, page-turning romances and more.

Fiction

Contemporary

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Published: October 2019
Plot: Meet Olive, a cantankerous but lovable old lady.
Recommended by: Dianne Hathaway, Director at Goffstown Public Library. “Olive is funny, speaks her mind and may remind you of your own old lady family member.”

The Summer Deal by Jill Shalvis
Published: June 2020
Plot: Three friends reconnect over the summer and must discover forgiveness and trust.
Recommended by: Natalie Ducharme, Interim Director at Kelley Library in Salem. “A fun mix of humor, romance and family.”

Fantasy

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
Published: March 2020
Plot: Five of the Earth’s greatest cities are alive, and five people unexpectedly become the living embodiments of New York City’s five boroughs.
Recommended by: Yvette Couser, Library Director at Merrimack Public Library. “A tale of magic, culture, fantasy and adventure.”

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
Published: March 2020
Plot: Linus Baker, a case worker for the government agency in charge of the welfare of magical youth, is sent to inspect a classified orphanage on a beautiful hidden island.
Recommended by: Angela Sylvia, Technical Services at Bedford Public Library; Julie Andrews, Reference Librarian at Nashua Public Library; and Dianne Hathaway, Director at Goffstown Public Library. “A character-driven story about kindness, finding a place to belong, and fighting harder than one knew they could in order to keep it,” Sylvia said. “A funny, gentle, heart-warming story about love and found family,” Andrews said.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Published: September 2019
Plot: A young woman discovers a world of magic within a mysterious book.
Recommended by: Michael Herrmann, owner of Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com). “Achingly beautiful.”

Historical

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Published: October 2019
Plot: A group of volunteer traveling librarians finds new strength and independence as they deliver books to people in rural Tennessee.
Recommended by: Katie Spofford, Young Adult and Reference Librarian at Wadleigh Memorial Library in Milford. “This inspiring tale touches lightly on issues women faced in the 1930s and includes a bookish romance.”

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld
Published: May 2020
Plot: What if Hillary Clinton never married Bill? This alternate history imagines that, after several years of dating, Hillary decides to go her own way instead of tying her fate to Bill’s.
Recommended by: Caitlin Loving, Head of Circulation at Bedford Public Library. “Sittenfeld perfectly captures what I imagine Hillary’s inner voice sounds like and creates a completely compelling narrative. A perfect beach read for political junkies or anyone who wants a juicier version of HRC’s biography.”

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
Published: March 2020
Plot: The 1989 Danvers Field Hockey team will do anything to win the championship, even if that means summoning dark powers through an Emilio Estevez spiral notebook.
Recommended by: David Gain, bookseller at The Toadstool Bookshop in Nashua (375 Amherst St., toadbooks.com, 673-1734), and Caitlin Loving, Head of Circulation at Bedford Public Library. “This novel is hilarious and clever, but also heartwarming. Come for the comic relief and late ’80s references, stay for the true-to-life characters, female friendships and fist-pumping girl-power feels,” Loving said.

Romance

Beach Read by Emily Henry
Published: May 2020
Plot: A romance writer and a literary fiction writer spend the summer next door to each other and trade genres.
Recommended by: Tom Holbrook, manager at RiverRun Bookstore (32 Daniel St., Portsmouth, 431-2100, riverrunbookstore.com). “This is pretty light fare, but with a quick wit and some unexpected perceptions.”

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
Published: July 2019
Plot: At the beginning, you might think Nina’s life is lonely, but by the end, you’ll see the richness of her new family and friends.
Recommended by: Amy Lapointe, Library Director at Amherst Town Library. “The quirky, sweet, introverted heroine of this romantic comedy will absolutely charm you.”

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
Published: June 2019
Plot: A widow and a washed-up professional athlete find themselves and each other.
Recommended by: Amy Lapointe, Library Director at Amherst Town Library. “Warm and uplifting … this book strikes just the right balance between romantic, humorous, quirky and sweet.”

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez
Published: April 2020
Plot: Sloan and Jason have intense chemistry, exchange flirty texts and share a great sense of humor.
Recommended by: Amy Lapointe, Library Director at Amherst Town Library. “A fun beach read that might keep you up all night trying to see how the couple can get past their different situations.”

Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J. Christopher
Published: April 2020
Plot: A hard-working lawyer struggling with student loan debt and a failed relationship meets a wealthy younger man who understands her struggles without judgment.
Recommended by: Alexa Moore, Circulation & Reader Services Librarian at Amherst Town Library. “A fun, lighthearted romance with a realistic look at what a millennial dream romantic encounter would include.”

Nonfiction

Memoir

Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking by Bill Buford
Published: May 2020
Plot: Buford’s memoir follows his trip with family to spend time in France trying to master French cooking.
Recommended by: Tom Holbrook, manager at RiverRun Bookstore.

Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park by Conor Knighton
Published: April 2020
Plot: The author chronicles the year he spent visiting every national park.
Recommended by: Natalie Ducharme, interim director at Kelley Library in Salem. “[Knighton] brings the parks to life with humor and charisma.”

Little Weirds by Jenny Slate
Published: November 2019
Plot: A collection of essays from comedian and actress Jenny Slate about the little things that make us who we are.
Recommended by: David Gain, bookseller at The Toadstool Bookshop in Nashua. “Both profoundly deep and laugh-out-loud ridiculous, Slate shows us about our eccentricities and how they bring us all together.”

Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero by Christopher McDougall
Published: October 2019
Plot: The author tells his story about adopting a neglected donkey and giving it a new life and purpose as a burro racer.
Recommended by: Sarah St. Martin, Head of Technical Services at Manchester City Library. “I enjoyed how this story transcends cultures and generations. The author depicted otherwise ordinary people as charismatic characters drawn together to achieve a unified goal.”

Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In by Phuc Tran
Published: April 2020
Plot: Tran writes about growing up as an immigrant in a predominantly white Midwest town.
Recommended by: Jasmin Brooks, assistant manager at Bookery (844 Elm St., Manchester, 836-6600, bookerymht.com). “Hilarious, poignant and inspiring, this book reads like a good work of fiction with real-world implications.”

Wow, No Thank You.: Essays by Samantha Irby
Published: March 2020
Plot: Upon turning 40 years old, Irby writes about aging, marriage and settling down in a small town.
Recommended by: Jasmin Brooks at Bookery and Katrina Feraco, frontline bookseller at The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene (12 Emerald St., 352-8815; toadbooks.com). “This collection of essays will help you fight the Covid blues by reminding you that you never really wanted to leave the house anyway. Irby uses self-deprecation to help us see that we are all hilariously imperfect beings,” Brooks said. “This collection of essays is heartfelt, funny and irreverent. Showcasing Irby’s charismatic voice and pitch-perfect storytelling, this book is perfect for a little bit of escapism and a lot of laughing,” Feraco said.

You & Me: Reflections on Becoming Your Dad by Dan Szczesny
Published: June 2020
Plot: Szczesny reflects on fatherhood and the passage of time as his young daughter grows up.
Recommended by: Yvette Couser, Library Director at Merrimack Public Library.

Select Topics

Beneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram by Isha Sesay
Published: July 2019
Plot: A story about the faith and courage of the Nigerian school girls who were abducted by Boko Harum.
Recommended by: Prudence Wells, bookseller at The Toadstool Bookshop in Nashua. “This wonderful story… highlights the strength of the girls, families and communities.”

Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman
Published: June 2020
Plot: An exploration of the idea that humans are intrinsically kind and cooperative, despite the nightly news.
Recommended by: Tom Holbrook, manager at RiverRun Bookstore. “Obviously, a fresh, original take on our global situation.”

Splash!: 10,000 Years of Swimming by Howard Means
Published: June 2020
Plot: A look at the cultural and social history of swimming, from Egypt, ancient Greece and Rome and the Middle Ages to today’s Olympics.
Recommended by: Natalie Ducharme, Interim Director at Kelley Library in Salem. “A fun, readable book that helps us understand why water calls to us humans and why we can’t resist splashing in it.”

You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks by Evan Turk
Published: June 2019
Plot: A journey across the country discovering the gifts and treasures hidden in our national parks.
Recommended by: Heidi Deacon, Library Director at Smyth Public Library in Candia. “For those who may not be able to visit any parks in person this summer, here is a beautiful way to discover them through the animals who inhabit them via lovely illustrations.”

Self-Help

How to Be Fine: What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books by Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer
Published: March 2020
Plot: The authors share their findings after testing out a variety of self-help methods to see what works and what doesn’t.
Recommended by: Sarah St. Martin, Head of Technical Services at Manchester City Library. “I liked being able to quickly scan multiple strategies rather than deep diving into one particular method. The authors use an entertaining and light style, even when presenting serious scenarios.”

Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World by Olga Khazan
Published: April 2020
Plot: Khazan discusses the sociology, psychology and power of being “weird,” and how the traits that make you feel like an outsider can actually help you stand out in the world and reach your greatest potential.
Recommended by: Jasmin Brooks, assistant manager at Bookery in Manchester. “Khazan’s writing is well-researched and very entertaining. … I learned a better way to celebrate and embrace my weirdness.”

Children’s

Picture Books

Happy Right Now by Julie Berry
Published: October 2019
Plot: A young girl shows us how to find gratitude and joy amidst the not-so-great moments of our lives.
Recommended by: Heidi Deacon, Library Director at Smyth Public Library in Candia. “What a beautiful way to share with children that we all have things that try to rob our happiness … [and how] to march right past them into living … in thankfulness every moment.”

The Hike by Alison Farrell
Published: October 2019
Plot: Three little friends and one eager pet go hiking and find a trove of delights along the way.
Recommended by: Heidi Deacon, Library Director at Smyth Public Library in Candia. “This darling tale shows the spirit of adventure outdoors and what surprises are around each corner.”

I’m Sorry! by Barry Timms, illustrated by Sean Julian
Published: March 2020
Plot: Two best friends, an owl and a squirrel, must learn how to live together in a shared space, despite their differences.
Recommended by: Heidi Deacon, Library Director at Smyth Public Library in Candia. “As these two sweet creatures discover, their respect and love for each other win, and they realize that compromise is better than they imagined it could be.”

Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Heather Fox
Published: May 2020
Plot: As a llama goes through his day and prepares his many meals, chaos ensues.
Recommended by: Betsy Vecchi, Head of Children’s Services at Pelham Public Library. “It is very funny for both grownups and kids, and we all need some humor these days.”

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Published: November 2019
Plot: A little girl named Sofia decides to do something about the trash heap in her town, so she goes to City Hall to demand change.
Recommended by: Daniele Guest, Youth Librarian at Kimball Library in Atkinson. “A clever, well-written rhyme scheme and cute illustrations … [and a message] of empowerment for kids, [which] feels especially valuable today.”

Summer Song by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek
Published: April 2020
Plot: A book about the magic of summer.
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins, owner of MainStreet BookEnds (16 E. Main St., Warner, 456-2700, mainstreetbookends.com). “The perfect read-aloud book for bedtime and to snuggle with an amazed child.”

Things That Go Away by Beatrice Alemagna
Published: March 2020
Plot: This book shows kids that all things good and bad will eventually go away, except for a parent’s love.
Recommended by: Patty Falconer, Children’s Librarian at Dover Public Library. “A very timely book with an important lesson for everyone to learn.”

When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox by Jamie L.B. Deenihan, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha
Published: March 2020
Plot: A boy is disappointed with his grandfather’s gift until he learns that he can use it to build exactly what he wanted with his own two hands, with a little help from his grandfather.
Recommended by: Yvette Couser, Library Director at Merrimack Public Library. “A clever story that celebrates kindness, hard work and community.”

Wild Honey from the Moon by Kenneth Kraegel
Published: November 2019
Plot: A mother shrew goes to the moon to find the medicine that will heal her child.
Recommended by: Nancy Sheridan, Children’s Services Librarian at Colby Memorial Library in Danville. “Beautifully illustrated with intricate details, this book is a comforting adventure … that shows that there are no limits to a mother’s love.”

Middle Grade

Contemporary Fiction

The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy
Published: October 2019
Plot: Rahul Kapoor is on a search to be the best at something, and it has to be cool.
Recommended by: Ji-Eun Alice Ahn at Water Street Bookstore (125 Water St., Exeter, 778-9731, waterstreetbooks.com). “[It’s] about following your instincts, [being] who you are without fear and allowing yourself the room to breathe if something gets to be too much.”

Chirp by Kate Messner
Published: February 2020
Plot: Twelve-year-old Mia moves to Vermont and spends her summer making new friends, helping her grandmother with her cricket farm, solving a mystery and finding the courage to speak up about a past trauma.
Recommended by: Patty Falconer, children’s librarian at Dover Public Library. “This book deals with a sensitive subject in a very accessible way for young children, and it is wrapped up in a mystery.”

Con Quest! by Sam Maggs
Published: June 2020
Plot: Two friends attend the most popular comic con in the world and set out to win The Quest, a giant scavenger hunt that requires participants to complete odd and bizarre tasks, so they can meet one of their favorite celebrities.
Recommended by: Alexa Moore, Circulation & Reader Services Librarian at Amherst Town Library. “This is a fun, fast-moving story that makes you really want to dive into the world of fandoms. My favorite part [is] trying to identify all the fandoms represented throughout this book and chuckling at the cleverness.”

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker
Published: February 2020
Plot: Ware prefers to spend his time alone, dreaming of other worlds, but when his parents sign him up to spend the summer at the rec center against his will, he must learn how to find his place in the real world.
Recommended by: Heather Weirich Roy, children’s book buyer at Gibson’s Bookstore. “This is a sweet book for all the introverts and kids that see the world in a different way.”

The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy
Published: March 2020
Plot: Maybelle has never met her father. When she learns he is judging a singing contest in Nashville, she becomes determined to overcome her stage fright and embarks on a road trip to Louisiana to sing in the contest.
Recommended by: Patty Falconer, children’s librarian at Dover Public Library. “I’m a sucker for a road trip book.”

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Published: March 2020
Plot: A young boy, seeking answers about his missing mother, finds himself on a perilous journey to help someone in danger that will test his strength, courage and determination.
Recommended by: Betsy Covert, children’s book buyer at The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene. “A beautiful tale, lightly brushed with magic, that speaks to the heart and reverberates with issues faced by contemporary society.”

The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
Published: May 2020
Plot: Three zoo animals discover the meaning of friendship and family as they set out on a dangerous journey after their zoo is hit by a hurricane.
Recommended by: Heather Weirich Roy, children’s book buyer at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord.

Fantasy

A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying by Kelley Armstrong, illustrated by Xavière Daumarie
Published: August 2019
Plot: Royal twins — one destined to be the ruler of her kingdom, and the other a Royal Monster Slayer — long to switch roles. When a family tragedy forces them into battle with both humans and monsters, the twins must work together to save their kingdom.
Recommended by: Nancy Sheridan, children’s services librarian at Colby Memorial Library in Danville. “Not only is this rollicking adventure full of humor, nonstop action and plenty of monsters, but it turns traditional roles upside down.”

Graphic Novel

Cub by Cynthia L. Copeland
Published: January 2020
Plot: An aspiring journalist apprentices at her local newspaper while balancing family, friends and romantic interests during her middle school years in the 1970s.
Recommended by: Katrina Feraco, frontline bookseller at The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene. “A charming and relatable read [that’s] perfect for middle grade readers and those who enjoy graphic novels.”

The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner
Published: September 2019
Plot: The daughter of a witch starts to develop special powers of her own and must learn how to navigate the world of magic.
Recommended by: Daniele Guest, youth librarian at Kimball Library in Atkinson. “The theme of the book … [is] valuing your roots, knowing your history and using that knowledge to choose how to move forward.”

Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim
Published: March 2020
Plot: Eleven-year-old Yumi, an aspiring comedian, struggles with stage fright, a moral dilemma and pressure from her parents to excel academically and help out at their family restaurant.
Recommended by: Azra Palo, Head of Youth Services at Nesmith Library in Windham, and Betsy Covert, children’s book buyer at The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene. “A fun relatable book just in time for summer,” Palo said. “Full of well-rounded characters and tons of humor,” Covert said.

Stargazing by Jen Wang
Published: September 2019
Plot: A girl, who has visions of celestial beings telling her she belongs among the stars, develops an unlikely friendship with her new next-door neighbor.
Recommended by: Angela Sylvia, technical services staff at Bedford Public Library. “Wang’s cartoony art gives vibrant life to a middle school tale of friendship.”

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews
Published: June 2019
Plot: Ben wants to fit in, but social outcast Nathaniel just won’t leave him alone. When the two of them make a pact to find out where their floating lanterns go every year after the equinox festival, they’ll have to work together to make it back home.
Recommended by: Rachel Stover, office assistant at Manchester City Library. “Full of charming illustrations and a quiet wonder reminiscent of works by Studio Ghibli. A great pick-me-up for fans of magical realism.”

Young Adult

Contemporary Fiction

Paul, Big, and Small by David Glen Robb
Published: October 2019
Plot: Three high school misfits find solace in rock climbing and learn how to face their bullies.
Recommended by: Katie Spofford, Young Adult and Reference Librarian at Wadleigh Memorial Library. “A heartwarming story of friendship and finding advantages in the disadvantages.”

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Published: January 2020
Plot: Two high school students at a highly competitive private school in New York City try to navigate the pressures of school while also helping their respective family businesses after a Twitter feud begins between the two competing businesses.
Recommended by: Alexa Moore, Circulation & Reader Services Librarian at Amherst Town Library. “This adorable romance accurately portrays the pressure students feel in high school and the difficulty they have balancing school, work, friends and family.”

Graphic Novel

Check, Please!, Book 2: Sticks & Scones by Ngozi Ukazu
Published: April 2020
Plot: An unlikely romance develops between a closeted gay professional athlete and a baking college athlete.
Recommended by: Lincoln Wert, bookseller at The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene. “The support shown from [the main characters’] friends and family is fantastic and entertaining. The artwork and writing work perfectly together to tell this fun story.”

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
Published: August 2019
Plot: Two friends are determined to make their last Halloween working at the pumpkin patch together count one, by talking to his longtime crush, and the other, by eating every fair food she can get her hands on.
Recommended by: Angela Sylvia, technical services staff at Bedford Public Library. “A hilarious graphic novel about friendship and last chances, with detailed, expressive art.”

Bookstores
Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com)
Bookery (844 Elm St., Manchester, 836-6600, bookerymht.com)
RiverRun Bookstore (32 Daniel St., Portsmouth, 431-2100, riverrunbookstore.com)
The Toadstool Bookshop (375 Amherst St., Nashua, 673-1734; 12 Emerald St., Keene, 352-8815; toadbooks.com)
.• Water Street Bookstore (125 Water St., Exeter, 778-9731, waterstreetbooks.com)

Libraries
As of June 15, the Governor’s Economic Re-Opening Task Force has permitted libraries to reopen their physical locations to the public, with some precautions. Not all libraries have reopened yet, but those that remain closed may have alternative ways to check out books, such as curbside pickup for hard copies or virtual platforms for e-book borrowing. Check with your local library for updates on how it is operating.

Find your farmers markets

A look at the socially distant summer market scene

You can still get your leafy greens, grass-fed meats and fresh poultry at local farmers markets this summer, but there’s no denying that the fresh-air market vibe won’t be the same, with regulations in place to promote social distancing and the cancellation of vendor demonstrations, tastings and live music.

“It has really been a shift from hanging out and socializing at the market … to just coming in and purchasing or picking up the product,” said Julie Dewdney, market manager of the Canterbury Community Farmers Market, which began on June 3.

Farmers markets have been considered essential businesses from the beginning, according to Gail McWilliam Jellie, director of agricultural development for the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food. The department has encouraged markets to stay open, both to maintain cash flow for the vendors and to provide food sources for customers. Despite that, many summer markets started late and some have canceled altogether.

Early season markets

One of the only markets in the Granite State that has remained uninterrupted during the pandemic is in Salem. The year-round market, which normally operates indoors from November through about April or May, moved outside several weeks earlier than planned, on March 15, despite temperatures barely above freezing.

“I think on that first day [we went outside] it was 37 degrees out,” board president Bonnie Wright said, “but people wanted to come and vendors wanted to come, so we kept the market going. … We’ve had to adapt a great deal and make a lot of changes as the virus situation has evolved.”

After being in the parking lot of the Mary A. Fisk Elementary School for a few weeks, the Salem Farmers Market moved back to its normal summer location at Salem Marketplace a few miles away on April 5. Since then the market has been operating at limited hours each week, on Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon only — it’s normally from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to Wright.

Moving the market outdoors in a paved parking lot, Wright said, has allowed its board members to further space out each vendor and control the flow of customers. Only 100 people are allowed into the market at a time to prevent long lines from forming. Table fees are, for the time being, waived for all vendors in an effort to help supplement the income some have lost.

“It definitely doesn’t have that farmers market feel that people are used to,” Wright said, “but we are seeing quite a bit of people … and occasionally people have to wait to get in.”

In Concord, after the cancellation of its winter market in Eagle Square on March 17 with more than a month left to go, growing uncertainty loomed over whether the city’s summer market on Capitol Street could go on. The market did miss its targeted opening date of May 2 by one week, resuming operations on May 9 with just a fraction of its vendors, but president Wayne Hall said it has exceeded his expectations since then.

“It’s been tremendous,” said Hall, who owns Rockey Ole Farm in Concord. “It’s been very, very steady, and people have been very respectful of the things we’ve been putting in place. … We are also constantly adding more new vendors as we go along.”

Hall said there is still an abundance of leafy greens available at the market, such as lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard. Next up for produce will be strawberries, coming from Apple Hill Farm, followed by blueberries later in July. Summer squash, tomatoes and cucumbers are all expected to be available soon too.

A second summer market has also debuted in Concord this year. For the first time, Cole Gardens is hosting an outdoor market in its parking lot following the conclusion of its indoor winter market in April, market manager Jane Iarussi said.

The Contoocook Farmers Market, according to manager Karin Cohen, began its summer season a couple of weeks earlier than planned, on May 23. Another year-round market, Contoocook had suspended operations indoors at Maple Street Elementary School on March 14.

“We were slated to reopen outdoors on June 6, but there were a lot of community requests for us to open [earlier], and a lot of our farmers also felt like they were ready to go,” Cohen said.

Now back at its normal summer location next to the Contoocook Railroad Museum, the market is encouraging just one member per household to visit if possible, and to leave all children and pets home. Reusable and single-use plastic bags are allowed, as long as you don’t place them on any table surfaces. Product sampling, vendor demonstrations, live music and arts and crafts vendors have all been temporarily suspended until further notice.

“We’re really trying to encourage people not to linger, just because we are such a small market,” Cohen said. “Unfortunately, it’s not the social market that we’re used to, but I think everyone so far has been happy to still be able to come out and support our local farmers.”

Jim Ramanek of Warner River Produce in Webster is a featured vendor at the Contoocook, Cole Gardens and Canterbury markets — he’ll also be joining the Franklin market on Tuesdays when it gets underway on June 23, and has started an online ordering system via harvesttomarket.com.

“We still have a few winter vegetables and we’re doing lots of mixed lettuce, radishes and baby turnips,” Ramanek said. “Spinach is on the decline because it’s just been too hot for it.”

Work Song Farm in Hopkinton, another vendor at this year’s Contoocook market, has certified organic strawberries available first-come, first-serve. According to co-owner Dan Kilrain, the farm will have them for at least the next two to three weeks.

June and beyond

The month of June has brought with it several more summer markets in the state kicking off their seasons under new guidelines. The Canterbury Community Farmers Market was able to begin on schedule, Dewdney said, after its association spent several weeks discussing what the safest practices would be for vendors and customers.

“It was really important to us that we opened up that access to good products,” she said, “so we came up with a whole set of guidelines, with help from the UNH Cooperative Extension and the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets.”

In addition to encouraging masks, all handling of products is done by the vendors until after purchases are made. The Canterbury market has also eliminated all special activities it would normally have throughout the season, and is encouraging people to limit attendance to one visitor per household.

“Our first week was really successful,” Dewdney said of the June 3 market. “We didn’t have to control the crowd level. We had one entry point and we kind of just had a steady stream.”

The Canterbury market averages about 20 vendors — and even though Dewdney said a few vendors have dropped out, the Association has been receiving interest from newcomers.

One of the returning vendors, Kathy Doherty of Sanborn Meadow Farm in Canterbury, said the market’s opening day went well and that many customers even thanked her for being there. Doherty focuses primarily on herbs and leafy greens.

“Early in the season, it’s a lot of radishes, arugula and mixed Asian greens. That’s what I brought the first week, and I’ll diversify a bit with lettuce, broccoli, rhubarb and some varieties of kale,” Doherty said. “The spring was very cold and it seemed to delay everything … but they’re starting to catch up now. I think tomatoes will be coming a bit later than usual.”

The New Boston Farmers Market, which opened for the season on June 6, has roped off access from outside the town common, only allowing one-way entrances and exits for customers. Market co-manager Allison Vermette said the response to the changes has been positive so far.

“Most of the people who have shown up have been very thankful that we’ve been open. I think there’s been a very big push to have more local products available during this whole pandemic,” Vermette said. “It’s normally a very community-based market, so this year we do look a lot different. … We usually have different community guests come in, but that’s unfortunately been cut out for the foreseeable future. We’re also not doing our children’s market this year.”

In Milford the pandemic caused the cancellation of the town’s final two indoor winter market dates on March 14 and March 28. But on June 13 the market was able to start its summer season under new guidelines at 300 Elm St. across from the New Hampshire Antique Co-op.

“I’ve done a lot of research on how to open safely,” market manager Adrienne Colsia said. “Last year I used probably only half the parking lot, but now we’re using the whole perimeter of the lot to space everybody out. … We have one entrance, and we’re encouraging people to just grab and go and not hang around if they can. Customers are allowed to bring reusable bags.”

Colsia, who also co-owns Paradise Farm in Lyndeborough with her husband Wayne, said they will have strawberries available at the market. Other items you can expect at the market include meats like grass-fed beef, pork and lamb, poultry, fresh fish, cheeses, and leafy greens like kale, arugula and Swiss chard.

The Bedford Farmers Market, scheduled to begin on June 16, is in a new spot this year — the parking lot of the Harvest Market on Route 101 in Bedford, which closed its doors about a month ago, according to market manager Lauren Ritz. The market had previously been in the parking lot of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church on Meetinghouse Road.

“The Diocese of Manchester … wasn’t comfortable with having us in the parking lot with the state that New Hampshire was at, at the time the decision was made,” said Ritz, who also co-owns Hoof and Feather Farm in Amherst, one of this year’s vendors. “So we actually reached out on the Bedford’s town Facebook page, and the Harvest Market offered us their parking lot.”

The market will feature 30 vendors throughout the season, some of which will rotate depending on the product availability of each. Hoof and Feather Farm is the meat vendor, featuring chicken, beef and pork, while other vendors are selling various fruits and vegetables, cheeses, honey, maple syrup and personal care products.

Newcomers include Jennifer Lee’s Bakery out of Worcester, Mass., which makes gluten-free and dairy-free baked goods; and the Bedford Sewing Battalion, which will have a table handing out free masks and accepting fabric and elastic donations. Like many of the state’s other markets, Ritz said Bedford had to cancel all planned live entertainment and demonstrations.

Merrimack’s farmers market is also expected to begin this week. According to market manager and town agricultural commission chair Bob McCabe, the Merrimack Town Council on June 11 approved the market to begin on June 17, one week after its proposed start date. That market is expected to continue through mid-October, in the parking lot of Vault Motor Storage on Daniel Webster Highway.

More markets to come

A few more summer markets in the state are expected to get going as the month winds down.

In Nashua, for example, the market will resume on June 21, continuing every Sunday through the middle of October. Due to several lane closures on either side of Main Street to accommodate outdoor dining space for restaurants, this year’s market has moved from its normal spot between Temple and Pearl streets down to the area in front of City Hall Plaza.

“We’ll be around City Hall on the Main Street side, as well as in the shaded area of the Nashua Heritage Rail Trail and [in] the surface parking lot to the rear of the building,” Great American Downtown executive director Paul Shea said. “It’s a larger area than where we normally operate … so customers will have a lot of space to move through the market while distancing.”

The Franklin Farmers Market is expected to begin on June 23 at Marceau Park on Central Street, while in Wilmot the farmers market will start on June 27 on the town green.

While the Intown Farmers Market in Manchester will not be taking place in the traditional sense, plans are in the works for a limited version of the market to return. Starting on June 25 farmers with Fresh Start Farms, a program of the Manchester-based Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success, will be at Victory Park every Thursday through August.

“It’s going to be more like a farm stand,” Intown Manchester executive director Sara Beaudry said. “We were already in the process of restructuring our farmers market … to move from Stanton Plaza back to Victory Park, but then with everything going on we teamed up with ORIS to bring the market back and to simplify it.”

Jameson Small, program manager for the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project at ORIS, said members of Fresh Start Farms are also at the Bedford, Concord, Merrimack, Milford and Salem markets. In addition to leafy greens they’ll have tomatoes, cucumbers and squash later in the summer, as well as ethnic crops, like amaranth greens and African eggplant.

Market cancellations

The pandemic has caused a few markets in New Hampshire to pull the plug on their summer seasons entirely. One of the most notable to shut down for the year is the Derry Homegrown Farm & Artisan Market, which would have begun earlier this month in downtown Derry.

The market’s board had initially announced that the season would at least be delayed before the decision was made to cancel it altogether on June 2, one day before its original opening date.

“It was a really, really difficult decision that we did not want to have to do,” market manager and board vice president Neil Wetherbee said of its cancellation.

Wetherbee said it came down to the market’s location and its board ensuring the safety of all vendors and customers. Unlike most of the other markets, which are on paved surfaces, Derry’s is on grass, eliminating the ability to make six-foot markers with chalk. He also said its unique location in the center of town, along with its proximity to the rail trail, made it difficult to mandate specific entry and exit points for visitors. Other potential locations in town were considered but its board ultimately could not find one suitable.

In addition to all of those factors, Wetherbee said if the market were to take place it would have featured less than half of its regular vendors.

“We spent the last three years trying to turn this into a community event … and it really would’ve been a shell of what it has been,” he said. “A big part of discussion also was that we didn’t want to live with the responsibility if one of our vendors, especially one of our older vendors, was to get sick, or if we started to see a spike in virus cases in Derry.”

The Lee Farmers Market, which would have started on the last Thursday in May, has also canceled its season, instead “existing virtually,” according to manager Tina Sawtelle.

“We’ve sort of pivoted to becoming an online source to help local farms connect to customers, and to point people in the right direction for where to get product,” said Sawtelle, who originally started the market with her husband through the Lee Agricultural Commission. “It’s actually helped our vendors increase their CSA shares too.”

Find a market everyday
Here’s a list of summer farmers markets happening in southern New Hampshire.

Sundays
• Cole Gardens Farmers Market is from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cole Gardens (430 Loudon Road, Concord), now through October. Visit colegardens.com.
• Dover Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Henry Law Park (1 Washington St., Dover), now through Oct. 11. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Nashua Farmers Market will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at City Hall Plaza (229 Main St.), June 21 through Oct. 18. Visit downtownnashua.org/local.
• Salem Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to noon at Salem Marketplace (224 N. Broadway). Visit salemnhfarmersmarket.org.

Mondays
• Durham Farmers Market is from 2:15 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of Sammy’s Market (5 Madbury Road), now through October. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Fresh Chicks Local Outdoor Market is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Monadnock Community Hospital (452 Old Street Road, Peterborough), now through October. Email freshchicksmarket@gmail.com.

Tuesdays
• Bedford Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the former Harvest Market (209 Route 101), now through Sept. 29. Visit bedfordfarmersmarketnh.org.
• Franklin Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. at Marceau Park (Central Street), June 23 through Sept. 29. Find them on Facebook @franklinlocalmarket.
• Rochester Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. at Rochester Community Center (150 Wakefield St.). Visit rochesternhfarmersmarket.com.

Wednesdays
• Canterbury Community Farmers Market is from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Elkins Public Library (9 Center Road), now through Sept. 30. Visit canterburyfarmersmarket.com.
• Dover Farmers Market is from 2:15 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Dover Chamber of Commerce (550 Central Ave), now through Oct. 7. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Merrimack Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. at Vault Motor Storage (526 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack), now through Oct. 7. Visit merrimacknh.gov/farmers-market.
• Peterborough Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. on the lawn of the Peterborough Community Center (25 Elm St.). Find them on Facebook @peterboroughnhfarmersmarket.

Thursdays
• Exeter Farmers Market is from 2:15 to 6 p.m. behind the Seacoast School of Technology (30 Linden St.), now through Oct. 29. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Henniker Community Market is from 4 to 7 p.m. at Henniker Community Center (57 Main St.), now through October. Find them on Facebook @hennikercommunitymarket.
• Intown Manchester’s Farmers Market will be from 3 to 6 p.m. at Victory Park (Concord and Chestnut streets, Manchester), June 25 through Aug. 27. Find them on Facebook @manchesterfood.
• Rindge Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. at West Rindge Common (Route 202 North), now through Oct. 8. Find them on Facebook @rindgefarmersandcraftersmarket.
• Wolfeboro Area Farmers Market is from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Clark Park (233 S. Main St., Wolfeboro), now through Oct. 15. Visit wolfeboroareafarmersmarket.com.

Fridays
• Francestown Community Market is from 4 to 7 p.m. across from the Francestown Police Station (15 New Boston Road). Find them on Facebook @francestowncommunitymarket.

Saturdays
• Barnstead Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 96 Maple St. in Center Barnstead, now through September. Visit barnsteadfarmersmarket.club.
• Concord Farmers Market is from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Capitol Street in Concord (near the Statehouse), now through October. Visit concordfarmersmarket.com.
• Contoocook Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to noon at 896 Main St. in Contoocook. The year-round market usually moves indoors to Maple Street Elementary School (194 Main St.) beginning in early November, according to market manager Karin Cohen.
• New Boston Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the corner of Route 13 and Meetinghouse Hill Road, now through October (no market on Saturday, July 4). Visit newbostonfarmersmarket.webs.com.
• New Ipswich Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to noon at the New Ipswich town offices (661 Turnpike Road). Find them on Facebook @newipswichfarmersmarket.
• Milford Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 300 Elm St. in Milford (across the street from the New Hampshire Antique Co-op), now through Oct. 10. Visit milfordnhfarmersmarket.com.
• Portsmouth Farmers Market is from 8 a.m. to noon at the Little Harbour School (50 Clough Drive, Portsmouth), now through Nov. 7. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Warner Area Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the lawn of Warner Town Hall (5 E. Main St.), now through October. Visit warnerfarmersmarket.org.
• Wilmot Farmers Market will be from 9 a.m. to noon at 9 Kearsarge Valley Road in Wilmot, June 27 through Sept. 26. Visit wilmotfarmersmarket.com.

2020 graduates

What they missed most, plus hopes for the future

It has been a strange end to the school year for all students, but especially seniors, many of whom missed out on fun celebrations and saying goodbye to all of their classmates. We talked to a few 2020 college and high school grads (and the mom of a kindergarten grad!) about what they missed most and what their hopes are for the future.

Alycia Ashby
Senior at Manchester School of Technology, which moved its graduation ceremony to June 20 at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. Alycia will attend Colby-Sawyer College in New London in the fall.

Ever since the fifth grade I have been working toward this moment. Walking across the stage. Grabbing my diploma. Shaking the hands of my admin and educators. Seven years later everything has changed. … I can’t help but marvel at the fact I may not walk across the stage. The Manchester School of Technology was my second home, my happy place, one that I had taken for granted. … I miss going to school. I miss my friends. I miss learning from a physical teacher teaching in the classroom. … I will never get the time back or the experience but one thing I know moving forward is I need balance. … Recent unfortunate events have allowed for many of us to find ourselves again. As we get back to our lives, I hope I can hold on to the me I have found and never take for granted my happy places.

Jessica Aviles
Jessica’s daughter, Evangeline, recently completed kindergarten at Jacques Memorial Elementary School in Milford. On May 29, Jacques hosted a special drive-through “sendoff” reverse parade to commemorate the conclusion of the school year.

Initially, our whole family was feeling uncertain about everything going on. My dad is a dialysis patient so we are used to self-quarantining when we get sick, but never expected it to be for this long. I reached out to fellow mom friends and was grateful for the constant communication from Jacques. … I expected remote learning to be like homeschooling. It was not at all! The most challenging part for Evangeline was being away from her teacher, Miss Casey, and her first set of classmates. For me, it was finding a balance of time and a schedule for her and her sister, Adalaide. [Evangeline] told me her favorite part was that I try to make learning fun, like Miss Casey. … For the fall, we plan to consider the advice of health officials along with Jacques and the state. I expect that Covid-19 will still be around, along with the usual concerns, and we will just have to take extra healthcare measures. We plan to learn and grow from this experience.

Katherine Buck
Communication and politics graduate of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, which has postponed its commencement ceremony. A livestreamed celebratory event for graduates was held on May 16.

Preparing for graduation this year has been a lot different than how I initially planned it at the beginning of the year. I remember talking with my parents trying to decide where we would want to go to celebrate after graduation and how we wanted to be with the families of my roommates one last time. … My roommates and I were looking forward to being able to take those celebratory pictures … with our diplomas in hand, like so many past. … My future plans were to enter into my career. Although this has not changed, it has become increasingly difficult during this time. I remain hopeful and vigilant in my job search and actively work to not be discouraged while looking for jobs.

Samantha Burns
Senior at Merrimack Valley High School, which will have its commencement ceremony on June 13 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Students and their families will remain in their vehicles throughout the ceremony and will drive around the track, crossing the finish line to signify their official moment of graduation. Burns plans to attend New England College in the fall.

I have been preparing for graduation by making sure I have everything in line as far as [school] work goes, and picking out what I want to wear is a big part. Obviously, graduation is not going to go the same way I expected it to go. I am going to miss seeing the faces in the crowd as each of us walk down the aisle in our caps and gowns, but I believe that our graduation is going to be unique and one that we are all going to remember.

Julissa Castro
English graduate of Nashua Community College, which has moved its commencement to Sept. 26.

This semester was an adventure for me with online classes and working from home. I took six classes this semester so I could finish in time for graduation, which became more challenging when we switched online. … Thankfully, I have been able to manage my time and balance classes and work, and I was able to finish all of my classes with higher marks. … After graduation, I was going to spend my summer volunteering in Honduras, and then I was transferring to a four-year university to finish my bachelor’s degree. I’m attending John Cabot University in Rome. … Now, I have decided to defer for a semester so I could still be able to volunteer once the quarantine is over.

Hope Cataldo
Elementary education graduate of Rivier University in Nashua, which has postponed its commencement ceremony.

I sat down at my computer at the beginning of April and wrote my commencement speech without knowing if I’d ever give it. … I feel with every ounce of my being the desire to be back at my school, my home, with the people who mean the world to me. … At the start of the school, I was so ready to graduate. And now, all I want is to be back. … Before this pandemic began, my plans were the same as any college graduate. I was excited and ready to start my job search. I was going to live in Nashua, at Rivier, working with some of my favorite people. I was focusing my job search mainly in the Nashua area, as I have truly found a home here. Yet once the pandemic hit, that changed. … I conducted my job search in northern New Hampshire and Vermont, where I live. I accepted a job teaching fourth grade in Vermont, which I am so excited about. … I find myself upset when thinking about what could have been, so instead I focus on the positives. I am home, with a family that supports me unconditionally. We are all safe and well and doing our best to continue to be.

Shaun Collupy
Science in Business Management master’s program graduate of Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, which has postponed its commencement ceremonies, with a new date TBD.

At the beginning of the school year, I envisioned planning for graduation to consist of hugs and goodbyes to my friends, professors, and colleagues, spending last moments in my favorite places on campus, and celebration. Come April, preparation for graduation primarily consisted of ensuring my coursework items were completed on time and virtual goodbyes by way of phone calls and video conferences. What I was looking forward to most about graduating was having the opportunity to cheer on my friends and colleagues as they receive their diploma on Commencement Day. … My plans before the pandemic were, and still are, to begin my career with a Boston-based tech company. Although the initial plan was to start my journey [at the company’s headquarters], I am grateful to have committed to an employer who cares about their employees’ success and is providing me with the tools and resources I need to start my journey on time and remotely. I am excited for the physical office location to reopen and [to] have the opportunity to build relationships with my co-workers in person.

Cordell “CJ” Drabble
Senior at John Stark Regional High School in Weare, which will hold its commencement on June 13.

I had initially planned on all my immediate family coming to graduation to see myself and my close friends they’ve watched grow with me graduate. Now I am bringing just my parents. … [I] am just fortunate we are having a graduation, period. … My future plans haven’t changed. I am still going to be attending Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri this July, and returning home as a New Hampshire National Guard soldier.

Emily Gamache
Senior and class vice president of Campbell High School in Litchfield, which will hold its commencement on June 12. She plans to attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall.

There are many events that I have planned in the past and at the beginning of the school year which are much different from how we have to plan events now. At the start of the school year we could hold in-person meetings [and] talk to different teachers for help while in the building. … Now, everything needs to be thought out in a certain form. We need to make sure people are six feet apart, there is no interaction between different families and friends and there is a certain number of people on the field. … I have attended different graduations in the past and there has always been a powerful energy throughout them. There are so many emotions, hugs and pictures at every graduation. I never thought much about being able to hug my friends until it is now something I am no longer able to do.

Ridge Gonzales
Senior at The Derryfield School in Manchester, which will hold an on-campus commencement ceremony with social distancing guidelines on Aug. 1.

I am looking forward to an in-class graduation in August. It has been very different from beginning to plan to graduate at the beginning of this year. For starters, I think there’s less closure with the physical spaces that students correlate with school. For me, this means I can’t even remember what room my last class was in, [and] I never got to say goodbye, knowing this is the last time I’m going to sit down at this exact library table. I was definitely looking forward to the actual graduation ceremony where everyone is dressed up all nice and there’s a multitude of pictures with family and fellow students. To me, it’s pretty magical knowing that all those people have supported you all for this one last event. … My independent senior project was originally [to] visit different workspaces of people who work in business. However, this changed into Zoom and phone calls, which is still amazing, but not as immersive as I would’ve liked. Beyond high school, I was planning to find a good summer job, but some places are not hiring or even open yet. In regards to college, I’m just hoping I can be there in person for the fall.

Trey Haynes
Senior at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, which will hold a virtual graduation ceremony on June 14, streamed via Facebook live.

I was looking forward to [having] a last day with all my teachers and friends, but it was spent in front of a computer screen. … I also looked forward to hanging out with my friends and going on trips but those will have to be postponed. I still plan on going to college, although it might be online for the first semester, which isn’t what I expected to do. I plan to major in biology at NHTI.

Samantha Jette
Communication graduate of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, which has postponed its commencement ceremony. A livestreamed celebratory event was held May 16.

The last months of senior year [are] usually filled with traditions and activities to commemorate the ending of a great four years. When Saint Anselm closed in March, that meant that a lot of these traditions that my classmates and I have looked forward to would not happen. … While it was difficult to be home knowing I was missing time with my friends that I wouldn’t get back, I am lucky to have had such great experiences at St. A’s over the years. … The pandemic has definitely made my post-grad job search more challenging. At the beginning of the year, my hope was to have a job secured after graduation. Now that graduation has come and gone, I am realizing this may be more difficult than I expected.

Morgan Kidwell
Graduate of Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, which has postponed its commencement ceremonies, with a new date TBD.

I started my senior year off by making lists of what type of career I wanted to have, … where I wanted to relocate to, … and what types of companies I was interested in working for post-graduation. I also had a mindset [of making] every moment of my senior year count, which I definitely did! I was looking forward to … [an] entire day celebrating everything that my friends and I have overcome [and] accomplished over the last four years. We all sacrificed so much, pushed ourselves, and grew into amazing young adults throughout our time at SNHU. I did not have any set plans [for after graduation]. I was still searching for jobs, mostly in Colorado, Texas and Arizona. … I have been actively applying and using connections to inquire about [job] positions, [but] with the current situation in the world, most companies … have completely halted their hiring processes until as late as October. It’s tough, but I have faith I will find the perfect marketing position for me. I am currently doing part-time remote work for my internship … as a digital marketing intern as well as creating a website and curating social media posts for a construction company.

Jillian LaBrecque
Senior at John Stark Regional High School in Weare, which will hold its commencement on June 13. She’ll be attending the University of New Hampshire in the fall.

At the beginning of the year … I expected to be preparing for graduation by performing in my last school concert … and spending this last year with my friends that would soon be going to far away schools for military training. Instead, I am now working at a supermarket and spending several hours per week on Zoom calls. … For everything I lost in connection with concerts, performances and prom, I gained in humility and understanding. I finally understood for the first time what it means to have to sacrifice something important. We sacrificed our proms and large graduation ceremonies … for public safety. … I may never get to experience what I most looked forward to, but in reality what I experienced instead will be significantly more valuable to me in the future. So for that, I am very grateful.

Anna Lapadula
Senior at The Derryfield School in Manchester, which will hold an on-campus commencement ceremony with social distancing guidelines on Aug. 1. She will attend Boston University in the fall.

This past fall, I was focused on getting good grades, making it through the year, and being accepted into one of my top college choices. Graduation passed my mind once, maybe twice. … By the time graduation was actually within sight, I wasn’t allowed to be near people nor leave my house for anything other than essential errands. It wasn’t until a week before the original graduation date that it hit me: I don’t get to celebrate what was supposed to be one of the most momentous days of my personal and academic career, and I definitely won’t get to experience it alongside the people that I love the most and have gone through it all with. I wanted to be able to say that I did it. That I survived 15 years of hard work and dedication to my academics in order to create the future that I wanted for myself. I wanted to be able to look at my parents from the stage with my diploma in my hand and tell them that I didn’t let their unwavering support go to waste. I know that walking across a stage seems irrelevant in the light of a burning world, but I still wish I could’ve closed this chapter of my life in the way I had planned to for 15 years. My plan was to maintain my job through the summer, volunteer at local food banks and shelters, finish moving houses, go on a short road trip with my best friend (and fellow senior) as a “last hurrah” before college. … Now … my summer is shaping up to be a lot of solitary and indoor activities.

Emma Montenero
Senior at Campbell High School in Litchfield, which will hold its 2020 commencement on June 12. She plans to attend the University of New Hampshire in the fall.

Since most of my senior activities have been canceled, this part of the year hasn’t been as exciting as it would have been. My school has put together a different version of graduation for us this year, as we need to follow state orders regarding social distancing. … We don’t have to do rehearsals, there will be no speeches … and we can’t take pictures with classmates at our ceremony. These past couple of months have really made me think about what I’m most grateful for and how much I took certain activities for granted. … My class is only 100 students and we’ve all been together since first grade. I’m grateful that we can still graduate together … even though the rest of town isn’t allowed to come and watch.

Rebecca Oswald
Senior at Campbell High School in Litchfield, which will hold its 2020 commencement on June 12. She plans to attend Sacred Heart University in Connecticut in the fall.

Under the circumstances, planning for graduation this year has been different than what I expected it to be. … I am truly so grateful that as a class we do get a live graduation, and though we don’t have a Senior Week or any of the activities that come with the last month of senior year, we do get to spend that time together and cherish those moments. … After graduation, I was going to go abroad in Europe with my grandparents and truly enjoy my summer before I go off to college in the fall. Sadly, due to the pandemic, I have had the trip to Europe canceled.

Erica Royle
Public health graduate of Rivier University in Nashua, which has postponed its commencement ceremony.

Unfortunately, my time on campus came to an abrupt end when students had to move off campus due to Covid-19. I was devastated. I never thought this was how my senior year was going to end. … Although the seniors at my school were not able to celebrate together in person, my school did an amazing job making all the seniors feel loved with virtual ways to connect during these difficult times. … The thing I was looking forward to the most was getting to walk across the stage, receive my degree and getting to celebrate with my friends and family. … Of course, it would have been amazing to celebrate that accomplishment with a graduation, but I still achieved what I set out to achieve, and that makes me happy. … It was always my goal to secure a job immediately after finishing school, and with a lot of hard work, I was able to accomplish that goal. … On May 4, I started my new job as an intensive case manager at Eliot Community Human Services.

Josh Sargent
Art and human development graduate at Plymouth State University, which has postponed its commencement ceremony.

Graduation this year didn’t go as planned. There was no preparation once Covid-19 hit. … The number one thing I was looking forward to about graduating was seeing my mother’s reaction to me walking across the stage. She deserves that piece of paper for supporting me just as much as I earned it.

Rose Speigel
Senior at The Derryfield School in Manchester, which will hold an on-campus commencement ceremony with social distancing guidelines on Aug. 1. She hopes to attend the New England College Institute of Art and Design in the fall.

I had the idea in my head that I would wrap up my schooling, finish final assignments and then graduate among my peers. Now due to Covid-19, I am not sure what day I will graduate. My school has prepared three different dates throughout this coming fall and winter to hold our commencement ceremony, and there is no determining which date, if any, it will be. … I left school on a Thursday in March assuming I’d be there that Friday, but school was canceled and now it’s June. … It felt like all these years would lead up to those special senior moments, and now it’s been cut short. … As far as I know, NECIAD will have classes on campus in the fall. However, if these plans and courses become online only, I will not attend until they are on campus again … because my intent was to work in a studio with all of the art amenities it has to offer.

Victoria Williams
Senior at Manchester School of Technology, which has moved its graduation ceremony to June 20 at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

I started off the year as senior class president and looked forward to making this senior year the best one yet. I intended for graduation to be as heartwarming and memorable as possible but now it [seems] like that really isn’t even my decision anymore. … My original plans after graduation [were] leaving the state and going to college, but with all the colleges closing, I honestly doubt that I will actually be able to. I do still intend on doing what I can to get as close to my long-term goal as possible, but I feel like it is not going to be a cake walk.

Kayleigh Zervos
Graduate of New England College in Henniker, which has postponed its commencement ceremony until Oct. 4, during Alumni Weekend.

I took extra classes so I was able to finish a semester early, allowing me to walk this May, but finish my last semester in the fall. … One of the main reasons I wanted to walk early was the fact that all my best friends and boyfriend are older than me [and are] graduating this year. It was definitely disappointing working so hard by taking extra courses for graduation to be postponed. We always have a senior week the week of graduation … so it was really sad knowing that we’ll never get to experience that together. I was really looking forward to … all of us [being] together one last time before entering the big world. My future plans were to finish my student teaching in the fall and possibly get hired at that school to work until the end of the school year. Otherwise, I would just move to Washington … to live with my boyfriend. If schools don’t open in the fall, I’m not sure whether or not I’ll be able to do student teaching with remote learning or have to wait until the next semester.

Lauren Zervos
Senior at John Stark Regional High School in Weare, which will hold its 2020 commencement on June 13. She’ll be attending the Maine College of Art in the fall.

I initially thought leading up to graduation would be extremely stressful. … Instead, the year ended so quickly I feel like it’s not real. Yesterday was March 13 in my mind. Now it’s June. Preparing for graduation has been quite different because we’ve been saying goodbye over video chat instead of … in person. I still am [attending college] but it might be a little different because of the chance that we would have to begin remotely.

The State of Summer Camps

How day camps are adapting to new rules

Gov. Chris Sununu recently gave the green light for summer day camps to open on Monday, June 22, and summer overnight camps to open on Sunday, June 28, stating that summer camps are an “essential” service for New Hampshire families.
Many camps have shifted to a virtual format or canceled their programs altogether. Some will move forward with their traditional camps starting on or after June 22, but with new guidelines about face coverings, social distancing, handwashing, sanitizing, health checks and pick-up and drop-off procedures, even the “traditional” summer camp experience will look a little different than what camp staff, families and campers are used to.
“We are looking at a lot of modifications or adaptations of our regular camp activities so that we can continue to meet the needs of the families while also following the CDC and governor’s guidelines,” said Lisa Bernard, executive director for the Granite YMCA Greater Londonderry branch.

A difficult decision
Rob Dionne, artistic director and CEO of The Majestic Theatre in Manchester, said making a decision about Majestic’s summer theater camp has been “an agonizing process.” He and his staff ultimately decided to offer virtual programming only.
“We tried to hang on as long as we could,” he said. “We didn’t want to cancel too far in advance because things seem to be changing daily, but looking at how the governor has been reopening things, we [came to the conclusion that] having our camps the way we normally do just wasn’t realistic anymore.”
Majestic will offer two virtual camps. One will consist of three week-long sessions for children ages five through seven, with 45-minute interactive workshops on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The other will consist of four week-long sessions for children ages eight through 14, with one-hour interactive workshops held twice a day, Monday through Friday, exploring theater skills like acting, improv, music, choreography, character development, audition preparation and more.
The Kimball Jenkins School of Art in Concord, which traditionally holds six weeks of summer camps focused on painting, sculpting, drawing, ceramics and other artistic media, was going to start with virtual programming and consider offering in-person camps the week of July 6, but the board ultimately elected not to offer any in-person camps this summer.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision that weighed on us just about every minute of the past several months,” executive director Julianne Gadoury said. “Some of children’s best learning and joyful experiences come from summer camp. … Lasting friendships are developed. … We understand and value this. Ultimately, however, we decided that, no matter how good our [health and safety] protocols were, … there is still a risk … [and] that risk will be present in all of our lives for a long time. … For now, we decided to take a pause.”
Kimball Jenkins will have a variety of week-long virtual camps, including ones focused on theater, dance, studio arts, comic making and clay, for kids ages five through 16. Campers will have art supplies delivered to their house each week and will take part in three hour-long interactive sessions online each day providing instruction on different activities they can do with those supplies.
“For parents, this will provide some daily structure for those who are working from home or need to leave their kids at home,” Gadoury said.
The Nature of Things, a Nashua-based educational institution and child care center, is the host of three summer camps: an outdoor adventure camp called Camp Lovewell, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) camp called Brainwave and an art camp called The Painted Turtle. President Kerry Gleeson said she believes the benefits that summer camp has for children outweigh the risks associated with the coronavirus. All three camps will run in person, with some modifications.
“We … understand the importance of children being outside and making social connections, especially at a time like this,” Gleeson said. “The public health crisis is certainly serious, but the other possible impacts on childhood development, such as psychological and emotional damages, are just as critical. It is always one of our foremost goals to ensure that we are addressing the needs of the whole child, and this is true now more than ever.”
Challenger Sports, a national soccer camp program, announced that it will offer both virtual and in-person camps, but because the in-person camps are run in partnership with community centers and organizations, they will be more limited this year than in years past.
“We have our own Covid-19 plan and restrictions, but our camps are a collaborative effort, and every organization we work with has different guidelines based on its local government,” vice president David Rush said. “Some have already told us they need to cancel camp this year, and there’s some that still have furloughed [staff], so there isn’t even anyone to talk to about camp.”
As of now, in-person Challenger soccer camps are being offered in Londonderry, Weare, Windham, New Boston, Hopkinton, Pelham and other towns and cities throughout New Hampshire, but Rush said plans are changing “on a regular basis.”
“There’s still so much uncertainty at this point,” he said. “One day we get a call saying, ‘Great news — we want to run the camp,’ and the next day we get a call saying, ‘We’re going to have to cancel.’ It’s a fluid, moving situation, but we should be able to say within the next few weeks with confidence what camps we’ll be running.”
Unfortunately, for camps like Camp Allen, a day and overnight outdoor adventure camp for children and adults with disabilities, a modified or virtual camp isn’t a viable alternative.
“When Covid-19 began to appear in the news, we started to worry,” executive director Michael Constance said. “We began to craft [health and safety] policies. … As the virus progressed, I started setting barometers as to events that would lead us to cancellation. What really made the decision was the outbreaks at two facilities that serve a similar population. I created a binder of research I collected over 30 days and presented this to the board, and the decision [to cancel] was unanimous.”

Health and safety
In-person summer camps will look very different to campers and parents this year as the camps have made significant modifications and implemented numerous health and safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. One of the biggest modifications is separating campers into small, isolated groups.
“Campers and staff will be divided into groups of 10 that will serve as their cohort for the summer,” said Emily O’Rourke, communications director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire, which serves the greater Concord area and Lakes Region. “We will be spreading cohorts throughout our facilities and may be using additional facilities. Interaction with others will be limited.”
The Challenger soccer camps will follow a similar model.
“Kids will be split into groups of ten, each with their own coach, and will be spread out on different sides of the field,” Rush said. “They won’t come together for opening or closing ceremonies; they won’t have lunch together; they will never interact with the other groups at camp.”
Camps that have a spacious facility or multiple facilities, like the Boys & Girls Clubs and The Merrimack Parks & Recreation Department’s Camp Naticook, are at an advantage because they can accommodate more groups of campers while keeping them at a safe distance from each other.
“We are fortunate here that we have such a large facility with a lot of buildings to operate out of,” Merrimack Parks & Recreation director Matthew Casparius said. “Some of my counterparts in other communities aren’t able to provide camp this summer because they simply don’t have the space that they would need to meet the guidelines.”
Even with smaller group sizes, camps have eliminated field trips to reduce the risk of community transmission of Covid-19, and they have modified their activities to include those that are more conducive to social distancing, like hands-on projects that campers can do independently and outdoor recreation. Camp Naticook, for example, has terminated activities like archery, playground time, contact sports and boating activities, which would involve campers being close to other campers and staff members, or sharing and touching the same equipment and surfaces.
“We’re looking at non-contact … games and nontraditional camp activities,” Casparius said. “We are still hoping to have a complement of sports and games, nature exploration, arts and crafts and drama games.”
Parents and campers will also need to familiarize themselves with long lists of new health and safety precautions. Universal guidelines require camp staff to wear face masks, wash their hands frequently and sanitize common areas and items after every use. There will be a zero-tolerance policy for campers or staff showing any symptoms of illness. Most camps have also added additional protocols of their own. Boys & Girls Clubs camps, for example, will conduct health checks at the door every day and sanitize all personal items that the campers bring with them; and Challenger soccer camps will stagger drop-off and pick-up times in 15-minute intervals to prevent large groups of parents and campers congregating in one area.

A devastating impact
For some summer camps and families seeking summer camps, the challenges created by Covid-19 are insurmountable.
“[Summer camp] is one of our most popular offerings of the year and brings in a lot of income for the theater,” Dionne said. “We’re losing a lot of money, and the longer this [pandemic] goes on, the scarier it gets, and the harder it gets just to maintain the bare essential [business costs].”
LetGoYourMind, a STEM program that planned to host camps in Amherst, Bedford, Concord, Londonderry, Manchester, Windham, Salem, Nashua, Pelham and other towns and cities throughout New Hampshire, had more than 700 families registered before it decided to cancel its traditional camps and go the virtual route. According to owner Jim Harvey, the cancellation has resulted in the program losing 90 percent of its revenue and put the program in a very difficult position:
“To get [the camp] up and running, throughout the year we … budget funds for insurance, rentals and staff … [and] purchasing new Legos, robots, computers, software and other such equipment,” Harvey said. “This is all paid for in advance. … Thank goodness we were able to secure a SBA [Small Business Association] loan to return the funds to the [registered] families.”
Most camps offering virtual programs as an alternative to their traditional summer camps are doing it not for the money — the mitigation of financial loss that the virtual programs provide is negligible — but as a way to stay connected with campers and families.
“We’re still looking at a 75 to 85 percent loss of income, even with the virtual programs, so it’s not like money is what’s driving us.” Dionne said. “This is a service to our families. Our No. 1 goal right now is making sure kids still have an opportunity to do music and theater this summer.”
In-person camps are suffering a significant loss of revenue as well, since social distancing restrictions have made it harder for them to accommodate their usual number of campers.
“Due to space limitations and increased staff-to-child ratio, we do not have as many openings as usual,” O’Rourke said. “Having fewer campers definitely impacts the bottom line and, for one thing means we can’t hire as many part-time staff as we usually do.”
With camps like the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA camps, which are primarily used as a means of summer-long child care, the space limitations affect not only the camp, but the families seeking child care, as well.
“All our camps currently are on waitlists,” O’Rourke said. “This makes it difficult for caregivers who need to get back to work, as their options may be more limited now.”
“We will be functioning at a smaller capacity because of having to split the campers into groups,” Bernard added. “We are attempting to get creative by looking for offsite locations and other spaces so that we are able to serve as many kids as we can.”
Some camp officials report that families might not yet feel comfortable sending their children to camp.
“Since the pandemic hit, people have been more cautious, and rightly so,” Rush said, “We’ve had very few new registrations since then.”
Pre-Covid-19, Challenger Sports averaged around 60,000 campers throughout the U.S. every summer, and around 2,500 in New Hampshire. This year, the program is looking at around 10,000 campers nationwide, with only 300 registered in New Hampshire so far.
“You don’t need to be a wizard with a calculator to see … that [Covid-19] had decimated us,” Rush said. “We’ve been able to weather [the financial loss] up until now because we received government aid, but the harsh reality is, that money is about the run out, and we will have to start borrowing money from the banks. It will take us, and every other camp company, two to three years to recover, because we aren’t making money this year, and next year we’ll be paying down our debt.”
Casparius noted that not only will Camp Naticook have fewer campers this summer but it will also need to hire and pay more staff since the campers will be divided into numerous small groups.
“The camp will probably lose money this summer,” he said.
Camp Naticook’s motivation for hosting summer camp this year is the same as that of The Majestic Theatre: to provide a service for campers and families.
“We are doing it because we know that families do need child care in order to go back to work themselves and kids need a sense of normalcy throughout all of this,” Casparius said. “They need to see their friends after being cooped up at home for the last few months, which they can only get at camp.”
Many camp directors said that if there is a silver lining to be found within the crippling impact Covid-19 has had on the summer camp business it’s the encouragement felt from the outpouring of support they have received from the community.
“We got a big reminder of how important camp is in people’s lives,” Constance said, “The letters and calls we have received have moved me to tears. Some families have even donated the tuition they paid to insure that we can continue what we do. I have always talked about camp being a family, and this situation has certainly reminded me of this fact.”

Photo courtesy of Camp Lovewell.

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