Camp Counselor: More Than an Internship

This guest blog post was written by all-star former counselor and year round Staff Coordinator, Elly Wallace.

Many people will tell you that the key to a successful future in the workplace is a solid internship related to your field of (potential) expertise.  While that may be true for a lot of people and a lot of careers, a job as a camp counselor can give you the skills to succeed in not only the workplace, but in all aspects of your life.  We’ve come up with three major things a summer camp job has the potential to provide, but like anything else, you get out what you put in.

Confidence

One of summer camp’s greatest qualities is its appreciation for individuality.  The most notable counselors are the ones who sing the loudest, dress the craziest, and are willing to participate in any and all activities that his or her campers come up with.  At camp, it’s hard to feel embarrassed.  It is surprisingly easy to step out of your comfort zone and into the uninhibited summer camp lifestyle.

Selflessness

While being a camp counselor can give you a great deal of self-understanding and important life skills, the most successful counselors are those who are not at camp for themselves, but for the campers.  Camp teaches you how to put the needs of your campers, or of any group, above your own.  In order to deal with confrontations, homesickness, shower hour, and anything else that comes your way in the bunk, you have to know how to prioritize.  As camp counselor, you are truly a surrogate parent for your campers and, while their problems may seem small to you, to them they are big and should be treated accordingly.

Leadership Ability

At camp, campers do not judge your ability to show them how to kick a soccer ball, make a friendship bracelet, or ride a zip line.  We find that campers instantly idolize a counselor’s ability to do anything, giving you a solid platform to develop and transform your leadership skills from the get-go.  You’ve been hired as a camp counselor and specialist in a specific activity; your accountability is already there.  This gives you the time to focus on building your character, integrity, commitment, enthusiasm, and open-mindedness.

Interested in working at PFC? Check out our staff page!

Congratulations, Chad!

Congratulations to to our own Steve “Chad” Chadwin who will be honored as a “Coaching Legend” by Coaches vs. Cancer on April 5th. Here’s the link for those who would like to attend or make a donation in Chad’s honor. Yo Chad! Way to go! We are proud of you!

http://coaches.acsevents.org/site/Calendar?id=121335&view=Detail

Guest Post: What PFC Means to Me

This guest post was written by Alli Lowenstein Cahill, who grew up at Pine Forest and returned last summer as the Intermediate Girls Division Leader. During the year, Alli works as a teacher in New Jersey.

I think that camp is one of the biggest gifts in life.  When I think of how Pine Forest has shaped me and how it has impacted me, I think about the past, present and future.  I am extremely proud to call myself an “old timer.”  I have spent thirteen incredible years at Pine Forest.  From being a camper in bunk Fern all the way up to Cliff as a waitress, to a counselor and member of the athletic staff, to having the awesome responsibility of caring for the Intermediate girls this past summer, every next year brings more joy.

When I think of past summers I remember the sounds of Purple Haze, campfires with Aunt Blanch, biking to NY, Sing in Hughie Hall, inter-camp competitions, the Friendship Tree, the long walks up to Lauri Field, pizza burgers and candy at canteen, Sparky in the kitchen, loud chants in the dining hall, and so much more.  Camp helped shape my character by showing me the real meaning of friendship and community.  There is a reason why we cry so much on the last few days.  It’s because Pine Forest Camp is and always will be our home away from home.  When I was going through the normal growing pains that every child experiences, I remember the way that camp always made me feel, so safe and comfortable.  It taught me how to be adventurous and to try new things.  It taught me cooperation, sportsmanship, and how to play fair.  It taught me compassion and understanding, acceptance and tolerance.  It taught me leadership skills.  It taught me vulnerability and how to handle it.  It taught me the real meaning of laughing out loud.  Camp is a truly a gift.

I always dreamed of becoming a teacher and having summer off so one day I could go back to Pine Forest and bring my own children with me.  That dream came true this past summer when I became a member of key staff, Intermediate Girls Division Leader.  It is definitely one of the most rewarding roles I have ever had at Pine Forest.  The Black family is near and dear to my heart and I would not want to work for anyone else.  They are so special.  The campers, counselors, and staff members are nothing less than magnificent.  I actually got to scream “shorts and longs today girls” instead of hiding underneath my covers.  Every day brought new adventures with my campers and counselors, and I cherished every minute.  I had so much fun planning the night activities for the Inter girls.  I love the traditional ones such as The Mostest, Statues, Bunk Feud, and Counselor Hunt, but I also started adding some new ones like World’s Greatest and Cupcake Wars.   It was an amazing summer and I look forward to so many more.  There is no better honor and privilege more rewarding than being able to impact the life of a child.  Camp is truly a gift.

When I think about the future for my daughter Alexandra, I think about how lucky she is to be able to spend her summers at Pine Forest.  The campers, counselors, and staff members have opened their arms to her.  She thinks that Mickey and Lee are superheroes in a way that little kids see their teachers out of school.  It is magical.  She will create friendships that will last a lifetime.  I did.  I long for camp days.  Camp is truly a gift.

Lenny Rapkin

This summer, one of the giants of Pine Forest leaders passed away, Lenny Rapkin, the boys camp Head Counselor and Director. Lenny was the ultimate camp director, confident, organized and fun. He led the boys camp in the late 1970’s and most of the 1980’s with gusto and humor. For most of those years Lenny’s counterpart was Edie Klein, head of the girls camp. In his perfectly pressed and matching jump suits, Lenny was one of PFC’s most popular leaders. His camp persona was like a combination of Mel Brooks and Gen. George Patton. His schedules were exact and comprehensive and boys camp ran with efficiency and care. Lenny and his dear wife Jane were a fixture at camp and his sons Mickey and Jonathan grew up at camp. Lenny and Jane’s grandchildren are currently PFC campers.

There was never a camp leader like Lenny Rapkin and there never will be again. He was a teacher, a leader and a role model to a generation of campers. The many, many lives he touched in boys camp and the men they became will be his lasting legacy.

Rapkin

Nurse Appreciation Week

PFC Health Center

Happy Nurse Appreciation Week to all of our nurses and health staff!

With summer approaching, we look forward to welcoming an all-star team of 18 nurses to Pine Forest and our brother and sister camps, Lake Owego and Timber Tops. Please join us by welcoming them for summer 2016!  They will be an extension of home to take care of all the campers when they need extra TLC, from a belly ache to a sting.  Our health center has a great collection of skills; it’s made up of nurse practitioners, ER nurses, school nurses and professionally trained military nurses.  Your children are in great hands!  You are welcome to call the health center and speak to our nurses anytime when camp is in session!

A big thank you to all of the 2016 nursing team, this week and every week. Camp is lucky to have all of you this summer!

Also, a special thank you to the team of doctors we will have at camp this summer.  Our doctors are so dedicated to camp and we can’t thank them enough for all that they do.

In good health,

Rachel Waszczak and the rest of the PFC family

Packing Tips for New Counselors

You’ve just scored this AWESOME job at Pine Forest and you’ll be turning onto Pine Forest Camp Road before you know it. You can practically hear the campers singing and see the bright Greeley stars. Before you leave for the best summer of your life, we want to provide you with this “unofficial” packing list. These are items that past staff members have found to be “essentials,” and most can be purchased at a low cost near camp!

Gear: Your favorite hoodie (hooded sweatshirt), lots of socks (when you think you packed enough, pack more!), rain boots, comfortable athletic shorts, blue and gold gear (think Color War!), white T-shirt for tie-dye, sunglasses.

Bedding: Warm blanket or comforter in addition to a light one. We know, we know- it’s summer! But we are in the rural mountains and the nights and mornings are cool! If you’re coming from overseas, don’t worry. We’ve got you!

Equipment: What will you be doing at camp? Will you need something specific for your activity? (Think baseball mitt, tennis racket, etc.)

Everyday Stuff: Sunscreen, water bottle, laundry bag, casual watch (you won’t have your phone with you to tell you the time!), headphones, pen and paper (to actually write letters!).

Fun: Theme-night clothes or wacky gear, clothes for a day off out of camp, bunk games like Jacks or a deck of cards.

Random awesomeness: Guitar (if you play), Diablo, juggling balls, playlist of music for your bunk, flag from your country, college gear, photos of your family and friends.

And most importantly, bring a camp state of mind: a sense of humor, enthusiasm, a great attitude, openness to try new things, excitement to meet new people and the realization that you are about to embark on an incredible, rewarding adventure that is truly life-changing!

Beth Mandel 2 054

Guest Blogger: PFC Division Leader

Tell us about yourself!
My name is Zach Gelb and I was the Senior Boys Division Leader in 2015 and will be the Hi-Senior Boys Division Leader in 2016. This will be my 14th summer at Pine Forest Camp. I was a camper for 8 summers and a staff member for 5, going on 6 summers.

What did you get out of your position as Senior Boys Division Leader?
My position was amazing. It was so much fun to interact with the kids and staff and watch them grow. The 7-8 weeks you spend at PFC will give you lifelong friends, a fantastic summer, and a bond you will always remember with the best people.

What makes a good counselor?
A great counselor can’t sweat the small stuff and has to be willing to try new things. Some of the best counselors I have seen always have great positive energy and are willing to help out in making the summer great for the kids.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced in your Division Leader role?
I had a camper who was homesick. I paid extra attention to this boy and made sure he always had something to do. After the first week of camp, his homesickness improved. But for that week, it was challenging to make sure he was always distracted and having fun while also dealing with many other children at camp.

What was your favorite thing about your Division Leader role?
I like many things about camp such as: boys’ line-up, basketball leagues, banquet, evening activities, camp chants, campfires, A-Game, and color war. However, my favorite part is seeing kids upset on the last day. Yes, that may seem odd, but when campers and staff cry on the last day, you know you did your job since they don’t want to leave camp. Like I said, camp is a magical place and you will forever cherish the bonds you make. Each summer is different and it just gets better and better. To have a camper or staff member (yes, staff cry too) cry or say thank you on the final day shows how appreciative they were of their experience at camp.

What do you wish you knew before working at camp? Any advice for new counselors?
My advice would be to look at each day as a new day at camp. Try everything you can and break out of your comfort zone early. Being a camp counselor can be very rewarding and you need to take advantage of every opportunity, as the summer goes by very quickly. As far as supplies, make sure to bring an egg crate, a fan, bug spray, and some funny costumes. You can purchase most of that stuff near camp. I would also encourage you to try and meet other staff members, whether it be in person or online, before you come to camp, but this is not a necessity.

Gelb

MVP: Most Valuable Position

You have likely heard that the key to a successful future in the workplace is a solid internship related to your field of expertise. While this may be true for some, a job as camp counselor also gives you the skills you need to succeed in the workplace and in life! We’ve compiled a list of five major skills a camp job teaches (which, to us, is way more important than bringing some big-shot executive coffee all summer!):

Photo246
Leadership Skills
At camp, campers do not judge your ability to show them how to kick a soccer ball, make a friendship bracelet, or ride a zip line. Campers instantly idolize a counselor’s ability to do anything, giving you a solid platform to develop and transform your leadership skills from the get-go. You’ve been hired because we know you’re skilled. Now focus on building character, integrity, commitment, enthusiasm, and open-mindedness in your work!

Confidence
One of camp’s greatest qualities is its appreciation for individuality. The most notable counselors are the ones who sing the loudest, dress the craziest, and are willing to participate in any and all activities that his or her campers come up with. At camp, it’s hard to feel embarrassed. It is surprisingly easy to step out of your comfort zone and into the uninhibited summer camp lifestyle. And hey, you might learn some new things about yourself along the way.

Selflessness
While being a camp counselor can give you a great deal of self-understanding and important life skills, counselors quickly learn to put others, children, before themselves. As a camp counselor, you are truly a surrogate parent for your campers and, while their problems may seem small to you, they are big, real, and totally consuming! By taking on the role of counselor, you are making a difference in these campers’ lives. They will quickly become your whole world!

Concrete Interview Material
As you interview for jobs, you will likely be asked a question that begins with “tell me about a time when…”. At camp, you are living with children for almost two months. You will undoubtedly leave with examples of accomplishments, challenges, strengths, and weaknesses. You will also come home with many marketable skills for your resume that are applicable to almost every career path. These include communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to work well in a group setting. Another advantage of working at a residential summer camp is the expansion of your peer network. You are working with people from all over the world with a variety of different backgrounds and your peer network is a very useful resource when applying for jobs.

Perspective

Now, more than ever before, we need a reminder to put our electronics aside, take in a breath of fresh air, and be present in the moment. Camp gives you the unique opportunity to connect with yourself, with others, and with nature. You will find that the counselors benefit from unplugging just as much as the campers! Have you seen how bright the stars shine at camp? Become inspired!

Guest Blogger: PFC Counselor

My name is Adam Polikoff and I am a general bunk counselor at camp. This upcoming summer will be my tenth summer. I was a camper from 4th grade through 11th grade (8 years), and became a counselor for the first time last year!

What did you get out of your position?
My experience as a counselor showed me the integral role that I had in the summers of each of my campers. As the summer went on, I realized just how much what I did each and every day influenced the enjoyment of each camper under my supervision. During the last few days of camp, many of my campers and others in my division told me personally that I, along with many other counselors really made this past summer one of the best of their lives. Also, I learned how the job of being a camp counselor really brings many co-counselors together as friends. I have been going to camp for a long time, so naturally I did not expect to become good friends with anybody other than my original “camp friends,” but I quickly realized that I became close friends with many counselors who were experiencing PFC for the first time.

What makes a good counselor?
From my experiences as both a camper and a counselor, I have learned that a good counselor is one who actively keeps camp fun for his campers. In order to consistently do this, a good counselor genuinely enjoys the time he spends with his campers! Campers are happy when their counselor has a positive, upbeat attitude.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced in your role?
One of the greatest challenges that I faced in my position was encouraging my campers to clean the bunk. Every day after breakfast, there is a period of time designated to cleaning the bunks for inspection. However, as would be expected, most of the campers showed no desire to actually clean the bunk during this time. Rather, they would choose to play games and sit around. One of the ways through which I attempted to remedy this problem was by providing certain small incentives to the person who cleaned the most or even to everybody upon receiving a certain inspection score. This turned out to be an effective strategy.

What’s your favorite thing about your role?
My favorite thing about my role at camp is that it allowed for the creation of many bonds. I am very happy that I was able to leave camp with new friends. As I left camp, I knew that the time that I spent with my campers contributed to their enjoyment of the summer in a big way, and that satisfying feeling is one of my favorite parts of being a counselor.

Any advice for new counselors?
Try to keep a positive attitude around your campers even when you are tired. If you are able to remain positive and sustain an energetic mood, then that positivity and uplifting attitude will translate unto the campers and help them enjoy each and every day as much as possible.

image2

A New Worldview

Sometimes, with all that is going on in our lives, it is too easy to feel like the world is made up of just our friends, family and the people we see (whether in person or on social media) on a regular basis. We might gravitate toward and spend time with people from the same places, same culture and similar backgrounds and can often forget that the world is so much bigger with so much more to offer than we realize.

The great thing about an experience at camp is that whether you are a camper or a staff member, being at camp will definitely make you view the world differently! We are so excited to hire extraordinary, skilled counselors from all around the world. We have staff recruiting trips to London, Manchester, Budapest, Czech Republic, as well as Oregon, Ohio and Kansas. We have campers that represent 15 states and 3 countries. Camp gives you the benefit of coming into contact with people from many different schools, communities, countries and cultures.

Diversity brings so much to the camp experience and helps us see the world differently, but we also come to realize that we’re not that different from one another. These relationships help us to grow and teach us about getting along with others, and not just the people we see as similar to us. It’s just one more thing that proves how much camp can teach you.

It’s amazing to realize that there is so much more out there, and spending a summer at camp, with people from all over, gives us a greater understanding of ourselves, other people, our country, and the world!

Blog 1.29