Today was the morning our campers have been training for all summer. This morning we held the 2019 CAMPER SCAMPER! Campers from Pine Forest, and our sister and brother camps, Camp Timber Tops and Lake Owego Camp, ran as fast as they could through the hills of camp. Campers cheered on their friends from the sidelines, handing out cups of water and encouragement. Even some of our key staff joined in!
Our 11th graders have landed in Costa Rica and adventure (And service learning! And leadership!) awaits! They’re off with their peers from Camp Timber Tops and Lake Owego Camp to explore a new place and grow as leaders! They’ll begin their experience in Costa Rica with a whitewater rafting trip down the Pacuare River. After a few workshops and bonding experiences, our campers will work together and utilize their (New!) Spanish skills to create and run a summer day camp for local children who would not otherwise have access to a camp experience. They’ll develop meaningful connections with their campers through fun, engaging, and team building activities. We can’t wait until they come back to camp and share what they’ve learned!
A Note from Mickey Black:
I love to read. This summer I look forward to hosting the second season of “Mickey’s Book Club” for Middle school age campers. Stay tuned for the announcement of our first book for discussion!
One of my favorite authors for older campers and parents is John McPhee. He is an award-winning non-fiction writer who is curious about everything. There is no one better at explaining how things works. And the range of his subject matter is limitless. He explains everything from fly –fishing in the Poconos, to building a bark canoe, to the origins of prehistoric oysters.
Last night as I was reading his latest collection of essays “The Patch,” I came across this passage that I wanted to share. He describes lecturing at an elite Northeastern college, when the first question raised by someone in the audience is “Of all the educational institutions you went to when you were younger, which one had the greatest influence on the work you do now?”
This is what he said.
“The question stopped me for a moment…Across my mind flashed the names of a public-school system K though 12, a New England private school (13), and two universities-one in the United States, one abroad -and in a split second I blurted out. ‘The children’s camp I went to when I was six years old’… The response drew general laughter, but, funny or not, it was the simple truth.”
McPhee spent his summers at Camp Keewaydin , an all boys, primarily canoeing camp in Vermont, but his observation about the profound and lifelong impact of camp on one’s intellect, curiosity and creativity is true of any good camp, like Pine Forest.
Camp teaches campers to be aware of all of the things and adventures around them and to find out more. It gives every camper a chance to explore whatever peeks their curiosity at their own pace. And in today’s pre-programmed world, that is rare and special, indeed. With enthusiastic staff around them to guide them forward, there is no limit to what they will discover.
“Check out these fun facts about Pine Forest Camp!”
- Pine Forest was founded by Hughie Black, a teacher and professional basketball player. His team the Philadelphia SPHAS (South Philadelphia Hebrew Athletic Society) was the beginning of the Philadelphia Warriors (now the Golden State Warriors) and the Philadelphia 76ers. Hughie and his team are celebrated in the basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
- Established in 1931, Pine Forest was started in 1931 and is still owned and operated by its original family on the same land, making it one of the oldest camps under continuous ownership in America.
- Pine Forest is located in the middle of 1,000 acres of woodlands but is only an hour and half away from NYC.
- Campers come from 404 towns, 11 states and 6 countries.
- The return rate of eligible campers is 98% and there are almost 100 new campers every summer, taking the place of those who “graduate”.
- In partnership with Rustic Pathways our 11thgraders do community service, working with underprivileged children in Costa Rica.
- The ratio of staff to campers is 1 staff member for every 2 campers.
- An “Old-timers” Tree stands in the middle of camp with the names of those campers and counselors who have attended Pine Forest for at least 10 years. There are over 400 names on the tree.
The trouble with camp is that camp ends.
The buses pull out this morning. In an instant, camp is silent. But the air will be filled with happy memories. Pine Forest’s 88th summer has come to a close and it was one of the best ever.
Thank you campers and counselors, housekeeping and maintenance, nurses and doctors and office staff, one and all, for making it such a tremendous season.
And now it’s back to home and school. But everyone who shared this wonderful summer comes home a little different. A little better. Keep the spirit of PFC alive all year long. Stay in touch.
Pine Forest is more than a place in Greeley, PA. It’s a place in our hearts.
Mountain Baggage, R&B, UPS, FedEx, parent pick-up. Like the song says, “all our bags are packed, we’re ready to go.”
Today we packed up, have our awards ceremonies, and tonight it’s the candlelight. It feels like we just arrived.
But we’re coming home with so much more than we can pack in a bag; new friends, new adventures, new confidence. There isn’t a duffle bag or shipping company big enough to handle it.
Those are the things that we carry.
Our Senior girls were knee deep in Banquet preparations this week — all for tonight! This year’s theme? 8-er Space! The dining hall was transformed into another world and the food was AWESOME.
The transition to “the real world” isn’t always easy for you and your campers. Here are some tips to help both of you make the transition as smooth as possible.
- Don’t take it personally.
Yes, they’ll be SO happy to see you. They’re also very, very sad.
They’re sad to leave camp! They’re sad to leave their friends! They’re sad to leave their counselors! They’re sad to leave their independence and camp persona! It’s okay (great actually)! It means you gave them the best gift ever!
- Remember: They’re exhausted.
In the last week alone, they experience Color Days, the play, song and cheer, a gymnastics show, banquet, packing and more. Over the past seven weeks they’ve been living with ten other people, hanging out with friends day and night, participating in activities from sun up to sun down. Enough said.
- Be patient.
It might take a few hours or a few days to be entirely “on.” They might even seem a little numb. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you or didn’t miss you. It doesn’t mean that they won’t open up and start gushing in a few days. Nothing is wrong. They just need time! Things that are normal: wanting to talk to their camp friends immediately, all-day, every day for a few days (yes, they just spent seven weeks with them – we know). Wanting to spend some time alone before jumping into the deep end of home life (think family gatherings, sporting events, play dates). Any combination of the above. Normal. Normal. Normal.
- Focus on small moments and questions.
Think about your two best friends who live far away.
Friend one: you pick up the phone no matter what, even if you only have a minute. Though it’s been months, you know she’ll cut right to the chase and start where things left off. Or not. Maybe you just answer a quick question, maybe you talk about who got the final rose- you can hang up when you need to. One word answers, longer answers, anything goes. No pressure.
Friend two: You love her. Really. You LOVE her as much as friend one. But you really only pick up when you have time to sit, totally focused, for an hour-long catch-up. So, no. You don’t always pick up. Because you’re at work, or you’re making dinner, or you’re about to get the kids ready for bed, or you just don’t feel like telling your life story. That. Sounds. Exhausting.
The moral? Be friend one. You’ll learn more!
What was this morning like?
Which activity was the best?
Who was the goofiest counselor in your bunk?
Less good questions/statements:
Tell me EVERYTHING about camp.
Can you explain your weekly schedule?
What were all of your counselors like?
Ask a few, manageable, lighthearted questions every hour on that first day. You’ll open up that can of worms without having to pry, without overwhelming your fresh-off-the-bus camper.
- Give them wings.
At camp they were the most independent versions of themselves and they’re still basking in the glow of those camp freedoms. Advocating for themselves, making independent choices— it’s why you sent them to camp! Think about how you felt the first time you came home from college. It was a little weird! Think about small liberties you can introduce to reinforce your camper’s summer growth. If you have an eight-year-old who didn’t make his or her bed before camp, encourage him or her to make the bed at home (even if it isn’t as beautiful as you’d like). Though seemingly a “chore,” having your camper do things for him or herself at home will continue the summer’s momentum and make him or her feel happy and confident. And isn’t that what this whole camp thing was about from the start?
Cedar Rapids, Skinners Falls, Mongaup, Pond Eddy, Hawk’s Nest… Iconic names of places on the river’s edge. Some spots are marked, some are just legend, but you know
that you are moving by fast and moving with the force of one of the great rivers in North America. You’re on the Delaware.
Some campers crave the unknown, the unexpected… true adventure. And they love a canoe trip. Put on your sunscreen, your life jacket and grab a paddle. You never know what’s around the next bend. Kind of like life.
Camp is many things, but there’s nothing fake or virtual about it. It is as real as real can get. Once you commit, you may get wet, you may get weary, but you’re going to make it. And there’s no better feeling.