We finished day 3 with Gold Day in the lead, 1568.5 to 1476. It all comes down to The Sing.
Night and Day, Day and Night. We only have five of you left, but the best is yet to come.
You hear a series of car horns in the middle of the night. To most people, this indicates a disgruntled driver in the neighborhood. To camp people, the first instinct is COLOR DAYS! This is just one of the many examples of what makes “camp people” unique.
Camp is unlike any other experience. You spend two months in the woods, living in a cabin with a group of kids your age and some (really cool) college students. You do everything together; eat meals, sleep, rock climb, write letters, swim, play sports, make up dances, paint pottery – you name it. These experiences cultivate a shared understanding. You develop a respect for one another that’s different from the one you have for peers at school.
Below are some of the things that make camp, camp!
There’s nothing like sitting around a crackling campfire under the stars with your summer family. You listen to stories, watch skits, sing songs, and eat s’mores. It’s a shared experience that strengthens the bond of camp friends and represents the unique connection we have with nature. It’s one of camp’s most long-lasting and meaningful traditions and links us to generations of Pine Forest campers and counselors.
Anyone who has spent time at camp is familiar with the term “camp arm.” This expression is used to describe the seemingly endless amount of bracelets that blanket the arms of our female campers. The bracelets at camp aren’t fancy and aren’t (usually) trendy. Friendship bracelets are simple, timeless. All you need is string (the more colors, the better), beads, gimp, rubber bands, and just about anything else you can find at arts and crafts. They are a reminder of special times with summer sisters and oftentimes remain on camper arms in September, much to the chagrin of their parents.
In the dining hall, on a bunkmate’s birthday, around the campfire, and before bed every night are just a few examples of when we come together to sing at camp. We use songs as closure at the end of Color Days and at the Candlelight Ceremony on the last night of camp. Friends, friends, friends, we will always be…
1, 2, 3, 4, we want color war! There is nothing like Color Days at PFC. Though it starts around the same time every summer, the actual breakout is unpredictable and one of the biggest highlights of summer. With drummers, torches, amazing costumes, fireworks, and an 85 engulfed in flames in Lake Greeley, this past summer’s was particularly magical and surely will not be forgotten. Campers show support for their team in head-to-toe blue or gold, including high socks, face paint, headbands, and costumes that align with the theme. They lose their voices as they cheer on their teammates in Find the Hatchet, skits, races, and sporting events. They proudly hold signs supporting their generals and players during A-Game. Tears are shed as Color Days come to a close and PFC unites as one camp family again.
Crazy OutfitsOne of the best things about camp is that it allows you to let your guard down and be yourself. It’s cool to be different at camp, and that’s one of the many reasons that camp fosters confidence. Without this added pressure, we’re not afraid to cover ourselves in blue and yellow face paint or show up to breakfast in a tutu, or evening activity in a toga. Always wanted to dance on stage in a purple wig? Go ahead! It’s camp.
Now more than ever before, unplugging from the internet at camp has become a sacred tradition. This is something campers come to really appreciate. Interactions become more meaningful, they learn to appreciate time spent outside, they write letters. At camp, there’s no pressure to have the highest number of friends or likes, and text messages are replaced with face-to-face conversations. It gets increasingly more difficult with time to imagine a child keeping themselves entertained in a room without screens. Then how, we ask, is it possible that you can’t get bored at camp?!
Everyone is a winner at camp. You are free to try any activity you’d like, no matter what your skill level is. In fact, you have to! We all do! We’re all in it together. Your camp friends and counselors will be filled with pride as you hit your first home run, catch a fish, or earn a role in the play. From the beginning of the day when you motivate each other to get to breakfast on time, to doing your assigned job during cleanup, to trying to win the scavenger hunt at evening program, you spend your day working as a team.
All of the above elements of camp represent tradition. The word “tradition” is used to describe customs that are passed down from generation to generation. Whether you went to PFC in 1945 or 2015, you likely had many of the same experiences. These generational ties are an incredibly special part of camp. Taps and Friends, the Candlelight Ceremony, and A-Game are just a few. There are many other traditions unique to PFC that have remained the same for decades. This includes canoeing to Blueberry Island, Marv’s campfire, and lower camp overnights. Camp traditions are sacred and become some of our most cherished childhood memories.
What are some other things that only camp people understand?
Four teams, one dream… to be College Day champions. Maryland, Oregon, Wisconsin and Kentucky arrived at Pine Forest Camp for 24 hours of heated competition. The weather was hot, but the competition was hotter. Starting last night with the opening ceremonies and continuing today with track and field and swim meets, the entirety of Boys Camp banded together in these four teams to duke it out.
During the opening ceremonies, we got to experience each division competing in tug-of-war, we saw the madness of an egg on the spoon race and a watermelon eating contest, campers participated in cheer offs, and we determined just who was the loudest, proudest and most outgoing. After a dominant performance on night one, Maryland emerged as the leader and favorite going into day two.
During day two, the campers were up bright and early to march to Mitchell Field and Dan’s Diamond to compete in the annual track meet. Events included relay races, shuttle runs, obstacle courses, broad jumps and more. And of course, how could anyone forget the famous Jr. Skeeter Swift. By the end of the track meet, the Terps of Maryland had a small advantage but Wisconsin was right on their toes. Finally, we had a swim meet at the Boy’s Pool and at the lake to determine the champion of College Day. After many intense events, including the first ever water basketball competition, the Wisconsin Badgers emerged as the champions of College Day 2015 for Boys Camp!
College Day 2015, four schools with the dream of being named Champions of the Colleges. This year, the universities of Oregon, Kentucky, Maryland and Wisconsin arrived at the place where the sky begins to battle on the fields, in the pools, and on the courts to determine which school is best. Starting with the opening ceremonies last night and heading into the swim meet, track meet and field events of today, all the campers did a great job of battling it out and showing their pride and effort.
Last night, all four teams gave their all during opening ceremonies and campers and team coaches got to participate in far flung events such as a watermelon eating contest, egg on a spoon races, tug-of-war, and cheer offs. Team Maryland dominated the tug-of-war allowing them to gain an early lead.
On day two, the campers were up early and headed up to Lauri Field for competition in camp classics ranging from an obstacle course, the human pyramid, the Lauri field relay, and the Jr. Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest. All participants battled each other with good sportsmanship and amazing dance moves. However, by the end of the track meet, the Ducks of Oregon had established a firm lead.
Finally, Girls Camp headed to Girls Pool and the lake to participate in the annual College Day Swim Meet and Lake Regatta. Campers showed off their aquatic abilities and their team spirit, leaving counselors and key staff saying this was one of the best College Days ever! By the end of the water competitions, the Maryland Terrapins emerged victorious as College Day Champions 2015!
53 years ago today, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a single basketball game. Did you know that before Wilt was famous, he worked in the kitchen at PFC!? He was actually “asked to leave”, but later came back to visit after much fame and fortune.
Some remember that when Wilt rode a horse out on Route 6 (not allowed nowadays) his feet would drag on the ground! We’re guessing that if Wilt played in one of our counselor basketball games today, he’d likely score 100 points again.
Here he is signing autographs and posing with Uncle Marv & Mickey.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What makes PFC great? The people. No question. We take pride in hiring the best counselors around to make each and every summer at Pine Forest exceptional! Former campers, athletes, coaches, teachers, bio-engineers…You name it. We search far and wide to find great people.
Last week, one of our directors, Lee, went overseas to Manchester, London and Krakow (Poland!!) to search for a few sensational international specialist counselors for activities including: Ropes, Aquatics, Waterfront, Outdoor Rec., and much more! There’s nothing like meeting applicants in person.
Here are some new faces to look forward to seeing this summer at PFC!
You may have seen the blog “The Opposite of Spoiled” by Ron Leiber that appeared in the New York Times on December 11th, entitled “Finding an Overnight Camp that’s Truly Worth It.” If not, it’s worth the read. Leiber raises five “essential” questions that parents should ask when choosing a summer camp that is truly worth it. Here are the questions from the article and our answers. We think that they truly set Pine Forest apart, above and beyond others. Read on!
1) “Where are other children going?”
As Leiber says, this is a trick question. There is a natural instinct to send your child to the same camp as his or her friends in the neighborhood. The answer should be that a worthwhile overnight camp has a diversity of geographic areas represented. Overnight camp friends should not be the same as friends at home. That’s the biggest difference from day camp. Every child has friends from home and school, but let camp introduce him to a whole new group of friends, some that span great distances, with different interests, styles and stories. Let your child reinvent him or herself! An investment in camp should broaden a child’s circle of friends and prepare him or her for making connections in college, in the work place and in life!
Here’s an interesting statistic: At PFC we have campers from 114 towns, 15 states and 4 countries. There’s a whole world of new friends out there, and they might be living right in your cabin!
2) “What are the retention figures?”
This is one of our favorites. Once a child starts at camp there is a 90% return the next year. This continues until “graduating” as 11th graders. Our retention rates are truly amazing. The author asks if we do follow up on those few who don’t return, and of course we do. Every camper is an integral part of our camp family. Honestly, the few children who depart before their final year do so for reasons unrelated to camp, a family trip is planned, a team requires practice at home, etc.
The blog also asks the retention rate of counselors and the percentage of counselors who are former campers. Here’s an answer that you might not expect: first as to counselor retention, our standards are high. Counselors are not automatically asked to return, in fact we are very selective about who meets our standards. Also, the truth is that not every former camper makes a great counselor. The transition is not easy. Not every young adult can make the change from being the one who is looked after to the person who does the looking after. New counselors bring new ideas, new energy and a gung-ho spirit, that not every former camper possesses. Our experience and firm belief is that the best counselor team is a mix, new and old. We want the most enthusiastic, positive role models for campers, whomever they are!
3) “What can they do here that they can’t do at home?”
Here’s the beginning of a truly endless list that starts with wake-up and goes till lights-out. Good morning, it’s group clean up, then off to rock-climbing, mountain biking, martial arts, sailing, canoeing the rapids of the Delaware. Travel with your camp basketball team to play another camp. Experience Capture the Assagi, join a dance team, start a rock band, hike the Appalachian Trail, overnight in a yurt, cook wood-burning pizza, visit a Triple A small-town baseball game, act in a bunk skit, link arms with a whole camp and sing songs around a campfire that have been sung for generations.
And by the way, we try not to do things that you do at home. So on trips we stay in college dorms-not hotels, we don’t normally go to amusement parks, bowling, movie theaters. It’s on purpose! You can do that at home with your parents!
4) “What makes your camp unique?”
To us, that really is the most important question. Our camp organization is 85 years old and has been in one family for 5 generations. There are thousands of camps in the USA, hundreds that are old but very few, if any, can say that. Our longevity and track record is truly unmatched. Our facilities are modern. The range of activity choices, amazing. Our camp staff is second to none, filled with coaches and teachers and camp folk. The ratio of staff to campers, almost 2:1. We have a rare range of campers from all over. But it’s our 5 generations, 85 years, of down-to-earth, friendly, warm, accepting, earthy, kids of character who make Pine Forest unique.
5) “Can you tell me about the ties that bind?”
Here the author is really asking about the soul of a camp. He mentions his daughter, at lineup, watching two staff members honored who fell in love and became engaged at camp. He’s speaking to a sense of self, a sense of identity that links a person to his or her camp for all of time.
All you have to do is look around Pine Forest to see our ties that bind: from names on courts and fields to our Old Timers Tree and memory wall spanning generations. As you probably know, we keep in touch with campers and alumni during the off-season in ways that go above and beyond any other camps we know of. Between reunions, local get-togethers, alumni events in cities around the country, and alumni Facebook pages, Pine Forest Camp is with our campers, in their daily lives, long after they’re campers. If you’ve never done so, just take a minute to check out our online database of Old Timers Tree names or our Married Couples Who Met at Camp link. Both speak to the heart and soul of camp, and that heart and soul is you: each and every past, present or future camper who spends one summer or ten in Greeley, PA.
There are three signs that nature sends us every summer to let us know that camp is fleeting; going too fast. First we see the Canadian geese overhead, in tight V formation flying low over Mitchell Field heading south in advance of the cold. You can hear the squawking as they approach, zeroing in on their flight path.
Next is the sight of the first red leaves. Usually, you can find them down by the lake. There they are, on the tips of the tallest trees, red, yellow and gold waving in the breeze coming off Lake Greeley. It’s always the first week in August, just before Color Days, color!
And finally there are the crickets. They start at dusk, just as the sun goes down over the tree tops above the girls pool. You can hear just a few, here and there, during the month of July. The sound gets louder each week. Louder and louder, a crescendo, until the final days of camp, when they sound like a symphony. Sometimes you have to raise your voice to be heard over the cacophony of sound.
The smell of pines, the sight of a Milky Way of stars above, the feel of brisk mountain air and the happy crazy sound of crickets.
As we embark on our 85th summer, we want to express our heartfelt thanks for the 4 generations of campers and counselors who have been a part of Pine Forest Camp.
From the tree tops of Lauri Field to the shores of Lake Greeley, from Juniors to mighty Hi-Seniors, from great –grandparents to great –grandchildren, thank you all.
Every camp tells a story. Whether you went to PFC for one summer or ten, you have written Pine Forest’s story and it is filled with fun, friendship and love.
Keep the memories alive and the friendships strong, not just in summer but in every season of the year and of your life. Wherever you are, Pine Forest is with you. And after all of these years and all of those generations, that is a lot to be thankful for.
Happy 85th! Happy Thanksgiving!