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!

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.

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

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

Letter to Counselors From a Camp Parent

IMG_9871

This letter from a Pine Forest parent was sent to the office just yesterday and we reprinted it with her permission.

Hello PFC summer staff 2015-

I am a parent sending [my children] to PFC this summer. They are so excited, and we are thrilled and grateful to be able to give them this gift of camp. However, my sleepless pre-camp nights have begun, because letting your children go away and leaving them in the care of others, is not a mother’s natural inclination. It is definitely unsettling.

I tell you this because I want you to know, that in caring for my children this summer, I consider you to have the most important job in the world! You probably have some friends who may be studying in a science lab or working for a judge or taking summer school classes…all to better their resume’ and prepare for their future. But if I were an employer looking to hire…your job as a counselor at camp would far outweigh those supposed resume building experiences. You have an opportunity to really care for and truly influence an individual. If you do it right, you can do anything well! To me, you would be the definition of a successful person.

So, thank you, in advance, for trying your best each and every day, even when it isn’t easy, and thank you for keeping my children safe and happy. You should feel honored and proud to have this most important job!

Enjoy!!