Fun Facts for New Families!

We can’t believe it’s spring and the 2017 camping season will be here before we know it!  We want you and your child to be as comfortable and as prepared as possible in the days leading up to camp.  We thought it would be fun and helpful to share some fun facts about us so everyone is “in the know.”

Pine Forest is full of tradition, rituals and special names.  Each one is so meaningful to both the campers and staff.

“Up Where the Sky Begins”  Pine Forest Camp slogan/philosophy

“When Lights Are Low” and “High In The Mountains”  PFC’s camp songs. among many others.

Blue and Gold– Camp colors.

Many of camp’s fields, courts and venues are named after camp’s founders Hughie and Selma Black, descendants as well as many old-timers.

“Hughie Hall”- Indoor venue that houses many camp activities, including basketball, broadcasting, yoga, fitness center and much more.

Libby courts”-  One of camps three sets of tennis courts.

Netsy Playhouse”–  Outdoor amphitheater where camps shows and services are held.

Marvin Hall”-  Outdoor gymnastics pavilion.

“Mitchell Field”–  Large field near entrance for sports and campfires.

“Barbie’s Bar-B-Que”/AKA “The Grove”–  Outdoor picnic area where campers are served a weekly cookout.

“Lauri Field”– Another large field at the top of camp that hosts various sports, including track and field.  Great for star-gazing too!

Lee’s Rink”- Hockey pavilion by Hughie Hall.

“Eric’s Fitness Center”– State-of-the-art fitness facility.

“Ruby’s Canteen”– Named after Uncle Hughie’s great-great granddaughter.  Various times a week, campers look forward to special treats.

“Chadwin Court- AKA “Main Court”-  Popular basketball court in the center of camp, with lights and stadium seating all around.  Named after long-time athletic director Steve “Chad” Chadwin.

Lake Greeley  The walk to our beautiful lake is always a special one.  Stroll down “Milligan’s Trail” and throw a stone to make a wish into “Lisa’s Heart-Shaped Pond.”

Blueberry Island– Camp’s private island by the lake where campers canoe to and explore.

The “Friendship” Tree – It used to be a sprawling spruce tree in the center of camp, but over the 87 years, it’s been reduced to more of a “beautiful” stump.  With a white bench all around, it’s the main meeting place for campers and counselors in the center of camp, perfect for brothers and sisters to meet after dinner.

Bunk Names  The boys bunks are names after tree and the girls bunks are named after flowers.

The Old-Timers Tree  This old tree proudly displays plaques of the names of all campers and staff throughout our 84 years that have gone to camp for 10 years or more.  It’s very exciting for old-timers to have their names permanently added for all time.  There are almost 400 names now on the tree!

Hopefully this list will help you and your child feel even more a part of our camp family as we countdown to welcome you this summer.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have and we can’t wait to see your campers in less than 100 days!

What Your Child Will Get Out of Camp

In addition to mastering the zip line and perfecting the butterfly stroke, the intangible lessons of camp know no bounds. In fact, it’s these more abstract takeaways that make the biggest impact on our campers. When we talk to families about camp in their living rooms, when we walk touring families around our grounds, we tend to focus on schedules and special programs; the most important thing about camp, though, is its people, the community, and the gifts we take from it.

We often say that camp teaches you to be the best version of yourself, but that doesn’t always come easily. Nothing great does! It takes work to practice living away from your parents! It takes work to live with people from different neighborhoods or even countries who might have different views! It’s not easy to have face-to-face conversations instead of sending a text or email in camp’s tech-free zone!

So, what will your child get out of camp? We hope team-sport skills are perfected and yoga is given a real chance, but it’s so much bigger that. Your child will come home more confident for having stood up for a friend, happier for having spontaneously burst into song and cheer, more comfortable in his or her skin for having navigated both big and small tasks independently. Oh, and your child will have a group of friends and community for life that are sacred, that are all his or her own, that they can always come back to and rely upon.

Camp takes a sense of adventure and grit and stick-to-it-ness and empathy and goofiness and a zest for life that we all wish for our kids! Those are the true gifts of camp, and what gifts could be more important?

Hiding Behind My Sunglasses

Yes, that will be me on Saturday, hiding behind my sunglasses, holding back my tears.  Me, who promotes camp to other parents and me, who believes whole-heartedly in the lifelong benefits and pure and simple fun of overnight camp. But, still, that’ll be me.

It doesn’t matter how much you know they’ll love it, it doesn’t matter that you know they’re about to make friends and memories that will last for a lifetime.  It doesn’t matter that you know they’re about to have more fun than they ever thought imaginable.  The bottom line is, letting your child go, allowing and empowering them to spread their wings without you is hard.  Really hard.  I think of this as the most selfless act we, as parents, have probably ever done to date.  Putting our needs and wants second to what we know is best for our children. It’s something we do everyday, but this is the granddaddy act of them all.

But, I find all the comfort and solace I need knowing my children will be safe, loved and cared for by some of the most amazing people I know.  That they will be making friends and living with other amazing children who, like them, just want to have fun and take in all that camp has to offer.  I will, like you, pour over the posted pictures each night and hang on every word that comes to me in letters. All the while, reminding myself how lucky we all are…The kids who get to go, and we as parents who get to send them. Their summer ahead at Pine Forest Camp is going to be incredible. For all these reasons, I truly can’t wait for my children to get started.

Good luck, Mom and Dad. I like to keep the morning short and sweet and without a lot of fan-fair.  That’s my advice. And, of course, don’t forget to wear your sunglasses.

Hillary Slovin

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What to Do and Not to Do Before the BIG DAY!

It’s incredibly natural to go into apocalyptic mode in this next week.

You know what we’re talking about:

What do you want your last meal to be?
Do you want to see a final movie tonight or just relax and hug?
When would you like to take Rover for a final walk?
How about Grandma and Grandpa? Let’s give them one final call!
Give your sister one huge final good kiss goodnight! You won’t again till August!

We know you’re well-meaning, but we have some advice for what it’s worth: Stop. STOP! You’re freaking them out! Let’s all try to remain normal and happy and calm. Be cool! Let’s enjoy final pre-camp moments but not belabor them. Let’s focus not on what your kids are missing at home but what they’re about to embark upon at camp. In our experience, end-of-world conversations and conversations focusing on home breed anxiety for a number of reasons. Here are a few of those reasons, and here’s what your kids may be thinking: I don’t know what I want my last meal to be! Oh my gosh, but what if I pick the wrong one and I want mom’s mac & cheese tomorrow and I can’t have it! How can I live with that regret! I hadn’t thought about seeing a movie or walking Rover, and I’d sort of forgotten that I wasn’t kissing my little sister goodnight all summer. AH! That’s scary! Am I SURE I want to give all of this up?

Of course the answer is a resounding “YES!” The gifts of camp are immeasurable and what they’ll be experiencing in a few days is life-changing. So let’s not focus on a final tuck-in or that one last hug. Keep your kids happy and focused on moving forward towards camp. Will you treasure those final moments? YES! Should you talk about them with your kids? Probably not. We’ll say it again: play it cool.

Smile, keep calm, talk about the great adventure they’re about to have. “Goodnight, Honey. I love you, and I’m so excited for you” always works. It’ll make it easier for your kids to get on the bus, and it’ll give them the courage to get off that bus once they’ve arrived “Up Where the Sky Begins.” We’ll take it from there!

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Reminders from PFC!

It’s that time of the year! You forget what your living room floor looks like under all of that camp gear, you’re constantly hearing the most up-to-date countdown to camp (8 days, 21 hours, 43 minutes!), and you miss them already. Take a deep breath. We are here for you as always! Below are some last minute tips as you make your final preparations for PFC 2016!

What to pack:
Plenty of underwear
A good flashlight
Lots of socks
Bug spray
Sunscreen
Stationary and stamps
A favorite stuffed animal
Hopes and dreams

What not to pack:
Homework
Electronic devices (Kindle, iPod Touch, screens that play games or shows, cell phones)

Important dates:
First day of camp: Saturday, June 25
Visiting Day: Saturday, July 23 @ 11:30AM
Last day of camp: Saturday, August 13

Important contact information:
PFC summer office: (570) 685-7141
Mountain Baggage: (570) 775-0556
R&B Baggage (for Florida families): (603) 536-2197
CampRx: (877) 302-3881

PFC mailing address:
185 Pine Forest Road
Greeley, PA 18425

Policy reminders:
-Phone calls are not necessary, but one can be scheduled before Visiting Day and one after Visiting Day. You can schedule your first call once your camper arrives at camp.
-NO packages, please! If a necessity is inadvertently left behind, please call the camp office for a pre-approval code so that your package will be accepted and delivered to your camper. We do allow birthday packages, so please clearly label these as birthday packages with your child’s birth date. Remember: NO food is allowed!

Photos:
Photos from the day will be uploaded to CampInTouch almost every night. You can access them using the same login you use to fill out forms.
https://pineforest.campintouch.com/v2/login/login.aspx

Expert tip: Mail a letter to your camper a few days before camp starts so that there’s one waiting for him or her on the first day of camp.

Follow us! You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat using @PineForestCamp.

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Home From Camp: A Warning (& Tips)!

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.

  1. 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!

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  1. Remember they’re exhausted.

In the past week alone they’ve experienced 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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! She’ll start talking!

Good questions:
What was this morning like?
Which choice 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.

  1. 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?

The Final Countdown

It’s incredibly natural to go into apocalyptic mode in these next 24 hours.

You know what we’re talking about:

What do you want your last meal to be?
Do you want to see a final movie tonight or just relax and hug?
When would you like to take Rover for a final walk?
How about Grandma and Grandpa? Let’s give them one final call!
Give your sister one huge final good kiss goodnight! You won’t again till August!

We know you’re well-meaning, but we have some advice for what it’s worth: Stop. STOP! You’re freaking them out! Let’s all try to remain normal and happy and calm. Be cool! Let’s enjoy final pre-camp moments but not belabor them. Let’s focus not on what your kids are missing at home but what they’re about to embark upon at camp. In our experience, end-of-world conversations and conversations focusing on home breed anxiety for a number of reasons. Here are a few of those reasons, and here’s what your kids may be thinking: I don’t know what I want my last meal to be! Oh my gosh, but what if I pick the wrong one and I want mom’s mac & cheese tomorrow and I can’t have it! How can I live with that regret! I hadn’t thought about seeing a movie or walking Rover, and I’d sort of forgotten that I wasn’t kissing my little sister goodnight all summer. AH! That’s scary! Am I SURE I want to give all of this up?

Of course the answer is a resounding “YES!” The gifts of camp are immeasurable and what they’ll be experiencing in a few days is life-changing. So let’s not focus on a final tuck-in or that one last hug. Keep your kids happy and focused on moving forward towards camp. Will you treasure those final moments? YES! Should you talk about them with your kids? Probably not. We’ll say it again: play it cool.

Smile, keep calm, talk about the great adventure they’re about to have. “Goodnight, Honey. I love you, and I’m so excited for you” always works. It’ll make it easier for your kids to get on the bus, and it’ll give them the courage to get off that bus once they’ve arrived “Up Where the Sky Begins.” We’ll take it from there!

Greetings from Camp Health Center!

We look forward to welcoming your children to camp in just a short time. On the first day of camp, as we have in the past several years, our camp nurses will do a health check of each and every camper. Included in that process is a head check for lice.

This summer, to improve the process, we have hired Lice Be Gone, professionals in the field who will do each camper’s head check. They provide this service for many camps and schools. If a camper has lice, Lice Be Gone can treat it directly or our nurses can treat it with a medicated shampoo. The strategy is to find and eliminate it promptly, even before campers settle into their cabins, where it could spread. Of course, if lice is detected we will be sure to call you immediately.

Going this direction will allow camp to be free of lice and to ensure that we all have a happy and healthy camp season. We are doing our part and ask that you proactively check your camper for lice before they head up to Greeley for a summer of fun!

If you have any questions or concerns please reach out.

Healthy campers are happy campers!