Never Lost

It’s a time honored principle. Military leaders tell their elite troops. Indian Chiefs tell their scouts. Parents tell their children.

If you ever feel lost, go back to the last place where you knew where you were. Start from there and you will find your way.”

For some of us, alumni, counselors, campers, Pine Forest is that place that we go back to. For many it may be the last place where we really knew where we were.  Who we are.  Where we are headed.

I’ve seen and heard about it many times from former PFCers at every age. After all, in everyone’s life there are times that we feel a little lost, in school, in our careers, in relationships. How do we get our bearings? How do we know where to go? What to do? “Go back to the last place where you knew where you were.”

Surrounded by friends, fresh air and fun, for many of us that place is camp. We are our true selves. We know where we are and where we are going.

Let camp be your North Star, your compass, your launching pad.

If you ever feel lost, start here.   



Quintessentially Camp

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.

Friendship Bracelets
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…

Color War
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 OutfitsPhoto307 (3)One 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?

College Day: 2 Camps, 4 Teams, 1 Dream


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!






Last Night’s Campfire

There are some parts of camp that are eternal, timeless. A good campfire is one of them.  It could have been PFC’s year one, 1931, last night when girls gathered at the campfire site.  The stars were brilliant and so was the spirit. The oldest campers, our Counselor Assistants (CAs) led the singing with cheers and songs that they brought back from their travels to Costa Rica. Mickey played a song on the guitar and by popular demand led a rousing version of the 3 part round, “One Bottle of Pop…”

Finally, before the traditional “Taps and Friends,” the girls sang a beautiful rendition of the Pine Forest alma mater, “When Lights are Low.” Coincidentally, its author, Elaine Charny (Netsy Wolowitz Black’s sister), was visiting camp yesterday! She wrote the words in 1953 for Color War when the themes were Circus Gold against Showboat Blue.  Its melody is the big band tune, “For All We Know” and its words ring true today as much as they did then, when it was sung for the first time, “…the friendships we made, we always will treasure…”

The campfire ended with s’mores until we were all full! As the fire died down and the embers lifted into the starry night, our hearts were too.