Mitchell Field is empty, but my heart is full.
Usually today’s the one day, Visiting Day, that Mitchell Field is full of cars. Not this year. But camp IS alive with the sounds of happy campers as we host families for the second weekend of Family Camp 2020. They are here to connect to their camping roots. PFC is part of the rhythm of their lives. And it’s their love of camp and the fun that they, and the staff that are here, bring to this place, that fills my heart with gratitude, joy and optimism.
Before we finish Family Camp in just 2 weeks, we’ll have had almost 100 PFC families here! And we know that there are many, many who couldn’t come in person this summer but feel the ties that bind them to this special place. And they’ll be back.
This year, parents aren’t breaking the tape and running into camp, but we’ve got plenty of parents and campers running around, playing tennis, shooting hoops, paddling canoes and having a great time. And it feels good. It feels right.
There may be a hole in the summer, but it’s not forever. We have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to. So I’ll take a break on this special day, walk across the field that was named after me, the year that I was born, and I’ll think about the many happy families who reunited here and, most of all, I’ll look forward to the many, many more to come.
“Camp in Our Heart” by Hillary Slovin, a PFC Alum & current camp parent:
As we’ve always said, Pine Forest Camp is so much more than just a place in Greeley, PA. It’s a magical feeing that exists in our hearts and one we hold on to, all year long, until we can back be together again at camp. Never has this been more true and more necessary for us parents and our children than it is now. Our campers now have to carry feeling inside of them until they can be together again, “Up Where the Sky Begins.”
As a Mom of two kids at camp, it goes without saying how deeply I hoped they’d at camp this summer and how heartbroken we all are that they cannot be. But, I thank our camp leaders for putting the safety of our children in the forefront and making the unimaginable decision to postpone camp until 2021. Although so strange and unfamiliar, we’re now figuring out what our summer will look like….participating in camp zoom calls, staying in touch with friends and hopefully making plans for seeing one another when it’s safe to do so.
Already my kids seem to be growing even closer to their camp friends (which didn’t even seem possible!) through all of this and their love and appreciation for PFC has deepened as well. This is a silver lining for sure. So this is what camp looks like for now but thankfully it won’t be forever and summer 2021 will be here before we know it. Until then, camp will continue to exist in our children hearts and minds, through their memories of summers past and in looking forward to their incredible summers at Pine Forest Camp that are yet to come.
This National Emergency is an unprecedented Pandemic. All children and adolescents need to recognize that this is happening to everyone around the World. Helping kids recover from disappointment has to be one of the harder jobs in parenting. The good news is that overcoming disappointment can—with your help—be a significant learning opportunity for your child. Resilience is the rule with stress and disappointment.
Empathize With Your Child
Begin by acknowledging your child’s perception of what happened. Kids have been looking forward to returning to camp since the day they left last August. This is a big disappointment.
Many times, kids need some time to think before they can discuss their upset. Give them space. Let them know that you’ll be available when they are ready to talk.
When the time to talk arrives, your child will be able to see this situation more accurately and not be led by their feelings. Discuss what is most upsetting.
Dealing With Disappointed Kids When They Won’t Talk
Depending on their personality, your child may show disappointment in different ways. They may be upset and angry, in which case you need to help them to find a way to channel that upset in a constructive way.
If your child retreats when upset or sad, look for ways to draw them out. You might say, “I know you don’t want to talk about it, but when you are ready, we can discuss this.”
Resilience is the rule. Kids will learn that this represents an unprecedented period in history and that “we will all get through this together.”
Tips for Parents
Remain calm; be hopeful; remain connected; model optimism and follow the guidance for safety. We must all be guided by the science offered to us from the Center for Disease Control to minimize risk and protect everyone from the Coronavirus.
Victor M. Fornari, MD, MS
Vice Chair, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Director, Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Department of Psychiatry
The Zucker Hillside Hospital &
Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center
75-59 263rd Street
Glen Oaks, New York 11004
Professor Psychiatry & Pediatrics
Donald & Barbara Zucker School of Medicine
Investigator, Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience
Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
Camp is many things, like making new friends, having fun at activities and learning new skills. But at its core, going to camp is a return to nature. It is a simpler life, unplugged but connected to the wonders all around us. Smell the pines! Breathe in fresh mountain air! Listen to the sound of crickets at night! Feel the warmth of the sun on your shoulders. Happy Earth Day from Greeley, PA, “Up Where the Sky Begins.”
Here’s a short Earth Day quiz, Greeley edition!
What is the Pennsylvania state flower that can be found throughout our beautiful camp, just beginning to bud during this time of year?
Answer: The Mountain Laurel
What environmentally important site is located in Milford, Pennsylvania, one of the closest towns to camp?
Answer: Grey Towers in Milford is the original 1900 site of the Yale School of Forestry Summer Camp!
Who lived at Grey Towers, Milford and is known as the “Father of American Conservation”?
Answer: Gifford Pinchot
Every summer, campers canoe the Delaware and Lackawaxen rivers. The two rivers converge in Lackawaxen Pennsylvania, a beautiful spot very close to camp. What famous American bird do campers frequently see there, soaring high above them?
Answer: The American Bald Eagle. Lackawaxen is home to 200 bald eagles!
Camp is located in Pike County, named after Zebulon Motgomery Pike. What famous mountain did he discover and where is it located?
Answer: Pike’s Peak, Colorado
Our camp was one of the first camps in American to win the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star Award. Which of these things didn’t we do to earn it?
1) Change all light bulbs to LED
2) Cover the pools with special pool covers to preserve heat and lower use of energy
3) Recycle waste
4) Change from disposable dishes to reusable dishware
5) Hang underwear from the flagpole
A note from Mickey Black:
You may have been hearing a lot lately about “Snowplow” parents, those who move everything and anything out of the way to smooth the road for their children on the path of life. In my opinion, many of these parents may even do so unwittingly, with the best of intentions, but not in their child’s best long–term interest. What’s an effective way to prevent that? Send them off to a great camp like Pine Forest.
My daughter and co-director, Anna Black Morin, a parent of two girls of her own, Ruby and Hattie (Hattie is named after her great, great grandfather and PFC’s founder Hughie Black), put it this way:
“Snowplow parents prepare the road for kids. Responsible parents prepare kids for the road. One concrete way to prepare kids for the road is to give the gift of a good, scratch that, a great residential, long-term, old-fashioned summer camp!
You don’t build resilience by eliminating struggle. You build resilience by normalizing it: teaching kids to see obstacles as temporary hurdles. Homesickness! Conflict with a friend! Advocating for yourself! Advocating for a friend! Trying something new (that might take practice)! Making decisions independent of your parents! The gifts of these experiences become immeasurable.
Camp is less than 100 days away, and this generation needs it now more than ever. And not just because it’s screen free, but there’s that too!”
We believe that a good, traditional overnight camp isn’t meant to be an amusement park. We believe that the best programs and evening activities aren’t ones with flashy lights, shiny things and outside entertainment. Living simply, in a wooden cabin, listening to the sounds of nature, creating outstanding programming using very little but the imagination, living tech free, focusing on each other, makes camp a place that can uniquely give the gifts of confidence, community, self reliance, resourcefulness, creativity, and grit. Though camp is action-packed for sure, the most magical part is what happens beyond swimming lessons, soccer games, horseback riding and everything in between.
Here’s a link to a great NY Times article, Let Children Get Bored Again, that shares a similar sentiment.