Camp in Our Heart

“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.

Coping with the Loss of Camp

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

At Hofstra/Northwell

 

Investigator, Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience

Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

 

 

Every Day is Earth Day at Camp!

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

Bonus Question!

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 Roadblock to Snowplowing? Summer Camp.

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!”

Let Children Get Bored Again

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.

Camp + Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy

“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

We can give our children many things, but as parents, we cannot give them character, independence, optimism, and enthusiasm – these are qualities that children have to discover and develop on their own. And that is the true gift of camp. Camp is a place that provides a safe environment to find adventure, friendship and ultimately to find one’s self, to find one’s true character.

At camp we often call ourselves a camp “family,” and for those summer months we really are. We are one community, relying on each other and looking out for one another. It feels like family. And at its heart, that is how Martin Luther King Jr. wanted us to look at the world around us: one family, each of us treated with respect and compassion. May the strength and love that we feel at camp send ripples to the world around us. For those of us lucky enough to go to camp, it’s our obligation to make it so.

Let us know what your kids are doing out in the world for Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

PA + NY New Camper Events Were AWESOME!

Bowling together at Devon Lanes outside of Philadelphia, rock climbing at Chelsea Piers in New York, it was all about making future camp friends and meeting future bunkmates! And it was awesome! What a fabulous turnout! Our biggest EVER! This summer there will be plenty of first–time campers in Greeley, PA, so it’s an especially great time to start camp. In addition to campers, the weekend was a chance for some of our young counselors and veteran camp leaders to say hello and welcome. As we sing to you at camp “we’re mighty glad you’re here!”

Remember: June 6-7 weekend is our overnight New Camper Weekend! Stay overnight in a bunk! Enjoy camp activities! Sit around the campfire! Make real s’mores at camp! There will be many more new friends to meet. Please call the office for more information or to RSVP: 267-639-2488.

Spoiler alert: new campers, it’s going to be the best summer ever!

Finding an Overnight Camp…

You may have read the blog “The Opposite of Spoiled” by Ron Leiber that appeared in the NY Times in 2014, 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 them 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.

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 trulyamazing. 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. Play Capture the Assagi, be on a dance team, join a rock band, hike the Appalachian Trail, go on an overnight in a yurt, cook wood-burning pizza, go to a Triple A small-town baseball game, be in a bunk skit,  link arms with a whole camp and sing songs around a campfire, have a bunk outdoor picnic.

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 90 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 is staff second to none, filled with coaches and teachers and camp folk. The ratios of staff to campers, almost 2:1. We have a rare range of campers from all over. But it’s our 5 generations and 90-year story of success that is truly extraordinary.

5) “Can you tell me about the ties that bind.”
Here the author was 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. If you’ve never done so, just take a minute to check out our online database of Old Timers Tree names or our PFC Couples Who Met at Camp. Both speak to the heart and soul of camp, and that heart and soul is you: each and every camper who spends one summer or ten in Greeley, PA.