Aunt Blanche Milligan was Pine Forest Camp’s girls’ overnight hiking leader and nature counselor for over 30 years. She and her husband, Uncle Mike Milligan, head of Boys’ overnights, introduced campers to the magic of the outdoors for three generations “up where the sky begins.” Happy birthday, Aunt Blanche!
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.
1931: Herbert Hoover was President. The Empire State Building was completed. The gangster Al Capone was convicted. Gas cost 10 cents. A brand new car sold for $640.00.
And Hughie & Selma Black started Pine Forest Camp.
This summer Pine Forest will celebrate it’s 88th consecutive season, owned and operated by Uncle Hughie and Aunt Selma’s direct descendants. Four generations of happy campers have thrived on the lakes and fields of Pine Forest.
Much has changed in that time, the styles, the music, the technology and much more. But the most important elements of a great PFC summer stay the same, friendship, fun and adventure.
Get ready for lots of new and exciting things in 2018. And whether you are a camper, counselor or alumni, be proud of your camping heritage. 88 great years are all because of YOU!
“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!
One of the best parts of Pine Forest being in continuous operation since 1931 are the stories we hear from alumni, our legacy. There’s nothing like seeing an old photo and knowing exactly where it was taken in camp. You can feel history come alive.
We recently heard from Rick Leonard whose mother and uncle attended Pine Forest in the 1930s. Bette and Stanley Scherdorf, often spoke fondly of their days at PFC. He shared a photo of each of them, one taken at The Friendship Bench which remains an iconic spot for PFC photos. Rick also shared a letter written by his grandfather to his mother while she was at camp in 1936 looking forward to seeing her on Visiting Day, the same week of the summer as it is today. Check out the postmark!
Thank you to the Scherdorf and Leonard family for sharing this piece of camp history. The real essence of camp is still exactly the same as it was in 1936: friends, fun and adventure. And those things are timeless.
This summer, one of the giants of Pine Forest leaders passed away, Lenny Rapkin, the boys camp Head Counselor and Director. Lenny was the ultimate camp director, confident, organized and fun. He led the boys camp in the late 1970’s and most of the 1980’s with gusto and humor. For most of those years Lenny’s counterpart was Edie Klein, head of the girls camp. In his perfectly pressed and matching jump suits, Lenny was one of PFC’s most popular leaders. His camp persona was like a combination of Mel Brooks and Gen. George Patton. His schedules were exact and comprehensive and boys camp ran with efficiency and care. Lenny and his dear wife Jane were a fixture at camp and his sons Mickey and Jonathan grew up at camp. Lenny and Jane’s grandchildren are currently PFC campers.
There was never a camp leader like Lenny Rapkin and there never will be again. He was a teacher, a leader and a role model to a generation of campers. The many, many lives he touched in boys camp and the men they became will be his lasting legacy.
Pine Forest Camp makes our world seem a little bit smaller, no matter how many summers we’ve spent there. Recently, PFC alumnus, former Color War General and father of 3 PFC campers, Jon, spotted a man in a PFC hat at a deli in Westchester, NY. When he went over to say hello, Jon met 94-year-old Herman Slotoroff, who attended Pine Forest in 1934. Uncle Marv remembers Herman and his family from his camp days! Herman still wears his PFC hat over 80 years later because of how fond his memories of it were, even after one summer.
When you are part of the PFC family, you are part of something special. It stretches back 86 years and 5 generations, from Greeley, PA, to a deli in Westchester and around the world.
Warmest wishes to Herman for continued good health and happy memories of his summer at camp!