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!

Campfires
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
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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 fancyy. 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.

Singing
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. Complete with a Marching Band leading the charge, 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.

 

Unplugging
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?!

Teamwork
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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.

 

 

Tradition
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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 2022, 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?

The Things We Carry.

Like the song says, “All our bags are packed, we’re ready to go.”

Mountain Baggage, R&B, UPS, FedEx.

Today we pack up, have our awards ceremonies, and tonight it’s the candlelight. It feels like we just arrived.  But we’re coming home with so much more than we can pack in a bag; new friends, new adventures, new confidence. There isn’t a duffle bag or shipping company big enough to handle it.

Those are the things that we carry.

Honoring Lee Forest Black

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Lee Forest Black, husband of Molly, great grandson of our founders Hughie and Selma, grandson of Marvin and Annette Black, son of Mickey and Barbara, brother and brother-in-law to Anna Black Morin and Eric Morin and best-ever uncle to Ruby and Hattie Morin.

Lee was a bright and shining light of goodness and kindness everywhere, but his favorite place in the world was camp. Lee loved every little bit of camp life. He loved nature walks and the bird feeders in front of his bungalow. He loved funny hats and costumes at lineups. And he especially loved camp snacks.

Lee also loved the big stuff. The buses rolling in on Opening Day, the “Skeeter Swift,” the ‘A’ Game that takes place during Color Days — that his longtime friends and bunkmates still attend, and the 4th of July Fireworks display; Lee always curated the perfect pre-fireworks playlist, sharing his love of music with all of us.

“Lee’s Rink” is named after him and many campers have visited “Lee’s Forest” on the other side of Marvin’s house. It’s secluded, and you have to hike Chipmunk Trail to get there, but it’s one of the most beautiful, peaceful places at Pine Forest. It’s extraordinary but unassuming, like Lee.

Lee was a devoted, loving husband, son, grandson, brother and uncle. He was an outstanding camp director who never took himself too seriously. Lee’s greatest wish for everyone at camp was to feel the happiness he felt there. His legacy is found in each and every bunkmate, camper, and counselor’s life he touched, in the smile and laughter that will echo through the Forest when we think of him.

To honor Lee, donations are invited to the Hughie & Selma Black Foundation, funding organizations that provide camp experiences for children of all socio-economic backgrounds.

We look forward to celebrating Lee with our camp community in the future.

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.

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!

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.

Keeping the Summer Alive Year-Round

Keep the summer alive all year long!

  1. Keep in touch with camp friends! Write LETTERS!
  2. Login to Mom & Dad’s parent portal and look at pictures from this past summer and the summers before!
  3. Come to the 2019 reunion: Sunday, November 10th from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM @ The Funplex in Mt. Laurel, NJ!
  4. Keep up with our Upcoming Events page for events in your area!
  5. Watch videos on our Vimeo page!
  6. Wear your Pine Forest Camp shirts from this and past summers!
  7. And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram: @pineforestcamp!