Fun Facts about Pine Forest Camp!

Happy New Year!

We can’t believe Summer 2024, camp’s 93rd season, will be here before we know it! We thought it would be fun and helpful to share some fun facts about us so everyone is “in the know.” Pine Forest is full of tradition, rituals and special names and each one is so meaningful to both the campers and staff.

“Up Where the Sky Begins!”
Pine Forest Camp’s slogan/philosophy

“When Lights Are Low” and “High In The Mountains”
PFC’s camp songs, among many others

Blue and Gold – PFC’s camp colors

Many of PFC’s fields, courts and venues are named after camp’s founders, Hughie and Selma Black, their descendants as well as many old-timers.

“Hughie Hall” – Indoor venue that houses many camp activities, including basketball, broadcasting, yoga, spinning, the fitness center and much more.

“Libby Courts” – One of three sets of tennis courts, named after Libby Black Halpern, daughter of the founders and an avid tennis player.

“Marvin Hall” – Outdoor gymnastics pavilion, named after Marvin Black, son of the founders, PFC director for 65 years.

“Netsy Playhouse” – Outdoor amphitheater where camps shows and services are held, named after Annette “Netsy” Black, daughter-in-law of the founders who loved the performing arts.

“Mitchell Field” – Large field near entrance for sports and campfires, named after Mickey Black, his real name is Mitchell!

“Barbie’s Bar-B-Que” AKA “The Grove” – Outdoor picnic area where campers are served a weekly cookout, named after Barbara Black, who is in charge of our delicious food.

“Lauri Field” – Another large field at the top of camp that hosts various sports, including track and field.  Great for star-gazing too! Named after Lauri Black Mufson, granddaughter of our founders.

“Lee’s Rink” and “Lee’s Tree” – the Hockey pavilion next to Hughie Hall and the tree in the center of camp in front of the Guest House are both named for Lee Forest Black, former PFC camper, counselor, head of boys camp and director.  Lee, who passed away in 2021, was the son of Mickey and Barbara Black and the brother of Anna Black Morin, married to current director, Eric Morin. Lee was the great grandson of our founders.

“Ruby’s Canteen” – Various times a week, campers look forward to special treats! Named after Ruby Black Morin, great grand-daughter of the founders.

“Hattie Falls” – a great place to meet, at PFC’s town center, named after Hattie Black Morin, great granddaughter of the founders and Ruby’s sister.

“Chadwin Court” AKA “Main Court” – Popular basketball court in the center of camp with lights and stadium seating all around.  Named after long-time athletic director, Steve “Chad” Chadwin.

Lake Greeley – The walk to our beautiful lake is always a special one.  Stroll down “Milligan’s Trail”, named after long-time camp outdoorsman and overnight camping leader, Mike Milligan.

“Lisa’s Heart-Shaped Pond” – A special spot on the way to the lake. Turn around three times and throw a rock in over your shoulder. If it lands in the heart-shaped pond, your wish will come true.  Named after Assistant Director, Lisa Sherman Fayne, grand niece of our founders, Hughie and Selma.

“Blueberry Island” – A private island by the lake where campers canoe and explore.

“Eric’s Fitness Center” – Get in shape in our newly-expanded fitness center, named after he-man Eric Morin, long time PFCer, Anna’s husband, and son-in-law of Mickey and Barbara and fitness enthusiast.

The “Old-Timers” Tree – This old tree proudly displays plaques of the names of all campers and staff throughout our 90 years that have gone to camp for 10 years or more.  It’s very exciting for old-timers to have their names permanently added for all time.  There are over 400 names now on the tree!

Bunk Names – The bunks are named after trees and wildflowers found in the area.

We can’t wait to see you this summer up at camp!

Home from Camp | Tips & Reminders

Time flies when you’re having fun and your campers will be home soon! The transition to “the real world” isn’t always easy for you and your campers. Here are some tips to help both of you make the transition as smooth as possible.

  1. Don’t take it personally.

Yes, they’ll be SO happy to see you. They’re also very, very sad.

They’re sad to leave camp! They’re sad to leave their friends! They’re sad to leave their counselors! They’re sad to leave their independence and camp persona! It’s okay (great actually)! It means you gave them the best gift ever!

  1. Remember: They’re exhausted.

In the last week alone, they experience Color Days, the play, song and cheer, a gymnastics show, banquet, packing and more. Over the past seven weeks they’ve been living with ten other people, hanging out with friends day and night, participating in activities from sun up to sun down. Enough said.

  1. Be patient.

It might take a few hours or a few days to be entirely “on.” They might even seem a little numb. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you or didn’t miss you. It doesn’t mean that they won’t open up and start gushing in a few days. Nothing is wrong. They just need time! Things that are normal: wanting to talk to their camp friends immediately, all-day, every day for a few days (yes, they just spent seven weeks with them – we know). Wanting to spend some time alone before jumping into the deep end of home life (think family gatherings, sporting events, play dates). Any combination of the above. Normal. Normal. Normal.

  1. Focus on small moments and questions.

Think about your two best friends who live far away.

Friend one: you pick up the phone no matter what, even if you only have a minute. Though it’s been months, you know she’ll cut right to the chase and start where things left off. Or not. Maybe you just answer a quick question, maybe you talk about who got the final rose- you can hang up when you need to. One word answers, longer answers, anything goes. No pressure.

Friend two: You love her. Really. You LOVE her as much as friend one. But you really only pick up when you have time to sit, totally focused, for an hour-long catch-up. So, no. You don’t always pick up. Because you’re at work, or you’re making dinner, or you’re about to get the kids ready for bed, or you just don’t feel like telling your life story. That. Sounds. Exhausting.

The moral? Be friend one. You’ll learn more!

Good questions:
What was this morning like?
Which activity was the best?
Who was the goofiest counselor in your bunk?

Less good questions/statements:
Tell me EVERYTHING about camp.
Can you explain your weekly schedule?
What were your counselors like?

Ask a few, manageable, lighthearted questions every hour on that first day. You’ll open up that can of worms without having to pry, without overwhelming your fresh-off-the-bus camper.

  1. Give them wings.

At camp they were the most independent versions of themselves and they’re still basking in the glow of those camp freedoms. Advocating for themselves, making independent choices— it’s why you sent them to camp! Think about how you felt the first time you came home from college. It was a little weird! Think about small liberties you can introduce to reinforce your camper’s summer growth. If you have an eight-year-old who didn’t make his or her bed before camp, encourage him or her to make the bed at home (even if it isn’t as beautiful as you’d like). Though seemingly a “chore,” having your camper do things for him or herself at home will continue the summer’s momentum and make him or her feel happy and confident. And isn’t that what this whole camp thing was about from the start?

Ping-Pong & Pickleball are all the Rage!

For the past several weeks, boys’ on lower camp have been participating in an informal ping-pong tournament. Junior boys’ division leader Steve Brooks helped to oversee the tourney, and weeks ago any camper who wanted to participate was added to the bracket. During free time, campers could find each other and have their matches, and winners were recorded. With so many campers participating, this took a few weeks to conclude, and finally just yesterday, lots of campers gathered ‘round the boys’ game deck as a junior and inter boy faced off in the championship. Who won isn’t as important as the amazing sportsmanship and excitement we saw from campers across boys’ camp! It was a great match, and there were many hugs and high-fives when it concluded.

Meanwhile, our new and improved pickleball courts have also been getting a lot of play this summer! At any given time during the day, you will find campers of all ages playing this fun and social sport. And you know what makes it extra awesome? Our amazing PFC counselors and leaders are just as into it as the campers, so you’ll often find campers and counselors playing together! 

We’re continuing to soak up EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of regular programming and fun like these activities. Before we know it, we’ll all be wrapped up in the excitement that the end of camp brings: Color Days, banquet, league championships, Candlelighting, and SO MUCH MORE!

PFC Traditions: Food Edition (Yum!)

Some of our favorite things about camp are the amazing traditions that we keep alive year after year! We’re so grateful for our old-timers – both campers and counselors – who help to keep these special traditions going, AND for our new campers and counselors, who help to add a fresh spin and new energy to them!

Our amazing Assistant Camp Director, Lisa “Summer Fun” Fayne, has spent 30 summers at PFC (!!!), so as you can imagine, she knows a thing or two about traditions, and she’s always sure to share with the rest of us!

This summer, she brought back two PFC food traditions that everyone’s drooling over! The first is making banana rockets over the campfire at outdoor rec. Delicioussss! The second is making homemade ice cream with campers! Lisa remembers when – many years ago – Uncle Hughie made ice cream here at camp. With the help of campers, he’d include all kinds of delicious and unique toppings, and everyone loved it! So this summer, Lisa brought out the good ol’ fashioned ice cream maker and she’s carrying on the tradition! Campers get to help pick out toppings and make this sweet treat to enjoy. How fun! 

Overnight Success

Over the course of the summer, every intermediate bunk has the chance to go on a bunk overnight. When the night comes, they pack their bags for an adventure! After dinner time, they head out to our PFC yurt where they set up their sleeping bags, toss a football or frisbee in the open field, and start a fire where they roast marshmallows and have a s’more or two!

It’s a real bonding experience for campers, and they love it! This summer, our overnight counselors have started a tradition that they do with each bunk: they bring a speaker out with them and have each camper choose a favorite song. As a bunk, they sit together and listen to each camper’s song. They can share why they love it – maybe it reminds them of a favorite memory, or a person they love. Before they know it, it’s time for flashlights and sharing stories in the yurt before they’re fast asleep. 

Our junior campers’ overnight experience is a little different and equally as fun! One night a summer, their entire division heads up to our open air gymnastics pavilion together with their sleeping bags and pillows where they have a giant sleepover party! They play games, tell stories, and roast marshmallows for s’mores of course. Who doesn’t love a sleepover with 40+ of your best friends?! Doesn’t get any better than that. 

When You Catch a Tiger

Today PFC campers had the rare opportunity to meet live via zoom the Newberry Award winning author Tae Keller. There were plenty of questions. How do you actually sit down and write a book? What inspired you? What structure do you use to tell a story? Are the characters people whom you knew in real life or are they fictional?   Have you ever been to a camp? What book influenced you the most when you were in middle school?( She said “Holes”, last years PFC book club’s book of the summer!) 

Thank you for joining us Tae and for inspiring campers to keep reading.

“…I believe in me. When you believe, that is you being brave. Sometime, believing is the bravest thing of all.”

When You Catch A Tiger

The M.L.F.B.

The boys of Bunk Pine have created their own blitzball league, MLFB Major League Forest BlitzBall, a game they adapted from wiffle ball, kickball and their own ingenuity. They have league standings, an “All Star game,” with players chosen by the bunk based on their actual statistics and an upcoming MLFB World Series. Woah!

So now, in addition to the long running Hughie Black Basketball Tournament, the 5K Camper Scamper, Greeley Games, PFC intramural leagues, College Day and Color Days, we’ve added a new competition, MLFB leagues.

Look out, Greeley! All at takes at camp is some imagination, athletic equipment and a few of your bunkmates to invent a whole new sport.

Oh, What a Night!

A cheer went up on boys camp when tonight’s evening activities were announced and it was Capture the Assagi for Inter 5-6 grade boys. Woo hoo! There are a lot of rules (which not everyone totally understands), but somehow the camp erupts (and splits up!) into gold and blue — two teams run around camp looking for the hidden captain of the other team. It’s kind of like Stratego meets Capture the Flag meets Teenage Ninja Turtles. Boys and girl older campers donned their Hawaiian shirts and sunglasses for a Luau. And it came at just the right time! After a hot day like today campers love a night swim.