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.

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!

Home from Camp: Tips + Warnings!

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 all of 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?

Reminders from Pine Forest Camp!

Important dates:
First day of camp: Saturday, June 22nd
Visiting Day: Saturday, July 20th @ 11:30AM
Last day of camp: Saturday, August 10th

Important contact information:
PFC Summer Office: (570) 685-7141
Mountain Baggage: (570) 775-0556
R&B Baggage (for Florida families): (603) 536-2197
CampMeds: www.campmeds.com

PFC mailing address:
185 Pine Forest Road
Greeley, PA 18425

Policy reminders:
-Phone calls are not necessary, but one can be scheduled before Visiting Day and one after Visiting Day. You can schedule your first call once your camper arrives at camp.

NO packages, please!

Photos:
Photos from the day will be uploaded to CampInTouch almost every night. You can access them using the same login you use to fill out forms.

Expert tip: Mail a letter to your camper a few days before camp starts so that there’s one waiting for him or her on the first day of camp.

Follow us! @PineForestCamp

Hiding Behind My Sunglasses

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.

Hillary Slovin

What TO DO and What NOT TO DO Before CAMP!

It’s incredibly natural to go into apocalyptic mode this month.

You know what we’re talking about:

What do you want your last meal to be?
Do you want to see a final movie tonight or just relax and hug?
When would you like to take Rover for a final walk?
How about Grandma and Grandpa? Let’s give them one final call!
Give your sister one huge final good kiss goodnight! You won’t again till August!

We know you’re well-meaning, but we have some advice for what it’s worth: Stop. STOP! You’re freaking them out! Let’s all try to remain normal and happy and calm. Be cool! Let’s enjoy final pre-camp moments but not belabor them. Let’s focus not on what your kids are missing at home but what they’re about to embark upon at camp. In our experience, end-of-world conversations and conversations focusing on home breed anxiety for a number of reasons. Here are a few of those reasons, and here’s what your kids may be thinking: I don’t know what I want my last meal to be! Oh my gosh, but what if I pick the wrong one and I want mom’s mac & cheese tomorrow and I can’t have it! How can I live with that regret! I hadn’t thought about seeing a movie or walking Rover, and I’d sort of forgotten that I wasn’t hugging my little sister goodnight all summer. AH! That’s scary! Am I SURE I want to give all of this up?

Of course the answer is a resounding “YES!” The gifts of camp are immeasurable and what they’ll be experiencing in a few days is life-changing. So let’s not focus on a final tuck-in or that one last hug. Keep your kids happy and focused on moving forward towards camp. Will you treasure those final moments? YES! Should you talk about them with your kids? Probably not. We’ll say it again: play it cool.

Smile, keep calm, talk about the great adventure they’re about to have. “Goodnight, Honey. I love you, and I’m so excited for you” always works. It’ll make it easier for your kids to get on the bus, and it’ll give them the courage to get off that bus once they’ve arrived “Up Where the Sky Begins.” We’ll take it from there!