Top Ten Tips for New Families!

Calling All New Camper Parents! 

April showers will bring May flowers, and do you know what May flowers bring? CAMP, of course! We know that the change in weather has all of us thinking SUMMER, and we hope that these tips will be helpful to you during the excitement of the final countdown. Even if you’ve sent an older child off to camp before, these TOP TEN TIPS for NEW CAMPERS might be worth a refresher!

1. Communicate with the directors about any and all family, social or medication issues or changes during the year and in the summer. Nothing is too small! A meaningful camp/parent partnership benefits your camper. Call or email us anytime! We are here for you!

2. Stay positive about separating from home! Don’t focus on what your camper will be missing (vacation, trips to a favorite ice cream shop), rather discuss what he or she has to look forward to at camp! (The same goes for what you write about in your letters once the time comes!)

3. If your camper asks about homesickness, normalize it! “Of course you’ll miss things about home every now and again, because you have a wonderful home and family! It would be unusual for you not to miss home!” Also, in the same spirit, try to minimize your own feelings of child-sickness! “Of course we’ll miss you, but we’ll be fine! The summer will fly by and we’re so excited for you. You’re going to have an awesome time!”

4. If your camper has specific needs (in the cabin, in the health center, in the dining hall), make sure to call or email us,  and make sure to write about it in your confidential forms (or as an addendum to the form) before camp– those confidential forms are our bible!

5. Discuss different activities your camper might enjoy and also talk about trying new ones, keeping an open mind! Camp is a great, safe place to go outside of one’s comfort zone!

6. Take advantage of New Camper Weekend on June 5th and 6th at camp, either for the day or stay overnight! It’s a great opportunity to meet other first-time campers, see camp, get to know staff, and have positive camp experiences together as a family.

7. Keep all “camp talk” light! In letters, in person, keep it upbeat!

8. Now is when your camper may start asking you about what he or she will bring. Make sure to send your camper’s stuffed animal, a favorite book or two, and any other item that makes them feel at home; if there’s something your camper sleeps with every night, please make sure to send it! Believe us when we say that most campers bring a security object of some sort. You’re never too old!

9. If panic sets in, call us. We’ll talk you through it, but when speaking to your camper NEVER promise to PICK UP YOUR CHILD. He or she might ask in the time between now and camp! It’s normal to get cold feet in the spring! Remind your camper that you’ve made a commitment as a family, that  camp is only for a short amount of time, and that you know he or she is in the right place, that they can do it! They are in a safe place. CAMP IS WHERE CHILDREN LEARN INDEPENDENCE! By giving your camper the gift of camp, you’re giving them independence, resilience, and the ability to adapt to and thrive in new environments! If your children know that they’re definitely going to camp and definitely staying at camp for the summer, they’ll allow themselves to relax and let go. Squash the “what if!”

10. If there’s anything (big or small!) you’re worried about before, during, or after the summer, call or email any time: 267-639-2488, .

We’re here for you, always, so keep in touch!
We can’t wait to get started!

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 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?

 

 

The Trail Ahead | May 7, 2021

May 7, 2021

Dear Camp Families,

We can’t wait to welcome your children to camp in Greeley, Pennsylvania! We’re preparing for a safe, healthy, happy summer in the great outdoors at camp. Attached you’ll find our comprehensive plans for the summer, all informed by the newest CDC set of Guidance for Operating Youth and Summer Camps During COVID-19, in particular, the Additional Guideline for Overnight Camps, released just last week. We remain vigilant in staying up-to-date with all latest information, as we expect guidelines to change and evolve.

Our strategy (“Make it Safe, Make it Fun!”) remains the same: keep camp as safe as possible while retaining and regaining as much normalcy as possible over time. Rigorous testing will complement layered NPIs (Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions), specifically focusing on: Outdoor Activities, Masking, Distancing, Hand-Washing/Sanitizing, and Cohorting. These measures have a proven record of success in a camp environment.

In particular, we do want to draw your attention to the following:

Before Camp:The key to a safe summer starts at home. Every camper must 1) restrict behavior, 2) participate in a daily symptom check through the GENETWORx app, “Aura,” which you will be receiving before camp and 3) ALL CAMPERS must take PCR Tests on June 22nd or 23rd with results sent to camp before opening day.

In the coming weeks, you will be receiving upcoming information from PM Pediatrics, on the Aura tracking app, and testing in general.

Arrival Times:Instead of buses, we are asking all parents within driving distance (NY, NJ, PA, MD, CT) to drive to camp. Camper arrival times will be staggered on arrival day morning so as to allow for adequate time to screen and test all arrivals in an organized fashion. We ask that you do your best to arrive in the following time periods.

9AM – 10AM: North Jersey/New York Area
10AM – Noon: Central Jersey/Philadelphia Area
Noon – 1PM: Maryland/DC Area

Visiting Day Plans:To protect the health of our community, we are not planning on an in-person Visiting Day this summer. We’re prepared to be creative and make memorable, meaningful connections for your campers. And for parents driving, you’ll get a special Visiting Day box to send to your camper! (Parents of children flying to camp will have their Visiting Packages sent to them or one can be picked up at your local post office.) Stay tuned!

Vaccinations:We encourage all campers to be vaccinated when eligible.

Please click here for our most comprehensive plans and more detailed information. Please review!

In short, we’re ready! We’ve got this! Your camper is in good hands.

Let’s get to camp!

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.

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!