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!

Fleas! Ticks! Mosquitos! Oh My!

A Note from the Health Center to our Camp Parents:

We’d like to take a moment to share our plan of action for an increased risk associated with tick, flea and mosquito bites throughout the United States. Camp has been taking steps to minimize exposure for our campers and prevent the spread of disease. In addition to the measures outlined below, camp regularly consults with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations to update our protocols.

Prevention

  • Outside lawn chemical professionals have been hired to treat all fields and field perimeters with flea and tick control as well as areas around bunks, buildings, and activity areas with flea and tick control.
  • All trails and paths at camp are treated with flea and tick control.
  • An outside professional pest control company has been contracted to regularly treat for rodents, etc.
  • Grass is cut frequently and brush is trimmed back in regularly trafficked areas.
  • Application of CDC approved bug spray throughout the day as needed for activities in wooded areas. There are also bug spray stations throughout camp.

Education and Practice

  • All counselors have training sessions on ticks and the counselor’s roles in health care, including
    • Hygiene, shower hour self-check prompting, tick checks after hikes, walks in the woods, and campfires
    • Basic tick prevention, best practices, bug and bite identification
    • Camper clothing coverage, including long pants and sleeves on hikes
    • Avoiding brushy areas, high grass and leaf litter.  Walking in the center of trails.
  • Nurse education during training
    • Tick checks, identification, removal
  • Full body checks after all hikes and walks in wooded areas.
    • A note: Nurses and counselors prompt campers to self check in and around the bathing suit area.
  • Check clothing.

Please don’t hesitate to call us with questions or concerns. We will stay vigilant!

The Health Center

Packing Tips for Parents!

Hi, Moms + Dads!

It’s that time of year again! Time to think packing! This is a reminder to keep it simple! Less is more. Camp is a simpler life, so don’t overdo it. What fits into a cubby and a top shelf is all that a camper needs. Everything should be able to fit into TWO DUFFEL BAGS – no more!

We know the packing list may seem overwhelming at first, especially for our newest PFC families. Here are a few outside-of-the-box tips we thought we’d share.

1) Our camp colors are BLUE AND GOLD and during our Color Days events, campers are split into teams of those colors. Pack your camper with one or two items of each color (it doesn’t have to be solid). That way, your child is prepared for membership to either team! Hey, maybe throw in a cool bandana or two.

2) Your campers are never too old for pre-addressed envelopes or postcards. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and best family friends are definitely not getting that letter you promised unless it’s over-the-top easy for your camper to send. (Pre-address envelopes home too. It’s one less step for your camper to take while he or she is running to the mailbox on the way to tennis!)

3) Don’t buy expensive clothes,  jeans or bathing suits. Don’t pack twelve throw pillows. We are limiting pillows to one regular pillow and one decorative pillow.  Don’t pack anything you don’t want going in the laundry.

4) Everything packed for camp should be able to fit in the 4 shelves of a cubby and the few feet of an overhead shelf. There are also small shelves for each camper in the bathroom for toiletries. If you’re worried that your camper may STILL need more storage space, we recommend long plastic storage containers that fit under his or her bed. There are 14.5 inches between the floor and the bottom of the bed. But these extra storage boxes are usually not necessary.

5) You’ve probably heard the term “shoe bag” thrown around. At camp, shoe bags are often used to hang up on the wall and store extra “stuff” in (think flashlight, hair brush, etc.).  No, your camper doesn’t need it. But they may want it! It’s up to you!

6) Leave the electronics at home! No matter what you hear from friends about other camps, PFC parents don’t sneak them into their campers’ bags! Our parents are rule-followers, and our campers follow their parents’ lead.

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! Talk about camp at least! 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 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 1st and 2nd 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. Call the office for more info!

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 ANYTIME!


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

Everyday 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 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!”