This World is Pine Forest Camp

Imagine a world with no TVs, no cell phones and no internet access, where…

– “Mail” is simply on a piece of paper, hand written, with a pen.

– The only “gaming’ is on a field or a court.

– “Chatting” is done verbally: in a cabin, on a walk, over a meal or around a  campfire, the purest form of “FaceTime.”

– You can only “like” something or someone by giving a real compliment, a smile or a hug.

– A ‘wink’ is done with eye contact and a grin, and ‘laughing so hard you cry’ is not an emoji but rather the funniest late-night bunk conversation that will live on for decades.

– The biggest news of the day is whose birthday it is, what evening activity will be or what’s for dinner.

– You don’t need to have hundreds of “friends,” instead you strive for a quality handful of the best, truest friends you could ever imagine.

– A “snap” is simply a hand gesture.

– Silly costumes are homemade or brought up in trunks not created with apps or filters.

– The only “tweet” comes from birds and being one with nature.

– A “house party” is getting to hang out in your cabin with your favorite people, bunk mates.

– The latest songs and videos come out of a bunk skit, song or cheer rather than top 40 radio hits.

– And, the only photos you take during the day are ones that live in your mind, providing you with lifelong memories.

This world is Pine Forest Camp. It was this way for me as a camper at PFC, and it’s the same for my own children. Kids need camp, now more than ever. I am tremendously thankful that my children get to turn off, unplug and disconnect every summer. Where else in the world can that truly happen? And, although they may not always admit it, I know that my kids wouldn’t have it any other way.

2017 Optional Activities!

Registration for our 2017 Optional Activities is officially open! Click here to register!

Superstar Tennis: Private and group tennis lessons, USTA tournament play, individualized stroke analysis and strategy sessions.

Personal Fitness Training: One-on-one personal training with a certified pro, including a take-home, year round exercise plan.

TOP Cooks: Farm-to-table experiences, gourmet cooking classes with professional chefs, trip to the Culinary Institute of America.

Superstar Golf: Private lessons with PGA pro, weekly golf outing to beautiful private courses, USGA membership.

Professional Tutoring: SAT, English, Math, Bar and Bat Mitzvah. Individualized plan, hourly rates with experienced educators.

TOP Ranch Riding: Small group riding lessons, grooming and competition on our beautiful private 250-acre ranch. Beginner to advanced.

TOP Basketball: 4-day intensive program for campers interested in taking their skills to a new level.

Private Gymnastics Lessons: One-on-one lessons with skilled instructors for all ages and skill levels.

Senior Trips!
7th Grade: The Adirondacks
July 25-26, 2017
Highlights include: Six Flags Great Escape, dinner on Lake George, Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame, Howe Caverns.

8th Grade: Vermont
July 25-26, 2017
Highlights include: Church Street Marketplace, Bromley Mountain Adventure Park, Ben & Jerry’s Factory, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.
New additions for 2017 to follow!

9th Grade: New England
July 24-26, 2017
Highlights include: Historic Boston, Fenway Park, Old Orchard Beach and Palace Playground, Portland, Maine and Newport, Rhode Island.
New additions for 2017 to follow!

10th Grade: Montreal
July 24-26, 2017
Highlights include: Jet boating on the Lachine Rapids, Laser Quest, La Ronde amusement park, Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex.

What Your Child Will Get Out of Camp

In addition to mastering the zip line and perfecting the butterfly stroke, the intangible lessons of camp know no bounds. In fact, it’s these more abstract takeaways that make the biggest impact on our campers. When we talk to families about camp in their living rooms, when we walk touring families around our grounds, we tend to focus on schedules and special programs; the most important thing about camp, though, is its people, the community, and the gifts we take from it.

We often say that camp teaches you to be the best version of yourself, but that doesn’t always come easily. Nothing great does! It takes work to practice living away from your parents! It takes work to live with people from different neighborhoods or even countries who might have different views! It’s not easy to have face-to-face conversations instead of sending a text or email in camp’s tech-free zone!

So, what will your child get out of camp? We hope team-sport skills are perfected and yoga is given a real chance, but it’s so much bigger that. Your child will come home more confident for having stood up for a friend, happier for having spontaneously burst into song and cheer, more comfortable in his or her skin for having navigated both big and small tasks independently. Oh, and your child will have a group of friends and community for life that are sacred, that are all his or her own, that they can always come back to and rely upon.

Camp takes a sense of adventure and grit and stick-to-it-ness and empathy and goofiness and a zest for life that we all wish for our kids! Those are the true gifts of camp, and what gifts could be more important?

Camp and Character

“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. Email, tag or direct message us, or use the hashtag #PFCCares2017.

New Camper Events!

Come one, come all! Our upcoming new camper parties are a perfect way to get to know us, so bring friends and family! It’s a great opportunity for new and prospective camp families to meet the directors, meet some of our fabulous counselors and maybe even connect with future bunk mates!

PHILADELPHIA
Saturday, January 21st, 1:00pm-3:00pm
Philadelphia New Camper Bowling Event!
Devon Lanes
300 Lancaster Avenue
Devon, PA 19333

NEW YORK CITY
Sunday, January 22nd, 1:30pm-3:30pm
New York New Camper Event!
Chelsea Piers, Between Piers 61 & 62
23rd Street and the Hudson River
New York, New York 10011

Call us at the camp office for more information or to RSVP: (267) 639-2488.

Individual Laundry for 2017!

Say goodbye to missing socks! The news broke on social media last night and we have some very happy campers (and parents!). When have your children gotten this excited about laundry?!

That’s right, we’ve stepped up our game with laundry service this year. Each camper will place his or her laundry in an individual bag and it will be returned clean and FOLDED in the same bag! Hallejulah!

Happy holidays and happy camp laundry, everybody!

Guest Post: What PFC Means to Me

This guest post was written by Alli Lowenstein Cahill, who grew up at Pine Forest and returned last summer as the Intermediate Girls Division Leader. During the year, Alli works as a teacher in New Jersey.

I think that camp is one of the biggest gifts in life.  When I think of how Pine Forest has shaped me and how it has impacted me, I think about the past, present and future.  I am extremely proud to call myself an “old timer.”  I have spent thirteen incredible years at Pine Forest.  From being a camper in bunk Fern all the way up to Cliff as a waitress, to a counselor and member of the athletic staff, to having the awesome responsibility of caring for the Intermediate girls this past summer, every next year brings more joy.

When I think of past summers I remember the sounds of Purple Haze, campfires with Aunt Blanch, biking to NY, Sing in Hughie Hall, inter-camp competitions, the Friendship Tree, the long walks up to Lauri Field, pizza burgers and candy at canteen, Sparky in the kitchen, loud chants in the dining hall, and so much more.  Camp helped shape my character by showing me the real meaning of friendship and community.  There is a reason why we cry so much on the last few days.  It’s because Pine Forest Camp is and always will be our home away from home.  When I was going through the normal growing pains that every child experiences, I remember the way that camp always made me feel, so safe and comfortable.  It taught me how to be adventurous and to try new things.  It taught me cooperation, sportsmanship, and how to play fair.  It taught me compassion and understanding, acceptance and tolerance.  It taught me leadership skills.  It taught me vulnerability and how to handle it.  It taught me the real meaning of laughing out loud.  Camp is a truly a gift.

I always dreamed of becoming a teacher and having summer off so one day I could go back to Pine Forest and bring my own children with me.  That dream came true this past summer when I became a member of key staff, Intermediate Girls Division Leader.  It is definitely one of the most rewarding roles I have ever had at Pine Forest.  The Black family is near and dear to my heart and I would not want to work for anyone else.  They are so special.  The campers, counselors, and staff members are nothing less than magnificent.  I actually got to scream “shorts and longs today girls” instead of hiding underneath my covers.  Every day brought new adventures with my campers and counselors, and I cherished every minute.  I had so much fun planning the night activities for the Inter girls.  I love the traditional ones such as The Mostest, Statues, Bunk Feud, and Counselor Hunt, but I also started adding some new ones like World’s Greatest and Cupcake Wars.   It was an amazing summer and I look forward to so many more.  There is no better honor and privilege more rewarding than being able to impact the life of a child.  Camp is truly a gift.

When I think about the future for my daughter Alexandra, I think about how lucky she is to be able to spend her summers at Pine Forest.  The campers, counselors, and staff members have opened their arms to her.  She thinks that Mickey and Lee are superheroes in a way that little kids see their teachers out of school.  It is magical.  She will create friendships that will last a lifetime.  I did.  I long for camp days.  Camp is truly a gift.

Maryland Open House!

Pine Forest Camp is coming to North Potomac, Maryland! Live in the area and want to learn more about sleepaway camp? Come on down! Have a friend nearby who is starting their camp search? Send them our way!

Our Open House is on Sunday, December 11th from 5-7pm and we’re looking forward to tackling our favorite subject: the magic of PFC! Directors from Camp Timber Tops and Lake Owego Camp will also be there.

Contact Lisa Fayne at 301-340-7373 or for more information!

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Camp Cuisine Extraordinaire!

We are thrilled to share the good news that Kristian Unvericht will be our new year-round full-time Camp Food Director. Working closely with Barbara Black, he will take our camp cuisine to new heights. Kristian comes to us with a wealth of experience and a passion for food that is extraordinary. Whether you’re a true foodie or just love good food at camp, having Kristian on board is something very, very special.

Here’s his food background before he came to Greeley, PA.

Chef De cuisine -Fuego Restaurant, Tucson Arizona-Fine Dining Southwest cuisine
Assistant Corporate Pastry -Chef Fox Restaurants, Tucson Arizona- Modern American
Assistant General Manager-Fenouil Brasserie, Portland Oregon- Fine Dining French Nouveau
General Manager- Janos and Downtown Kitchen and Cocktails, Tucson Arizona-Janos was Fine Dining Southwestern Cuisine and Downtown Kitchen was global comfort food
General Manager-Quinn’s Gastro Pub, Seattle Washington- Farm to Table northwest cuisine
General Manager-Tallulah’s Café Seattle Washington- Vegetable focused Farm to table casual
Restaurant Consultant- Salare Restaurant, Seattle Washington- Southern American farm to table
General Manager-Super Six, Seattle Washington- Hawaiian and Korean fusion

We asked Kristian for fun facts about himself and here’s one of our favorites:

“I once met Bill and Melinda Gates, Dave Mathews and all of the members of Pearl Jam in the same night at a restaurant I ran. That is like hitting the Seattle trifecta.”

Read Kristian’s full story of how he developed an infatuation with food and a passion for quality, and what he loves about camp below. Welcome, Kristian!

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My interest in food came at an early age, mainly because I loved to eat it! But I also attribute my love for food to both of my grandmothers. They were born into families that made them learn to cook at an early age as part of their house duties. From these early times as children cooking, they were passed down generations of recipes and cooking techniques that they still use to this day. So as a boy, I would watch them prepare meals that sometimes took the whole day – it was the true definition of slow foods. Meals of braised meats, homemade breads and tortillas, potato dumplings, elaborate confections. Looking back, it was truly amazing that so many dishes took a lot of care and knowledge.

One of my grandmothers is Mexican and the other is German so I also had this diverse culinary experience in my life. The smells that would permeate the house were just intoxicating and by dinner time, I would be starving from anticipation. I think my favorite part was not only this sense of happiness I got from tasting food, but also how it brought our family together to relax from the day and just exist in this moment of togetherness and enjoyment.

By the time I was 17, I had dreams of what I wanted to be and working professionally in a restaurant was not one of them. But like all good moms that recognize their child’s true desire and potential, I was asked if I would like to meet a well-known chef in my hometown. My mom thought I could be a chef’s apprentice and see where it took me. It didn’t take long after being in a professional kitchen before I fell in love with the energy. The camaraderie, bonding and commitment. The dedication to pushing yourself to the limits. All of these things made me realize I didn’t just want to commit myself to my relationship with food, but absolutely needed to.

After working my way up through that kitchen and becoming a chef de cuisine by the age of 23, I decided to learn more about restaurants. I went on to work as a pastry chef under someone I still consider to this day to be one of the greatest. In that restaurant, we had an open kitchen, a new concept at the time, and boy did that shake up my whole world. I got to see people eating this food we all worked so hard to prepare. I saw smiles, laughter and pictures being taken of this food.

My next thought was that I already knew I wanted to own my own place some day and thought it would be best if I learned every job in a restaurant. So why not learn to serve and manage a dining room where I could be surrounded by this joy? For some reason, I had this naive thought that every person who comes into a restaurant is happy and smiling so it would be a piece of cake being out with the guests. Ha!

At that point, I decided I needed to move from my hometown, Tucson, to a bigger city with an exploding culinary scene, so I packed my belongings and moved to Portland, Oregon. Even though my first restaurant was fine dining, after moving to a bigger city with such a talented chef, it just blew my mind seeing the progressive techniques and new ingredients. I quickly landed a job managing this beautiful French Nouveau restaurant and in my off time, I ate my way through the city.

Years went by and I landed back in Tucson to help my grandmother recover from an accident and found an opportunity to work for a James Beard award winning chef. His life’s work was rooted in the preservation of heritage foods of the southwest and his commitment truly inspired me. I helped change local health codes to allow schools to have onsite gardens that they could use to feed their students. I became a board member for Slow Food. I really discovered an awareness for sustainability and cultural preservation from that chef. But after several years of learning and opening a new restaurant with him, the big city bug came back.

I met a woman, fell in love, and we decided to move to Seattle, which was another great food city that constantly inspired me. I helped open and run several restaurants there. Lauren and I had our first child, Eleanor, and my world changed. Family became a bigger focus in my life, as you would expect.

We had this great idea to travel to Latin America for awhile, showing our daughter more of the world. Then, one day before we were able to start our travels, old friends of mine, Johnny and Rachel Waszczak asked me if I knew someone that wanted to be a Food Director for some family-owned camps they work for. It sounded really fun and brought back fond memories of my childhood at a sleepaway camp, so I jumped at the opportunity.

Lauren, Eleanor and I picked up once again and moved to Greeley, PA. Lauren now works at Camp Timber Tops, where she gets to use so much of her past education and life experience. Seeing her in front of a group of girls playing, mentoring, and helping them grow up to be strong women is so amazing. Not to mention our daughter has hundreds of acres to play with the other staff children too young to be campers. Honestly, her development exploded as soon as we set foot on camp and I can’t ever see her not being at camp. It is also funny when we leave camp and go places like New York City and get on a subway where she waves at every single person because she thinks everyone is her camp family. If only this world was like camp all the time.

This year in the off-season, our family is setting off on our original adventure for a few months and heading to Mexico and Cuba. We will be going to Mexico City, Guadalajara (where part of Lauren’s family lives), Oaxaca, Yucatan and finally, Cuba. I have traveled all throughout Europe and have spent a lot of time in Germany where my father’s family is from. I have learned a lot about my family’s background there, but never as much about my mother’s side. So this trip we are about to embark on is to find out more about our Mexican heritages. And let’s be honest, it is also about eating a ton of fantastic food! While we are there I hope to learn some great recipes and get culinary ideas that I can possibly bring to camp.

Our menu is always diverse and you will find Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese and Middle Eastern cuisine. So many of our dishes are from Barbara Black who is not only a camp owner, but also all of the campers surrogate grandmother, a role she wouldn’t give up for the world. I love coming in to work and seeing Barbara making Matzah balls for Friday dinner or Mandelbread for a sweet treat.  Her love for feeding her campers and the joy they receive from it brings me back to the reason I became interested in food, my own grandmothers. So I am here at camp to continue traditions passed on from Barbara and the Black family and also honor the traditions of my family. Because I believe that happiness and love come from something as simple as a good meal.

In this role, I hope that my culinary experience and background can help to maintain the success of our food program and also bring new ideas to compliment tradition. A few of the new things I am working on are even more delicious items to expand our menu, more options for campers with dietary restrictions, and a pizza oven and grove breakfast that are going to knock the socks off our campers. Also, this year Lauren and I will be planting a camp garden so our cooking school program has lots of fresh vegetables to use. I also hope to have a good portion of our food waste go to composting and feed for local pig farms in our community. As I have discussed in my background, I believe sustainability and being more green is beneficial to our planet and also the future of our children.

And what do I like about camp? The first day I was introduced to camp, I felt like family. Everyone went out of their way to show me around, introduce themselves, and make it clear they were happy to have me as part of this great team. I quickly learned that camp is a special place that brings joy to everyone involved. We are all here to promote good values, acceptance and respect for each other while having fun. This is a place that creates long-lasting bonds of friendship. It’s almost like a secret club that you wish the whole world could experience. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel fortunate to be surrounded by special people. As I was told from the beginning, and I strongly believe it, people who come to work at camp are good people. Because devoting your time, energy and love to make each summer for the campers the best, most memorable experience, can only come from someone with a good heart. This is what excites me and makes me so passionate about working here at camp.

New for Summer 2017!

What’s new for 2017 at PFC?! If you are a new or returning camper and missed the reunion, here are just a few of the new things underway for 2017. It may only be Thanksgiving time, but it’s never too early to get excited!

1. New golf center!

2. New girls’ camp game deck!

3. New dock, sand and volleyball at the lake!

4. New bouldering center at the adventure wall!

5. New staff housing to bring the best leaders to you!

6. New “American Ninja Camper” obstacle course!

7. New trees! Beautiful NEW Norway Spruces and White Pines throughout camp – Hey, we’re Pine Forest, aren’t we?

8. New air conditioning and renovation of Greeley Theater: Our theater for movies and evening activities!

9. Our 11th Grade CAs are going back to Costa Rica for leadership training and community service!

10. New additions to Arts & Crafts including expanded ceramics, woodworking and new rocketry/model making center AKA The Launch Pad!

11. Camp cuisine! Menu additions thanks to our new full-time, gourmet dining room/kitchen manager and hot sauce connoisseur, Kristian! (He’s traveled the world to bring us the best food from around the globe).

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