A World Where Goodness Reigns

These are troubling times for parents and scary times for children. In the big picture of world events, summer camp is easy to trivialize. After all, it’s only about s’mores, Color War, and campfires, right? We believe camp is so much more, and your child undoubtedly feels it too.

Camp has a hidden power that can shine a light through the darkest of times. Across America, there are all kinds of camps that serve children from all different social and economic backgrounds. And for those children lucky enough to go to any well-run camp, the community of camp is a lasting source of strength and comfort. Where else can you be a part of a community that is supportive of every individual, where friendship and caring about others overrides everything else? Campers know, first hand, that a group of people, not just your family, can come together to create a world of goodness and love. If you are a part of one of these communities, you grow to believe in them and know their power. Camp gives children hope and optimism when they need it the most.

There’s an old traditional American  song that has been sung around the campfire at camps from Maine to California, for generations. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…” For children who are part of a camp community, they know that their inner light is valued at camp and shines bright all year round. They also recognize the greater good in the world and see goodness in others in a unique and profound way.

The gift of camp brings children happiness and hope in every month of the year.

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As We Say Our Last Goodnight, Goodnight, Goodnight

Thanks for reading our blog, fans of Timber Talk. We’ve loved giving you a window into all things Camp Timber Tops and having you along with us on this journey. Today we pack, tonight we do wishing boats, and tomorrow morning we’re off. Just like that, summer 2017 will be a distant memory.

Of all the gifts you can give your children, we truly believe that camp is the greatest gift of all. You can’t give your kids independence, resilience, grit, lifelong friendships, a sense of belonging, adventure, but you can give them camp. Thank you for entrusting us with *your* most precious gift. We have loved having your daughter down the winding road with us this summer for what we think was our best season yet.

Your camper has heard us say it before, but it’s worth repeating now: Camp isn’t just a place on a map, it’s a place in your heart. We hope that memories of Camp Timber Tops give your daughter happiness and confidence in every season, through every stage of her life.

As our alma mater goes:

As time goes by like a river, a people alter their ways, we will always remember the joys of Timber Tops days. The friends we’ve made through the summer will be our lasting delight, and the joys and the tears that we’ve known here are the joys of the red and the white.

With thanks,

Missy, Andy, Anna and 5 Generations of the Black Family

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Banquet 2017! Thanking Lenox and Introducing…

Tonight’s top-secret Banquet theme, brought to us by the 9th graders was…Lenox in Hollywood! Our 9th graders have spent the past number of weeks planning, organizing, and putting together tonight’s banquet which honors the CAs for their leadership this summer. It’s a Timber Tops tradition that we look forward to all summer and take very seriously- from Oaklings to CAs! The entire camp ate breakfast and lunch in the grove to give our 9th graders ample time to prepare in private, and they surpassed all expectations! You would not believe the way our 9th graders transform the dining hall each year. This year the bathroom was turned into a Hollywood-style “dressing room,” there were “posters” lining the walls from past banquets, the entrance looked like the red carpet, paparazzi included and more! Green, rolling Beverly Hills in the background, stars above, a giant Lenox Oscar in the middle, Hollywood centerpieces for each bunk at each table, VIP necklaces for CAs… The list goes on!

It’s our tradition for CAs to get dressed up for banquet while the rest of camp dons their officials. Lenox is officially presented one by one,  thanked, presented with awards, and made to feel like the stars of the show. Thank you, Lenox, for a summer filled with love for camp and each other. We have another tradition at Banquet where our counselors who grew up as campers at CTT serenade the whole camp with a special song to the tune of “Uncle John’s Band.” The lyrics include “When you leave Timber Tops, friends will still remain. People grow, each year will pass, but the memories never change…”

At the end of the banquet, the 9th graders thanked Lenox and then, after much anticipation, introduced their CA name and sang their CA song for next summer. And the CA Village next summer is…

ALDER 2018!
Song: “Already Home” by A Great Big World (with some changes lyrics)

In addition to a big CTT/9th grade/Lenox love fest, the night was filled with especially delicious appetizers, dinner and dessert. It was like being at a wedding! Really, ask your camper all about it!

An extraordinary night for extraordinary people in this extraordinary place. There’s a little extra magic in the air tonight at Camp Timber Tops, even though chants of “we’re not leaving” echo through the trees. It’s a bittersweet but awesome moment in the life of every summer and this summer is no different.

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Home From Camp, A Warning ( & Tips)!

Today was our last “regular” day at camp. Tonight, we start what will be a final few days of winding down, award ceremonies, bus rehearsals, teary goodbyes. In that spirit, we give you our annual:

HOME FROM CAMP, A WARNING (& TIPS) from CTT!

We know you want to swallow her whole. Here are some tips to help you help yourself (and in doing so, help your camper re-enter the world).

1. Don’t take it personally.

Yes, she’ll be SO happy to see you. She’s also very, very sad.

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

2. Remember she’s exhausted.

In the past week alone she’s experienced Pioneer Days, the play, a dance show, a gymnastics show, banquet, wishing boats, packing and more. Over the past seven weeks she’s been living with ten other people, hanging out with friends day and night, participating in activities from sun up to sun down. Enough said.

3. Be patient.

It might take a few hours or a few days to be entirely “on.” She might even seem a little numb. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you or didn’t miss you. It doesn’t mean that she won’t open up and start gushing in a few days. Nothing is wrong. She just needs time! Things that are normal: wanting to talk to her camp friends immediately, all-day, every day for a few days (yes, she’s just spent seven weeks with them- we know). Wanting to keep on that disgusting arm of camp friendship bracelets (don’t tell her they’re ridiculous unless you want to get hurt). Wanting to spend some time alone before jumping into the deep end of home life (think family gatherings, the mall, play dates). Any combination of the above. Normal. Normal. Normal.

4. 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. 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 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! She’ll start talking!

Good questions:
What was this morning like?
Which choice 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.

5. Give her wings.

At camp she was the most independent version of herself, and she’s still basking in the glow of those camp freedoms. Advocating for herself, making independent choices— it’s why you sent her to camp! Remember 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 her bed before camp, encourage her to make her bed at home (even if it isn’t as beautiful as you’d like). Though seemingly a “chore,” having your camper do things for herself at home will continue the summer’s momentum and make her feel happy and confident. And isn’t that what this whole camp thing was about from the start?

SONY DSC

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#TimberTopsTuesday

Our last #TimberTopsTuesday at camp this summer was just about as great as it could possibly be. After a rainy and dismal day yesterday, we were thrilled when the sun started peeking through the clouds and what began as a chilly August morning became the absolute most beautiful, picture-perfect day at camp of the whole summer.

Since we worked so hard during Pioneer Days, we started the day with a well-deserved late sleep. Outside of normal camp life, there was a Top Cooks pickling class (yum!), prep for tomorrow’s horse show, six graders heading to waterski in masses, dance workshops with visiting artist Kelli Moshen, a soccer clinic, a flag football tournament and so much more.

But wait! There’s more! Play practice has been going full steam all day in preparation for tonight’s performance! The play! It’s here! “CAMP ROCKS” is going to ROCK.

Break a leg, girls!

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Pioneer Days, Day 3!

The bad news is, it’s been raining at camp all day. The good news it, we’re still enjoying every last moment of Pioneer Days, incorporating both old traditions as well as some new, and we’re cheering and singing our hearts out. You’d never know it’s gloomy outside by the smiles on our faces.

This morning brought a Timber Tops favorite: Flagpole Activities! Except because of the rain we held those activities in the Fitness Center. What are “Flagpole Activities” you ask? Well, they’re wild and wacky and they’re TOTALLY Timber Tops. Pie eating, watermelon eating, watermelon seed spitting, licorice eating, butter churning, rope burning and more make up a morning of spirit, fun, and a whole lot of ridiculousness.

Our afternoon is spent doing individual activities, but because of the rain, we’re doing both traditional and non-traditional activities! Our “Chopped” competition in cooking is awesome as is the meal committee’s meal which they cook for judges over an open fire. And though our campsite committees were cut short, each team built a campsite in the woods meant both to shelter and also to wow. They were awesome! Other afternoon activities included a fitness competition, a gymnastics competition and a new one- Escape the Room! Perfect for a rainy day!

Tonight, after our final silent dinner (where the judges try to make us laugh), we’ll compete in our final Pioneer Days gathering. Each team will sing their cheer, song, banner, and present their Tall Tale (a comedy sketch of this summer at camp). Then, the winner of Pioneer Days 2017 will be announced and we’ll get back to business as usual, though there’s nothing ordinary about this place.

We are SO entrenched in camp in these final moments that it’s hard to believe we’ll soon be winding down. Not just yet, folks! We have so much more to squeeze in! There’s nothing holding us back!

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Second Day of Pioneer Days!

7:45 CAs wake up campers
8:10 Junior breakfast; Senior clean up
8:40 Line-up
8:50 Junior clean up; Senior breakfast
**Tall tale must perform at lunch today.
9:00 Captains meeting in the dining hal
9:25 Team meetings: Select participants for tug of war, ridic relay, swim meet + bike relay
10:00 Report to the adventure course prepared to participate in Adventure Challenge (sneakers!)
11:45 Tug of war/ ridiculous relay – meet at upper field
12:30 Junior lunch; Senior recall
1:00 Junior rest; Senior lunch
2:15 Swim meet ————– Bring sneakers for dodgeball too!
Bike relay! Biathalon! dodgeball!
4:30 General Swim: Everyone at the pool
5:00 Showers
6:00 Junior dinner (SILENT)
6:35 Line-up
6:45 Junior recall; Senior dinner (SILENT)
Committees continue working on projects
7:10 Team meetings in preparation for tonight’s evening activities
7:45 Line-up at flagpole for tonight’s evening activities
Cheer: Each team forms a cheer team to perform tonight!
Quartet: Each team forms a barbershop quartet to perform tonight!
Totem Pole: Each team forms a committee to create a totem pole to present tonight!
Dance: Each team forms a team to perform tonight!
9:00 Junior bed time
9:30 Junior lights out; Senior bed time
10:00 Senior lights out
Pioneer days OD – rest up for tomorrow’s activities!

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Pioneer Days: Day 1

Here’s what today looks like for the first day of Pioneer Days 2017! Information on the break coming later (with videos!)

PIONEER DAYS: Day 1 Saturday, August 5th, 2017

7:45 CAs wake up campers
8:10 Junior breakfast; Senior clean up
8:40 Line-up
8:50 Junior clean up; Senior breakfast
9:00 Captains meeting in the dining hall

9:25 Team meetings:
Select participants for:
Jug band, upper field activities , dance, cheer, song, banner, meal, barbershop quartet, camp site, totem pole, freeze frame, hat, tall tale, props

10:30 Meet at the Upper Field for the upper field relay races and activities!
Be ready to participate and cheer!
** Each team bring: laundry bag, zipper bag, jeans, button-up shirt, socks + tie shoes
Begin working on: Jug Band, Quartet, Freeze Frame, Hat, Dance, Cheer, Totem Pole
** Committees organize schedules Props
Begin working on camp site
12:30 Junior lunch; Senior recall
Low senior photos
1:00 Junior rest; Senior lunch

2:00 Captains meeting in the dining hall.
2:15 Team meetings: Select participants for Lakefront activities
2:40 Lakefront activities: all campers to the lake! Relays in canoes, paddle boards, paddle boats, rafts, wibit and more
4:30 General Swim: Everyone at the lake
5:00 Showers
6:00 Junior dinner (SILENT)
6:35 Line-up
6:45 Junior recall; Senior dinner (SILENT)
7:00 Committees continue working on projects

7:15 Team Meetings
7:45 Line-up at flagpole for tonight’s Evening Performance at the Outdoor Theater
Jug Band: Each team forms a band and performs a song with with instruments made out of found objects
Freeze Frame: The whole team participates in what we swear was the original mannequin challenge! Anyone who has gone to Timber Tops knows we did it first!
Props: Each team sends someone up to perform with props given to each person in the moment. It’s hilarious! 
Hat: Each team picks a group to work on a hat representing their team. Tonight they’ll present the hats!

9:00 Junior bed time
9:30 Junior lights out; Senior bed time

 

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Save-the-Date!

Save the Date!
For PIONEER DAYS!
Coming soon!
Just kidding (well, not really- that’s gotta be coming soon too…).

We’re talking about the FALL REUNION!

CTT 2017 REUNION
Sunday, November 5th
10AM-12PM
The Funplex
Mt. Laurel, NJ

P.S.- It was a great day of camp! Of course!

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SFA ALL DAY! YES!

It’s a great day! It’s a great life here at camp!

Apologies for yesterday’s failure to post. It was an awesome day with a highlight perhaps being Juniors at Costa’s! Well, folks, today the seniors went to Costa’s and it was just about as fabulous as always. Ice cream, water slides, go-carts, mini golf, bumper boats, everything a family fun park is meant to be! Costa’s is just 8 miles down the road, and it’s always an added bonus to any SFA day.

That’s right, it was an SFA day. SFA stands for Supervised Free Activity, and that means campers are given carte blanche to roam camp activities as they wish and participate in activities of their choosing. SFA day also means that in addition to activity areas simply being open for business, we also facilitate extra special fun! We had EXTRA extra special fun today.

First, many (close to 100!) of our campers chose to participate in our annual Hughie and Selma Black Camper Scamper 5K! It was a great way to start the morning. A number of our campers have been training all summer for this moment! You go, girls! You are awesome! Other extra special fun happenings around camp included candy sushi making in cooking, s’moreo making in outdoor cooking, the high zip line in full swing, special dance games in dance class, volleyball tennis on the upper courts, private tennis lessons on the lower courts, and open fun at the lake and pool.

We also enjoyed lunch in the grove as we always do on Thursdays. Who doesn’t love a good BBQ! Tonight, it’s off to a luau social for seniors and Name That Tune for juniors. And what about Pioneer Days!? We hear they could break at ANY moment…Stay tuned, friendly Timber Talk followers! It’s coming  (shhhhh)!

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