River Runners: Meet Chief Little Feather!

On our new, after-camp trip, the River Runners will meet Lenape Chief Joseph Little Feather.

The upper Delaware River was the home of the Lenape or “Delaware Indians.”  Where our campers paddle down the Delaware River, the Lenape traveled in dugout canoes made from hollowed out trees.

Delaware is said to mean “original people.” It is believed that they were the original inhabitants of this region and ancestors of the Algonquin tribe.  The Delaware Indians are considered by many as the “grandfathers” of many native Americans.

Our campers will have the rare honor to meet in person a descendant of the Lenape and its current chief, Chief Joseph Little Feather. Chief Little Feather will talk about the daily life of the Lenape, their rich history, and their organic connection to nature.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Lenape (Delaware Indians), you can do so here and here.

 

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The Art of Cooking with Fire…

“The comforts of life’s essentials — food, fire, and friendships…”

-Julia Child

Let’s take a journey into the art of cooking with the most basic cooking tool….Fire. The best part of camping, for me, is building the perfect fire. Watching it burn can be hypnotizing in beauty as it changes form and radiates energy. That energy is then absorbed by everyone surrounding it forming love, laughter, wonder, storytelling, and the gift of living in the moment. These are just a few of the gifts of camp. The camp fire also creates the perfect environment for cooking and learning how to cook. There is no need for a stove, an oven, a steamer or a broiler. Learning the art of cooking on open flame teaches all the essentials. Just like growing a vegetable in your own garden, cooking on a campfire allows you to truly appreciate the final product. You understand the science, you appreciate the nature, and you enjoy your food even more! This lesson is a great lesson in cooking but also life at home, in school, and in everyday challenges. The campfire, building it, experiencing it, cooking on it, tending to it, is the embodiment of summer camp and a summer spent in the great outdoors.

Kristian Unvericht, Food Services Director at Pine Forest, Timber Tops, and Lake Owego camps

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Recipe: Campfire Monkey Bread!

Campfire MonkeyBread:

Prep time:  5 mins
Cook time:  10 mins
Total time:  15 mins
Serves: 8

This ooey, gooey monkey bread can be made right over the campfire!

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of Pillsbury refrigerated biscuits
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • cooking spray
Instructions:

  1. Prior to camping, place the brown sugar, and sugar into a large Ziploc bag.
  2. At the campsite, prepare the campfire and allow to burn for at least 30-60 minutes to create hot coals.
  3. Cut up the biscuits into quarters. Drop into the Ziploc bag and completely cover.
  4. Melt the butter and pour over the biscuits. Seal the bag and shake again. The biscuits should appear very gooey. The pie iron will tend to dry them out so you want them well covered.
  5. Spray both sides of the pie iron well with cooking spray. This recipe will fill 2 double sized pie irons.
  6. Place the biscuits on the pie iron and spoon any remaining mixture over top to coat further (Make sure you save some for the second batch!) You can also try adding this half way through cooking if you like it a little more sticky.
  7. Close the pie iron and place in the hot coals for approximately 10-12 minutes turning and rotating frequently. (We found that it worked best if we flipped the pie iron over as well as rotating it around the coals so the front of the pie iron was not always facing the same direction!)

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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.

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Exciting After-Camp Adventure Announcement!

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Camp + Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy

“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!

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PA + NY New Camper Events Were AWESOME!

Bowling together at Devon Lanes outside of Philadelphia, rock climbing at Chelsea Piers in New York, it was all about making future camp friends and meeting future bunkmates! And it was awesome! What a fabulous turnout! Our biggest EVER! This summer there will be plenty of first–time campers in Greeley, PA, so it’s an especially great time to start camp. In addition to campers, the weekend was a chance for some of our young counselors and veteran camp leaders to say hello and welcome. As we sing to you at camp “we’re mighty glad you’re here!”

Remember: June 1-2 weekend is our overnight New Camper Weekend! Stay overnight in a bunk! Enjoy camp activities! Sit around the campfire! Make real s’mores at camp! There will be many more new friends to meet. Please call the office for more information or to RSVP.

Spoiler alert: new campers, it’s going to be the best summer ever!

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Happy New Year!

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Finding an Overnight Camp…

You may have read the blog “The Opposite of Spoiled” by Ron Leiber that appeared in the NYTimes in 2014, entitled “Finding an Overnight Camp that’s Truly Worth It.” If not, it’s worth the read!

Leiber raises five “essential” questions that parents should ask when choosing a summer camp that is truly worth it. Here are the questions from the article and our answers. We think that they truly set us apart, above and beyond others. Read on!

1) “Where are other children going?” 
As Leiber says, this is a trick question. There is a natural instinct to send your child to the same camp as his or her friends in the neighborhood. The answer should be that a worthwhile overnight  camp has a diversity of geographic areas represented. Overnight camp friends should not be the same as friends at home. That’s the biggest difference from day camp. Every child has friends from home and school, but let camp introduce them to a whole new group of friends, some that span great distances, with different interests, styles and stories. Let your child reinvent him or herself!  An investment in camp should broaden a child’s circle of friends.

Here’s our demographic split: our campers are equally represented in NY, NJ, and PA. Close behind is MD and FL. There is not one city or town (not even one state!) where we draw from, and we love that about our camp families! Camp friends are sacred!

2) “What are the retention figures?”  
This is one of our favorites. Once a child starts at camp there is a 90% return the next year. This continues until “graduating” as 11th graders. Our retention rates are truly amazing. The author asks if we do follow up on those few who don’t return, and of course we do. Every camper is an integral part of our camp family. Honestly, the few children who depart before their final year do so for reasons unrelated to camp, a family trip is planned, a team requires practice at home, etc.

The blog also asks the retention rate of counselors and the percentage of counselors who are former campers. Here’s an answer that you might not expect: first as to counselor retention, our standards are high. Counselors are not automatically asked to return, in fact we are very selective about who meets our standards. Also, the truth is that not every former camper makes a great counselor. The transition is not easy. Not every young adult can make the change from being the one who is looked after to the person who does the looking after. New counselors bring new ideas, new energy and a gung-ho spirit, that not every former camper possesses.  Our experience and firm belief is that the best counselor team is a mix, new and old. We want the most enthusiastic, positive  role models for campers, whomever they are!

3) “What can they do here that they can’t do at home?”  
Here’s the beginning of a truly endless list that starts with wake-up and goes till lights-out. Rock-climbing, mountain biking, creek stomping, sailing, canoeing the rapids of the Delaware River. Travel to to play another camp in individual and team sports without having to try out for the team. Play Capture the Assagi, be on a dance team, use a potter’s wheel, join a rock band, hike the Appalachian Trail, go on an overnight, sing in the camp play, cook wood-burning pizza, participate in a bunk skit,  link arms with a whole camp, sing songs around a campfire!

And by the way, we try not to do things that you do at home. We avoid amusement parks, bowling, movie theaters. It’s on purpose! You can do that at home with your parents!

4) “What makes your camp unique?”
To us, that really is the most important question. Our camp organization is 89 years old and has been in one family for 5 generations. There are thousands of camps in the USA, hundreds that are old but very few,  if any,  can say that. Our longevity and track record is truly unmatched. Our facilities are modern but campy. The range of activity choices, amazing. Our camp is staff second to none, filled with coaches and teachers and camp folk. The ratios of staff to campers, almost 2:1. We have a rare range of campers from all over. But it’s our 5 generations and 89-year story of success that is truly extraordinary.

5) “Can you tell me about the ties that bind.”
Here the author was really asking about the soul of a camp.  He mentions his daughter, at lineup, watching two staff members honored who fell in love and became engaged at camp. He’s speaking to a sense of self, a sense of identity that links a person to his or her camp community for all of time. All you have to do is look around camp to see ties that bind: from names on courts and fields to names of current and former camp folk on plaques in the dining hall. The ties that bind are Polar Bears Club, songs, cheers, traditions of rope burn, camp fires, Old Timer’s Club, and culminating camp moments. We say it at campfires, and it’s true. Camp isn’t just a place on a map, it remains a place in each camper’s heart. It’s these lasting shared memories that link each generation to the next, and we’re lucky enough to have many camp folk span generations.

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2018 Reunion: Best Reunion Ever!

Yesterday was AWESOME!  Dare we say it was the … BEST REUNION EVER?  A big thank you to everyone who came out to party with us on Sunday.  Campers, counselors, head staff, & more!  Busses were flooded with campers from the New York area, North Jersey, and even Maryland — we were so thrilled with the turnout.  Doesn’t it feel great to be back together again?  Yesterday was so great, we can’t even IMAGINE how great Summer 2019 will be.  We only have 229 more days to wait and see and no, it’s never to early to start counting down.  We can’t wait!

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