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Camp and Giving

promo_044With the holiday gift-giving season upon us, we thought it was fitting to recognize what we believe is the greatest gift a parent can give a child…it can’t be wrapped, it can’t be opened, it can only be experienced…because it is the gift of CAMP. Our campers tell us repeatedly throughout the summer how thankful they are. During our weekly Friday Night Services, we take time to reflect, appreciate and value all that camp gives us. When parents send us (and are surprised by) letters of gratitude that they receive from their camper, we remind them how much of our program is about appreciating how lucky we are to have the privilege of camp.

Camp Towanda is proud to support and be involved with many philanthropic organizations. We teach, demonstrate and encourage our campers and staff about the importance of giving back, being involved and caring. There are several opportunities during camp and throughout the year for our families to get involved, including the Foundation Fighting Blindness Vision Walk, Project Morry Swim-a-Thon, Walk-a-Thon and Basketball-a-Thons, and SCOPE (Summer Camp Opportunities Promote Education). At Camp Towanda, giving back is so important to the fabric of our camp and culture and as a result, campers gain an even deeper appreciation for their own experiences.

We want to share some other ways that you and your camper can share the gift of camp and some of the causes we support at camp:

SCOPE

As many of you know, Mitch is president of this national organization that provides underprivileged children the opportunity to experience the advantage and edge of sleep away camp. SCOPE funds camperships at non-profit residential camps (thusly, helping the camps, too) and following through with college support.

Many Towanda campers, staff, parents, alumni and friends have contributed time, energy and money to SCOPE. Some efforts include events and sales during the summer, volunteering at off-season fundraiser events, creating school events that support, Mitzvah projects and business contributions.

Our Dorm, Club, LIT and CITs are involved in the SCOPE Junior Leadership Council. And Jared Reiter is on the Young Leaders Board!

Shout out to Evan Seiden for organizing a Bake Sale at his school that netted $350.00 and www.MitzvahMarket.com, Modell’s Sporting Goods and all of our camper volunteers at recent events (Allie Chaiken, Evan Seiden, Josh Merlin, Huggie, Jake Weinstein and Sydney Levy).

Check out SCOPEUSA.ORG for the latest events for all ages.

We are looking for volunteers for the April 5 Benefit Dinner at the Conrad Hotel in Manhattan (where we will officially welcome Towanda Alumni Hank Azaria to the Honorary Board)! ALL ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND AND SUPPORT! THIS FUN EVENING!

To our Floridian Families; SCOPE is currently looking for an adult to head up our SouthEast Chapter; please contact Mitch if you are interested. This is a great opportunity!

SCOPE currently has chapters in New York, Chicago, South Florida, Texas and we are always looking to expand (Anyone for New England or West Coast?).

There are other ways to #SupportScope, including starting a SCOPE fundraiser in your own community. Visit their website to learn more!

Morry’s Camp

In the summer we swim laps and shoot hoops to help send kids to camp. You can also support this organization year-round through their website and winter events and auctions. Congratulations To Janine and Stephen Rosen (Stephen is Alum) on bidding and winning The Morry’s Camp online tuition bid. Twelve camps (including Towanda) donated a camper tuition to help raise funds for Project Morry. Of all the camps and bidders; The Rosen’s won! We are very proud of their generosity and support!

Vision Walk

You can still purchase a Vision Walk T-Shirt designed by our LITs of 2015 and proceeds go to Foundation Fighting Blindness. Send a $25 check to Camp Towanda. The Spring, 2016 VisionWalk date has not yet been announced…but get your shirt ready!

And thank you to all our camp families that donated during our Holiday Food Drive at the NY Area Reunion! Coming in the next issue of The Towanda Times will be information on our very own Towanda Campership Fund!

Together we can share the gift of camp and pay it forward!

Happy and Healthy Holidays!

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The Homecoming

ff0d5dd4-ee01-401a-8d66-816f91c92ebe-2Can you believe the campers come home this week?! Where did the summer go? As you anxiously await their arrival by bus, plane or car, it’s good to think about where they are really coming from- emotionally.

For seven weeks, they have been part of a constant community, living in a bunk with a dozen friends, traveling in a pack to activities, eating together family style and always in motion. When they return home, it’s good to grant them the space they may need to adjust to a different pace of living and decompress. Here are a few things you can also expect:

No more homesickness, but now they are campsick. Remember when you told them that it’s okay to be homesick because that means they have a home that they love? Well, now get ready for campsickness. Camp is now their happy place, filled with cozy memories of friendship, family and fun. Just like homesickness, they will acclimate and get back into the swing of things. They just need time, space and the support of friends and family.

101701c4-07de-41c2-8dcb-46b26f4b7fa2They mostly want to connect with their camp friends. Even though you may think they want to be with their home friends who they haven’t seen in weeks, you will probably find your campers texting, chatting and connecting with the friends they just left behind. The inside jokes, the rich experiences and life at Camp Towanda are only things they understand together. Their camp friends actually help make the transition easier if they can share, laugh and keep up their friendships in the “off season”.

They have manners and responsibility. At camp, we expect a lot of our campers in order to live together in harmony. They will come home wanting to make their beds and help with chores. Use this as an incredible opportunity and a gift to start off the school year on a great note! Even if their bed isn’t made perfectly, or all of their clothes don’t end up in the hamper, empower them with these jobs and reward their motivation to contribute and help their home family.

b6ac6d11-d2a1-4537-9879-56ca4ce2d7c7They haven’t touched a remote control in weeks! Card games, diablos, yo yos and books have replaced their devices (or appendages) for the summer. It’s a great time to dial back the dependance on electronics. Carve out an hour of the day and call it “camp time”. Have them enjoy technology-free eating, an old fashioned family board game or face-to-face conversation. They can do it! Trust us..when they are unplugged, they function even better!

Before long, you will feel like they were never gone. Parenting is tough and don’t let it wear you down. Keep up the good work and try to make the magic of camp last beyond October.  Before you know it, it will be June again! And we can’t wait to have our summer kids back. We already miss them and they haven’t even left yet.

Here’s another great blog from last summer about homecoming. You can never be too prepared.

About Camp Towanda:

Camp Towanda is an independent, traditional, co-ed sleep-away camp in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. It is privately owned, operated and directed by Mitch and Stephanie Reiter (who are celebrating 25 years as owners and directors).  For over 90 years, Camp Towanda has continued to define what camp should really be. Our program offers state-of-the-art facilities, an excellent and professional athletic department, waterfront, extensive arts, drama and adventure programs, and special events.  We are highly regarded and respected as an industry leader and are involved in giving back to various organizations throughout the year.  Camp Towanda is accredited by the American Camp Association and a member of the Camp-Alert-Network, Wayne County Camp Association, Camp Owners and Directors Association and the Pennsylvania Camp Association.

Post-Visiting Day, Week 5 Stride

c8ead8e9-525a-456c-a38a-9c2af91c857aWhen parents come to camp just four weeks into the summer, they say “how could it get better than this!?”. Well..it’s official, we have hit our post-Visiting Day, Week 5 stride! It’s not from the candy (that’s long gone)- it’s all natural, wholesome, organic, incredible, exhilarating, edge-of-your-seat fun!

08d4d4bf-1f38-4d58-a65c-e2f2caebf272-2This week alone, we packed so much in and we all know it’s just getting better from here on out! Casino Night, All Star Basketball Game, Gold Rush, Counselor Hunt, Intercamp games, Backwards Day, Wayne County Championships, waterparks, Inters to Cooperstown, Senior/Club Dorm Trip to Boston, LITs to Niagara Falls, Nationals Canoe Trips, General Swims, Culinary Classes kitchen raids (with Mitch–shhhh) and then our Lower Camp play Annie!

From the beginning of the summer when we had those very wet rainy days, the theme song was, “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow”. So it was only fitting for lower camp to serenade us and knock our socks off with an incredible production!

3ed9eb5f-fa0a-477c-b2a3-9ab3a6116746The entire camp gathered, as we do most evenings, all together, young and old, boys and girls and staff.  The production (song, scenery and costume), blew us away. Over 140 cast and crew participating, beyond adorable, beyond cute, it was broadway caliber.  The crowd was silent in awe as the cast performed with pride, passion and gusto!

c7df8c0f-ccba-44a7-acab-4c9b6d7e3969On stage, your kids (our kids) had the biggest smiles, their self-esteem and confidence bursting! Some of these same kids were shy and crying upon arrival just a few short weeks ago or clinging onto their parents legs just last week! Amazing what camp can do! This was different than if it was a home school play, because the parents weren’t there, they were in the moment and shining from the stage right up to the full moon, experiencing a big sense of accomplishment for themselves.

7404d253-e566-41c1-b70b-bc7c12a65c37We had never witnessed such a show here before. The crowd rose for an honest unprovoked standing ovation! As tears were running down our faces (honestly), we turned to look at the audiences, and we thought- THIS IS WHAT LIFE AT CAMP TOWANDA IS. This is what you want your kids to get from the camp experience: pride, support, confidence, accomplishment and enjoyment.  This is what kids thrive on, need and get here.

And as if the week couldn’t get any better, we had a couple of fake outs, one of which was pretty convincing! Here’s what went down.. at the end of Annie, we showed this week’s Friday Nite Flix (again on a Saturday) which culminated in a series time traveling movies, followed by the two teams coming up on screen: The Red Dimension Sliders vs. the Blue Time Travelers. The horns blared and “Is there anybody out there” played. Banners were ushered out from the fiedlhouse. They called down Generals and started calling down Camper Captains (CCs)…there was 1 Blue CC, then 2, then 3, and then they went to call down the Red CCs and FAKE OUT!

The fever is hot, the excitement is high; camp is on the move; hitting our stride; this is now the time we start reaping what we sowed!  And it will only get better each day…

 

Why Our Camp Parents Love Visiting Day!

b5124b96-46bc-45d4-ab80-5020ad2910b9Reflecting on Visiting Day 2015, a common theme of the summer comes to mind: Top 10! Back in June we did a video about the “Top 10 Things to Look Forward to This Summer” (which was a tribute to our Letterman video in 2000). What we could have included on that list (for the parents, at least) was Visiting Day, but not for the reasons you may think!

793a123f-14f9-4c30-8ad2-965dbfcc3137Yes, of course it’s amazing to see your kids after 4 short weeks, give them a 10 minute hugs and shower them with dozens of treats, but it makes our list because it’s a chance for you to really see change and growth in your child, with the gift of perspective and time.

It helped that Saturday was a “Top 10” weather day, but overall we have so many parents telling us the many other reasons why it was a perfect 10! Here’s a few we would like to share:

Top 10 Reasons Why Parents Told Us Visiting Day Was a “Top 10 Day”!

  1. The smiling faces of the campers, staff and visiting families, walking around camp with their feet barely touching the ground.
  2. The true brother and sister relationships the campers have with each other and how their friendships are different because they live together, play together and work together.
  3. The nice relationships the camp parents form with each other over the years– from that first summer right thru the last (we saw many camp parents crying from the Dorm, Club and LITs- sad to see this as their last visiting day).
  4. The authenticity of our staff (who we are so proud of). The kindness, the care and the effort you see them put into their job; wanting to get to know the parents of the campers who have been their kids for the summer! From first year counselors to the senior staff and group leaders— there is no greater comfort than knowing your kids are in great hands.
  5. The thank yous our campers give their parents. Not just for all the “stuff”, snacks and Vistiting Day treats..but more importantly “thank you for sending me to this camp”. Not sure there is anything better than true gratitude from a 10 year old.
  6. The joy of seeing your camper the happiest they have ever been. Back at home, parents are proud of grades, trophies and accomplishments. But at camp, parents are proud to see their children happy, comfortable, confident and trying new things outside their comfort zone. As Dr. Michael Thompson said “we cannot make our children happy”, but after Visiting Day, I think parents will agree that camp sure can!
  7. The excitement camper has to share something that is completely their own. Even for alumni parents, there is nothing better than experiencing camp through your camper’s eyes. Getting to experience your child show them THEIR CAMP, THEIR BUNK, THEIR FRIENDS, THEIR WORLD. Because it’s something they can own and take pride in, knowing it’s special.
  8. The possibilities. When you send your kid to camp, in just 4 short weeks you don’t even realize the growth and development that is possible when they are away from home. Imagine what can happen in just 3 more weeks!
  9. The sibling love. Whether your siblings are at camp, enjoyed sibling sleepover or just spent the day together. Camp makes siblings appreciate each other so much more.
  10. The pride in being a part of the Camp Towanda Family. It’s not easy these days to be surrounded by hundreds of families, staff and Camp Directors who share the same down-to-earth values and can spend the day in harmony.  The energy at our Visiting Day is not chaotic, stressful or emotional. It is peaceful, joyful and a celebration that no one takes for granted.

We are going to ride the Visiting Day high right into Trip Week and then who knows, maybe there will be Olympics. Camp only gets better from here on out!!! Oh if you could just be a fly on the wall…

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Wet Hot American Fun!

Week one was off to a very wet but wildly fun start at Camp Towanda. We made the best of the weather, creatively using all of our indoor facilities to the max and the campers and staff didn’t miss a beat. Our Towanda ponchos and rain boots have gotten their fair share of wear and mud GHOST is a new activity here at camp!

984208f8-71bd-480b-9599-dba7bb88a075Even though it has only been a week, the camaraderie, smiles and friendships are as if we have been together a long time already. We have been appreciating the rare glimpses of sunshine, soaking in the fun of kickball, volleyball, basketball, free swim and more! And when the showers rain down on us, we have been seeking cover at indoor basketball, ping-pong tourneys, lego room, old-school board games, treehouse challenges, gaga, indoor arena soccer, Arts & Crafts, dance, Culinary with Chefs Ben, Hannah and Judi, gymnastics, martial arts, play rehearsal, zumba and more. And while the fields dry out we have managed to play lacrosse on the tennis courts because, why not!? We have enough to keep us busy. Rain doesn’t get us down one bit- we are “water resilient”!

8b700f77-4ca2-4077-81c9-267b5878040dOur evenings have been filled with Towanda favorites like talent shows, open mic night, Towanda Open (dizzy bats, pudding pie in the face, messy fun!) and Unique Entertainment Game Show to name a few and capped off with Under the Lights for our Upper Camp and milk & cookies for Lower Camp. We celebrated the July 4th long weekend with our annual traditions of breakfast on the lawn, Campapalooza outdoor concert, record-breaking attempt to get into the Guinness Book of World Records (this year the entire camp with stuck together with Chinese finger traps), a day of sunshine filled co-ed activities, luau, BBQ and fireworks set to 1812 Overture! The first week really did end with a bang!

2c17a50b-374e-4771-b2cc-90fa662ac633Stephanie and I and the senior staff (Head Counselors, Camp Moms, etc.) spend the bulk of our day out there…in the trenches, managing, observing, directing, participating…at eye level…getting into it. Knowing your kids and their counselors so we can successfully guide and direct them towards a successful experience here at camp.

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We are not in the office, we do not carry cell phones or technology with us…we are in the moment with the campers and staff. We break the cliques, we balance the group, we foster a brotherhood and sisterhood…the road to achieve that isn’t easy, but we have the tools here to be successful…things happen here that just can’t happen anywhere else! Just take a look at our oldest campers- The Dorm & Club!

By now you have probably received the first wave of letters…that’s what we call “old news”!   You may need to read it, take a deep breath and then go out to dinner! We are on it!

Let the excitement, activities, skill development and games continue! Thanks for trusting us to do what we do and thanks for making the tough parenting decision to let us do it!

Check out the first official highlights video of the summer! Friday Nite Flix Week 1: Wet Hot American Summer Edition: FRIDAY NITE FLIX

Quote of the week: “Wow!  Cannot believe how much rain you guys have had but glad to see that it cleared up .  Watching the FNF this week it seems that the rain has not managed to dampen the spirit of camp. That’s amazing.  The kids all look like they are having a fabulous time.  Very impressive given the weather conditions.” – Camp Parent