Two Terrific Towanda Days to recap.  Camp is in the groove; the kids are relaxing, participating, spirited and having fun. As Steph and I walked around during activities we watched our staff just as enthusiastic as the campers!

Every single activity had wonderful instruction, skill development and involvement; from volleyball to basketball to tennis to hockey, softball to gymnastics (which everyone loves), and more!  The Garden Club has already enjoyed some arugula and radish from Stephanie’s garden.  And Damn Yankees rehearsals are looking good.

Yesterday started with a Porch breakfast buffet (yogurt, blueberries, strawberries, granola, health bars, cereal, eggs and juice) on the picnic table lawn. In the afternoon we had our annual Campa-pa-looza outdoor concert from the Walking Heroes in our amphitheater in the sun and warmth (finally)!  After the music , everyone went bananas when they got to make their own banana splits!

Evening activities are in full swing.  Lower Camp has been spending their nights on the zipline, in a scavenger hunt and we even had a duct tape fashion show from the younger girls (really quite impressive…who knew duct tape came in other colors than grey!).  Upper Camp is enjoying everything from a beautiful BBQ dinner lakeside to their “black out” social (everyone wore black) to our very own UNIQUE entertainment game show!

As for our oldest campers: The Dorm Girls returned from their overnight Canoe trip and said it was awesome.  The Club Boys had their special ceremonial campfire (shhh, I can’t talk about it) which included a beautiful setting moon and a still, silent and warm night!!!!

We hope everyone has been enjoying ALL the photos on CampMinder! A parent stumbled on this blog and shared it with us (Click here to read). It has some good laughs and a great moral to the story.  We hope you appreciate this self-depricating perspective on “THE PICTURES”.  The blog also featured a great cartoon that’s also in our Parent Guide.

Camp eagerly awaits the first official installment of Friday Nite Flix later tonight and we hope you are as excited as we are! Wishing everyone a great weekend (we know we’ll be having a blast!).


The Circus Comes to Towanda!

High Five Tuesday was a gorgeous day.  But it sure felt like fall! I can’t recall the last time I wore long pants and 3 layers in June!!!  The forecast says 80s and 90s by Thursday and Friday and I’m sure we will be shedding those layers and running (or walking carefully) for the lake!

Our waterfront staff enjoyed being on “dry dock”.  Activities such as jogging on the track and basketball kept us warm, while the smell of the courtyard firepit kept us thinking we were warm!  Of course, Banana splits were delayed until Thursday when we will need them to help cool off!

Culinary Classes started today at The Farm as our junior chefs made pretzel chicken, broccoli and rice, cornflake chicken and fresh baked cookies! A very popular option!

This evening’s activity was brought inside; The National Circus Project rolled in and we look forward to circus workshops this morning!

It’s another beautiful day today at Camp Towanda (warmer and less breezy).  Perfect for a day with the circus!


Thunder, Thunderation!

Day 3 started off with a bang! A little thunder and some rain followed by a cool, breezy and sunny day!

We had sloppy joes for lunch and an afternoon of fun with our amazing coaches at basketball, golf, gymnastics, soccer and elsewhere.  After a great day, last night’s evening activities were: Upper Camp Campfire and Lower Camp ‘Towanda Open’ (a carnival of challenges that involve jello toss, pudding races, apple bobbing and french fries).  The night before, Upper and Lower Camp were reversed so everyone got to experience two great events.

If you are following us on Twitter (@camptowanda) you would have already heard yesterday that our Club boys were victorious in their first Wayne County intercamp baseball game!  And if you Like Us on Facebook, you would have seen those Dorm Girls dressed to impress for Maniac Monday!  We’ll continue to post bonus updates for all you social media fans out there.

Yesterday came to a close late last night when our campers from Spain arrived to a huge ovation with hugs and screams (as some of them are returning for their 6th summer).  Bienvenidos!!!

Now let’s have some fun on High Five Tuesday!!!


Camp is Great!

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

The first day of camp was an enormous success! Everyone arrived yesterday to cheering crowds! The sun was shinning and everyone was smiling! How could they not be with summer 2012 starting! Today we woke to reveille and reveled in the first flag pole of the summer! The activities were great today, including lots of time spent in the new Gymnastics Pavilion! The sprung floor is definitely a popular spot! You could even say people are flipping for it! (get it!?) There was swimming and soccer, archery and dance and so much more! Tonight’s activities included campfires and Towanda Open (lots of jello tossing and dizzy bat races!). Everyone is happily tucked in tight preparing for another fantastic Towanda Day!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@camptowanda) for live updates throughout the day! What was for lunch you ask? Twitter knows! And of course, like us on Facebook to check out a daily Instagram pic!

First Day Reflections

What a day! We are all finally here; the weather was gorgeous; the busses arrived smoothly; lots of unpacking and icebreakers; extreme excitement in the air!

The Big Brothers and Sisters hung out with their new little brothers and sisters; we had a General Swim; delicious spaghetti dinner; an extremely entertaining staff welcome show; milk and cookies, then fun in the bunks. We are all here safely under a starry sky!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! All smiles here!


How to Make “Camp Counselor” the Best Thing on Your Resume

By Lauren Eckstein Forman (Dorm 92) and the Social Media and Communications Director at Camp Towanda

I just got back from Staff Orientation and loved meeting the new group of 2012 counselors. We talked about social media responsibility and the role this amazing summer will play in their careers and futures. Following my session with the staff, some of them asked if they should put “Camp Counselor” on their resumes or Linked In profiles (you can imagine my answer!? YES!!!).  Our discussion was timely and one that is being debated in the press (read NYT Article: The Camp Counselor vs. The Intern). I shared with some of the staff my summer job experiences and gave them advice on how they can make “Camp Counselor” the best thing on their resume!

When I was 18, I spent the summer as a counselor at Camp Towanda and then at 19, was a counselor at a local day camp.  It was the perfect way for me to bridge my high school and college years and delay getting “a real job”.  What I didn’t realize then was that those would be the years that really helped shape my leadership skills.  I was in charge of 15 young girls that had different personalities, perspectives and needs.  This required personal experience, empathy, humor and persuasive skills to foster teamwork and to gain their respect and the respect of my fellow counselors.  These were all skills that I would later use in my career as an advertising executive.

When I was “tapped” to become Olympic General (Go Red Flintstones!), I continued to hone my leadership, creative and organizational skills. Orchestrating the apache relay, artfully assigning responsibilities for five days of Olympic activities, handling the high emotions and excitement of friendly competition among peers, and then writing and directing 200 campers for Olympic Sing all prepared me for the fast-paced business world.  It was that summer at Towanda that also gave me the confidence that would propel me throughout my career.

After my two summers as a counselor, I commuted to New York City for an internship at a prominent advertising agency. My internships gave me invaluable experience that ultimately helped me land a job at that same agency after graduation.  But my job as camp counselor primed me for success in the “real world” and was the most fun job I ever had (after all, you are only 20 once!).

Here are my top 5 tips for making “Camp Counselor” something to be proud of including in your Linked In profile:

  1. Become an Intern at camp. Think about your career goals and how you may be able to achieve them at camp. I know that Camp Towanda provides a diverse range of opportunities for not only campers, but counselors too.  You just need to think out of the box.  For example, if you want to go into marketing, I can offer hands-on experience in social media and communications. If you are interested in Hospitality, our Operations staff will take you under their wing.  If you are interested in Film or Graphic Design, inquire about interning for our very own “Erica Media” and help produce amazing content for our camp community. I could go on, but you get the idea.
  2. Camp is a place for networking. There is no better networking than with your camp family.  The bond you make with campers and fellow counselors lasts a lifetime.  I cannot tell you how often I have networked with former campers, counselors and alumni.  Any true former camper will also appreciate the value of “Camp Counselor” when they see it on your resume.  In fact, it is a huge icebreaker on interviews and allows you to convey the passion and energy you would also bring to the workplace.
  3. Take something away from the experience. I loved that the father in the NYT article encouraged his daughter to make a documentary of her experience as a Camp Counselor.  His daughter wanted to go into film, and this was the way he ‘allowed’ her to go away to camp. Having something like a documentary to parade around to interviews takes that “Camp Counselor” on your resume to the next level.
  4. Help employers understand what “Camp Counselor” means. Like the girl in the NYT article, understand the skills and experiences you gained from being a counselor at camp.  Think about which of those translates to the job you are applying for.  I promise you, there will be more skills and experiences from camp than your average internship.
  5. Learn more about yourself at camp. After camp you may understand things about you that you never realized before.  It may help re-focus or shift your career decisions in the future.  For example, before camp you may have wanted to go into PR (Public Relations), but after a summer of dealing with different personalities, sharing, developing, coaching and mentoring, you may decide to go into HR (Human Resources)!

Having rejoined Camp Towanda recently in my post-corporate-world years as Director of Social Media and Communications, I’m finding it every bit as challenging of an experience as when I worked for BBDO, Gillette or The Hershey Company.  By “thinking out of the box”, I was able to unite my career skills and my passions for camp in my most rewarding and fulfilling job yet!

90th Reunion Recap

By Lauren Eckstein Forman (Dorm ’92, General ’95 and new Social Media Director at Camp Towanda)

It has been over 24 hrs since I left the Big 90th Reunion at Camp Towanda and I am still basking in the glow of my memories, photos and fully enjoying all the shared experiences flowing in on Facebook (click here for the official album).  For those of you that were lucky enough to participate in the Big 90th Reunion, I think the coolest thing was being able to share the same emotions and experiences with so many different generations.  I hope you enjoy my recap of this amazing weekend.  For those of you who couldn’t make it down the dirt road, I hope you can vicariously experience the fun through my nostalgic reflections.

On Saturday, I pulled up to camp with my friend-for-life, Tina Kunkin Schweid.  With a pit of excitement in our stomachs, we were warmly greeted by a new batch of alumni counselors that immediately felt like family even though we were meeting for the first time.  We walked up the hill and headed for the Office, passing the White Rock and people playing Taps on the main basketball court.

You could already feel this event was going to be momentous.  We signed the 90th Anniversary plaque, selected our bunk and bunkmates (Boys Bunk 1) and signed up for the Apache Relay!  We then headed towards the Girls’ Softball Field where a big game was already underway.  Crowds of alumni filled the bleachers and a familiar face (Eric Bolog) was on the mound.   Erica Gulliver and her media team were capturing testimonials on the sidelines as line drives and outs were being made with athletic prowess.  No matter who was being interviewed (including our famed alum Hank Azaria), the sentiments and emotions were so similar—Camp Towanda played such a significant role in all our lives and the bonds we already shared would bring us even closer over the next 24 hours.

We headed to lunch as the sounds of “American Pie” and smells of freshly grilled hamburgers filled the atmosphere.  We all convened at the grassy knoll to listen to Mitch’s Alumni Address.  Mitch and Stephanie set the tone for the weekend.  They were amazing hosts welcoming us back home with love and excitement.  They were genuinely thrilled to see each and every person and I don’t think I ever saw Mitch this relaxed!

Mitch handed out awards to some worthy recipients. Bobby Miller (yeah Bob!) is celebrating his 42ndyear at camp while Jonsey was given a letterman jacket for 15 years of freshly baked cookies.  Other award recipients included Michael Pelton (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap), Spiz and Matt Miller.  We took the big alumni photo and headed to the BBQ.

My favorite new addition to camp was the dining room porch.  We dined there for our next three meals, overlooking the apple tree, Stephanie’s bears made of branches and the lake in the distance.  A few watermelon slices later, we headed inside for the Big Apache Relay Draft.  Bobby Miller looks exactly the same, and handed out numbers at random (I was Blue #75).  FIRE BRIGADE!  I was especially curious to see who was going to be the volleyball sweeper and was excited to see Hani Cohen as the chosen one. Pam and Richard Brawn were randomly selected as 1 & 2 for the Red Team.  Pam got the honor of reciting the hamotzi in English and Hebrew.  Hands on heads.  SHE TOTALLY ROCKED IT!

Bobby Miller announced this was going to be a “walk don’t run” Apache Relay in honor of Jerry Maze. He also mentioned that every event was Phyllis Miller approved…if she couldn’t complete it, it didn’t make the cut. After an intense Fire Brigade (which is now on the soccer pitch), Bobby sounded the horn (loved hearing that sound), and BLUE WON! We couldn’t have done it without the incredible coaching of Joe Levine (father of Wendy and Brad Levine).

I got to spend time with Pamela Elizabeth Brawn to catch up about her sons (Jonathan, Thomas and of course Richard Jr.) and the past 20 years.  She even gave tips on how to make the perfect hospital corner using a classic Brown & Gold blanket.  Let me tell you, seeing Pam hold a broomstick to a hospital corner still makes me nervous.

Then it was GHOST with Mitch (cue the “Ghostbusters” music).  I wasn’t as intimately familiar with this game that younger alumni so deeply love.  But I was so impressed with the participation and physical intensity of both male and female alumni.  Dodgeball is my least favorite game on the planet, so how could this game be so awesome?  But in classic Camp Towanda style, the best thing is…NO ONE gets out!

After Ghost, Alumni dispersed for electives.  Two donkeys (yes—donkeys) grazed by the infirmary lawn as old friends and new reminisced by the fire pit and picnic tables.  Two more highlights for me were meeting the “3 Coopers”.  The first Cooper is the Facebook-Famous son of Robert Mandelbaum.  This kid definitely should have his own fan page as his Camp-Famous dad has proudly shared every single moment of his life.  And here he was in person.  AWESOME.  The second two Coopers were a camp miracle.  Camp couple from the mid-90s, Marnie Hunter Cooper and Craig Cooper brought their two delicious and beyond-outgoing young children, to prove to Mitch (and the rest of us) they were going strong after all of these years. AMAZING!

I headed down to the old Rec Hall (now dubbed “Alumni Hall”) for a real trip down the yellow bench road.  There was a CLUB and DORM bench ready for us to sign, perfectly commemorating this weekend back at camp.  The smell of the Rec Hall immediately brought back feelings of “sheer contenT” from Friday Night Services, plays and breakouts.  Displayed on the tables were lyrics to almost every single girls’ sing of years past, official Olympic rules books (complete with team line-ups), photo albums and memorabilia (do you remember when you got your Apache assignment on a paper plate?).  But the best thing was the stack of converted DVDs with videos from the 40s through the present.

We cried with laughter watching old Airbands, Friday Night Sermons and Olympic Skits.  It felt like yesterday and the jokes were still funny, but it definitely looked like we were in the 90’s.  There were also t-shirts hanging from all the girls’ sings of years ago (Dorm Delicacies? What were we thinking?).  I was overwhelmed by how Mitch and Stephanie have done such an INCREDIBLE job preserving the tradition that is Towanda. When my children go here they will experience these very same things, this very same spirit and bonds that run deeper than the tunnels under the White Rock.

When I headed back up the hill we witnessed Pam Brawn and Amy Miller reuniting for the first time in years!  It was like the passing of the Olympic Torch.  From one Camp Goddess to another.

Before I knew it, it was shower hour and hors d’oeuvres.  Time to recharge our batteries and our cellphones (there is literally NO service at camp, which made my job very challenging).

“5 minutes to line up” was the announcement over the PA before we met at the flagpole.  Mitch said, “feet together, hands by your side, salute”.  The sounds of the flagpole music came on and I immediately got that pit in my stomach again.  I remembered how I felt at line-up every night as a camper looking at boys’ camp and how cute they looked all cleaned up (or were those camp goggles?).  Lemon chicken, corn, rice, salad bar and Oreo cake were on the menu.  After free play we were called to report to the campfire for S’mores.

Singing, Sunset, and S’mores were the perfect way to end the day.  The new gymnastics pavilion shined in the distance and we had to check it out.  Is there anything better than seeing grown people doing cartwheels on the tumble trak and jumping in the foam pit?  If only this place was here when I was a camper.  SO JEALOUS!

As the fire burned, we headed back across girls’ camp and up to the Canteen for Jonsey’s famous cookies and the Heat/Celtics game.  For those who were really feeling the spirit, the dining room was converted into a dance club and they were blasting this song by Ashley Wolf (the younger alum went crazy for it!).  I was hoping for a something more along the lines of “Scenario” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”.  Before retiring to Boys Bunk 1, there was a kitchen raid with ice cream sundaes.

We got back up to B1 and some of us changed into our cool new “Towanda PJ Pants” before reminicing on the porch overlooking boys’ camp.  I loved being with my old camp friends.  People that know me better than anyone else I know.  Friends I lived with. Friends I grew up with.  Friends that knew the intimate details of my life that made me who I am. I just loved being back here with that spirit uniting us.

The night came to a close and Tina and I hopped into our Star Wars and Toy Story sleeping bags (can you tell we have boys of our own?).  Before saying ‘Good Night Camp Towanda’ at 2am, one of us was looking for something and a bunkmate pulled out the ‘iFlashlight’ app…times have really changed!

At 5:15am a flock of birds chirping was a lovely wake up call.  I mustered up all my strength to fall back to sleep.  Somehow I don’t remember there being no shades on those windows.  I also didn’t remember how loud those bathroom doors slam, but immediately I was UP! 7:45 reveille sounded just about as good as it used to, and my bunkmate asked if he could still stay in bed until “2 minutes before line up”.  Matt Miller got on the boys HC mic and announced all the sports scores from the night before (who knew they do that on boys camp?).  We brought down towels and sheets to the HC and made our way to line up.

Breakfast consisted of eggs made-to-order (I like this Jonsey guy), Fruit Loops, french toast sticks and COFFEE!!!! We all collected our care packages with enough Towanda paraphernalia to help lure the next generation of campers at home (my son really did bring his new collapsible Towanda cup to show and tell today). The icing on the cake were Brown & Gold trucker hats being handed out by the First Son, Jared Reiter (he also designed them).  Oh the memories of when Stephanie and Mitch made him scream his name over the PA system at age 3.  And now he’s 23 and a Group Leader.

Tina and I looked at each other in our new trucker hats and said, “let’s hit the dirt road”.  I think Alyssa Tomback posted the most true thing on Facebook Sunday night when she said, “Really jealous of all the kids who are packing their trunks as I unpack my bag :)” I couldn’t have said it better.  Can’t wait until the 100th Anniversary Reunion…what do you say Mitch?