Truth is…our Staff are the Best!

goodsportcounselorsAs Visiting Day approaches, and we begin to reflect on the first half of the summer….I have to take a moment and thank our incredible staff!  This weekend was filled with activities that really reflect their contribution to our camp and why they help make it so special.  On Saturday, we had many new families at camp for our S’more Tour Rookie Day. Several families were alumni; in fact, they were our campers back when Stephanie and I first started…what a treat to have them show up as future camp parents!  The feedback we recived was that they were impressed with our staff (from LITs to CITs to General Counselors, Specialists and Department Heads); they saw counselors involved, spirited, attentive and really caring about the kids!

I often say that I think parents choose Camp Towanda because they trust Stephanie and I to be THEIR parenting partners; to positively impact, influence their kids as well as set the tone for everyone and everything here at camp. BUT, I think one of the many reasons  the kids want to come back for years and years, is because of their counselors.

klasnerWe are very proud of our staff; they get it, they care and while they are definitely learning a lot about themselves (after all being a camp counselor is like taking a Parenting 101 course), they are impacting and caring for your children.

Saturday night’s evening activity was “ultimate camp in action”. The event was TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES which pitted the campers against the staff; the kids lobbed whipped cream pies and buckets and pitchers of BUG JUICE on their counselors. If I told the staff when I interviewed them that on a Saturday night you would voluntarily stand in a kiddie pool while an 7 year old through a pie in your face in front of 750 people, all cheering, dancing, screaming and laughing…I don’t think they would get it…… BUT that is what happened and as youngest and oldest laughed together; the synergy and electricity of our camp relationships boomed into the night.

thumbs upAfterwards we had a pumped up staff meeting as they are eagerly awaiting the upcoming week with your kids.  As the Owners and Directors of camp, we are excited, pleased and proud of how this summer’s camp family is learning from each other, growing together and coming together.
After the staff meeting, we had a comedian from NYC come up and do an hour of college stand-up humor to give our staff a light break….. funny guy, good night and thanks to our Senior Staff who covered the bunks into the wee hours!  Because when the staff are happy campers…our campers are happy campers.

I gotta tell you, we really do pinch ourselves everyday……this place is amazing!

group pic

Visiting Day is this week!

Stephanie blueberry picking with the Jets!

Visiting Day is this week! The campers are now quite settled and into the FLOW of things.  They are in a groove, and adjusting beautifully to camp life with their camp family.  The homesickness hump seems to be behind us and we are so proud of our campers for working through those feelings and for our staff for helping them grow.

Camp offers such an amazing opportunity for kids to actually experience and work through homesick feelings…where else would they learn to work through them in such a safe, nurturing environment?

We are halfway through the summer, and our campers are excited to be reunited with you for the day!  As you can imagine, some of those feelings of homesickness may re-emerge.  We can assure you that they will now be able to cope more easily with these feelings as they now have the skills.

What’s actually cool about homesickness is that once they are able to cope with those feelings, they emerge into what’s called a FLOW STATE (Summer Camp Handbook tells us more about this…it’s a great read; check my Reading List!).

For basically 3 straight weeks from Visiting Day through the end of the summer (including Camp Trips, Olympics and Bunk Feast) our campers get to experience 3 weeks of FLOW, which is amazing f`or their mental health.  In the off-season, we are all so busy and scheduled that this FLOW STATE is unfamiliar.

Be prepared…when your campers come home they will actually be coming off a camp-high! They may even seem addicted to camp! In addition to so many other wonderful things, camp is actually good for their mental health (another gift you are giving your child).

So homesickness is totally normal…your child by now knows how to cope and is surrounded by his Camp Family (who won’t let him/her fall).  The only thing you may want to also prepare for…when your child comes home in just a few weeks, they will actually be Campsick…and there’s only one cure for that!

We look forward to seeing our Camp Families on Visiting Day and getting into a FLOW STATE starting July 22nd!


Friday Night Sermon- Kyle Maynes


Good evening everyone, my name is Kyle Maynes (that’s me on left with the sunglasses). Most of you may know me as Waterfront Kyle. You know back in 2011 I remember sitting in the back of the field house listening to Michael Pelton give his sermon at the first Friday Night Service of the summer. I was taken aback by what he had to say, I was nearly brought to tears. I knew one week into my first summer that this is where I wanted to spend all of my summers. The campers, counselors, senior staff, daytime activities and evening activities all contributed to what makes this camp so special. I only hope I have had and will have the same impact on all of you.

For the last three summer I’ve been fortunate enough to work pre camp. People always ask me why I do it or what do I do for a month before all the campers show up? The only appropriate response I could think of is something my fellow Group Leader JayFray said to me, “I love seeing camp be built”. It’s so amazing seeing an empty campus come to life and blossom into our summer home.

I know being a first year staff member here at Camp Towanda isn’t always the easiest to adjust to. Whether it be general counselors, specialists, group leaders or senior staff. Most of you come from different countries or states and don’t have camps quite like this to work at and call your summer home. In 2011, I took a chance on a place that was 3000 miles out of my comfort zone and didn’t know what to expect. I was lucky enough to have Mike Thompson and Matt Miller who had 30 years of combined Towanda experience to take me under their wing and show me the ropes. Every possible chance I try to do the same and make the adjustment for new staff members the same that I had. One thing I can say is that regardless of what your job title is, we all wear many hats here at camp. Your days are always full and you’re always expected to go above and beyond the expectations, just like in life.

This summer I’ve transitioned into a new role at camp. Going from Waterfront Director to leading that amazing group of Cadets around has been a great experience. During pre camp this summer I sat down with another fellow Group Leader, Marbles, and discussed the counselors he had as a camper. We talked about which counselors made the biggest impact on his growth as a man and which counselors he would remember for the rest of his life. My boys who are up near the front, Calling all Cadets… (“Lets get airborne!”) yup those are mine. I just hope I can have the same impact on these kids. I hope that when they reflect back on these summers 10 to 15 years down the road they will remember the significance I played in their lives. My goal is to grow and learn from them as much as they will from me.

My first summer I had the opportunity to be accepted by the senior boys of 1110. Although I was senior staff they made me feel like one of their own and allowed me to sit in on there reflections that summer. I was able to see those young boys grow into young men beneath my eyes. Now seeing them as waiters half way through high school and ready to embark on this world in a few years is great. Seeing the club boys of 2011 tackle the roll of now being Counselors-in-training has also been amazing. If I showed up yesterday I wouldn’t be able to tell they weren’t counselors. I would say that the maturity these boys have shown has been brought out by camp. Every summer you’re learning new things, having new experiences, meeting new people and they all contribute to who you are as a person.

I know throughout this sermon I’ve referenced many people or used things that other people said as my own. Mitch always tells the staff that, “No matter where you are in the world you will always have a little piece of Towanda with you”. These people I’ve referenced and the things they’ve said are a part of me now. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about camp. This is more than a summer job, it is an experience you will remember the rest if your lives. When I look around this room all I see is my family. No matter where life takes you I will hold you all dear to my heart. I sincerely thank Mitch, Stephanie, and all of you for letting me be a part of it. Thank you.

We the people…

971653_604460312927801_1798849362_nGreetings Constituents,

It just gets better every day, Wednesday was kind of like a normal day. Hot, late reveille (we need them on these hot days), inter camp games, activities, swim, circus workshops, chicken patties for lunch (a favorite), canteen and then capped off with our ELECTIONALITY CONVENTION; I know you have heard of the Republican and Democratic Parties; well, here we have the Birthday Party and The Giddiap Poll (Not Gallop)!


For those who haven’t experienced Electionality, it’s another one of our Camp Towanda traditions.  Electionality is an event where we vote for our Camp Presidents (a co-ed ticket from Upper and Lower Camp) and also where our campers (aka “Delegates”) of all ages get to show us their creativity, making up their own “States”! The different States (or groups) campaigned for their favorite ticket as the camp presidential candidates presented very entertaining speeches.


All running mates were great; entertaining, creative and “full of buster”! That’s Mitch Political Humor!  Each Bunk came as a different state.  Last night we did some rare, “Live Tweeting” from the event, introducing the “States” (#electionality13).  In case you missed it…the Official List is below.

jetsWe had The State of The Camp Address and an in depth video of drawing up the Towanda Constitution (something about the demand for later reveille’s and more canteens)!

It was just another very creative, fun and “everyone” involved all camp event, which is how we usually run our evening activities!  Congratulations to all candidates; we look forward to the presidential dinner on the mansion porch!


Debs – State of Rainbows

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

Jets – State of Confusion

“Time Warp”

Dillies – State of Hippies

“All You Need is Love”


nerdsCadets – State of Airborne Cadets

“I Believe I Can Fly”

NO RAINTweens – State of Nerds

“Popular – Wicked”

FAR AWAYboysMiddies – State of Rainy Summer

Junior Girls – State of Far Far Away

“Today Was a Fairy Tale”

Junior Boys – State of Celebrity

“Empire State of Mind”

girlsInter Girls – State of Neon

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”

questionsInter Boys – State of Questions

“Come on Ride that Train”

Senior Girls – State of Pears

“Nobody’s Perfect”

Senior Boys – State of Francine

“You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful”

Dorm – State of Carack O’Bama

“Jet Blue Jet”

Club – State of Sunshine”

“Square Dancing”

LIT Girls – State of Work Hard, Play Hard

“Word Hard, Play Hard”

LIT Boys— State of Brolife

“I’ll Be Missing You”

CIT – State of Hard Knock Life

“Hard Knock Life”






francine carak XWORKHARD BROLIFE

Where are they now? Alumni Spotlight: First Edition

wherearetheynowAt the start of the summer, we reached out to our amazing alumni to find out WHERE ARE THEY NOW? as part of a new Alumni Spotlight CAMPaign.

WOW! What an overwhelming response spanning generations of campers and staff from all over the world!  Every week, we will be featuring a few entries (in the order they were received).  We hope you enjoy taking a trip down memory lane, reconnecting and getting inspired by these emotional (and humorous) reflections of Camp Towanda!

We are still accepting entries…so please send your responses to! Here are 5 new Alumni Spotlights:


Jessica Hochman THEN on the white rock (lower right)
  1. Dorm Year: 1988
  2. College Attended? Ohio State University
  3. Current Career: Pre-K Teacher and Camp Manager during the summers
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Yes, you taught me how to make my own decisions, learn what true friendship is and that Camp is the one place that always welcomes you back no matter what.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? hockey -there where always really cute instructors (if that counts)
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? everything, the freedom and all the laughter. Of course when Pam Brawn yelled at you!
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. – Friends, Friends we will always be
  8. Fill in the blank.  Every time I hear Barry Manlow I think of my Senior and Dorm Year
  9. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? These will be you friends for the rest of your life and you can tell the same story over and over and every time it is still funny!
  10. if you could add an event to The Great Apache Relay, what would it be? love the apache!!!! who can pack the fast lunches for the bus ride home!
Jessica Hochman NOW on the white rock (far right)


  1. Dorm Year:  1999
  2. College Attended?  University of Southern California
  3. Current Career:  Clinton Foundation
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way?  Camp taught me how to be flexible and patient; how to be a team player but also an individual; how to cheer for your group but support your friends in the others.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity?  Girls Sing!
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp?  Watching the burning of the numbers during my dorm summer and knowing I would never be a camper again.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name…
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers?  Enjoy your time at camp.  There is nothing else like it in the world!
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of my favorite friends, see jacks, watch the weather turn warm, hear the lyrics to any song a camp song was written to or eat tater tots, I think of Camp Towanda!


  1. Club Year: CC 1991 
(Red Galactic Warriors)
  2. College Attended? Syracuse 1998
  3. Current Career: Pharmaceutical
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Hospital corners
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Anything Intercamp
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Watching our rope snap in half…
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. Zum Golly Golly Golly…
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Enjoy every minute. 7 weeks goes by fast, and 7 years even faster
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of a light sweater or jacket, see a white rock, watch the all-star game, hear Squeeze or eat small cereal box, I think of Camp Towanda!


  1. Dorm Year: Dorm 2000
  2. College Attended? University of Wisconsin Madison
  3. Current Career: Nurse
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? My camper and counselor years showed me the importance of my camp friends
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? under the lights
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Getting chicken pox the last day of camp (1994) my DIllie summer.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. A long long time ago….
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? cherish every moment!!
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of SUMMER, see RED and BLUE, watch WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, hear AMERICAN PIE or eat KIT KATS, I think of CampTowanda!
  10. If you could add an event to The Great Apache Relay, what would it be? recite the first prayer from friday night services.


  1. Dorm Year: Dorm 2002
  2. College Attended? Curry College
  3. Current Career: Teacher
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Living with other people and learning to be independent and on your own.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Ghost! That game was CRAZY!!!
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Singing the dorm alma mater at girls sing 2002. it was something i’ll always remember!
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. Hello Mudda, Hello Fadder, Here I am at CAMP TOWANDA!
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Just have so much fun! Camp is the most amazing time of your life!
  9. Fill in the blank: Every time I see sunscreen, watch Wet Hot American Summer, hear American Pie or eat French Toast Sticks, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be? You can yank a ghost from the opposite team only one time back into the game.

That’s all for this week’s edition of “Where are they now?”.  Tune in next week and don’t forget to send us your entry to!


Classic Camp Day!

From start to finish, yesterday we hit it out of the ballpark! It was a “classic” Camp Towanda day from the Water Carnival to our “All-Star Baseball”-themed evening. Let me break it down for you:

We started with a lazy morning outdoor buffet breakfast……The nationals are on their multi-day excursion; the CITs had a day off and the rest of us had a B-L-A-S-T at the water carnival;   wet=wild=warm…on rides, slides, floats, boats, popcorn, cotton candy, watermelon, ice pops, hoses, golf balls, rapids and floating stuff!

Good music (of course) and heat…….hours of splashing and dancing! Stephanie even had a Fine Arts Class lakeside in the afternoon.

walk on waterI DON’T KNOW
Ending with our smorgasbord dinner; then Girls played PANIC (some sort of fun girl game) and the boys had Home Run derby…then, because we thought all star game was tonight (in past years it has always been on this corresponding date), we went with watching baseball bloopers and Abbot & Costello’s WHO’s ON FIRST (THAT never gets old) under the stars on the big screen (did you catch us on the live cam?)….while Bob The Boys HC, along with Howie our Program director, grilled dogs, served popcorn and hawked root beer (just like at the ballpark)…..another great camp tradition.

The Fun continues; we have Circus Workshops during the day today, Electionality  at night (one campaign slogan for camp president says” Vote for us, we would give you a chocolate chip cookie, but we don’t have any”! You gotta love that!

I was speaking with the CITs (our 17 year olds)  They were just hanging out, talking with me and Stephanie; joking, laughing and just enjoying each other’s company; at the end of the conversation, they said they “…love camp (most of them here already for 7-10 years so far) because one reason is that if they were ANYWHERE else, they would be texting; it is just more real here”.
I need not say anymore!

This place is magical on so many levels; I know I say it often but the growth, the confidence, the experience we see develop and improve EVERYDAY is phenomenal. I realize that some of you get different messages from the letter or phone call, but HERE, IN THE MOMENT, each camper is thriving, at their own pace and what is good for them, without being compared to anyone else.



It just keeps on getting better…….the Camp Towanda family!


P.S. Just in case you haven’t ever seen Abbot & Costello’s Who’s on First…it’s a must.

4th of July Weekend Recap!

stars and stripsWhat an action-packed, HOT 4th of July weekend we had here at Camp Towanda.  Did we mention HOT?  There’s so much to share…where to begin?

On Thursday (July 4th), we started reveille with patriotic fanfare as the Debs and Jets presented the colors at flagpole while the entire camp saluted in red, white and blue garb!

The morning coed-ing activities were fun and entertaining; from sidewalk art, kickball, tennis, volleyball to soccer, ghost and basketball. We all had fun while American Tunes played all day, Lunch featured apple pie and AMERICAN PIE (of course)!

paloozaAfter lunch we had a blast of a live concert in the amphitheater (aka Campapalooza) with beach balls, water hose and red, white & blue ice pops. After the concert , we all achieved our Guiness goal of having over 500 people leap frog (crazy fun) altogether!  You have to watch Friday Nite Flix to see it!

Later in the afternoon, Lower Camp had General Swim with me and Casper (going down the slide) while Upper Camp squeezed in one more co-ed activity!

leap~ leapfrog

Dinner was an All-American BBQ, listening to the Grateful Dead’s AMERICAN BEAUTY Album!  Grilled ribs, chicken, corn and pasta…and watermelon!

After walking our goats during Free Play, we all sat in the amphithetaer (did u see us on the live cam?)

highschoolmusicalAll, under a beautiful setting sun as the audience really enjoyed one of our best plays ever, as Upper Camp presented High School Musical; fun, entertaining and awesome finish to a great day. Did you check out the highlights on Friday Nite Flix?

Milk and cookies and then bed for a well deserved rest before we start up again Friday for a complete day that included inter camp games  (tennis, Lax, soccer and basketball), the Dorm Girls’ Canoe Trip, Services at Sunset Lake followed by awesome and highly anticipated fireworks show (over the lake and set to Tchaikovsky’s  1812 Overture…a camp tradition) to cap off our Independence Weekend celebrations.

chickenFriday (the 4th on the 5th) was an awesome 95 degree day; sweaty activities, fusion water and the misting fan, refreshing general swims, inter camp games and the Senior girls canoe trip!  Even our chickens left the coop!  It was also our annual Silly Name Day!  Ask your kids what their name was?

Shabbos dinner, services at Sunset Lake as the sun set followed by a heart throbbing, enthusiastic and intense fireworks display to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture….man, it was great!services

Want to hear SOME MORE? Saturday we woke up early to another hot day and our S’MORE TOUR for future camp families!  Great to see new families (and some familiar faces–2nd and 3rd generation alumni) experiencing the fun, spirit and life at Camp Towanda!

The Talent Show in the amphitheater was incredible; fun, extreme talent, and amazing confidence that produced audience participation and enthusiasm! I am not just saying this, but it was one of the best Talent Shows we have had in years…..

so much so that afterwards a lot of campers came up to me to ask “when is the next one” which is actually what happens here a  lot. Campers come out of their comfort zone by being a part of the camp community/family…they see and sense that it is okay to get on stage, try a new activity, be a little silly and have fun; while not being judged or ridiculed…this is the magic and support of the Towanda family. This is how the kids blossom here.   And.. keep in mind, that at Camp Towanda, the entire camp is at the evening activity; so that fosters that the little kids know the big kids and vice versa…

pitSunday was a real chart-topper….almost an 100 degrees scorcher!!   Lower Camp enjoyed an extended General Swim; Casper and I “frolicked” with Lower Camp in the lake (which felt warmer than the pool) as we rode the awesome water slide and surfboards with the campers!

All while inter camp games continued with baseball, tennis and basketball games.

Our Grateful Dead BBQ almost got rained out but the thunderstorm just missed us and we were able to squeeze in the evening activity scavenger hunt! It is really great to see ALL ages have good ol’ fashion fun; running around as a group, with their counselors, trying to figure out clues.

As the sun went down last night, it seemed to have taken the humidity finally with it.

Camp is great, we are all bonding, smiling and enjoying, even the simple things.  We hope you all enjoyed your 4th of July weekend as much as we did and be sure to watch this week’s episode of Friday Nite (we mean Saturday Nite) Flix!

Mitch’s Chart-Topping Sunshine Mix


Good Day Sunshine   (Beatles)

Here Comes the Sun        (Beatles)

Invisible Sun            (Police)

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me    (Elton John)

Waiting for the Sun     (The Doors)

Sunday Will Never Be The Same   (Spanky & Our Gang)

Ain’t no Sunshine        (Bill Withers)

You are the Sunshine of my Life ,  (Stevie Wonder)




A beautiful day at camp yesterday (of course, we have altered our standards to accept gray, humid, moist and drizzling as a beautiful day).  We dodged as many dark clouds as we could! YOU NEVER KNOW*!

Fortunately, we have lots of facilities so we can juggle and make things happen, despite the weather! It doesn’t stop much here! EVERYDAY*!

soccerOur program yesterday consisted of Gaga, gymnastics, Legos, Archery, swim instruction, boating, team handball, (senior boys went on canoe trip), ghost, kickball, Arts & Crafts, basketball , zumba, yoga, tennis, the zip line, the toboggan slide, bumper cars, dance, volleyball, play rehearsal, football, fitness, hockey, rollerblading, golf, and track!  NOT BAD for very soggy conditions! We GOT the facilities and know how to manage them! Camp is THE BEST OF WHAT’S AROUND*!

luau2Last night we had some lakeside FUN with a LUAU for Lower Camp, the Inters and Nationals; limbo, hula skirts, games, water ski show and even a hint of a the first sunset of the summer!

Then a little “UTL”Under The Lights with Brad The Hypnotist doing card tricks as a warm up to his magic classes tomorrow.

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 5.37.52 PMWhile the older kids (Seniors/Dorm/Club/LIT/CIT) went to Bethel Woods to see Dave Mathews Band (Nothing like going to the Woodstock site prepared for a heavy downpour to really get the “essence” of Woodstock)! But alas, it actually ONLY lightly drizzled during the latter part of the show!

Animal Update for no RHYME OR REASON*: One of our “goats” has a new name, you know, the mini-horses now known as Chipmunk & Donkey; the rabbits are doing fine and our chickens are just about ready to produce eggs and leave their coop. However, we have decided to hold off on getting Kosher The Pig* until we go to the Wayne County Fair!

This morning was Porch Breakfast, which meant breakfast kind of in bed, then Magic Classes, regular Activities, inter camp games of course throughout the day and then in the evening it is Square Dancing!

Thursday, the 4th of July we have lots of fun activities planned… from our ceremonial flag raising to our Camp-a-palooza concert  to our Guinness record breaking attempt of simultaneous leap frogging to coed activities (a July 4th tradition) that ends with the Upper Camp presentation of High School Musical (highlights will be on FNFlix).

The big fireworks display is traditionally on the 5th of July (which we plan to do at after services at Sunset Lake).

All in all, an exciting line-up as we hope the weather system gets our message….
We are all just longing to sit down on the grass !!! A GOOD GOOD TIME*!

Okay, the concert-goers are home safely,
From after the Luau,
Aloha Mitch

PS: Not sure if I need to explain (*)..but those are song titles from the Dave Mathews Band!

waterbball vball smile luau boys luau kayak bobandmitch

It’s Tiki Time @ Towanda

Tiki Barber visits Camp Towanda!

Last fall Tiki Barber promised us he would visit Towanda and he made good on that promise this past Sunday!  While we have been in rainy-day mode for a couple of days (mud ghost, water basketball, arena soccer, volleyball, boating, gymnastics, bumper cars, arts & crafts, basketball, rollerblading, etc.)….the skies cleared to make way for former NY Giants running back Tiki Barber.

Tiki Barber was a good sport and everyone was thrilled to meet him.  Here are some photo highlights of his visit to Camp Towanda!

hands on heads
Tiki got called up to lead the prayer! “Hands on heads”.
“Tiki Barber to the head table”
We introduced Tiki to our home field…the GHOST court and showed him how it’s done!
hiding behind tiki
Tiki goes from running back to lead blocker during a game of Ghost!
older boys
Shaking hands, meeting our campers, talking sports and life at Towanda
Boy on girls’ camp!
tiki and pelton
Tiki Barber…clap, clap, clap, clap, clap!
A great day @ Camp Towanda with one of the NY Giant’s greatest players of all-time!


Advice for First Time Parents @ Camp Towanda

topenboysWhat an amazing first week at Camp Towanda!  It was action-packed and full of new beginnings and memories for our first-time campers.  You can really feel the energy here at camp by watching our first episode of Friday Nite Flix  For those of you who don’t know, Friday Nite Flix is a camper AND parent favorite here at Camp Towanda!  At the end of each week, our Media Team presents a very spirited recap of the week that was. Our camp watches this together on the big-screen each Friday.  Our fans at home get their viewing on Saturday (after it uploads to our Vimeo channel ALL NIGHT).  It’s a great way to really feel the energy and excitement we get to experience every day.

We also wanted to share some insight, experience and wisdom from some of our “seasoned” parents to first-time parents with kids at Camp Towanda.  Here are some great letters we received and a video:

Dear first year parent,
Our daughter’s first year at camp was in 2006, when she started as a Deb. The first two weeks of camp it never stopped raining. It rained so much there was a picture of Mitch in a kayak on the soccer field! Mitch also had to email the parents asking us to send up “dry” sneakers!   (That will NOT happen this year!!!!!-Mitch)ALL the letters we received the first 2 WEEKS from our daughter said she “misses us so much she cannot stop crying”.  When we heard from the camp after her first week, they said she was “appropriately” homesick.  Throughout that first summer there were always letters saying “camp is fun, but I miss you so much I am crying”.

We believed in the camp, and felt if she could just get past missing us, this camp was the right place for her and she would love it.

As the summers went on, the letters became as short as “too busy to write, camp is GREAT, ttyl” !

Our daughter is now in the Dorm and her 8th summer. To say she “lives 10 months for 2” is an understatment.

Camp Towanda is a very special place. You chose well.

Try really hard to relax and enjoy your summer rather than sitting at the computer waiting for new pictures (as I did her first year), your kids are in great hands!!


Dear Mitch,
While reading your morning email today (which I look forward to every morning during the summer) I felt the need to respond to you regarding the first 3 letters.

This is my children’s second year at camp and I want to share my experience when it was their first year and even this year.

Every morning I look forward to seeing the pictures posted from the night before. I look through all the pictures, save the ones of my kids to the favorites and go back and analyze their faces.All week long i wait for the first letters to arrive,This summer this is the progression of her letters :

1st letter: I am going to give camp a chance, all my friends are here, regular schedule tomorrow GTG bye.

2nd letter: I miss you so much I wish I was home, but most of the time I don’t.

3rd letter: camp is great,!( then a laundry list of colored loom bands needed & where is her camera).

I can go back to the letters from the previous summer and it is much if the same.

Towanda is an amazing place that my kids look forward to all year, but it takes a few days to get adjusted.

I remember when they got off the plane after camp last year and hugged us so much after saying how much they missed us, the exact words out of their mouths before we walked two feet in the airport is ” can I go back next year,”

Homesickness is part of the adjustment, I,know my kids are having an amazing time and they are in unbelievable hands.

Whether you are a first timer or seasoned parent you don’t sleep well with your kids away, but to paraphrase the constant message my kids wrote last summer, “thank you for sending me here” and ” I am having the time of my life”.

Stay dry and see you on visiting day!

Letter #3:

More than 40 years ago I spent my first summer at Camp Towanda, and to this day I can remember being homesick my first week at camp.  I also clearly remember being watched over with great care by my counselors, by the head counselor, and even by the then directors of the camp, just as I know that new campers are still watched over today.   And I know without hesitation that what was true back then remains true now:  it is crucial to allow time for the new camper to find their own way, to choose their own path of independence, and to come to terms with what may surprise them:  that they can not only go it on their own in an entirely new environment, but that they can (and will!) come to thrive in that environment.

Having two children in camp now, I know that the first few days (and even weeks, and perhaps even the first summer) can be a time of challenging emotions for the new parent.  But the lesson we’ve learned in our family is to have confidence in our children, in our choice to send our children to Towanda for all the reasons we made that choice, and in the recognition that generations of children at Towanda have dealt with and beautifully conquered the pangs of homesickness which are being experienced by many new campers during this first week of camp.

And one other suggestion:  please resist, resist, resist the temptation to gauge what is happening with your child at camp by what you see in the daily photos.  As I’ve come to learn, and also seen first hand during my visits to camp over the last many years, the photos capture at most a split second of time in what is an always fulfilling and activity filled day at camp, and they simply can’t consistently provide the basis for judging what is really going on with your child at camp.  In fact, I have often suggested to Mitch that he experiment with a summer of “old school” at Camp Towanda, where there are no photos broadcast to the parents.  I have always sensed that this would be a relief for the kids – some of whom love to run to the camera and some of whom have zero desire to run to the camera – and a bigger relief to the parents, many of whom plainly spend too much time glued to the computer refreshing their screen as they wait for new photos to be posted.  Yes, I acknowledge that the photos can be fun.  But please consider accepting from someone who has lived, and still lives, with this issue: the photos are not worth the anxiety they can sometimes create.

 lakeboundjuniorsWe hope this helps; please also remember WHY you chose Towanda; WE are parents, too. We empathize with what you are feeling, BUT WE ARE HERE, really taking care of YOUR CHILD. THIS IS an incredible privilege and OPPORTUNITY; when you look back, years from now; you will be proud that you provided this foundation, confidence, nurturing, safe BUILDING experience.

We speak confidently because of the results EVERY YEAR; we look at the BIG picture and we deliver…with love, pride and passion.

And just for some added humor, we thought we’d share this animated perspective on what parents do when they miss their kids and just really wish they were up at camp too! Enjoy (and refresh, refresh, refresh): .