Why Parents Are Thankful For Camp!

Mitch and Stephanie Reiter are bloggers for HuffPost Parents. This blog was also featured in the Huffington Post 

Many parents ask us about the benefits of sleep away camp, how much they can expect their child to grow and mature in a summer, and whether the changes will last beyond August.

Any veteran camp parent will tell you that camp is not just good for the child, but it’s good for the family! If you are a new parent considering camp for the first time, or nervous about whether your child is really ready, we wanted to share some of the changes you can expect after just one summer away from home! It’s amazing what seven weeks will do. We of course notice the change in our campers, but we love getting dozens of letters from first-time families who want to know “What’s in the bug juice, because we can’t believe this is our kid!?”

Here’s some of what you can expect even after just one summer at camp.

1. A willingness to try new things

They say the magic happens when you are pushed outside your comfort zone. And that is why they say camp is a magical place. There are activities kids LOVE and activities that may not be “their thing.” There is food that they can’t wait to eat (pizza day!) and meals that they can’t stand to see on the table. Because campers live and operate as a group, they learn to accept their differences, try new tastes and experiences, and learn they may actually like them! One mom shared that her picky-eater used to only eat plain bagels, plain penne pasta, pizza from a particular shop, salad and Hershey Bars. Seven weeks later, she can give him waffles for breakfast (hey — they have protein), any shape of pasta, any kind of pizza, and whole apples — not peeled and cut up in slices. She was also amused by his expanded choices at 7-11 (which is like the canteen at home), including Milky Way, Twix and Mug Root Beer. Now while that may sound like a sugary mess… you have to realize that this child seriously expanded his taste palette, made independent choices and may just be ready for Sloppy Joes next summer!

When children experience the reward of trying new things, it makes them want to try more. So many campers look at our climbing wall, and shiver at the thought of reaching the top. After a few weeks of watching their friends and being cheered on by their counselors, most of them will give it a go! The rush and excitement of making it half way, or climbing to the top, or even better, getting to ride down the zip line, is so exhilarating… it makes them more open to trying new things in the future.

What parents are thankful for: Less time spent as short order cook; more time planning new and exciting activities for your child.

2. Pride in taking care of themselves

For seven weeks our campers actually brush their teeth (at least before Visiting Day!), comb their hair, shower and dress themselves. All of these things involve surprisingly very few reminders, negotiating and reluctance. Why? Because they know it’s on them to get it done and “everybody is doing it.” They also live in close quarters and recognize that good hygiene is important and socially necessary. What a realization! Without mom or dad there to nag them into these responsibilities, it’s on them to stay clean and look presentable. Of course there is a learning curve for our younger campers to successfully care for themselves. But once they get it, they feel good to know they can do it themselves! When they come home from camp, they actually find it FUN and empowering!

What parents are thankful for: Shower hour for them is now rest hour for you!

3. Respect for their home and family

We talk a lot about the magic of camp, but we also know there is the magic of home. It’s a different kind of magic. The kind where kids drop their dirty clothes on the floor and they magically disappear. The kind where dirty dishes are left on the kitchen table and poof they get cleaned. Does this sound like your home? At camp, nothing magically disappears. Campers are responsible for clearing and stacking their plates, recycling, cleaning their bunk, organizing their belongings, folding their clothes and making their beds. They are held to standards during inspection and feel pressure from their camp family (aka their bunkmates) to uphold their responsibilities. If not, there are consequences. No one wants to let down his or her bunk.

There is also a deeper love between siblings at camp. If your kids are together at camp, they feel more connected in taking care of each other while mom and dad aren’t there. Even a couple minutes of sibling time a day at camp increases their love and respect for each other. New campers also enjoy feeling looked after by their camp big brother or sister, and they are more likely to pay those actions forward to their siblings at home. They have a deeper appreciation of what it means to be a big brother or sister.

What parents are thankful for: A child who contributes to the overall tidiness and order of your home. They also may walk their sibling to class, check on them during the day or read them a book at night. And it costs you nothing…unless you want to reward them with allowance!

4. Appreciation for rest time

One of the reasons so many parents say they can’t wait for camp is that their child will be unplugged for seven weeks. At camp we are 100 percent disconnected from technology and 100 percent connected to each other. Rest time doesn’t equal playing on the iPad, DS or watching television. When your camper comes home, you will be amazed at the activities they gravitate towards during down time. New hobbies like reading, playing cards, making bracelets, writing in a journal, playing ball are a refreshing change for you and them.

What parents are thankful for: Good old-fashioned fun like the old days, such as family game night, bringing a deck of cards to dinner (instead of the iPad) and maybe even a love for books. Imagine a world where you don’t have to nag your child to read? Also, your child may enjoy more quiet time in their room… an escape from the hustle of daily life.

IMG_5727 (1)5. Awareness and connection to life around them

A few months ago there was a powerful viral video called “Look Up”. It was a harsh reminder that many of us (and our children) spend our time looking down at our devices, texting, watching videos, hiding behind technology and living disconnected with our world. At camp we always look up. We look into each other’s eyes. Our hands are free for holding, playing and creating. At camp we connect. We are plugged into life. We live in the moment.

Kids learn to really listen to each other at camp. They understand what moves them, what scares them and what it means to be a true friend. They learn the implications of their actions on others, how to resolve differences, how to lead and how to be a part of a group. Because they are forced to live in a bunk with the same people for seven weeks, they understand it’s not all about them anymore.

What parents are thankful for: A better child. A better son or daughter. A better sister or brother. A better friend. A better student. A better community member. A better teammate.

And all of that growing can come from just one summer at camp! Imagine what your camper will be like after two summers, five summers, ten summers!? Talk about potential!

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.  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, culinary cooking classes, 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.

2014 CT Culinary: Thanksgiving Side Dishes

turkeyturkeyAs we plan ahead for our 2015 Culinary Menu at Camp Towanda, we want to make sure you are prepared for Thanksgiving at home! Your guests are sure to gobble up these side dishes created by our very own Chef Ben.

Enjoy and don’t forget to share your pix on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and tag @CampTowanda #ImACTChef.

 

 

 

TURKEY NUGGETS:

Ingredients:

  1. Leftover Turkey – Sliced apox ¾ inch thick
  2. 1 Tbs. Milk
  3. 2 Tbs. Honey
  4. Salt, Pepper & Cayenne pepper to taste
  5. Panko Bread Crumbs

Directions:

  1. Using a small, round (or any fun shape) cookie cutter, cut out little medallions of turkey.
  2. Mix milk and honey in a small bowl.
  3. Put breadcrumbs in another bowl and mix in salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.
  4. Dip medallions in honey mixture, then crumbs, set on baking pan.
  5. Broil on low for a few minutes, each side, until slightly golden.
  6. Serve with honey or honey mustard sauce.

CARROT MACARONI AND CHEESE:

 Ingredients:

  1. 3/4 pound carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  2. Zest and juice of 1 navel orange, zest removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
  3. Salt
  4. 3 cups penne (9 ounces)
  5. 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  6. 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  7. Freshly ground white pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan, combine the carrots with the zest and juice and 1/4 cup of water. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderate heat until the carrots are very soft, about 30 minutes. Discard the zest. Transfer the carrots and any liquid to a blender and puree until very smooth.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  3. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the reserved water and the carrot puree and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the pasta is coated with a thickened sauce, about 5 minutes. Stir in three-fourths of the cheese and cook, stirring, until very creamy, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Stir in the tarragon and season with salt and white pepper.
  4. Transfer the pasta to a medium baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

THREE CHEESE MINI MACS:

Ingredients:

  1. 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  2. 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
  3. 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  4. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  5. 3/4 cup milk
  6. 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
  7. 4 ounces deli-sliced American cheese, chopped
  8. 1 large egg yolk
  9. 1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water.
  2. Brush four 12-cup, nonstick mini muffin tins with butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; tap out the excess.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk and paprika. Fold in the macaroni.
  4. Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top.
  5. Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve.

SWEET ROASTED BEETS:

Ingredients:

  1. 6 medium beets, peeled and cut into chunks
  2. 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  3. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  4. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  5. 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  6. 1 teaspoon sugar
  7. 3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
  8. 1 large sweet onion, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. In a bowl, toss the beets with ½ tablespoon olive oil to coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large resealable plastic bag. Place the sweet potatoes and onion in the bag. Seal bag, and shake to coat vegetables with the oil mixture.
  4. Bake beets 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Mix sweet potato mixture with the beets on the baking sheet. Continue baking 45 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes, until all vegetables are tender.

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS:

Ingredients:

  1. 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and yellow leaves removed
  2. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  4. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
  2. Place trimmed Brussels sprouts, olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Seal tightly, and shake to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet, and place on center oven rack.
  3. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, shaking pan every 5 to 7 minutes for even browning. Reduce heat when necessary to prevent burning. Brussels sprouts should be darkest brown, almost black, when done. Adjust seasoning with kosher salt, if necessary. Serve immediately.

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.  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, culinary cooking classes, 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.

Towanda Sports Center: 2014 Season Review

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 1.55.56 PM2014 SEASON REVIEW

Yet another very successful season has come and gone at Camp Towanda, leaving us all asking the same question: where did the summer go? This was a year of transition as we look to take Towanda sports to the next level. Towanda Sports Center is a new concept, with a fresh outlook. Its popularity has grown among campers and staff and its momentum seems to have begun a new surge of energy at Camp Towanda.

… OUR CODE

In the season that was, our philosophy was, is and will always be clear: a safe time, lots of fun, teamwork, skill building, good playing style, excellent sportsmanship, strong bonds with opponents and of course playing to win. Winning a game is a simple concept. However, victories come in various forms and can be achieved in many ways, even in losing a game. Its not whether you win or lose, it’s HOW you win or lose and how you transform this into an experience that will take you forward. This is what we expect from our coaches and campers and we are proud to have achieved it.

promo_070

… SOCCER STARS

On the fields of play, there was a good amount of teams who succeeded in winning championships. Soccer led the way with Wayne County Champions, among which was our Senior (9th grade) boys who recorded their 6th Championship in a row, despite being taken to a penalty kick shootout in their semi final at Trails End.

promo_010…TENNIS INSPIRATION

Some amazing individual tennis performances resulted in two singles championships (Junior 6th grade girls and Club/10th grade boys) as well as a mixed doubles success (Senior/10th grade), with their strong return of serve a notable characteristic.

DSC_0204…SUPER HOOPS

Basketball enjoyed a good season with all-round strength in many age groups, notably the Tweens (5th grade girls) who were tenacious and emphatic in their game, dominating rebounds offensive and defensive on their way to winning their Wayne County Championship.

…TWEEN CHAMPS

The Tween girls, as a matter of fact, were our most successful group this year, winning the soccer version of Wayne County (in addition to the basketball) beating Indian Head by an emphatic score of 9-2 in the final.

promo_026…AMERICA’S FAVORITE PASTIME

Our baseball teams played hard and fielded strongly. We will work on our pitching and build on our foundation. In all sports, as in life, we learn from experience.

… LACROSSE PROMISE

Lacrosse reached two finals this summer – Inter (7th grade) boys and senior (9th grade) boys. A VERY enthusiastic staff accumulated lots of interest among the campers and revamped the whole program. A Hard-to-believe 20-1 victory at Chen-A-Wanda for our Club and L.I.T. (10th /11th grade) boys underlined what potential there is against traditionally strong opponents.

… HOCKEY REBUILDING

Most of our teams came very close but lost narrowly to very good teams. Stronger for the experience, this department has much to offer our campers in the future.

promo_029…SERVES AND FIRST DOWNS

Volleyball and Flag Football were also very popular, the latter providing a memorable Towanda Tournament victory for our Senior boys on August 4th, including a comeback against Tyler Hill (from 6-20 to 21-20).

…STRENGTH IN DEPTH

As mentioned earlier with basketball, almost every age group was able to shine in at least one sport, reaching at least one final or succeeding in an invitational tournament. From our Jet and Cadet boys to our Dorm/L.I.T girls, memorable moments were achieved in every sport. This is something we want to develop in the future, as well as the enthusiasm generated in swim, gymnastics and dance.

…ALL-IN-ALL

In victory and in defeat, it was clear that this was a very successful summer on the sports fields. Towanda Sports Center will add a lot more in the future. With all this in mind, Towanda Sports Center wishes everyone a good winter, many happy thoughts and promises of a 2015 season that will raise the bar even further.

To all our campers, families and staff, good luck out there in the “off-season” and see you in June!

Coach Lee Athletic Director

CT Culinary Recipe: Pumpkin & Black Bean Enchiladas

397516_863381210369042_6985729242711662444_nThe second annual Camp Towanda Pumpkin Carving Contest was a huge success (winner to be announced soon). But now that it is November, what are you going to do with all those festive Camp Towanda-themed pumpkins decorating your porches? Well our very own Chef Ben has a great idea! How about making some vegetarian Pumpkin and Black Bean Enchiladas!

Here’s a great recipe. Don’t forget to post your pix #ImACTChef or email them to lauren@camptowanda.com.

 

 

Pumpkin and Black Bean Enchiladas

  • 1 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 small spanish onion, small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 2 cups pumpkin, cut into small cubes
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/8 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • scallions, for garnish
  • Queso Fresco or Mexican Cheese blend
  • Limes, for garnish
  • Avocados, for garnish
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a baking dish.

IMG_8958Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Sauté onions and jalapeno until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook briefly. Add tomatoes, black beans, pumpkin, spices, cilantro, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer until pumpkin is soft, about 30 minutes.

Warm tortillas so that they are soft and pliable. Fill tortillas and roll. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce on top. Sprinkle with a generous amount of cheese. Bake for 8 minutes, just so that cheese is melted.

Garnish with fresh scallions, cilantro, limes, and avocado.

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.  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, culinary cooking classes, 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.