The Way Life Should Be!

Good Morning Camp Towanda! Welcome to the first official summer edition of my daily reports on the blog. Every night (or pretty close to every night), I email parents my reflections of the day that was. A glimpse into life at Camp Towanda. I will be sharing some of my favorite ones with the blogosphere…so without further ado…

0d289666-720a-4b5f-99c0-a067aa29dfe7The 1st MONDAY started off a light drizzle then heavy rain, then warm, humid sunshine.  We were in, we were out, but the overall feeling is very comfortable.  Comfortable being AT camp!

Our oldest campers, the Dorm Girls wore their Maniac Monday costumes, our youngest campers, the Debs were giggling,  the Jets were cheering, the Club were grunting, the Dillies loved gaga; Tweens were awesome at soccer,  the Junior Boys took advantage of our special LAX clinic, the Inter girls had tennis, the Senior Girls were doing the cardio workout thing, the LITs started getting into their community service projects (Foundation Fighting Blindness’ Visionwalk, SCOPE, Morry’s Camp) and the Nationals loved Ghost while the Junior girls had arts & crafts…..  I think I got everyone here….those were at least are the activities I was hopping to and from!

Stephanie has been enjoying time in the garden with the younger kids who are getting comfortable with our 11 chickens, 4 rabbits and 2 miniature horses.  The kids think the chicken’s eggs are fake, but they are real Free Range Chickens!!

Stephanie and I had a fantastic private chat with The Dorm Girls on their new “DORCH”; wonderful bonding moments.  Each night a different group gets quality time with us and we love connecting in these quiet, sit in a circle, opportunities.

The best part is that if you are a fly on the wall, you witness these older kids sitting, talking, laughing and with absolutely no cell phone or computer…and they don’t even realize they don’t have it! They tell me they love being unplugged.  It is SO not an issue here.

It is difficult to describe how great camp is, how special, how vibrant, how everything (from the rain on the roof, smell of campfire or sounds of great classic rock songs) is just …the way life should be!

And we have only just begun…..here are a few of the highlight pix from Monday. Enjoy! Happy July.

-Mitch

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Welcome to Summer 2014!

It was a “Top 10” day all around as we started off the 2014 summer!

Here are the Top 5 Things To When you Get to Camp Towanda. 

IMG_81601. A great afternoon of Big Brother/Big Sister Tours.

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2. General Swim for All! Beach volleyball, pool basketball or hanging by the lake!

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3. Free Play with the chickens!

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4. Entertaining staff Welcome Show (where everybody knows your name).

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5. Blazing bonfire, milk & Jonesy’s Cookies and ETB (that’s early to bed) for everyone.

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Day 2 is off to a beautiful start! Make sure you come back to our blog and visit often. We will be sharing the latest updates from camp, advice for camp parents, and inside scoop–LIVE from camp!

We welcome you to Camp Towanda, we’re mighty glad you’re here!There’s so much more in 20-1-4. Let’s go!

Mitch & Stephanie

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Get psyched, get ready, get packed!

signsSo much is about to happen! Get psyched, get ready, get packed; because the very special summer of 2014 is not very far away!

The busses roll onto the shores of Camp Towanda, your counselors await, holding signs, jumping up and down excited to welcome you to your bunk and group; the camp big sisters and big brothers tour their “littles” ; “the fun visit to the infirmary lawn”, general swim, line-up, flagpole, spaghetti dinner, oreo brownies, free play and the chickens (producing real eggs these days), the staff welcome show, milk & cookies, taps and wow, that will be quite the day!

Before you know it, the birds are chirping, the sweet smell of pine and birch tree, reveille, breakfast with The Beatles and the first full day begins…. The dress for the day, Sports Quiz or a song to dance to on the way to either the boys or girls HC Shack, raising the flag and then….Activities, option periods, play rehearsal, canoe trips, the new treehouse, the foam pit, tombstone campfire, GHOST and certainly a smore by the new “Old Ghost Point” lakeside.

intercampsoccerTeams, practices, games; challenges of chess, zip-line, T-slide or maybe even the bumper cars! Jokes, stories, special traditions and the camaraderie of new friends, old friends and special relationships forming!

Classic rock over the P.A. system; the donkey and the horse, the dinner bell, the walk to the lake, a golf cart limo ride (don’t ask), Jonesy’s cookies, BBQ at the lake, Grateful Dead on Sunday nights, Services and TGIFNF (Thank Goodness Its Friday Nite Flix)!!!

So much has been planned, so much is ready; even the Guinness Record breaking attempt this summer involves custom made Camp Towanda Yo-Yos and our Y0-Yo Master, Dan Green! …Olympics? Well, err, just maybe, but probably not because of the 25th year celebration… which is Alumni BBQ Day (the day after Visiting Day)…camptowandapresents14Amphitheater action starts with Upper Camp performing Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, Lower Camp entertaining us with “Mama Mia” and our “all camp” will be “Robin Hood: Men In Tights”!

In case you think there is nothing more to camp than daily activities and inter-camp games, don’t forget about The Towanda Open, Unique Entertainment, The Dorms’s HorseRacing, the 5-year club trip, scavenger hunt, campa-palooza, silly name day (that’s right, I’m Tootsie Chicken Lips), Fireworks on the 5th, co-eding, and the camper talent show, Simon Sez with Steve Max ….and that my friends, is ONLY the first week of camp!

So much is about to happen; like the return of the great Kit-Kat Taste Test; this is the blindfold challenge that pits American Kit-Kats up against Canadian Kit-Kats and the rest of the world (We ask our international friends to bring Kit-Kats from their world to ours);

See you soon in June!

Sweet Caroline: Good Times Never Seemed So Good!

aqWhere it began 25 years ago Stephanie and i started at Camp Towanda…seems like yesterday…and we still love every minute of making the Camp Towanda experience the very best for our campers, staff and Camp Towanda family.

Spring became summer
The snow has melted and we continue to get ready for camp; new treehouse, new Dorm Porch, new ski boat, rejuvenated ghost court and the NEW old ghost point lakeside campfire area plus other new things from remodeled bathrooms and a few surprises to an exciting program schedule, awesome staff (lots of seasoned returnees) and all around Towanda-ness!

Hand touching hand
The Big Brothers and Sisters have contacted their new LITTLE brothers and sisters and look forward to this special connection at camp.

Good times never seems so good
Rest up, get ready, get packed, get psyched for the experience of the summer of 2014!!!!

Who’d have believed you’d come along
Thats right, 1st year moms, come visiting day, you will be like, “I cant believe thats my kid”!

Reaching out, touching me, touching you
If you read the Parent Guide, you’ll know that you should have a letter that is waiting for your camper upon arrival; this and other good advice and guidelines are in our Parent Guide!

So good, so good, so good
Your camper is going to grow, flourish, mature, astound and complete you; just let him/her do it…trust us…and don’t forget to read Homesick and Happy.
I also want to share a great documentary that Stephanie and I watched on NetFlix recently; a National Geographic Special: Stress: Portrait of a Killer…This is 58 minutes worth watching. Very enlightening.

Hurting runs off my shoulder
and onto my keyboard; i look forward to keeping parents up to date, informed, entertained with my honest and reassuring emails; consider your subscription ACTIVATED! Typos and all.

I’ve been inclined
So now that i hopefully have your attention……

We have had and have a lot going on in our “camp state of mind”…..

Last month we were at two camp conferences where we meet, share and develop camp related best practices; I led a session about balancing the day while our younger full time staff participated in emerging professional training. A lot of exciting energy continues to come our way as our colleagues refer to us as the leaders in camping; quite a proud testament.

April 10th was the annual SCOPE BENEFIT DINNER; I closed out my 11th year as the journal and dinner chairman and began my tenure as president of the national SCOPE organization; last year we provided the sleep away camp experience for over 1500 underprivileged children while promoting their educational values. Check out www.scopeusa.org

If you can make it, we have our community service VisionWalk fundraiser coming up on Saturday May 3rd at CitiField (Home of The NY Mets). All welcome; wear your Team Towanda or any Camp Towanda T-shirt; for more details contact jared@camptowanda.com or check out: https://www.facebook.com/events/117527918447169/

If you are actually thinking about life AFTER THE SUMMER; i would like to suggest that you consider our awesome Labor Day Family Weekend; by popular demand, parents have asked us for Camp For The Parents; well, this is it….you can invite YOUR friends and family, too.  Check it out at:  https://camptowanda.com/about-camp-towanda/labor-day-weekend.php.

Looking Forward To a Great Summer,

Mitch “I think I Neiled This” and Stephanie “Diamond”
Your Camp Owners and Directors
Camp Towanda

Past the Tipping Point

IMG_5996January 18, 2014 was the exact balanced date of number of days since camp ended until the number of days until camp will restart.  As we now start TIPPING towards the upcoming summer of 2014 (the 92nd year of Camp Towanda and our 25th year as Owners and Directors), it’s fun to reflect on some memories of 2013 and look forward to “what is IN STORE, in 20-14”! Here are some of my favorite memories from last summer:

  • Seeing everyone at line-ups
  • Dancing in the mess hall
  • On the surfboards in the lake
  • Entering the amphitheater to great music
  • The first 10 days of camp we had a thunderstorm every afternoon followed by 3 weeks of an average of hot & humid 90s.
  • The Goat Alert Alarm system was activated for the goats (actually the horses named chipmunk and donkey), rabbits and chickens (who are now producing at least 4 eggs a day). The Feng Shui of the CIT girls.
  • Trying to convert from the old wooden outdoor tables to testing the poly recycling wood tables and chairs (a big and not easy consideration).
  • Many porch and outdoor Buffet breakfasts
  • How about the Olympic scenery (from the faulty cloning factory to the fun graveyard of zombies and all the shredded paper on the floor)!?
  • They “…started at the bottom, now we’re here…” shouted the C –L- U- B, while the CITs responded with a “we started at the bottom and now we are back”!’
  • The bird dropped during Girls Sing, just moments away from possibly wrecking the Dorm’s appetite!
  • Those scary clone pictures.
  • The CITuation.
  • Yo- Yo class (Dan will be back for more in 2014).
  • Did anyone ever eat the gefitile fish and matzo supply that is in the Canteen?
  • Melton Levine pronouncing “TMF”= Too Much Fun!
  • Mitch still owes B-3 a story!
  • The YES girls from the Dillies. T
  • The Root beer Mug Club from the Wayne County Fair.
  • And, of course, more Tiki Barber Lollipops than you can eat.

As for 2014, what records will we break? What memories will we make? We can’t wait! We’re getting ready for more in 20-14.

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Making Sense of the Camp Towanda Experience

reunionEven if you could not make it to one of our reunions (the recent Florida Beach party, NY Lucky Strike reunion or the Fall Foliage BBQ), you probably can still sense why people often say that Towanda is not just a CAMP, it is a FAMILY. In fact, a few parents mentioned to me at the recent reunions that Camp Towanda is not just a camp, it is a lifetime experience!

1525185_694984937208671_841563249_nAt the reunion, there is an overwhelming warm, frenetic loving camaraderie, coupled with a strong sense of confidence, growth and appreciation. Being part of Camp Towanda naturally nurtures friendship, respect and development.

If you had a chance to read Ethan Kripke’s sermon on the cover of the Towanda Times, you can sense that a normal day at camp consists of sports, activities and events that create what on the surface appears to be what camp in general is supposed to be about; BUT, the truth is LIFE AT CAMP Towanda is so much more.

huggingkidsThe opportunity of experiences is what we are about. The good with the bad, the challenges with the easy stuff and the ups with the downs; is really what happens. Learning to grow up, learning to handle different situations is WHY our campers and staff unwittingly appreciate and feel that Towanda is special.

One usually doesn’t realize what they have gained until after they are have left camp. Parents usually don’t see it until after their child has grown up.

Dealing with homesickness, a friend who is not acting like a friend, a frustrating game, a burnt pancake (I made that up) or just about any other disappointment in the supportive atmosphere of Towanda is a privilege.

After all, all that, balanced with the laughter, intense fun, inside jokes, creative conversations and over all goofy, being comfortable being silly stuff allow all of us at Camp, to build on the foundation that will shape who we will become. Not only do Ethan Kripke and his Club brothers get it, but everyone who passes through and takes a bit of Towanda with them, does, too.

girlsCamp Towanda is a happy place; Camp Towanda fortifies life skills and social skills and Camp Towanda is a family of support, care, friendship and growth.

This is what I sensed at the recent reunions and it feels great to be a part of it!

The Last Day of Summer

Although camp looks and sounds like a GHOST town on this last full day of summer; the air smells like apples, the chickens are now delivering eggs and the fields are being limed! We are able to reflect on another BEST SUMMER EVER as we begin preparation for The Summer of 2014; which unofficially starts next weekend, September 28th, when we kick it off with our annual Fall Foliage BBQ!

We have a big crowd coming, the forecast looks good and the Dorm Girls of 2014 are hosting!  In the meantime, I’ll be waving on the Live Camp Cam (check it out on our APP)… and don’t forget your sunscreen!!!!

Mitch

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Mitch’s Last Days Reflections- Summer 2013

Well the rain has cleared and our campers are united with their “Winter Families”.  It was an emotional few days to close out the lucky summer of 2013.

During packing day, we went to each bunk and hung up their Bunk Plaque (shaped like a Lego piece), said our goodbyes to each camper and with the final hit of the hammer declared that the kids in that bunk “are part of these walls forever”.

Our final banquet dinner was filled with emotional words, gifts and thoughts. the Final Friday Nite Flix and the burning of the numbers.

What an incredible, rewarding, proud, all-encompassing, nurturing, loving, fun, active and terrific experince for our summer Camp Towanda family.

I wish I had the ability to put into words what really goes on here; to watch each camper (and staff member) arrive somewhat innocently bewildered and leave a more confident, kinder and experienced person…….

It is amazing, many kids show up here crying; and now they are leaving crying!

As we carried the torch to light the numbers (2013), our “tear- jerker” playlist might indicate how we were all feeling…and as the busses departed in the rain, we could hear these songs over the speakers (click here to listen).

We thank our campers’ parents for entrusting us with their precious children; we took the responsibility seriously; loved and cared for them and hopefully, with our incredible staff, made an impact on their road to becoming great adults.

Camp Towanda is a very unique and special place for so many reasons…and each year, it seems so much more important to be a part of it….

We hope everyone enjoys the next 10 months and we can wait to see you soon in June (and hopefully before!)!

2013 4 Reiters

Olympics Day 1: Rain or Shine…Game on!

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A little rain doesn’t stop Olympics!!!

Despite the gray skies, mist, rain and damp chill; NOTHING stopped ALL the CAMPERS and STAFF from wanting to get out on the fields to play!

rainIn between heavy downpours, we got in most of the scheduled competition between The RED ZOMBIES and BLUE CLONES.

From my vantage point as the Grand Master of Ghost, I witnessed the best match ever of Debs & Dills, playting with their heart and soul in the mud and drizzle…to a tie-breaker; the same was true for the Tweens and the Middie Boys.  An intense coed LIT best of 5 went the distance through rain and mud as well.

girlsThe thrills, the cheering and the concentration was wonderful!  From the coaches to generals to the amazing judgies (consisting of over 65 visiting alumni)!

The reports are that all activities were the same intensity and spirit; From volleyball, soccer and indoor basketball to Gaga and softball!

ghostIt is so evident that all that our camp is about comes to fruition in these latter days of the summer; the camaraderie, the respect, the reaching for one’s personal best, the becoming comfortable outside of one’s comfort zone and the genuine pride, sportsmanship and deep friendships are making this OLYMPICS indicative of why we are all here.

soccergirlsIt is a proud feeling that I see and sense on everyone; including the alums that have just showed up; they see it, too!

At the end of Day ONE, there is just a 2 ½ point difference between the teams…how about that?

ghost2Songs of the day played here: TIME OF THE SEASON by the Zombies and and WE ARE ALL CLONES by Alice Cooper.

Today will be beautiful! Cool in the low 70s… a great day for the track and swim meets and tug of war!! PULL, THAT, ROPE!!!!

Good luck Red Team. Good luck Blue Team.

THIS IS IT- Olympics 2013!!!!!

 

mitch and steph                   bob and amy                     michael and lisa

It started on Visiting Day, the clone pictures were popping up around camp; really scaring us all a bit…or fooling us……. One night I had the Bob & Amy pix in the mansion living room…and I jumped!

They were on the porch, at the board, at line-up, on the golf cart, at tennis, on the courtyard, in the alley, on OD patrol at night and yes looking at the camp cam and at the amphitheater…. Each day, moving around… we were all having fun with it and the talk was that it was spooky fun!

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That’s it, just a fun camp thing…not one mention of a possible theme for Olympics.

Fast forward to today; another top 10 beautiful day…activities, inter camp games and the intense scrutinizing anticipation and bewilderment of when, how and will Breakout happen… at breakfast, lunch or dinner…but how?  We are going to the County Fair Friday????

airbandsEvening activity was AIRBANDS; a very entertaining lip sync/MTV type of night…. Different groups performing and cracking up the crowd at the same time…..everyone gathered in the amphitheater as a beautiful sunset transformed the sky.  Although the crowd, from the youngest Deb and Jets the “on the edge” to Club/Dorm watched and participated……all eyes were on “anything”!

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The last act to perform was a group called “The Clones”, consisting of HC’s Bob, Amy, Michael and Lisa, along with Mitch and Stephanie…we got on stage, dressed in the exact same outfits as our clone pictures, who were already on stage…….

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The spotlights burned through the air, and then the music from Michael Jackson’s Thriller began… The HCs started to do their best Michael Jackson Thriller dance as I pounded on the stage floor.

A trap door slid away and 2 aluminum hoses flopped onto the floor facing the audience…. Thick, heavy, low lying mist crept along the floor towards the crowd, down the steps of the stage, engulfing the stage floor and down onto the lawn towards the kids…. the mist grew more eerie, thicker and engulfing the entire amphitheater……. As the smoke, fog and mist were cut by the beams of the spotlights.

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The Thriller music stopped…and then Pink Floyd’s IS ANYBODY OUT THERE started.

On stage thru the mist appeared SIX zombies creeping thru the fog towards the audience AND 6 CLONES (in full body blue hazmat suits wearing a HUGE mask face that matched our clone cutouts)…..As they they stood facing the crowd in the mist, the banners unfurled; the air horns blasted, the music grew louder and then…

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The head judge announced : THIS IS IT, Towanda..OLYMPICS 2013!!

Pandemonium, thrills, screams, hugs, tears, huddles, as the generals, camper captains, lieutenants, and sergeants were read!  Everyone was happy for them…..

The cloud and mist continued as the team splits were read and everyone joined their team.

rings

After brief team meetings, both teams line dup on the grassy knoll  as we lit the Olympic rings to the Olympic fanfare.  Olympic taps..all to bed.

To say the least, it was great. Putting it together is like organizing, preparing and getting ready for a big show while the sell out crowd is already in the audience!  it was fun and everyone felt a part of it.  Lots of grins and great feelings.

Good luck to the RED ZOMBIES and BLUE CLONES!

Let the games begin.  I will be at Ghost!