Let the Summer of Lucky ’13 Begin!!

signs  mitchbus  stephhug hughome

June 22, 2013. The longest day of the year as summer officially began and it ended with a fabulous staff show, bonfire, moon rising and milk & cookies.  Welcome back to your summer home.


Our campers were greeted by our excited staff, their bunkmates and hugs from Mitch, Stephanie, Bobby, Amy, Michael and Lisa.  Lots of smiles, singing, hugging and cheering in full bloom ALREADY!  The summer of Lucky 2013 is officially here!

We didn’t waste any time on Day 1.  Icebreaker games, like “Bear, Fish, Mosquito” (see picture on the left) helped make new campers feel like old friends within the first 5 minutes!  General swim, spaghetti dinner and free play, followed by evening activity fun!

Sunday morning’s reveille song (after the bugle) was Alan Sherman’s “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah”; breakfast with The Beatles featured “Come Together” and Lunch with the Beach Boys busted out with “Fun, Fun, Fun”; only to be drowned out by the Sunday Grateful Dead BBQ (This Week was Built To Last)! Nothing like Camp Towanda music!

topenboys90 degrees of sunshine, activity and excitement was what the day was about! It seemed as if we have all been here awhile already!

From gymnastics to waterfront to soccer and basketball to crafts and zumba to baseball and tennis!

The evening activities included THE Towanda OPEN for Lower Camp; running around attempting different crazy challenges that included the jello toss, pudding eating, dizzy bats and garlic fries! Suffice it to say that we have created the first real batch of dirty laundry….but boy, did they have fun!



Upper Camp cheered and screamed during their Game Show-like night of what we call UNIQUE ENTERTAINMENT! Bringing together the older campers for social fun, spirit, singing and laughter!

We all put in a full day.  Friendships have begun and/or are rekindled; Today we deserved a late reveille since it was another hot one…and we have all been going, going since arrival!  Stay tuned for more updates on the CT Blog!

greenteam  whereeverybodyknowsyourname   boyscamp  ampetheater


Stephanie’s Top 10 Book List For Camp Parents

An interview with Stephanie Reiter by our Social Media Director, Lauren Forman

photo 2 Over the years, our Camp Towanda families have enjoyed Stephanie’s Recommended Reading List for parents.  It is available in the forms & documents section in CampMinder and includes a healthy list of books that Mitch and Stephanie have read and like to share with our camp families.  We have even heard from some parents that they chose our camp because of Stephanie’s amazing reading list!

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Stephanie, surrounded by some of her favorite parenting books (and there are dozens, if not hundreds).  I enjoyed watching her eyes light up as she recalled how each of these books had a profound impact on her approach to parenting and being a Camp Director.

As a parent myself, I was eager to get a peek inside Stephanie’s library as she shared with me her years of experience as a mom of two boys, and her insights and observations as a Camp Director for almost over 25 years.

We hope you can find some “Rest Hour Time” to read a few of these inspiring gems:


  1. For parents of young girls: Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher: An accurate perspective on what girls are going through today.  The Girl Within by Emily Hancock: Identifies the period between 8-10 and the onset of adolescence.
  2. For parents of boys: Raising Cain by Dan Kindlon: Insight into the psyches of boys and how adults can help them flourish.  The Wonder of Boys by Michael Gurian: Insight into what boys need to become strong, responsible men.
  3. For parents with two or more kids: Siblings without Rivalry by Faber and Mazlish: In so many ways, at camp bunkmates are just like siblings in the Camp Family.  We apply many of these ideas to help our camp brothers and sisters get along.
  4. For parents to read before sending their kids off to camp: Homesick and Happy by Michael Thompson and The Summer Camp Handbook by Chris Thurber.  Both of these books are great if you are feeling a little anxious (which is normal) about sending your child to camp for the first time.  These books help you remember what a gift you are giving your child.  How you should be proud of yourself that you made camp a priority for your family, and how time away from parents helps kids grow.
  5. For campers to read before coming to camp (only if they want to!): Off to Camp by Myra Pravda.  This is a Camp Towanda favorite and helps kids prepare for the summer camp experience.
  6. For a calmer approach to parenting: Blessings of a Skinned Knee and Blessings of a B Minus by Wendy Mogul.  Oh, how I loved these books! The first is for parents of younger children; the second is for those with teenagers. If you only read one book, make it one of these!  Based on Jewish teachings of the Torah, these books provide answers to raising self-reliant and compassionate children in a culture of competition and materialism.
  7. For how to reap the benefits of camp, year-round: Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) by Lenore Skenazy  This book is a bit of a throw back to how people parented years ago… when we were less fearful and overprotective and gave our kids more freedom to be independent.  Camp is a wonderful outlet where kids can reap the benefits of being “free-range” while still in a very safe environment.  It’s the way the world used to be…or should be!  It’s an interesting perspective and a good read!
  8. For parenting in today’s world: How to Raise Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World by H. Steven Glenn & Too Much of a Good Thing by Dan Kindlon.  Good for parents who are challenged by raising kids in a self-indulgent world.  Opens our eyes to the difference between being a good friend and a good parent.
  9. For bully-proofing our children: Take the Bully by The Horns by Sam Horn.  Unfortunately, we now know as adults, there are always going to be bullies in life.  This book teaches and empowers your children how to be bully-proof.
  10. For kids (and for us to remember what it’s like to be a kid!): Have You Filled a Bucket Today?, by Carol McCloud, Oh the Places You’ll Go!  by Dr. Seuss and Growing Up Is Hard by Dr. Laura Schlesinger.  All three of these have a wonderful perspective and great life lessons. I would encourage you share them with your children and read them yourselves.
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With Stephanie’s bookshelves filled with so much more than just parenting books, we had to ask her some more questions about the other books in her collection.

 4 Quick Questions for Stephanie

  1. What book changed your life? The Mind Body Prescription by Dr. Sarno.  For so many years I experienced very bad back pain.  This book was recommended to me by a Senior Staffer at Towanda and literally changed my life.  It helped me realize the powerful connection between the mind and the body.  Thanks to this book I can now say I am PAIN-FREE and have such a deeper understanding of myself (without undergoing any medical intervention).  Crazy, but true!
  2. What books do you want to read next? The Great Gatsby (before the movie comes out) and a book about the artist Cezanne.
  3. Have you ever considered writing a book?  After reading The Mind Body Prescription, I would love to write something about how TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome) presents itself in children.  I see so many children experiencing physical pain related to their emotional stress.  I would love to give children these tools to live free of pain…and just be happy, healthy kids!
  4. With all of your creative endeavors, what are you currently working on? My website! I am so thrilled to be a part of a new online gallery called Gallery Sprout where you can see all of my work and read about what inspired me to create each painting.  I cannot wait to get to camp this spring and paint a little before we kick it into high gear! You can visit my new gallery here.
Visit our Pinterest Page, where you can find links to all of these books and more camp inspiration!


Vision Walk Team Towanda Recap

visionwalkpic2013Last weekend, Team Towanda came out on a beautiful Saturday morning in Central Park to support the Foundation Fighting Blindness in the annual Vision Walk.  It was very inspiring and exciting for so many of our older campers and several counselors participate and show their philanthropic spirit!  It was also great to experience their total, awesome excitement for the summer.  It made for a very nice finish to a challenging week.

The Foundation Fighting Blindness is one of the many great causes we support here at Camp Towanda.  You may remember seeing our L.I.T.s selling our Team Towanda tees on Visiting Day and throughout the year.  Our walkers wore them with pride and all proceeds went to the Foundation Fighting Blindness.  Thank you to everyone who supports this important cause!

If you couldn’t make the walk in person, click here for the even QUICKER video recap: 6 seconds of Vision Walk 2013.

For more information about the Foundation Fighting Blindness, visit their website.

Jared’s Green Machine Tips

As many of you know, Jared is our resident recycling expert. He keeps us green and honest involving all things at camp with our Green Machine program, getting everyone to want to recycle, turn off lights, check for running water and much much more.  He also runs our greenhouse and orchestrates all of our other green initiatives that keep our little corner of the world in its natural, beautiful form.  Here are his top tips for things you can do to help our environment, your school, community and home.

  • Turn off (like off off) your computer and phone once in a while (they need to rest too!)
  • When you shave or brush your teeth it’s okay to turn the faucet off when you’re not rinsing the razor or physically have the brush in your mouth.
  • Recycle! If you do recycle already, awesome! But there’s always room for improvement…check out what programs your town offers. Find out more about single stream recycling where you can combine plastics, metals, glass, paper and cardboard in one bin!
  • If your school or office doesn’t recycle…get them to recycle!!!   Looks great on any resume to start a recycling program…and you’re contributing to saving the planet.
  • Collect your used batteries and return them to BestBuy! They actually have a bin at their entrance for this exact purpose!
  • Eat as local and seasonal as you can….ask for the local or seasonal dishes or if there are none encourage your favorite restaurants to follow suit…if the people demand it the people will get it…and you’ll be feeling a lot healthier too!
  • If you don’t have a garden it’s time to plant one…whether it s a few pots in your window or a dirt patch in your back yard….gardening is one of the most rewarding activities.
  • Compost!  Yes that’s right…make your own dirt!!!!   Here’s some easy tips on how and what to compost! http://www.composting101.com/what-to-use.html
  • Invest in and install renewable resources! Present an idea to your schools and offices and family to go green and set the example for the future. In most cases the capital you invest will profit in under five years! PROFIT! Plus, when the next hurricane or snow storm comes around you’ll be cozy and comfortable in your own sustainable home.

    For more Gardening and Earth-Friendly tips, check out our Pinterest boards at here.

    Got a tip!? Share it with us in the comments below.

    Happy Earth Day everyone!

Got Internships?

In today’s world, we understand and appreciate the decisions young adults make about how to spend their summers.  Summertime is often thought of as a time to decompress, enjoy life, connect with friends and have fun.  But it is also a time to grow.  For young adults, summer usually also means growing professionally and preparing for your career.  But how can you do this while you are working at camp?  Have you considered getting an Internship at Camp Towanda? Here’s everything you need to know about interning at Camp Towanda and why we think it could be the best thing on your resume and for your career!

What kinds of internships are available at Camp Towanda?

Our camp offers internship opportunities in education, media, marketing, graphic design, photography, human resources, food services, sports management, hospitality, coaching, counseling, speech pathology, occupational therapy and nursing.  Did we miss something? Let us know and we will see if we can create a program for you.

How do I become an Intern at camp?

Becoming a summer intern at our camp requires that you first apply for a staff position.  If you are hired as a counselor, our Senior Staff will assist you in applying for an internship, processing the necessary paperwork, and connecting you with your summer mentor.

What’s the difference between an Intern and a counselor?

First and foremost, you are being paid to work at Camp Towanda as a counselor.  As an Intern, you will be juggling your regular daily job responsibilities and it will be up to you to motivate yourself in completing your Internship responsibilities.

How does the Camp Towanda Internship program work?

Once you fill out the necessary paperwork through your school, we will assign you a Summer Mentor.  We have an amazing Senior Staff with incredible talent and ‘real-life’ experience to share.  At the beginning of the summer, you and your mentor will create a program that meets your school’s requirements and Camp Towanda’s expectations.  Together, you will create a list of responsibilities, projects and milestones that will help you achieve your Internship goals.  Coming out of the summer you will be able to walk away from camp with at least one tangible project (a presentation, a video, an essay, etc.).

What are the cost implications for becoming an Intern?

It’s great you are looking at completing an internship at camp…Before you get too involved you need to evaluate many factors, including the costs.  Most universities will charge you for the course credits.  It can be well over $500 per credit hour.

Why should I Intern at Camp when I can intern at a big office in the city?

When you Intern at camp you get the best of both worlds.  A real world job that’s also FUN! Plus, you have a lifetime ahead of you to spend in an office or in the field, right?

Still need convincing (or do your parents need convincing)? 3 more good reasons to Intern this summer at Camp Towanda:

1.  You get paid (plus free room and board!)!  So many internships these days are unpaid and don’t even give you the experience you signed up for.

2.  You get to make a real difference in children’s’ lives while learning real-world career-building skills.  Things like leadership, public speaking, responsibility and accountability…and that’s just your job as a counselor! When you Intern at Camp Towanda, you will also get REAL, HANDS-ON, CAREER-BUILDING experience.  We have plenty of opportunity to go around and we genuinely care about nurturing your success and future.

3.  Coming out of your Internship at Camp Towanda, you will have a networking community (aka Your Towanda Family) behind you to help you network in your career!

Sounds great…where do I start?

You will need to speak with the internship supervisor at your school to determine whether an internship at camp is relevant to your studies…. what objectives they would like you to complete…. how many hours would be required, what projects will you need to work on while at camp…and after camp, etc.  You will then need to prepare a proposal and submit to school for approval.  You can list our Staffing Coordinator as the on campus internship supervisor.

Anything else?

If you would rather follow a more specific course, we are affiliated with two college-credit courses: Gene Ezersky Safety College and Touro College’s Masters program.

Also, check out our blog entry here on “How to Make Camp Counselor the Best Thing on Your Resume”.

Still want more information, please contact [email protected].

Senior Sleepovers and Towanda Ski-Hats!

What an amazing couple of weekends up at camp for our annual Senior Girls and Senior Boys sleepovers.  Beyond the chilly temperatures and snow flurries, fun on the lake, frozen Ghost, basketball by the fireplace, sledding, ice fishing and delicious home-cooked dinner and breakfast (including Hibachi Eggs and Spaghetti and Meatballs), we had the chance to sit and talk with them in front of the fireplace. We spoke about our expectations, proper behavior and respect, how to make a positive impact on others, what is a friend and so on.  We expressed our anticipation of them becoming the future leaders of camp and what it takes to get there.  The good news is that not only were they listening and digesting it,  we actually do get there with each group, each year; no matter the challenges … and that is what the next 2 summers are about.

Girls Head Counselor Amy Miller came all the way from Florida to join the Senior Girls’ Sleepover this year.  Here is a beautiful recap of her experience.

“I have so much to share I don’t even know where to start …. Do I write as a Mother of a 10 and 14 year old girs , The Girls Head Counselor , or an alumni who started as a young camper in 1979 !!?   It’s funny to have so many titles 🙂  I think I will just share my thoughts, with all my different camp hats on …

First,  I just want to say thank you to Mitch and Stephanie for a beautiful weekend filled with love, hugs, laughter, excitement, tradition, yummy food, fresh country air, lots of layers and of course … snow!!!

The Senior Girls Sleepover  weekend was better than I ever anticipated it to be … and we were very excited. I have been at camp for a long time, in many capacities. That being said … I have never been at Senior Sleepover !!! I have heard about it though and have seen amazing pictures,  but never experienced it for myself !!!

I am overwhelmed with so many different emotions. I think the most important feeling I have is feeling very grateful. Grateful for the beautiful friendships the girls have made, grateful for the life lessons and coping skills they are learning, for the independence they are developing  and especially grateful for the  emotionally safe environment they have to do all this “growing up” in.

Being a Mom of two girls on girls camp and the Girls Head Counselor I think I experience all the different things at camp in very different ways.  At the Senior Girls winter sleepover I felt so thankful as a Mother and also so proud as Girls Head Counselor and felt especially privileged to be part of the Camp Towanda family & team.

I have seen the Senior Girls grow and mature over past summers. As we all know there has been times that were a bit trying to say the least !!!  That being said I have come full circle with them as I have with many of the groups on girls camp.  Watching ALL of the girls come together through the weekend was amazing.  All the lessons we have been trying to teach them just clicked.  They were kind, loving, inclusive, happy, respectful and thankful. Most of all they were plain, old … HAPPY.  That is an amazing way to describe 30 teenage girls !!!

I think parents are thrilled to send their children to sleep away camp …. they know it is a good experience and that their children are happy.  Though, I don’t always think they are  aware of all the magical things that happen at camp. I felt like a fly on the wall this weekend. Enjoying, helping, but also so impressed and proud. The planning and organization of the weekend was incredible. Everything ran like a well oiled machine. The hot chocolate that Stephanie & Jared made hit the spot. The cooking by chef Mitch was delish … homemade sauce !!!  I was REALLY impressed !!!

Of course the sledding, ice fishing and frozen s’mores were all fabulous too but the  “mansion talks” with both of you and now Jared (who grew up at camp) about being a good person and friend, about taking care of each other, about being a mensch were priceless. You could hear a pin drop in the room as they were all snuggled on the couch sitting in front of a awesome fire and just listening. Absorbing every word.   If I didn’t see it for myself I wouldn’t believe it. I feel very lucky to have been a part such a special time.

On the drive home … one of the girls in my car said … “Hey guys, Do you realize that Mitch and Stephanie choose to be with us, at their home, in the middle of winter.  I guess they could be on vacation, but they are here with us!” The girls got it !!”  When parents ask me what makes Towanda different … I always have so much to tell them …. I speak to them from my heart. What I truly believe.  Senior Sleepover just validated everything that I already knew and more.

The “Prog Blog”


Everyone at Camp Towanda is integral, important and inspirational to the impact on the summer experience for all members of the Camp Towanda Family. From campers, bunk counselors, qualified instructors and specialists, leaders and senior staff to those behind the scenes who cook, clean and maintain our beautiful camp.

Everyone, one way or another, interacts with our kids; from the guy who cuts the lawn, picks up the garbage, cooks our food, mops the floors to those who work in the laundry, housekeeping or maintenance departments.

It is important, as Owners and Directors that we know everyone at camp…and they know and are comfortable with us as well.

We just returned last night from an inspiring support staff recruiting trip to Prague and Budapest.  Stephanie, Jared and I met with alumni and returnees; seeing, learning and experiencing their culture while interviewing and hiring new staff members to join the 38 returning KMP!  KMP is our term for Kitchen & Maintenance Personnel.

38 returnees; that says a lot about how we care about our KMP Support Staff! Our Operations Director, Mark “Z” Zides, is legendary in the camping industry for overwhelmingly taking care of the KMP; just like Bob & Amy, or Head Counselors, take care of the counselor staff! Z has raised the bar each of his 18 years at Towanda!

Our international staff feel safe and happy while they get into their responsibilities; enhancing, improving and positively impacting the summer’s experience for everyone at Camp Towanda, even though they are so far from home!

Respect, cultural exchange and opportunity  is what sets Camp Towanda apart! Our KMP get involved in our evening activities, special events and exchange of cultural information.  Towanda is woven through people from over 25 states and 17 countries that empowers us all to be ambassadors of our hometowns.

The Americans, former campers or not, welcome, get to know and work side by side with our international staff; adding to the already incredible dynamic experience at camp!

Our staff make life long friends around the world; which evolves into a great itinerary in their future!

Now, after this trip, we are even more excited, pumped and eager to get LUCKY 2013 going; we have a great staff; in the bunks, on the fields and behind the scenes!

Next stop; bring on orientation!

The Scoop on Group Scoop!

Welcome back to “The Blog: 2013”! We have a lot of exciting events coming up in the next few months and we will be sharing all the ‘scoop’ with you here.  This past Sunday we had our annual Group Scoop Orientation Session for new campers and their parents at the Double Tree Hotel in Fort Lee, NJ. We always say “you’re only new until the next person shows up”. And it proved to be true again; as many of this summer’s new campers showed up.

It did not take long for our new families to fell comfortable, welcomed and part of the Camp Towanda Family after being with us for just two hours! Each camper was inaugurated with an imitation unofficial Chef Jonesy chocolate chip cookie (of course, also available in Gluten-Free) and assigned a buddy from the older group campers of the Club or Dorm. The room was transformed into Camp Towanda-land. Buddies gave their campers a kind of virtual tour on our life-sized camp map and you could already feel the connections everyone was making. After meeting some new faces (and even new groupmates), we all enjoyed a fun, informative and interactive orientation by Mitch! Then Matt Miller led us in a Camp Towanda icebreaker favorite “Bear- Fish- Mosquito”. Cheering, smiles and silliness were everywhere. Before you knew it, we had declared a winner (go Maxwell) as he was carried on the shoulders of the Club boys. As always, our Dorm girls led Girls’ camp in the cheer “We had fun. We had fun!” Towanda spirit at its best.

Overall it was a very special day. We are so excited about the new members of our family (campers and parents). We also received so much positive feedback about our Dorm girls and Club boys and were so impressed by their care, concern, attention, interaction and love of Camp Towanda. They really helped welcome the new campers and reassure the parents. They are already making a big difference and impact on camp as our eldest campers!

Group Scoop was yet another big kick off to the Summer of 2013. We cannot wait to get to camp and begin to see our new campers start their journey. We also cannot wait to watch the Dorm and Club continue to lead the camp with their spirit, respect, camaraderie, maturity and love of camp and each other. A great sisterhood and brotherhood…which is what Camp Towanda is all about.

Check out the official Group Scoop photo album here! Enjoy.

The Camp Foundation

Getting camp ready is very exciting; I often liken it to a funnel where all the ingredients come together to prepare for opening day when the busses crash on our shores like a tidal wave and then the campers swarm up the hill; and then the counselors wished they paid attention to what we were saying during orientation!

A couple of weeks ago, we briefly left the shores of camp to attend our son, Jared’s graduation, at Boston University; what a milestone; it really hit me.

Having this great opportunity to partner with parents and help nurture, impact, influence and guide their kids through their fundamental growth years, to be part of the foundation of who they will become by the time they finish college; this came to fruition for Stephanie and I.

A flood of emotions, pride, love and excitement overcame us. Every little thing over the years what we did and said reached its pinnacle as he walked across the stage to receive his diploma. Our little baby boy (he was 18 months old our 1st summer here at Camp Towanda) grew up; he accepted his diploma, turned to us, said thank you and I’m ready for camp!

So, I share this chapter in our life that has concluded and eagerly await the coming weeks as our team assembles here at camp to help do the same for our campers.

Stephanie and I take the responsibility seriously that is entrusted to us with and look forward to a wonderful summer.

“Milestone” Mitch