Last weekend, Camp Towanda officially kicked off our staff orientation. Even though we are a month away from our full staff orientation, this Sunday, we met with a group of young adults who were making an exciting transition from camper to LIT to CIT to full-time counselor! Over 50 Towanda alumni shared in an all-day workshop for personal growth and staff development led by Bob Ditter. Bob is a new addition to our team and an invaluable resource for camp professionals and training.
Keep in mind that this particular group of staff are in a unique position. Many of them have known each other for over 10 years, seen each other at their best and most challenging times, grew up together, overcame fears together, celebrated success together, supported each other and lived together, summer after summer. After their Dorm/Club summers ended, they still came back to be waiters/waitresses (aka LITS). As 17 year olds, while their high school friends explored programs at college campuses or teen tour adventures, they came back as CITS (counselors-in-training). We are often asked by parents and colleagues in camping, what makes your kids come back all those years? Look around our camp, and you will notice our kids don’t leave. Now some of this has to do with our concerted effort to tweak the bunks every year, encourage inclusiveness in the off season and make a strong effort to promote group bonding (not just bunk bonding). But if you asked THEM, why do they come back, they would say things like:
Friendship, memories, cherished time, independence, bonds, camp family, comfort, freedom, acceptance. Yes- all those things kept them coming back.
But now, for the first time, those former campers, LITs and CITs won’t be living under the same roof, sharing late night jokes and group activities. So why do they come back when there are so many options out there in the world?
It’s simple…to pay it forward. Collectively in the room this past Sunday, we had over 800 years of Camp Towanda experience among us. That very experience, wisdom, tradition, and spirit is ready to be shared. The kids of today are so lucky to be gaining this group of counselors to join the rest of our staff because they can’t wait to give back all they have been given. What these new staff members are also starting to realize is how much they too will gain. How making a difference in a child’s world will have as much of a profound impact on them as it will have on that child. How working at camp will nurture their skills in collaboration, leadership, communication and problem solving. How this job will give them the 21st century skills to be better professionals, co-workers and parents.
It’s so much better than being a camper. Because you work hard, but you get back every bit of what you put in (and then some).
We are so thrilled, proud and impressed by this group of new staff members and look forward to watching them in action this summer.
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 (who are celebrating 25 years as owners and directors). 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, 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.
About Bob Ditter:
Bob Ditter is a nationally recognized trainer and consultant and works with organizations that work with young people. His clients have included Sea World, the Disney Channel, the Salvation Army, Girls Scouts of America, YMCA, American Camp Association, Jewish Community Centers, Camp Fire USA, Children’s Oncology Camps of America, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, private and public schools and others. He has appeared on the “ABC Evening News with Peter Jennings,” “Good Morning America” and twice on NBC’s “The Today Show.” He has been quoted in The New York Times, Parent Magazine, the Ladies Home Journal, Money Magazine and USA Today. Sports Illustrated called him “…camping’s most articulate spokesman” because of his work with children’s summer camps since 1982. He has visited over 600 summer camps in the United States and has authored four books for camp professionals and 14 brand new training DVDs. He is best known in camp circles as the author of the popular column, “In the Trenches,” which has appeared regularly in Camping Magazine since 1987.