Why Our Camp Parents Love Visiting Day!

b5124b96-46bc-45d4-ab80-5020ad2910b9Reflecting on Visiting Day 2015, a common theme of the summer comes to mind: Top 10! Back in June we did a video about the “Top 10 Things to Look Forward to This Summer” (which was a tribute to our Letterman video in 2000). What we could have included on that list (for the parents, at least) was Visiting Day, but not for the reasons you may think!

793a123f-14f9-4c30-8ad2-965dbfcc3137Yes, of course it’s amazing to see your kids after 4 short weeks, give them a 10 minute hugs and shower them with dozens of treats, but it makes our list because it’s a chance for you to really see change and growth in your child, with the gift of perspective and time.

It helped that Saturday was a “Top 10” weather day, but overall we have so many parents telling us the many other reasons why it was a perfect 10! Here’s a few we would like to share:

Top 10 Reasons Why Parents Told Us Visiting Day Was a “Top 10 Day”!

  1. The smiling faces of the campers, staff and visiting families, walking around camp with their feet barely touching the ground.
  2. The true brother and sister relationships the campers have with each other and how their friendships are different because they live together, play together and work together.
  3. The nice relationships the camp parents form with each other over the years– from that first summer right thru the last (we saw many camp parents crying from the Dorm, Club and LITs- sad to see this as their last visiting day).
  4. The authenticity of our staff (who we are so proud of). The kindness, the care and the effort you see them put into their job; wanting to get to know the parents of the campers who have been their kids for the summer! From first year counselors to the senior staff and group leaders— there is no greater comfort than knowing your kids are in great hands.
  5. The thank yous our campers give their parents. Not just for all the “stuff”, snacks and Vistiting Day treats..but more importantly “thank you for sending me to this camp”. Not sure there is anything better than true gratitude from a 10 year old.
  6. The joy of seeing your camper the happiest they have ever been. Back at home, parents are proud of grades, trophies and accomplishments. But at camp, parents are proud to see their children happy, comfortable, confident and trying new things outside their comfort zone. As Dr. Michael Thompson said “we cannot make our children happy”, but after Visiting Day, I think parents will agree that camp sure can!
  7. The excitement camper has to share something that is completely their own. Even for alumni parents, there is nothing better than experiencing camp through your camper’s eyes. Getting to experience your child show them THEIR CAMP, THEIR BUNK, THEIR FRIENDS, THEIR WORLD. Because it’s something they can own and take pride in, knowing it’s special.
  8. The possibilities. When you send your kid to camp, in just 4 short weeks you don’t even realize the growth and development that is possible when they are away from home. Imagine what can happen in just 3 more weeks!
  9. The sibling love. Whether your siblings are at camp, enjoyed sibling sleepover or just spent the day together. Camp makes siblings appreciate each other so much more.
  10. The pride in being a part of the Camp Towanda Family. It’s not easy these days to be surrounded by hundreds of families, staff and Camp Directors who share the same down-to-earth values and can spend the day in harmony.  The energy at our Visiting Day is not chaotic, stressful or emotional. It is peaceful, joyful and a celebration that no one takes for granted.

We are going to ride the Visiting Day high right into Trip Week and then who knows, maybe there will be Olympics. Camp only gets better from here on out!!! Oh if you could just be a fly on the wall…

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The Job of Choosing a Camp

meetingmitchThis summer, we will meet a whole new batch of prospective families at our upcoming weekend tours and S’more Tour Rookie Days.  We are excited to introduce them to life at Camp Towanda, our philosophy and what makes us different. We are gearing up, we are opening our gates, we are getting ready to give them a glimpse of what we do and how we do it.  As you make your tour arrangements and call us with any follow up questions, we wanted to share some advice that we have collected after meeting many families like yours over the years.

IMG_5912Today’s generation of parents has a daunting task of how they make decisions for their family.  They are armed with endless information at their fingertips. Websites, videos, reviews, social influence and blogs (like this one). Everyone has an opinion to influence and weigh in.  There is fear that you could make the wrong choice or fail your child. You want to protect your child and do everything in your power to lay the groundwork for “success”. And if your choice isn’t perfect, you fear your child’s unhappiness and the guilt that goes along with it. Now that sounds like a lot of pressure! The best part about camp is the pressure gets lifted. Your child leaves the nest, in a safe and loving environment to experience things they never could under the management of “Mom, Dad and Associates”.

But how can you be sure that this is the right camp? That they will love it? That they are ready?

IMG_2533First, you should trust the one thing that guides you the most as a parent. Your gut, your intuition and your values. When looking at a camp, you should learn what the camp is offering. Is it an authentic experience that has the morals, structure and beliefs that you have? Is it simply catering to the wavering whims of children, or does it have a confident leadership team that sets the tone, expectations and agenda? Are the directors your parenting partners who are invested in helping nurture and develop your child through adolescence, the teen years and into adulthood? Does the program offer the activities that would interest your child? How do they help your child grow into an independent and healthy person? And does it feel like a good fit for your kid (the people, the environment, the stuff you can only sense from actually being there)?

Second, remember who this decision is for and why you are sending your child to camp.  Activities are important. Quality of facilities, instruction, all part of the decision. But those are merely vehicles to teach the life skills that will influence your child’s development and success for years to come.


We have seen so many wonderful children come through our program, and have heard parents insist their child swim extra hours, or receive additional baseball or soccer. But when given the CHOICE, children often opt for the activities that they can’t do at home, that peak their curiosity and challenge their senses.  When away from mom and dad for 7 weeks, they want to create an experience that is their own.  This is what fuels growth, development and healthy independence. Remember THAT is why you send your child to camp. One parent recently said, “I want my child to play tennis because I think they have real potential, but I can’t wait to see what they love to do at camp. What drives them when I’m not around. What makes THEM happy.” (now that’s the spirit)

We like to quote author Dr. Michael Thompson a lot around here, but what he says is so true…”You cannot make your child happy.” Once you realize that until a child truly can experience something on his or her own, they will always rely on a parent to help navigate their emotions. Whether it be homesickness, struggling with trying unfamiliar foods, friendship issues in a bunk, losing a match or winning a game, camp is the place where children can work through these challenges and feelings.  Camp helps children learn to cope with real life situations because it doesn’t shelter them, it gives them the tools to succeed.


Third, camp readiness is a tricky one. So many parents are looking for their child to say “I am ready”, “sign me up”, “I love it here already.” While we get this a lot, this isn’t necessarily realistic.  Especially if you are sending your eldest child to camp, they haven’t seen a sibling go through the experience and the unknown can be overwhelming. This is where you come in. They look to you as their leaders for guidance and to set the agenda (much like we do at camp). A year is a long time to get them involved in their pre-camp experience. If you think they are ready, if you are looking for them to grow and mature and have incredible life-changing experiences, help them understand the power of camp and your decision.

Remember how old your child is.  6, 7, 8, 9 and even 10 year olds cannot fully appreciate the reasons why or how you choose a camp. They see the facilities, the spirit and the activities. The sun, the rain, the smells of the day. They don’t necessarily see the values, how the campers return year after year and the lasting influence camp has on these campers and staff.  Get your child involved in choosing a camp, but we believe that YOU should ultimately make the choice, or make the choice together.

IMG_6715There have always been ups and downs, everywhere in life. At camp, some days we have banana splits, some days we don’t! We have had rainy summers and very hot summers; some of have said not all Olympic Breakouts were the best ever and many have loved those awesome psych-outs! Sometimes your team wins the World Series, sometimes they don’t. Learning to live through the ups and downs throughout the day, the summer and the years together, with the help of your camp family, helps build  self esteem, resilience and confidence to face the many challenges your child will face in a lifetime.

stephhugGive yourself a break. Hand over the reigns. Help your child grow without you. We promise they will love you for it! And if you haven’t already, seriously read Homesick & Happy. It will rewire you for thinking about the camp experience and the role you play in your child’s life. You cannot make your child happy, but you can give them the gift of camp. An experience that will transform their life and stay with them forever.

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.