Day 3 & 4: Burn that Fire and Swamp the Canoe!

6851d8b6-aaa2-4771-85d6-80872bc44630Welcome to two of the most exciting days of Olympics.  Rope Burning and the Great Apache Relay. Two events that are so deep in Towanda tradition, that have been physically, emotionally and spiritually passed down for so many generations and generations to come.  If one were to ask me what the penultimate night of the summer is, I would have to say it is the night of Rope Burning. And if one would have to ask what is the most fun event of the summer, I would have to say Apache! And here’s why…

e3bfc332-4840-4f5a-a5ca-5c73d903870cAs we headed into the night of Rope Burning, I reflected on how far our campers have come…first they arrived, learned to get out of their comfort zones, try new things, make new friends, learn independence, learn new skills, learn responsibilities, learn to laugh and even earn pride (win or lose), great sportsmanship and camaraderie.

f963ca81-c554-45f2-825c-d844d2781fadFast forward to the end of the summer; new friends, young and older, team mates, opposing team friends, ultimate spirit, cheering, marching, singing…along with a focus of determination and spirit…. It doesn’t matter if you are a wood gatherer, a wood sorter or a fire builder or on the ever important cheering end …ROPE BURNING brings camp to its highest level.

37d55216-9dd6-4686-9103-d9d7746915adEveryone together, everyone focused, intensely psyched up, faces painted, wearing ceremonial sweatshirts passed down from generations…and then the horn blows! Like an assembly line the teams work together to gather, sort and feed the best wood to their intensely focused fire builders and experienced coaches. Equally intense are those on the sidelines. Holding hands. Anticipating and awaiting the fate of the fires.

decc569f-ebba-4224-9b2c-2daa7cb9adb6It’s all about the fire, building it, burning it, higher and higher… and one team wins…..BUT then the whole camp cheers on the team that did not win. And in the end, the oldest campers come back together as a brotherhood and sisterhood. Proud they achieved this experience together. Through tears, sweat and face paint.

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No one ever gave up…both teams can hold their heads high as they retreated to their meeting places and cheer on their teammates to the highest of voices and praise.

So proud …that here…like nowhere else…they learn the life lesson of losing (with the support of so many) is not so bad…and that you can hold your head high.  And the winners stand tall with their opponents embracing.

4fadf0e8-3d15-4f30-bbc9-90524f0be53eThat was rope burning. Awesome…exhilarating and impressive. If there was a night that parents could be a fly on the wall, I would wish it were this night. BUT, if you were here, it wouldn’t happen, it would be different….that is also why camp is unique and valuable.

By the way, The Red Lifeguards won Rope Burning in an impressive 11:29 while it took the Blue Ski Patrol 26:18.

6050c198-5a0f-4722-9ebf-bd6e12b5e23b(By the way…earlier in the day, the Boy’s Track meet went 401-395 RED. The Girl’s Swim Meet was 316-328 BLUE.)

Which brings me to the Great Apache Relay, an all-afternoon extravaganza of 243 events, in which EVERY SINGLE camper is involved and is passed the baton. Older campers to younger campers. Boys camp to girls camp. Our family comes together to make this epic event happen!

e8e6e7c1-357f-428c-a9fc-58851a2b5085It is a crazy, multi-faceted, widespread, inter-connected, entertaining yet challenging all afternoon race.  The teams scour over their skills to decide who does what and it takes over 2 ½ hours to setup and and over an hour an a half to complete.

2240c6db-3282-449d-b695-c16df0ae35beEvents from pogo-stick jumping, shoelace lacing, soccer goals, potato sack races to baseball tosses, basketball-tennis-hockey shots to sailing, swamped canoes, laps and several 100 more events that captivate all of us for the afternoon.

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Campers followed my live coverage over the PA System (brought to you by our sponsors Kit Kat, sunscreen of your choice and water) and hopefully you at home followed us on @Twitter and @Instagram (the only event we really “report live” all summer because it’s just SO FUN).

The running of the apache relay was basically neck and neck throughout, with never more than a 2 minute lead and most of the time the teams were within seconds of each other. It was THAT close, it was THAT exciting. NECK & NECK! Did you see the photos?

dbf06a87-ad77-4fee-8435-f02e3a0abc12The cheering, the laughter, the greatness was OH SO BEAUTIFUL…. And at the traditional fire brigade finish, Red squeaked out the victory by just an 11 second differential!  That is a very close Apache (some years there is a 45 minute difference)!

399c708e-4e81-4e2f-a4d9-951d84e3714dSunday Night’s traditional Silent Dinner BBQ was followed by under the lights events (knockout, basketball and softball).

fa5e4f72-9802-43a8-accf-d71ab415d9deAnd as we enter the 5th and final day of Olympics (which concludes with the Great Olympic Sing Monday Night), The BLUE SKI PATROL has an almost ONLY 70 point lead over The RED LIFEGUARDS, but there are still over 400 points available Monday!

Despite the rampant Olympic Fever, even more so is the sense I have of bittersweetness in the air. I can feel it lofting around as everyone, from the youngest DEBS and JETS right though the CLUB and DORM and onward through the counselors, both veterans and first year people… that there  seems to be a “getting closer and closer” as our time together shortens. The goals of the summer have been achieved; if we were to stop and get off of our carousel and look at ourselves 7 weeks ago compared to where we are today, we would see a big difference…one of growth, confidence, comfort, friendship, respect and love.

Bring it on, the final and awesome days, it is like the crescendo of why we are here!

Judgies 2014And a word about our well over 65 guest Alumni Judgies, who come back home to continue the tradition, legacy and spirit of camp. It makes our camp ever so special; as the campers relish the old stories (albeit somewhat embellished), the staff are wowed that people take off from work and time away from their families to return to Judge Olympics. Their presence just adds to an already spirited force.  As one alumni said- “You don’t just go to Towanda; Towanda is with you for life. There’s no place I would rather be this weekend than here.”

Stay tuned for this week’s edition of Friday Nite Flix (which we will air with the campers on Thursday).  It will feature Olympic highlights and more! Not to be missed!

Where are they now? Alumni Spotlight-5th Edition

wherearetheynowIt’s that time for another edition of Camp Towanda “Where Are They Now?” We have four new alum sharing their fond memories and stories about the camp we love!  We are posting these in the order they come in, and this week we happen to have a double dose of Dorm ’99 girls! Plus a former Olympiad from the ’90s and someone from Club ’02.

Please keep your entries coming and send to lauren@camptowanda.com.  We have so many more great ones to share with you!

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Matt Levy


  1. Dorm / Club Year:  Club 1994
  2. College Attended?  University of Pennsylvania (Wharton); Tulane University Law School
  3. Current Career:  Anheuser-Busch (Business Services Center, Project Management)
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way?  Yes.  Socializing with people from all walks off life.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity?  waterskiing
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? 1994 olympics (won Olympiad); or watching Marc Penziner “street luge” down the hill from boys camp to the infirmary
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  “Devils arise with brimstone and flame; we’re here tonight to stake out our claim.” (1989 Red Devils)
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? take lots of pictures
  9. Fill in the blank: When I hear American Pie I think of Camp Towanda!

Michelle Goldblum

  1. Dorm / Club Year: 1999
  2. College Attended? The George Washington University
  3. Current Career: Founder of I AM. creative, a full service brand strategy, brand development, design & marketing agency specializing in the mind/body/spirit, wellness, self-empowerment, self-improvement space.
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? 100%. 3-minute showers have continued to be clutch in my life.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Senior Year Canoe trip… Olympics ’99… Tweens & Juniors Tropical Paradise.
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? First kiss and getting camper captain (is that so horrible and cliche to say?)
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. Go down,  Moses,:  Way down in Egypt’s land, tell old pharoah, let my people go!
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? 2 months is so incredibly short. Don’t worry about what bunk you are in. Don’t worry about being the counselors favorite. JUST PLAY and laugh and be happy to be outside.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of walking up the grassy knoll, see someone in a british soccer jersey, watch fireworks, hear American Pie or eat french toast, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be? I wish i remembered the rules for ghost to be able to answer this question!

AJ Axelrod

  1. Dorm / Club Year: 2002
  2. College Attended: Vanderbilt University
  3. Current Career: Management Consulting
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? My first college roommate was a camp friend as are many of my lifelong friends. It helped me adjust to the communal living aspect of college.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? everything
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Becoming a camper captain (My father and I are the first father son combination) and rope burning but there are so many small moments that stand out too.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. the last 2 lines of American Pie, I was always hungry by then.
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Do everything you can possibly do, get in a little bit of trouble, but not the serious kind. If you’re a boy, chase more girls it’s good practice for later in life and the girls are really in charge anyway. Stay in touch with your counselors. When you’re 20+ they don’t seem so much older than you and you may seem them all over the world if you travel. I’ve seen counselors in Colorado, NY, London and Sydney Australia.
  9. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be?  I would ban boxing out on the jump to start the match. I used it to win the jump all the time. I would also ban sacrificing yourself to become a ghost.

Rachel Berkman Bloom 

  1. Dorm Year: 1999
  2. College Attended: University of Michigan
  3. Current Career: Private Equestrian/Athletic Tutor, Judith Ripka South Florida Representative
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Towanda helped me learn to be independent.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? It is too hard to pick just one! Maybe DJ nights. OH and when we had an all camp water fight and gold rush. Trip days, the list goes on…
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? My first Olympic breakout in 1993
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  Our entire Tween/Junior girls sing cheer and march – I still know every word! Tweens and Juniors take the stage, time to prove we are the best, sing is here and there’s no doubt that we’re gonna beat the rest check it out!…
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Enjoy every second of every day, and take a lot of pictures and never lose them.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I smell a particular summer night , see my old camp shirts in my drawer, watch Wet Hot American Summer, hear American Pie (of course) or eat milk and cookies, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be? If I could add one rule to ghost it would be that people walking by can be considered ghosts and brought into the game for one throw.

Where are they now? Alumni Spotlight- 4th Edition

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Our Alumni Spotlight CAMPaign is back with 5 new alum sharing their fond memories and insights about the camp we love! Please keep your entries coming and send to lauren@camptowanda.com.  We have so many more great ones to share with you! 

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Ross Prussin, Camp Towanda Club 1993

Ross Prussin

  1. Dorm / Club Year: Club 1993
  2. College Attended? University of Colorado at Boulder
  3. Current Career: Equity Derivative Sales
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Yes, it taught me to better adjust to having my own independence. And the networking skills I learned are unequivocal. I can play a mean game of Jewish geography.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? My favorite camp activity would be either intracamp sports or rope burning
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? 1986 Breakout at the waterfront (Red Explorers vs. Blue Emperors).
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.    ….I learned what love and friendship really meanTTT…..
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers?  Enjoy each and every moment at camp and savor each day because one day when you are old like me, you will still only want to be in one place when each summer rolls around.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of Bill Alexander, Jerry Maze, Byron and Bill or Al Foley, hear Billy Joel or eat Corn Pops, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be? Or if you are from the Pre-GHOST era: if you could add an event to The Great Apache Relay, what would it be? I would add a hot dog eating contest to the Apache Relay. There should definitely be some sort of eating contest in there.

Maxx Rapaport

  1. Dorm / Club Year: 2003
  2. College Attended? Indiana University
  3. Current Career: Sales Planner at the National Football League
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? It’s all about communicating with people, finding a common ground, and building relationships. That is also the way I view sales.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Rope Burning. The best times at camp where down time, shooting the breeze on the porch with your bunk mates, or going for a walk during UTL.
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Winning Rope Burning was a big one, watching my sister get CC was huge.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. C-L-U-B, you know who you want to be…
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Say “yes” to everything. You aren’t better than anyone else in the bunk. Strive for relationships, especially with with BOB, Pelton and Z.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of the happiest times in my childhood, see my camp friends or girlfriend, watch Ferris Buller’s day off or any of the BYOC movies, hear American pie or eat peanut butter and jelly, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be? GHOST is perfect as it is.

Brooke Gomberg (now Brooke Weissman)

  1. Dorm / Club Year: Dorm 1997 ( I am pretty sure, oye)
  2. College Attended? University of Wisconsin- Madison
  3. Current Career: Luxury Director, Hearst Digital Media ( a division of Hearst corp). Oversee Beauty for the digital women’s division covering brands such as: ELLE.com, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmo, Marie Claire, Redbook & Good Housekeeping and cover all beauty advertisers for the brands
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Camp Towanda helped me learn how to adapt to others. For example, in the real world you are faced with challenges everyday; such as personality differences and disagreements. Learning how to live, and work together with others allowed me to learn how to adapt to changing circumstances and be the best person I can be.  I also used to be very homesick when i was younger, thinking that it would never go away–but never giving up and sticking something out always has the most amazing results!
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Without a doubt, Tennis. I used to be good!! And Olympics of course
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Being named a camper captain of Olympics and then a few years later, General!
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. “Kings and Queens and Bishops too”
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Cherish the friends and the memories you make–some of my best memories were at camp!
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of ___Hershey Park____, see___my old towanda tees_____, watch___wet hot american summer_____, hear _revelee________ or eat __chocolate chip cookies________, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be? I was in the ghost era, but I need a brush up on the rules. Are you allowed to go back in once you are out?
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Jessica Hartmann, Camp Towanda Counselor 2007

Jessica Hartmann

  1. Counselor 2007
  2. College Attended?: Skidmore College
  3. Current Career: Surgical Coordinator, Plastic Surgery Department at Boston Children’s Hospital
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way?  At camp, you learn to live with a bunch of people from different backgrounds and home rules, but while at camp everyone learns to live together and abide by the rules of camp.  You may not agree with everything, but you make it work.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Gymnastics!
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp?  I went with the girl’s gymnastics team to a meet at Camp Wayne, and we were recognized for our sportsmanship.  I was so proud of our girls and how well they represented Towanda!
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. “Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name – Camp Towanda!”  And “Love will pervade us though miles separate us”
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers?  Enjoy every moment of camp and appreciate being surrounding by people who genuinely want to be your friend and want the best for you.  Your camp years will be over before you know it.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of hot summer days, see the Scranton PA sign , watch the Baseball All Star game, hear American Pie or eat chocolate chip cookies that are never as good as Jonesie’s, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be? Ahh!  I don’t know – I always had trouble keeping them all straight to begin with!

Risa Rabinowitz

  1. Dorm 2005
  2. College Attended: University of Michigan
  3. Current Career: Graduate School
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? YES. I learned that it is impossible to be successful in everything when you are trying it for the first time; new experiences are a good thing and should be embraced; folding socks is both important AND practical.
  5.  What was your favorite camp activity? My favorite camp activity was soccer!
  6. What was your most memorable moment at camp? My most memorable moment at camp was during the last few weeks of Dorm summer. I accidentally threw out an envelope filled with cash that my mom and dad had sent me to put in the bank for the last few camp trips. I got out of the shower and was about to get dressed for dinner when I saw an envelope filled with the same amount of money on my bed–my dorm sisters each chipped in and replaced every dollar for me. That was when I realized that I was part of a group of girls that would do absolutely anything for one another without being asked.
  7.  Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. YOU BOTH KICKED OFF YOUR SHOES, MAN I DIG THOSE RYTHM AND BLUES!!!
  8.  What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Don’t be scared to keep going back to camp for as long as you can. People who say that “it is time to become a part of the real world,” don’t understand that Camp Towanda is as real as it gets.
  9. Fill in the blank. When I think of Dip n’ Dots, see fireworks, watch kids playing knockout, hear taps, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10.  If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be? If it is after lunch, and sloppy joes were served AT lunch, you are not allowed to aim at someone’s stomach.

Missed an edition of Camp Towanda Alumni: “Where are they now?”? You can check them all out here on the blog

https://camptowanda.com/blog/category/alumni-spotlight/

And don’t forget to join The Camp Towanda Network on LinkedIn!

Where are they now? Alumni Spotlight- 3rd Edition

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In this edition of “Where are they now?”, we have not one, but TWO couples who met their future spouse at Camp Towanda! Spanning the 80s, 90s and 00s…here is this week’s Alumni Spotlight! Please keep your entries coming and send to lauren@camptowanda.com.  We have so many more great ones to share with you! Until next week….enjoy this trip down memory lane as some of our Alumni share their fond memories and insights about the camp we love!

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Jayson Goldstone (married to Stacy Glass Goldstone)

  1. Dorm / Club Year: Club 1985
  2. College Attended? Northeastern University
  3. Current Career:  Owner of a Tool and Equipment Company
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way?  I learned about trust, teamwork, and independence (and some small mischief).
  5. What was your favorite camp activity?  Riflery (this was a long time ago…we obviously do not have this anymore!)
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Being a camper captain
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  Kings and Queens and Bishops too…
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers?  Enjoy your summer freedom while you can.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of __glass soda bottles_____, see____brown and gold____, watch____someone skiing off of a motorboat___, hear ____Taps_____ or eat ___pizza with corn meal crusted to the bottom______, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add an event to The Great Apache Relay, what would it be?  Making a human pyramid

Stacy Glass Goldstone (married to Jayson Goldstone-Club 1985)

  1. Dorm / Club Year: Dorm 1986 (started camp in 1979)
  2. College Attended? Duke University
  3. Current Career: Mother to two current Camp Towanda campers (third generation campers-grandmother is Dale Sokoloff Glass)
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Camp allowed me to learn how to make choices  (and mistakes) for myself in a safe environment.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Girls Sing, Dutch Auction, Apache Relay
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Going to the roller skating rink (I think it was in a church)
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. D-O-R-M G-I-R-L-S…the Dorm Girls always on the go;  Zum Golly Golly Golly: Kings and Queens:
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers?  Embrace each moment…and savor the sights, sounds, and smells of camp…they will stay with you for a lifetime.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of ___(too many to mention but…)_the lake, Shangri-La, the dirt road, the fly tape, milk call, Visiting Day lunch of fried chicken, brownie, and a plum___, see__a fanta soda bottle______, watch________, hear reveille, taps. or____”is anybody out there?”____ or eat _cereal from a small box _________, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add an event to The Great Apache Relay, what would it be?  List in order, all of the owners of Camp Towanda!

Tina Kunkin Schweid

  1. Dorm / Club Year:1991
  2. College Attended? Lehigh
  3. Current Career: Mom
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Yes, made me a better friend, and more confident.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Under the lights
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp?  Winning the camp triathlon when I was 11.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  D….O….R….M…..GIRLS SONG..(you know the rest)
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Enjoy, try everything and have FUN!!! Be as nice as you can— which is hard at times.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of  my happiest summers as a kid__, see_____a campfire ___, watch_fried green tomatoes _______, hear ____pink Floyd is there anybody out there.____or eat _Charleston Chews _________, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add an event to The Great Apache Relay, what would it be? Reciting the history of camp– when it opened(year, etc)

Ali Sussman

  1. Dorm / Club Year: Dorm 2006
  2. College Attended? Boston University
  3. Current Career: Marketing/Communications
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way?  Definitely. Towanda taught me how to be responsible, innovative and developed all my leadership skills. In addition, for the communications field, I learned great Public Relations when dealing with parents of my campers. Camp taught me to be independent, to be a member of a group and how to form long lasting relationships.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? The old school evening activity of Panic! on girls camp.
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp?  My most memorable moment at camp was when I was an assistant Group Leader for the Debs in 2010. Their sing was “Towanda runs on Debs & Dils.” Seeing them work so hard at an activity that I used to love as a camper was super special, especially because we won! It was so great seeing all their hard work pay off since debs and dillies usually never even place!
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  I don’t practice Santeria, I ain’t got no crystal ball, Well I had a million dollars but I, I’d spend it all. (Santeria)
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Put away all the extra gadgets that we have today! Enjoy this time and always include one another. There is no time for drama during the summer. These friends you make here will be with you for a long time! Always be spirited and always have fun! Your making life time memories.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of summer, see anything red or blue, watch Wet Hot American Summer, hear American Pie or eat a Chicken Patty, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be?  You could step on the lines when there is only one person left!!

Michael Novick

  1. Dorm / Club Year: 1994
  2. College Attended? University of Michigan
  3. Current Career: Film/TV Producer
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? The real world is all about relationships.  The best ones I ever had were at Towanda.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? The Burning of the Olympic Rings
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? The first time I kissed my wife.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. We Welcome You to Camp Towanda We’re mighty glad you’re here…
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Cherish this time, now and forever.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of Slim Sterling, see a campfire, watch a Hank Azaria movie, hear taps or eat a Chef Rigby Cookie, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add an event to The Great Apache Relay, what would it be? An all girls ropeburning right before the Water Brigade of Apache.

Where are they now? Alumni Spotlight- 2nd Edition

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As we gear up for Visiting Day weekend and our Annual Alumni BBQ (Sunday, July 21st from 11am-3pm–21 years and older)…it seems like the perfect time for our 2nd Edition of “Where are They Now!?”  The entries have been a terrific trip down memory lane! Keep them coming!!! Send to lauren@camptowanda.com.  And don’t forget to join our LinkedIn Group: The Camp Towanda Network. So without further ado, here are 5 new Alumni spotlights starting with Wendy Levine Slater.  Wendy is a former camper, counselor and camp-parent!

Wendy Levine Slater:

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  1. Dorm Year:  Dorm 1982
  2. College Attended: University of Vermont
  3. Current Career: Registered dietitian
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Towanda prepares you for parenthood, especially if you were a counselor. As a camper, it teaches you coping skills, independence, and how to get along with a variety of people with very different personalities and skills.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity?  Dutch auction, sing-down and Apache Relay
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Winning Olympiad my Senior year, oh and first meeting my now husband nick at the port authority bus station on our way to camp in 1985 (I was asked my the owners to check in all the foreign counselors)
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  “I go to camp towanda pity me, there’s not a boy in the vicinity…”
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers?     Camp is an invaluable experience. You are so lucky to have this opportunity. The things you learn, the friendships you make-You may even meet your future husband or wife! The memories last forever and every year during the last week of June my spirit is on those coach buses as they leave for Honesdale.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of summer, hear “Rock and Roll high school by the Ramones (dorm winning airband song) watch any play we did ( grease, bye bye birdie, guys and dolls, the boyfriend) eat a turkey club, mud pie, late night pizza or fried chicken (visiting day lunches were the best- bills chicken was legendary with chips, plum and brownie. Still the best lunch ever)
  10. If you could add an event for the Great Apache Relay, what would it be? You could have to say the alphabet backwards.

Craig Cooper

  1. Dorm / Club Year: 1991
  2. College Attended?: University of Maryland
  3. Current Career: Manufacture stainless steel kitchen equipment
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? YES, it taught me life skill, such as getting along with others, working in groups, respect for others and independence
  5. What was your favorite camp activity?: basketball/ Hockey
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Other than meeting my wife, breaking Olympics by arriving in a helicopter (Blue Jetsons 1995)
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. Zoom Golly Golly, Zoom Golly Golly
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Enjoy every minute that you are at camp, it goes by very quickly and then it is over
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of ___good times____, see__Timberland boots______, watch___summer olympics_____, hear _____American Pie____ or eat ____chocolate chip Cookies______, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be? Hot Dog Eating

*Craig and Marnie Cooper met at camp and are now first-time camp parents!!!

Peter Walsh

  1. Dorm / Club Year: AGL of the Club of 2005
  2. College Attended? Saint Mary’s University
  3. Current Career: Teacher
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Yes it sure did, it helped me become more independent and have more confidence in myself.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Olympics by far
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? In 2004 the Senior Boys during Olympics played one of the most entertaining softball games I have ever seen. It went back and forth and Blue won in the 15 inning.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. Friends is such a great song as it sums up what Towanda is all about.
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Be yourself, don’t change yourself, have fun and don’t sweat the small things.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of ____summer___, see_____Olympics___, watch____certain movies____, hear ____American Pie_____ or eat ____Soup______, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be? At the time of my last year if you caught the ball after trying to be hit one of your teammates was not brought back in so I would make that a rule.

Samantha Orringer

  1. Dorm / Club Year: 2003
  2. College Attended? University of Wisconsin
  3. Current Career: advertising sales
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Absolutely. I had no homesickness going into college or moving to Chicago (where I currently live). I’m also very independent and can take care of myself.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Duh. Arts and crafts!
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Way too many! But one I think of off the top of my head is practicing dorm sing (at an undisclosed location) while no one in camp knew where we were.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  We welcome you to Camp Towanda….
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? You are so fortunate to have the sleep away camp experience because at 25 years old, my camp friends are still my best friends and no one knows me like they do.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of ____any childhood memory___, see____soffee shorts____, watch____the Olympics____, hear _____taps____ or eat _____grilled cheese_____, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be?  My ghost memory is foggy. But perhaps if something happens, a second ball is triggered into the game?

Beth Manspeizer Schwartz

  1. Dorm / Club Year: 1990
  2. College Attended?  Skidmore College BS in theater. MFA from Actors Studio Drama School in Acting.
  3. Current Career: Actor, Director of Education of a film institute called The Picture House in Westchester, and a Mommy!
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Yes, in so many countless ways. But one that stands out: I learned to be a leader at Towanda, but I also learned how to allow others to be leaders. It was this awareness and respect for everyone’s contribution to the group, that I learned from Towanda and I have taken with me throughout life.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? So many…girls sing, cricket, porch lunch, trading stickers, jacks, being with my friends.
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? When my boyfriend held a big box radio, over his head, outside my dorm window and played “In your eyes”. Now that’s old school! I don’t think kids these days know what a box radio is!!
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. “Here nestled in the hills the camp I love.” But I can remember mostly every camp song I ever learned and I love them all.
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Learn from your counselors. When you look back on your childhood, you will realize they were like little mommies to you. They taught me the importance of traditions, of taking care of myself, how to solve problems, how to push myself to achieve (one time my counselor allowed me stay at the water front for a whole day to learn how to dive…and I learned). You will remember the things they teach you and you will cherish them. From the simplest: how to sing your guts out, to learning how to make a bed with hospital corners, to putting on a pillow case…to the most meaningful: being a dear friend.
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of __singing __, see__a lake___, watch__olympic rings burn____, hear ____”is there anybody out there” or eat ___chocolate pudding with peanut butter_, I think of Camp Towanda!

Where are they now? Alumni Spotlight: First Edition

wherearetheynowAt the start of the summer, we reached out to our amazing alumni to find out WHERE ARE THEY NOW? as part of a new Alumni Spotlight CAMPaign.

WOW! What an overwhelming response spanning generations of campers and staff from all over the world!  Every week, we will be featuring a few entries (in the order they were received).  We hope you enjoy taking a trip down memory lane, reconnecting and getting inspired by these emotional (and humorous) reflections of Camp Towanda!

We are still accepting entries…so please send your responses to lauren@camptowanda.com! Here are 5 new Alumni Spotlights:

JESSICA HOCHMAN

hochmanthen
Jessica Hochman THEN on the white rock (lower right)
  1. Dorm Year: 1988
  2. College Attended? Ohio State University
  3. Current Career: Pre-K Teacher and Camp Manager during the summers
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Yes, you taught me how to make my own decisions, learn what true friendship is and that Camp is the one place that always welcomes you back no matter what.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? hockey -there where always really cute instructors (if that counts)
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? everything, the freedom and all the laughter. Of course when Pam Brawn yelled at you!
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. – Friends, Friends we will always be
  8. Fill in the blank.  Every time I hear Barry Manlow I think of my Senior and Dorm Year
  9. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? These will be you friends for the rest of your life and you can tell the same story over and over and every time it is still funny!
  10. if you could add an event to The Great Apache Relay, what would it be? love the apache!!!! who can pack the fast lunches for the bus ride home!
hochmannow
Jessica Hochman NOW on the white rock (far right)

ALI RUBIN

  1. Dorm Year:  1999
  2. College Attended?  University of Southern California
  3. Current Career:  Clinton Foundation
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way?  Camp taught me how to be flexible and patient; how to be a team player but also an individual; how to cheer for your group but support your friends in the others.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity?  Girls Sing!
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp?  Watching the burning of the numbers during my dorm summer and knowing I would never be a camper again.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song.  Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name…
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers?  Enjoy your time at camp.  There is nothing else like it in the world!
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of my favorite friends, see jacks, watch the weather turn warm, hear the lyrics to any song a camp song was written to or eat tater tots, I think of Camp Towanda!

ANDREW BERK

  1. Club Year: CC 1991 
(Red Galactic Warriors)
  2. College Attended? Syracuse 1998
  3. Current Career: Pharmaceutical
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Hospital corners
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Anything Intercamp
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Watching our rope snap in half…
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. Zum Golly Golly Golly…
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Enjoy every minute. 7 weeks goes by fast, and 7 years even faster
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of a light sweater or jacket, see a white rock, watch the all-star game, hear Squeeze or eat small cereal box, I think of Camp Towanda!

AMANDA PEYSER

  1. Dorm Year: Dorm 2000
  2. College Attended? University of Wisconsin Madison
  3. Current Career: Nurse
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? My camper and counselor years showed me the importance of my camp friends
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? under the lights
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Getting chicken pox the last day of camp (1994) my DIllie summer.
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. A long long time ago….
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? cherish every moment!!
  9. Fill in the blank: When I think of SUMMER, see RED and BLUE, watch WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, hear AMERICAN PIE or eat KIT KATS, I think of CampTowanda!
  10. If you could add an event to The Great Apache Relay, what would it be? recite the first prayer from friday night services.

TRACY SHAPIRO

  1. Dorm Year: Dorm 2002
  2. College Attended? Curry College
  3. Current Career: Teacher
  4. Did Towanda help prepare you for the “real world”? In what way? Living with other people and learning to be independent and on your own.
  5. What was your favorite camp activity? Ghost! That game was CRAZY!!!
  6. What is your most memorable moment at camp? Singing the dorm alma mater at girls sing 2002. it was something i’ll always remember!
  7. Give us a line or two of your favorite camp song. Hello Mudda, Hello Fadder, Here I am at CAMP TOWANDA!
  8. What words of wisdom would you share with today’s campers? Just have so much fun! Camp is the most amazing time of your life!
  9. Fill in the blank: Every time I see sunscreen, watch Wet Hot American Summer, hear American Pie or eat French Toast Sticks, I think of Camp Towanda!
  10. If you could add a rule for GHOST, what would it be? You can yank a ghost from the opposite team only one time back into the game.

That’s all for this week’s edition of “Where are they now?”.  Tune in next week and don’t forget to send us your entry to lauren@camptowanda.com!

 

90th Reunion Recap

By Lauren Eckstein Forman (Dorm ’92, General ’95 and new Social Media Director at Camp Towanda)

It has been over 24 hrs since I left the Big 90th Reunion at Camp Towanda and I am still basking in the glow of my memories, photos and fully enjoying all the shared experiences flowing in on Facebook (click here for the official album).  For those of you that were lucky enough to participate in the Big 90th Reunion, I think the coolest thing was being able to share the same emotions and experiences with so many different generations.  I hope you enjoy my recap of this amazing weekend.  For those of you who couldn’t make it down the dirt road, I hope you can vicariously experience the fun through my nostalgic reflections.

On Saturday, I pulled up to camp with my friend-for-life, Tina Kunkin Schweid.  With a pit of excitement in our stomachs, we were warmly greeted by a new batch of alumni counselors that immediately felt like family even though we were meeting for the first time.  We walked up the hill and headed for the Office, passing the White Rock and people playing Taps on the main basketball court.

You could already feel this event was going to be momentous.  We signed the 90th Anniversary plaque, selected our bunk and bunkmates (Boys Bunk 1) and signed up for the Apache Relay!  We then headed towards the Girls’ Softball Field where a big game was already underway.  Crowds of alumni filled the bleachers and a familiar face (Eric Bolog) was on the mound.   Erica Gulliver and her media team were capturing testimonials on the sidelines as line drives and outs were being made with athletic prowess.  No matter who was being interviewed (including our famed alum Hank Azaria), the sentiments and emotions were so similar—Camp Towanda played such a significant role in all our lives and the bonds we already shared would bring us even closer over the next 24 hours.

We headed to lunch as the sounds of “American Pie” and smells of freshly grilled hamburgers filled the atmosphere.  We all convened at the grassy knoll to listen to Mitch’s Alumni Address.  Mitch and Stephanie set the tone for the weekend.  They were amazing hosts welcoming us back home with love and excitement.  They were genuinely thrilled to see each and every person and I don’t think I ever saw Mitch this relaxed!

Mitch handed out awards to some worthy recipients. Bobby Miller (yeah Bob!) is celebrating his 42ndyear at camp while Jonsey was given a letterman jacket for 15 years of freshly baked cookies.  Other award recipients included Michael Pelton (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap), Spiz and Matt Miller.  We took the big alumni photo and headed to the BBQ.

My favorite new addition to camp was the dining room porch.  We dined there for our next three meals, overlooking the apple tree, Stephanie’s bears made of branches and the lake in the distance.  A few watermelon slices later, we headed inside for the Big Apache Relay Draft.  Bobby Miller looks exactly the same, and handed out numbers at random (I was Blue #75).  FIRE BRIGADE!  I was especially curious to see who was going to be the volleyball sweeper and was excited to see Hani Cohen as the chosen one. Pam and Richard Brawn were randomly selected as 1 & 2 for the Red Team.  Pam got the honor of reciting the hamotzi in English and Hebrew.  Hands on heads.  SHE TOTALLY ROCKED IT!

Bobby Miller announced this was going to be a “walk don’t run” Apache Relay in honor of Jerry Maze. He also mentioned that every event was Phyllis Miller approved…if she couldn’t complete it, it didn’t make the cut. After an intense Fire Brigade (which is now on the soccer pitch), Bobby sounded the horn (loved hearing that sound), and BLUE WON! We couldn’t have done it without the incredible coaching of Joe Levine (father of Wendy and Brad Levine).

I got to spend time with Pamela Elizabeth Brawn to catch up about her sons (Jonathan, Thomas and of course Richard Jr.) and the past 20 years.  She even gave tips on how to make the perfect hospital corner using a classic Brown & Gold blanket.  Let me tell you, seeing Pam hold a broomstick to a hospital corner still makes me nervous.

Then it was GHOST with Mitch (cue the “Ghostbusters” music).  I wasn’t as intimately familiar with this game that younger alumni so deeply love.  But I was so impressed with the participation and physical intensity of both male and female alumni.  Dodgeball is my least favorite game on the planet, so how could this game be so awesome?  But in classic Camp Towanda style, the best thing is…NO ONE gets out!

After Ghost, Alumni dispersed for electives.  Two donkeys (yes—donkeys) grazed by the infirmary lawn as old friends and new reminisced by the fire pit and picnic tables.  Two more highlights for me were meeting the “3 Coopers”.  The first Cooper is the Facebook-Famous son of Robert Mandelbaum.  This kid definitely should have his own fan page as his Camp-Famous dad has proudly shared every single moment of his life.  And here he was in person.  AWESOME.  The second two Coopers were a camp miracle.  Camp couple from the mid-90s, Marnie Hunter Cooper and Craig Cooper brought their two delicious and beyond-outgoing young children, to prove to Mitch (and the rest of us) they were going strong after all of these years. AMAZING!

I headed down to the old Rec Hall (now dubbed “Alumni Hall”) for a real trip down the yellow bench road.  There was a CLUB and DORM bench ready for us to sign, perfectly commemorating this weekend back at camp.  The smell of the Rec Hall immediately brought back feelings of “sheer contenT” from Friday Night Services, plays and breakouts.  Displayed on the tables were lyrics to almost every single girls’ sing of years past, official Olympic rules books (complete with team line-ups), photo albums and memorabilia (do you remember when you got your Apache assignment on a paper plate?).  But the best thing was the stack of converted DVDs with videos from the 40s through the present.

We cried with laughter watching old Airbands, Friday Night Sermons and Olympic Skits.  It felt like yesterday and the jokes were still funny, but it definitely looked like we were in the 90’s.  There were also t-shirts hanging from all the girls’ sings of years ago (Dorm Delicacies? What were we thinking?).  I was overwhelmed by how Mitch and Stephanie have done such an INCREDIBLE job preserving the tradition that is Towanda. When my children go here they will experience these very same things, this very same spirit and bonds that run deeper than the tunnels under the White Rock.

When I headed back up the hill we witnessed Pam Brawn and Amy Miller reuniting for the first time in years!  It was like the passing of the Olympic Torch.  From one Camp Goddess to another.

Before I knew it, it was shower hour and hors d’oeuvres.  Time to recharge our batteries and our cellphones (there is literally NO service at camp, which made my job very challenging).

“5 minutes to line up” was the announcement over the PA before we met at the flagpole.  Mitch said, “feet together, hands by your side, salute”.  The sounds of the flagpole music came on and I immediately got that pit in my stomach again.  I remembered how I felt at line-up every night as a camper looking at boys’ camp and how cute they looked all cleaned up (or were those camp goggles?).  Lemon chicken, corn, rice, salad bar and Oreo cake were on the menu.  After free play we were called to report to the campfire for S’mores.

Singing, Sunset, and S’mores were the perfect way to end the day.  The new gymnastics pavilion shined in the distance and we had to check it out.  Is there anything better than seeing grown people doing cartwheels on the tumble trak and jumping in the foam pit?  If only this place was here when I was a camper.  SO JEALOUS!

As the fire burned, we headed back across girls’ camp and up to the Canteen for Jonsey’s famous cookies and the Heat/Celtics game.  For those who were really feeling the spirit, the dining room was converted into a dance club and they were blasting this song by Ashley Wolf (the younger alum went crazy for it!).  I was hoping for a something more along the lines of “Scenario” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”.  Before retiring to Boys Bunk 1, there was a kitchen raid with ice cream sundaes.

We got back up to B1 and some of us changed into our cool new “Towanda PJ Pants” before reminicing on the porch overlooking boys’ camp.  I loved being with my old camp friends.  People that know me better than anyone else I know.  Friends I lived with. Friends I grew up with.  Friends that knew the intimate details of my life that made me who I am. I just loved being back here with that spirit uniting us.

The night came to a close and Tina and I hopped into our Star Wars and Toy Story sleeping bags (can you tell we have boys of our own?).  Before saying ‘Good Night Camp Towanda’ at 2am, one of us was looking for something and a bunkmate pulled out the ‘iFlashlight’ app…times have really changed!

At 5:15am a flock of birds chirping was a lovely wake up call.  I mustered up all my strength to fall back to sleep.  Somehow I don’t remember there being no shades on those windows.  I also didn’t remember how loud those bathroom doors slam, but immediately I was UP! 7:45 reveille sounded just about as good as it used to, and my bunkmate asked if he could still stay in bed until “2 minutes before line up”.  Matt Miller got on the boys HC mic and announced all the sports scores from the night before (who knew they do that on boys camp?).  We brought down towels and sheets to the HC and made our way to line up.

Breakfast consisted of eggs made-to-order (I like this Jonsey guy), Fruit Loops, french toast sticks and COFFEE!!!! We all collected our care packages with enough Towanda paraphernalia to help lure the next generation of campers at home (my son really did bring his new collapsible Towanda cup to show and tell today). The icing on the cake were Brown & Gold trucker hats being handed out by the First Son, Jared Reiter (he also designed them).  Oh the memories of when Stephanie and Mitch made him scream his name over the PA system at age 3.  And now he’s 23 and a Group Leader.

Tina and I looked at each other in our new trucker hats and said, “let’s hit the dirt road”.  I think Alyssa Tomback posted the most true thing on Facebook Sunday night when she said, “Really jealous of all the kids who are packing their trunks as I unpack my bag :)” I couldn’t have said it better.  Can’t wait until the 100th Anniversary Reunion…what do you say Mitch?