Why Sleepaway Camp is Good for Kids…and Parents!

So can you believe your kids are coming home THIS WEEK?! Where did this summer go?! Thank you so much for entrusting us with them this summer.

We have watched them grow leaps and bounds, thrive in ways you could never imagine, make their own choices and try new things.  We also watched them navigate challenging waters, advocate for themselves, tumble but not fall and SOAR.  The power of Camp Towanda is truly magical!

marnieI’m sure as you reflect on the summer that was, you also feel as parents that you learned some things about yourselves…especially to our first time parents.  How far you have come in the past 7 weeks?  From tear-filled sunglasses on June 22nd to now, as you anxiously await the return of your changed child.  They are older, braver and more independent.  They return home more confident, compassionate and respectful.  What is it about camp that makes that all so possible?  Part of it is because they are in the “No Fly Zone”.

It’s no secret that this generation of parents has been dubbed “The Helicopter Generation”.  With all the information and access we get to our kids’ lives for 10 months of the year, we are able to influence so much in their lives (of course from a place of love).  How liberating (and a little scary) did it feel this summer to lose that control?  Three of my favorite books, “Homesick and Happy“, “Free Range Kids” and “Blessings of a B Minus” helped me manage ‘helicoptering’ my own children…but I have to say….I think sending your kids to sleepaway camp is absolutely the best cure for helicoptering!

runningBack in June, do you remember worrying that your child should not be in a bunk with “Jane” and you were so concerned that you called and emailed camp a dozen times? And now Jane and your daughter are arm in arm in nearly every photo? Or that you wanted your son to have extra time at lacrosse because that’s the only sport he likes…and now he wants to play tennis and take an art class in the fall? Or you were so worried that your daughter was sending home letters that she was so homesick and last you saw, she was on stage singing her heart out and wrote that camp is amazing.  Or you wanted to send up special food because your son only eats bagels at home…and now he is insisting you make chicken patties as his homecoming meal!?

dadThis is the magic of camp…kids discovering new things about themselves.  Making mature observations and choices about friendships without their parents’ influence.  You can only imagine how far they have come!  But I applaud you for how far you have come too! While they were coping with feelings of homesickness, you were coping with feelings of ‘childsickness’.  When you get your Child 2.0 back home with you, will you let them tumble, but not fall? Will you be the safety net but not the harness? Will you let them be okay in their own hands?  In the past 2 months, you have done these things by sending them to camp.  You should be proud of them.  And proud of yourself.

with girlsThank you again for the incredible honor it is to be your child’s Camp Director with my husband Mitch.  We take being Camp Parents and your parenting partners very seriously.  Please keep us posted in the off-season about their successes, accomplishments and achievements no matter how big or small.  We share your joy in their growth and look forward to cheering them on from the sidelines, until June 2014 when we get a front row seat!

Enjoy the week!


Rookie Day Rewind

RYANWritten by Guest Blogger: Lauren Eckstein Forman, Social Media Director at Camp Towanda and Dorm ’92.

Last weekend was not my typical work weekend at Camp Towanda.  It was extra special.  Because not only was I “Lauren Eckstein-Forman: Social Media Director”, but I was “Lauren Forman: Mom of a Rookie”.  Wearing two name tags, I looked as if I was having an identity crisis.  Because last Saturday, I wasn’t working…I was just a CAMP PARENT…and my son was a ROOKIE!



After he raced up the hill to meet me at the white rock, he got his FIRST TOWANDA TEE! I’m not sure there is anything better than seeing your own child in a Towanda tee!  Close behind him were many new “Rookies” and families who were soon familiar faces.  But possibly the second coolest experience (next to the Towanda Tee) was that my son was going to be a ROOKIE with three of my camp friends’ kids! My three friends ran up that hill just like they were getting off the bus at camp over 25 years ago! With the same excitement, anticipation and sisterly love!

amymillerAnd now our kids were experiencing camp together.  Bobby and Amy would be their head counselors!  Mitch and Stephanie would be their summer parents!  And Casper would be their summer dog!  AMAZING.

swingingrookieAfter playing with Casper, checking out the new SUPER-COOL Lego Room (a Rookie favorite) and eating a delicious Towanda bagel, my son was whisked away to hang with the Jets! Each ROOKIE was given an LIT “Big Brother or Sister” to spend the day with.  They helped carry their backpack, give a piggy back ride, answer any questions, help them at the salad bar, and make them feel at home.  My son was off and now it was my turn to be just a parent.

fieldMitch, Stephanie, Bobby, Amy and Jared gave an amazing walking tour of camp!  Even though it was a cool, cloudy day, you could still feel the warm spirit and energy that is Camp Towanda! I loved hearing new parents walking and talking about how they could feel this is such a special place (and the alumni and staff supporting them with reassurance that this really IS Camp Towanda…it feels like this EVERY DAY).  All the campers and staff could not have been more welcoming and wonderful.

ghodyIt was also fun introducing Camp Towanda to the spouses of the returning Alumni.  It didn’t take long until they understood why their wives were so obsessed with Camp Towanda!  From the cheering in the dining hall to the participation and excellent instruction on the ball fields and courts, you could sense all the smoresparents wanting to jump in! The Camp Towanda spirit is just contagious.

aandcOur kids had an action-packed day with the campers of their age group.  O&A (outdoor and adventure), Gaga, Gymnastics, Arts & Crafts, Ghost, Waterfront, beach volleyball AND S’MORES around the campfire! It introduced them to camp in a very fun and safe way, and showed them what they can look forward to next year (i.e. swimming in the lake!).

The kids and parents were reunited at 3pm.  The parents may have been more tired than the kids! The kids could have stayed all day!!! Overall it was the perfect introduction to camp. Everyone got quality time with Mitch, Stephanie, Amy and Bobby, which was a real treat (for the parents, this may have been even better than a Jonesy Cookie!).  So many families have already made the decision that Towanda is their new summer home! I think these girls really said it best: https://vimeo.com/70825668.  How cute are they?!

MEANDRYAN2Now I can go back to the job I love and just one name tag…but I cannot wait to be known as “Ryan’s mom at Camp Towanda”! And I know he feels the same way too!  He was made for this camp! CLUB 2021!!!

For more Rookie Day highlights, check out last week’s edition of Friday Nite Flix: https://vimeo.com/70725033.


S’more about our S’more Tour!

Many of you have been asking to hear S’more about our S’more tour!  So here’s a taste of what it was all about from two of our favorite former camper/counselors in the Towanda Family who were on hand to help make sure it was a great day!

We welcome you to Camp Towanda, we’re mighty glad you’re here!!

by Lauren Cohen and Hannah Lyons

The S’more Tour was this past Saturday and it gave us the chance to invite up future campers to spend the day with our Towanda family– and what a day we had! Aside from filling up on sun and blue skies (don’t worry, we didn’t forget our sunscreen!) we also filled up on Jonesy’s chocolate-chip cookies with milk, s’mores, and a BBQ lunch.

After all of the families arrived, we ditched the parents for some tye-dye Towanda Tees and started activities! (Rumor has it Mitch gave a great walking tour of camp for the parents!)

We really did it all– climbed the rock wall and cruised down the zipline, dodged the ball at Ghost and Gaga and had some downtime in Arts and Crafts just before jumping right into the foam pit in the brand new Gymnastics Pavilion! At the end of the day, we got a chance to cool down at the waterfront where we slid down the big slide in Sunset Lake, chilled out on the beach and swung off the Tarzan swing. The only thing missing from our day was the rookie campers at Square Dancing that night! We hope you’ll be there next year!

We want to send out a very special thank you to the Debs, Dillies, Jets, and Cadets who were every bit as welcoming, friendly, fun, and happy as they are everyday to the rookie campers. Our youngest age groups made the newcomers feel like old friends. That is the Towanda way!

All we have to say at the end of the day is– give us S’more of Camp Towanda!!

See you soon Rookies-

Hannah and Cohen