The Gift is Camp

If you are like many camp parents, it is easy to get caught up in the Visiting Day hoopla. When did Visiting Day go from bringing ritz crackers and spray cheese to window shopping through endless Instagram photos of gifts and baskets and cellophane-wrapped camp-themed goodies? Visiting Day fever is a real thing that parents can catch (and it seems contagious)! It’s even in the news.

As you pack up your cars this Saturday and head for the hills of Honesdale, please remember that the real gift IS camp. It was only just 4 weeks ago that you shipped off your camper with trunks full of clothing, new camp swag and the promise of an amazing summer. Your campers have not forgotten how lucky they are. They are well-fed and enjoying canteen, dippin’ dots, birthday cake, milk & cookies, and trip day treats! They are sharing their clothes with their groupmates (which means they have 10x the clothes they even need!). They are learning how to spend unstructured time, unplugged with simple games, tetherball and jacks. They are busy cherishing every moment they have at camp with their summer family. They are also learning through our community service that not everyone gets this incredible opportunity. And most importantly, they know none of this would be possible without the amazing gift of camp that you already gave them.

So bring up some of their favorite comforts from home (maybe a NYC bagel or some Dunkin Donuts…you can leave the sushi behind!). And remember the day is really all about one thing.  It’s not about toys, or bunk gifts (which we don’t allow), or endless amounts of candy (that they won’t have time to eat).  It’s about your camper showing off THEIR camp, their friends, their counselors, their experience. It’s about seeing Towanda all over again through the eyes of your camper. It’s about pride, love and a taste of home. It’s about getting a peek into their world and then walking away for them to experience the best that is yet to come. And it’s about knowing they are growing, learning and ready to take on the next 3 weeks.

As you drive away on Saturday afternoon, you can feel amazing knowing that the best gift you gave your camper wasn’t wrapped in cellophane… it is the gift of camp! It is the gift that keeps on giving!

~Stephanie, Mitch and our entire terrific staff

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 28 years as owners and directors).  For 95 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.

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…

7b371443-16fd-4daf-8546-6df1b16cf141  674ec467-b01e-47f7-bbc3-15b9fcc0e6a8

Teams, Trips and Tumbling at Towanda!

Camp has been speeding full speed ahead since Visiting Day!

IMG_0951On Sunday , we had about 100 alumni return “home” for a great day of reminiscing, To-Wandering around and opening up their Dorm/Club Time Capsules from the 1990s and early 21st century; what a trip…to look at the memorabilia and laughs!

allstar

The counselor All-Star Basketball game was very entertaining as the spirit of camp continues to grow.  And we had a great gymnastics half-time show from our campers!

Our Inter-Camp games continue with great sportsmanship, pride and teamwork. Our kids and coaches are making us proud.  Not only with how they are playing (which is a joy to watch), but with how they are representing Camp Towanda all-around.

soccerteamThe Visiting Day VisionWalk fundraising T-shirt sales were impressive; the LITs took orders for over 100 shirts ($25 each); if you would still like to get one, we are placing the order on Friday, so just email jared@camptowanda.com what size shirt and then mail in a check for $25, payable to Camp Towanda. (ATT: VisionWalk).

The accolades received from many parents since Visiting Day has been overwhelming and we thank you. We sincerely love and value what we do and feel lucky to be in this position and this career…we do not take anything for granted; as the owners, directors and parenting partners of your kids, we try our very best, learn from mistakes; improve and enhance each year; and no doubt, it certainly seemed like the best visiting day yet!

gymnastics

What a boost for everyone here; the staff are into doing the right thing and making the very best of the dwindling time we have this summer.

At our senior staff meeting last night, everyone remarked on how great a day VD was, how wonderful it was to meet many parents and this is the best part, how they get what we are about; how we put at least 3 days into 1; how impossible is to explain to someone outside of camp, what the magic is here and how proud they are as well to be part of our CAMP FAMILY.

It is trip week for Upper Camp.  The Seniors left for Montreal, while the Club & Dorm enjoyed a great day on Martha’s Vineyard, now resting in Boston.  The Inters also had a great tubing trip on the Delaware and delicious extravagant BBQ riverside. The National girls endured and enjoyed their Canoe Trip Today (no rain for them!).

towandaOur Culinary classes have winded down with some delicious pretzel chicken and other entrees! Check out the recipe here.

Wednesday is Backwards Day, GoldRush and the Counselor Hunt, while the LITs head off to Niagara Falls for a few days.

In case you are interested, here are my Backwards Day Annoucements:

GNINEVE DOOG      PMAC   ADNAWOT.   Ti    Si     YAD    SDRAWKCAB!      ENIHS  DNA  ESIR  OT  EMIT
SAMAJAP      SAW  YADOT  ROF  SSERD EHT…….       ENERCSNUS   RUOY    TEGROF  TNOD DNA

TRANSLATED:

GOOD EVENING CAMP Towanda  IT IS BACKWARDS DAY   TIME TO LOWER  AND DULL
THE DRESS FOR TODAY WAS PAJAMAS…   AND DON’T FORGET YOUR MOON DOOR!!