Camp is Waiting for YOU

May flowers are blooming. As are the trees, their canopy stretching over the upper road, the bright green leaves turning their faces to the sunshine after a long, cold winter. The birds are singing, the bees are buzzing, and camp is once again alive with the sounds of summer. As the canoes come out of storage and the Pop-a-Shots are positioned beside the bunks, it becomes apparent that the only piece of the puzzle yet to fall into place is YOU.

The lake, which sat half-frozen and barren all winter long, ripples against the shore and beckons campers to grab a life vest and take a kayak for a spin. The Wibit will soon emerge from storage and inflate like a colorful beacon, signaling for eager campers to bounce gleefully across its platform. Fish will be caught, as campers stand back-to-back along the dock, their fishing poles extending into the cool water. The lakefront is waiting for YOU.

The dining hall is empty and quiet, but sunlight streams through the windows and illuminates the spots where Tents will chant, Juniors will consume large amounts of Fruit Loops, and Dave will bang a plastic pitcher against the cabinet. The kitchen will roar to life as Alfredo and his marvelous staff prepare meals for 200 or so hungry boys/teens/men. There will be B’s and D’s and enough guacamole for everyone.

Outside the dining hall, the flagpole stands at attention, looking lonely but counting down the days until campers will gather for line-up. Kyle’s daily menu report, Freedo’s multilingual greetings, and Scotty’s fascinating facts will once again kick-start the Owego day. Everyone’s favorite “Owego Sports” report will draw cheers and jeers from the crowd. It’s so close now, you can almost hear the Sportscenter opening melody: Duh-duh-DUH, Duh-duh-DUH…It’s waiting for YOU!

Fields and courts which spent the winter buried beneath the snow, will emerge green and lush and ready for action. The Upper Field promises bonfires and soccer matches, and the Silverdome proudly displays our camp’s moniker, while waiting to host hockey and Bombardment. A brand-new Danny’s Diamond will soon be unveiled, and the HBC will show off its refurbished ceiling. Can’t wait? Well, you won’t have to for much longer.

Looking forward to a dip in the crystal blue water during Rec Swim? The pool, while currently covered, will soon overflow with laughter and excitement. Whether you prefer floating idly by on an inflatable raft, playing a friendly game of pool basketball, or challenging your friends to see who can stay upright on the biggest collection of pool noodles, it’s all waiting for YOU. Faster than you can say “RRRRRREC SWIM!” the pool deck will be lined with Crocs and damp towels and the fun will commence.

With just under 40 days remaining until the first day of camp, the anticipation is palpable. You might be feeling excitement, nerves, impatience, or just pure, unadulterated joy. It’s all valid. But imagine how camp is feeling right at this very moment. A blanket of quiet hangs in the air, ready to be replaced with ringing bells and air horns and chants and cheers and shouts of laughter. The calm before the storm — the most wonderful, life-changing, fun-filled storm you could possibly have the privilege to experience.

The wait is almost over.

 

 

 

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Top 10 Tips for New Families!

Calling All New Camper Parents! 

April showers will bring May flowers, and do you know what May flowers bring? CAMP, of course! We know that the change in weather has all of us thinking SUMMER, and we hope that these tips will be helpful to you during the excitement of the final countdown. Even if you’ve sent an older child off to camp before, these TOP TEN TIPS for NEW CAMPERS might be worth a refresher! 

  1. Communicate with the directors about any and all family, social or medication issues or changes during the year and in the summer. Nothing is too small! A meaningful camp/parent partnership benefits your camper. Call or email us anytime! We are here for you! 
  2. Stay positive about separating from home! Don’t focus on what your camper will be missing (vacation, trips to a favorite ice cream shop), rather discuss what he or she has to look forward to at camp! (The same goes for what you write about in your letters once the time comes!)
  3. If your camper asks about homesickness, normalize it! “Of course you’ll miss things about home every now and again, because you have a wonderful home and family! It would be unusual for you not to miss home!” Also, in the same spirit, try to minimize your own feelings of child-sickness! “Of course we’ll miss you, but we’ll be fine! The summer will fly by and we’re so excited for you. You’re going to have an awesome time!”
  4. If your camper has specific needs (in the cabin, in the health center, in the dining hall), make sure to call or email us,  and make sure to write about it in your confidential forms (or as an addendum to the form) before camp– those confidential forms are our bible!
  5. Discuss different activities your camper might enjoy and also talk about trying new ones, keeping an open mind! Camp is a great, safe place to go outside of one’s comfort zone!
  6. Take advantage of New Camp Weekend on June 1st and 2nd at camp, either for the day or stay overnight! It’s a great opportunity to meet other first-time campers, see camp, get to know staff, and have positive camp experiences together as a family.
  7. Keep all “camp talk” light! In letters, in person, keep it upbeat!
  8. Now is when your camper may start asking you about what he or she will bring. Make sure to send your camper’s stuffed animal, a favorite book or two, and any other item that makes them feel at home; if there’s something your camper sleeps with every night, please make sure to send it! Believe us when we say that most campers bring a security object of some sort. You’re never too old! And don’t overpack!
  9. If panic sets in, call us. We’ll talk you through it, but when speaking to your camper NEVER promise to PICK UP YOUR CHILD. He or she might ask in the time between now and camp! It’s normal to get cold feet in the spring! Remind your camper that you’ve made a commitment as a family, that  camp is only for a short amount of time, and that you know he or she is in the right place, that they can do it! They are in a safe place. CAMP IS WHERE CHILDREN LEARN INDEPENDENCE! By giving your camper the gift of camp, you’re giving them independence, resilience, and the ability to adapt to and thrive in new environments! If your children know that they’re definitely going to camp and definitely staying at camp for the summer, they’ll allow themselves to relax and let go. Squash the “what if!” 
  10. If there’s anything (big or small!) you’re worried about before, during, or after the summer, call or email any time: 570-226-3636, info@lakeowego.com!

We’re here for you, always, so keep in touch!

We can’t wait to get started!

Kyle and Freedo

P.S. For summer reading, parents, we highly recommend “Homesick and Happy” by Dr. Michael Thompson.

 

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All Hail the Camp Packing List!

With just 66 days remaining before the kick-off to Summer 2024, the panic has begun to creep in. Forms to complete, medications to register, optional activities to select — camp parents are facing a never-ending “to-do” list. And don’t even mention the astronomical task of packing. If you are lucky enough to squeeze your camper into last summer’s shorts and bathing suits, you may just be replacing a flashlight here or a pair of rain boots there (you WILL need to pack rain boots, if summer 2023 is any indication).

Let’s be honest, though. Since last summer, many of our Owego boys have sprouted up quicker than you can say “New Crocs.” T-shirts which once hung down past scraped knees now graze the hips. This is why the camp packing list can be so intimidating to parents: Do I start from scratch? Do I attempt to inventory everything currently stuffed into plastic bins in the basement? Is it too early to start labeling socks?

Let us help.

Whether you’ve been packing your kids for camp for many years, or you’re just starting this wacky, wonderful journey, there are certain unalienable truths that exist within the confines of the Camp Packing List. We are going to unpack (!!!) them right here, right now.

Storage: Under-the-bed plastic bins can be a clutter-collector while at camp, and also serve as a place to pack all those loose items and toiletries in the camp trunks. Did you get a call from the camp office last summer, stating that your child was unable to locate his shampoo while unpacking? Instead of shoving bottles into the nearly invisible side pockets of your camp trunk, why not utilize the under-the-bed bin? Batteries, stamps, sunscreen, books, bug spray, stamps, portable fans, frisbees, stamps — throw it all in there and fill that large empty space wisely!

Mail: Did we mention stamps? PLEASE pack stamps for your camper to include on his letters home. Frantic campers lining up at the office door, asking for stamps in order to collect Canteen, is an all-too-familiar scenario during the summer. While we’re at it, unless you are 100% confident that your camper has memorized his home address AND has received instructions on how to properly address an envelope, you might want to consider pre-addressing envelopes and packing them along with those stamps. Prepared parents are relaxed parents! And that goes for the campers, too.

Clothing: The truth is, no matter whether you pack 10 t-shirts or 25, your camper will most likely wear the same 3 or 4 shirts All. Summer. Long. Luckily, laundry goes out weekly and comes back to the bunks within a few days. This IS an all-boys’ camp, however, and it is totally reasonable to expect that your camper will seek to simplify his life by pulling whatever piece of clothing happens to be on the top of the pile in his cubby. That Under Armor shirt came back clean this morning? A perfect option for tonight’s post-shower evening activity!

Sports Equipment: The word “Optional” appears for a reason. If your camper is hoping to play soccer every day, a pair of shin guards can be an obvious choice. Trying lacrosse for the first time? No need to worry — sticks will be provided by camp. Tennis racquets are always a good idea, even if your camper is not signed up for Private Lessons. Our tennis program is out of this world, and most campers gravitate toward the courts sooner or later. Just ask Freedo! Baseball gloves, swim goggles, cleats — only a parent truly knows whether his or her camper will use these items regularly enough to warrant finding space to pack them in the camp trunk. Talk to your camper and come to a decision that makes sense!

Undergarments: Here’s where experience really pays off. Those of us who prepared for our child’s first summer at camp by ironing name labels onto individual socks, can now look back on our naivete and see how far we’ve come. Three words: BUY CHEAP SOCKS! Pretend they are disposable. Because after a summer at camp, they are! Calf length, ankle socks, no-shows — it doesn’t matter! Skip the labeling and just pack as many as you can. HINT: There are 49 days of camp, if your child is attending the full session. While underwear may not be quite as inexpensive, the same rule applies as previously mentioned. Your camper will most likely pull the clean pair off the top of the pile. If you pack 49 pairs of underwear, it’s likely that 30 of them will come home untouched and unworn. Perfectly labeled, but unworn.

Footwear: Shoes can be tricky. Two pairs of sneakers is a must. Your camper’s kicks will take turns role-playing “suitable-for-athletics pair” and “drenched-from-walking-through-a-puddle pair.” The aforementioned rain boots are a smart choice, as are water shoes with secure straps, like Keens. Which brings us to everyone’s favorite camp footwear — Crocs. Pick your style, pick your color, but pick a pair of Crocs. Love ’em or hate ’em, they are campers’ #1 choice for going to the pool or just hanging out on the bunk porch. Jibbitz (or little rubber charms that fit into the holes on Crocs) are a hot commodity at camp. Jibbitz trading is a favorite pastime for all age groups — even the counselors have been known to get in on the Jibbitz-trading action.  But enough about Jibbitz, you’ll hear about them soon enough when your camper writes home asking you to ship them to camp via Amazon.

All kidding aside, the packing list has been curated and perfected summer after summer, by individuals who live at camp, interact frequently with campers, and who understand the daily needs of the Owego boy. No need to pack 5 extra bathing suits. If the packing list asks for 3, you know what to do. You can rest assured that no matter what your camper is wearing, he is having the time of his life.

All hail the packing list!

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Fleas, Ticks & Mosquitos: Oh My!

A Note from the Health Center to our Camp Parents:

We’d like to take a moment to share our plan of action for the risks associated with tick, flea and mosquito bites throughout the United States. Camp has been taking steps to minimize exposure for our campers and prevent the spread of disease. In addition to the measures outlined below, camp regularly consults with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations to update our protocols.

Prevention

  • Outside lawn chemical professionals have been hired to treat all fields and field perimeters with flea and tick control as well as areas around bunks, buildings, and activity areas with flea and tick control.
  • All trails and paths at camp are treated with flea and tick control.
  • An outside professional pest control company has been contracted to regularly treat for rodents, etc.
  • Grass is cut frequently and brush is trimmed back in regularly trafficked areas.
  • Application of CDC approved bug spray throughout the day as needed for activities in wooded areas. There are also bug spray stations throughout camp.

Education and Practice

  • All counselors have training sessions on ticks and the counselor’s roles in health care, including
    • Hygiene, shower hour self-check prompting, tick checks after hikes, walks in the woods, and campfires
    • Basic tick prevention, best practices, bug and bite identification
    • Camper clothing coverage, including long pants and sleeves on hikes
    • Avoiding brushy areas, high grass and leaf litter.  Walking in the center of trails.
  • Nurse education during training
    • Tick checks, identification, removal
  • Full body checks after all hikes and walks in wooded areas.
    • A note: Nurses and counselors prompt campers to self check in and around the bathing suit area.
  • Check clothing.

Please don’t hesitate to call us with questions or concerns. We will stay vigilant!

The Health Center

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What We Think About When We Think About Our Camp Friends

Tomorrow we will reach a much-anticipated milestone — ONLY 100 DAYS UNTIL CAMP! Winter’s chill has come and gone, the groundhog made his best prediction, and we lost an hour of sleep. The birds are back, singing their sweet songs with the morning sunrise. When the sun sets well after 7:00, we know that camp is just around the corner.

We made it!

Some of us have been fortunate enough to get together with our camp friends over the past 6 months. Others may have a regular “group chat” throughout the school year, connecting us even when we are many miles from Greeley. As we enter this 100-day countdown, we are overwhelmed by the longing for the bonds shared with our summer brothers.

It’s coming.

Camp friends are family — Brothers with whom we cohabitate, share meals, engage in friendly competition, and experience all of the wonderful camp traditions that we look forward to when snow is falling and darkness bullies light for center stage. When we think about our camp friends during the school year, we miss the shared experience of a summer at Lake Owego. Only we truly know what that means.

Unlike our school friends, camp friends must be savored over a brief period of time. We are gifted just 7 short weeks together each year, and we squeeze in as much quality time as we can. Basketball in the HBC, tetherball by the pool, swinging in hammocks by the tents, or just enjoying the outdoors, digging for worms by the lake. As long as we’re together, it doesn’t really matter what we’re doing.

And we will be together very soon.

We think about our camp friends emerging from the bus on June 22nd and running into our outstretched arms. Bunk assignments, bed choices, and counselor reveals await us. We can’t wait to see our friends from last summer, and we are excited to meet new campers with whom we can make an instant connection (“Do you play Magic?”). So many moments to look forward to.

We think about that first Friday night campfire, bungee chairs scattered around the campsite like colorful satellite dishes. Our friends by our side, laughing at another rendition of “Little Red Wagon.” That feeling of belonging, knowing there’s nowhere else in the world we’d rather be at that very moment.

We think about all of the moments we shared last summer, but we mostly think about the wonderful memories still waiting to be made. Whether our friends are from New York, Florida, California, or Spain — they hold a special place in our hearts all year long. We will gather together in 100 days for the summer of 2024. Countdown commencing.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

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Lake Owego Dreamin’

One day last summer, sometime around mid-July, the air at Owego was so hot and sticky that even at 11:00 pm campers slept with their fans on full speed and their legs jutting out the sides of their blankets.

Today just hits different.

When we think about camp, we remember the sunshine beating down on our shoulders and the daylight lasting well past dinnertime. But do you ever wonder what camp feels like in the middle of Winter? While campers are occupied with the school year and the privilege of summer camp is just a pipe dream, camp stands still — almost frozen in time. An eerie silence descends upon the fields and courts, and a frigid wind blows snow drifts across the lake. Walking around Lake Owego in Winter is a beautiful reminder of what once was and what is yet to come.


The first thing you notice are the bare trees, the leaves long gone, no longer providing shade to the ground below. The lush greenery of camp has been replaced by a grayish landscape that lies undisturbed by campers’ feet. There’s the familiar outline of Bunk Maverick, but the porch is deserted. Pop-a-Shot and KanJam have been stored away along with the distinctively blue canoes that glided across the lake just 5 months earlier. The people are gone, but the places are unchanged. Everything lies in wait, allowing winter to make its rounds. In order for June to arrive, January must first announce its presence.


In front of the dining hall, the flagpole stands bravely against the biting wind, longing for the day when campers will return and gather excitedly for lineup. The Big Board still displays the relics of summer — counselors’ schedules, intercamp sign-up sheets, signs imploring campers to “Please wear appropriate footwear.” These papers hang on for dear life, flapping violently against the board, but refusing to give in to winter’s relentless attack.


Where campers once congregated around a massive campfire at the start of Frontier Week, the ground is now frozen solid. Standing on the same field where the USA/International soccer game took place last July, it’s difficult to remember the heat of the mid-summer sun or the cheers of campers as their counselors trampled through the mud and aimed for the opposing team’s goal. The silence of winter’s deep freeze has taken over. For now.

Scotty’s Stage waits patiently for his next production. The Junior Gathering Deck overlooks the glassy lake, eager to welcome campers who will play knock-hockey and ping-pong in just 5 short months. Tents will be erected where empty platforms now stand. The upper road, currently covered in snow, will once again be filled with campers on their way to the pool or the tennis courts. The sun will shine its warmth upon the camp and the summer fun will commence.

But for now, the winter has Owego in its unyielding grip. 

 

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Fun Facts about Lake Owego Camp!

Happy New Year!

We can’t believe the 2024 camp season will be here before we know it!  We want you and your child to be as comfortable and as prepared as possible in the days leading up to camp.  We thought it would be fun and helpful to share some fun facts about us so everyone is “in the know.” Lake Owego Camp is full of tradition, rituals and special names and each one is so meaningful to both the campers and staff.

Camp Colors: Blue and White

Camp Motto: “Leave your Image at the Gate.”
When entering through the gates of Owego, we want every camper to know that camp is a special place where you can be your true self.

“SFA”
We call it “SFA” (you can say it as a word- put the “SF” together and then add an “AH”)

Every night after dinner and on Thursday mornings, this special time is for campers to play freely. With counselors supervising, children get to choose from various activities such as basketball, followed by some tennis, and then head to the lake to go fishing.  Whatever they’re in the mood for that day!

Olympics and Frontier Week
Two big all-camp events. Olympics is in the first session and Frontier Week is in the second session. The camp is split into six teams, different countries for Olympics and different Native American Indian tribes for Frontier Week. The two events start with an exciting, surprise “breakout!”

The Village
The location of the Junior and Intermediate bunks, grades 2nd-6th.

The Ridge
The location of the Senior and Hi-Senior bunks and tents, grades 7th-11th. Many of camp’s fields, courts and venues are named after camp’s founding family as well as many old-timers.

“Hughie Black Center”
The indoor basketball court, weight room and fencing room. Named after Hughie and Selma Black, the founders of the camp.

“Robinson’s Pool”
Named after our long-time head of pool and the original Papa Polar Bear.

“Shelly’s Cookout”
Location of our Thursday BBQ lunches and our end of Olympics Steak dinner. Named after Shelly Silver, long-time director of camp.

“Kyle’s Gathering”
A special area in camp for campers and counselors to relax, reflect and hang out. Named after current co-director Kyle Silver.

“Jacoby Field”
This is our upper field at camp where we play soccer, football, lacrosse, ultimate frisbee, and many other special events at camp. Named after long-time director, Tom Jacoby. Tom’s daughter, Melissa, currently works at Owego.

“South Courts”
One of our two sets of basketball courts. Named after Bill South, former Junior Head Counselor and Owego legend.

“Scotty’s Stage”
Camp’s covered stage where we gather to watch camp’s incredible shows.  Also used for rainy day activities and various other indoor camp activities. Named after Scotty Myers, current head of Creative Arts.

Hopefully this list will help you and your child feel even more a part of our camp family as we count down to welcome you this summer.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have and we can’t wait to see you this summer up at camp!

Kyle and Jeff “Freedo”

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Camp Family Ski Season – 2024

You’re invited! If you’re looking for a not-too-far-away outdoor adventure this winter, consider @SkiBigBear and stopping by to see camp covered in snow! They’ll be offering our camp families a special 15% camp rate for non-holiday lift tickets in 2024! Email us for the code and to let us know if you plan on stopping by to drive through camp: info@lakeowego.com! Snow exciting!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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