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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Warmest Wishes from LOC

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Closing Time

So gather up your jackets

Move it to the exits

I hope you have found a friend…

Closing time

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

 

Every summer has a beginning, a middle, and an end. By the time August rolls around, the light changes and the night air causes goose bumps. Fall is coming.

The 2023 camp season has come to a close. Early this morning, campers woke up, shuffled to the dining hall for a quick grab-and-go breakfast, and waited to be assembled for departure. Some sat on their bunk porches, enjoying one last hang-out with friends. Some lingered in the Village or on the Ridge, playing ping-pong, card games, or simply tossing a ball around. As cars pulled into camp and parents embraced their campers, bus riders gathered on the Lower Field and prepared for the journey home.

The coach buses arrived, loaded up, and departed – one at a time – to Rockville, Plymouth Meeting, New York City, Livingston, and White Plains. Florida campers boarded shuttles to the airport, and staff kids reunited with parents at each of the 3 camps. Camp slowly emptied out, leaving Key Staff and a handful of counselors to clean bunks, collect forgotten items, and pack up equipment securely for next summer.

An empty camp is quiet, melancholy, and still. No whistles, no bells, no chants, no laughter. The lake is like glass, reflecting the sky. The wildlife emerges – chipmunks, birds, other creatures – and scavenges for scraps left behind. The leaves in the trees rustle. The fields and courts are empty. Camp steels itself for the long winter ahead.

But next summer will come. In just 10 short months, the sun will shine and the gates will open and the campers will return. Bunks will reunite and new friends will be made. There will be line-ups and choice periods and campfires and Bombardment. Tents ‘24 will set the tone for the best summer yet. In the meantime, campers will hold tight to their memories from summer 2023. There will be new memories to make, but not just yet.

For now, we will relive the summer of 2023 with our amazing second session video, created by our supremely talented Melissa Nathan:

For more videos from this summer, be sure to check out our You Tube channel, “Lake Owego Camp.”

We will let summer linger a bit longer, holding on to every last bit of camp fun. For an Owegan, summer is never too far off.



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