Finding an Overnight Camp…

You may have read the blog “The Opposite of Spoiled” by Ron Leiber that appeared in the NYTimes in 2014, entitled “Finding an Overnight Camp that’s Truly Worth It.” If not, it’s worth the read!

Leiber raises five “essential” questions that parents should ask when choosing a summer camp that is truly worth it. Here are the questions from the article and our answers. We think that they truly set us apart, above and beyond others. Read on!

1) “Where are other children going?” 
As Leiber says, this is a trick question. There is a natural instinct to send your child to the same camp as his or her friends in the neighborhood. The answer should be that a worthwhile overnight  camp has a diversity of geographic areas represented. Overnight camp friends should not be the same as friends at home. That’s the biggest difference from day camp. Every child has friends from home and school, but let camp introduce them to a whole new group of friends, some that span great distances, with different interests, styles and stories. Let your child reinvent him or herself!  An investment in camp should broaden a child’s circle of friends.

Here’s our demographic split: our campers are equally represented in NY, NJ, and PA. Close behind is MD and FL. There is not one city or town (not even one state!) where we draw from, and we love that about our camp families! Camp friends are sacred!

2) “What are the retention figures?”  
This is one of our favorites. Once a child starts at camp there is a 90% return the next year. This continues until “graduating” as 11th graders. Our retention rates are truly amazing. The author asks if we do follow up on those few who don’t return, and of course we do. Every camper is an integral part of our camp family. Honestly, the few children who depart before their final year do so for reasons unrelated to camp, a family trip is planned, a team requires practice at home, etc.

The blog also asks the retention rate of counselors and the percentage of counselors who are former campers. Here’s an answer that you might not expect: first as to counselor retention, our standards are high. Counselors are not automatically asked to return, in fact we are very selective about who meets our standards. Also, the truth is that not every former camper makes a great counselor. The transition is not easy. Not every young adult can make the change from being the one who is looked after to the person who does the looking after. New counselors bring new ideas, new energy and a gung-ho spirit, that not every former camper possesses.  Our experience and firm belief is that the best counselor team is a mix, new and old. We want the most enthusiastic, positive  role models for campers, whomever they are!

3) “What can they do here that they can’t do at home?”  
Here’s the beginning of a truly endless list that starts with wake-up and goes till lights-out. Rock-climbing, mountain biking, creek stomping, sailing, canoeing the rapids of the Delaware River. Travel to to play another camp in individual and team sports without having to try out for the team. Play Capture the Assagi, be on a dance team, use a potter’s wheel, join a rock band, hike the Appalachian Trail, go on an overnight, sing in the camp play, cook wood-burning pizza, participate in a bunk skit,  link arms with a whole camp, sing songs around a campfire!

And by the way, we try not to do things that you do at home. We avoid amusement parks, bowling, movie theaters. It’s on purpose! You can do that at home with your parents!

4) “What makes your camp unique?”
To us, that really is the most important question. Our camp organization is 89 years old and has been in one family for 5 generations. There are thousands of camps in the USA, hundreds that are old but very few,  if any,  can say that. Our longevity and track record is truly unmatched. Our facilities are modern but campy. The range of activity choices, amazing. Our camp is staff second to none, filled with coaches and teachers and camp folk. The ratios of staff to campers, almost 2:1. We have a rare range of campers from all over. But it’s our 5 generations and 89-year story of success that is truly extraordinary.

5) “Can you tell me about the ties that bind.”
Here the author was really asking about the soul of a camp.  He mentions his daughter, at lineup, watching two staff members honored who fell in love and became engaged at camp. He’s speaking to a sense of self, a sense of identity that links a person to his or her camp community for all of time. All you have to do is look around camp to see ties that bind: from names on courts and fields to names of current and former camp folk on plaques in the dining hall. The ties that bind are Polar Bears Club, songs, cheers, traditions of rope burn, camp fires, Old Timer’s Club, and culminating camp moments. We say it at campfires, and it’s true. Camp isn’t just a place on a map, it remains a place in each camper’s heart. It’s these lasting shared memories that link each generation to the next, and we’re lucky enough to have many camp folk span generations.

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Happy Thanksgiving from LOC!

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2019 Reunion: Best Reunion EVER!

Sunday was AWESOME!  Dare we say it was the … BEST REUNION EVER?  A big thank you to everyone who came out to party with us.  Campers, counselors, key staff, & more!  Busses were flooded with campers from the New York area, North Jersey, and even Maryland — we were so thrilled with the turnout.  Doesn’t it feel great to be back together again?  Yesterday was so great, we can’t even IMAGINE how great Summer 2020 will be.  We only have 226 more days to wait and see and no, it’s never to early to start counting down.  We can’t wait!

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60th Summer Alumni Event Save-the-Date

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Happy Halloween!

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Keeping the Summer Alive Year-Round

Keep the summer alive all year long!

  1. Keep in touch with camp friends! Write LETTERS!
  2. Login to Mom & Dad’s parent portal and look at pictures from this past summer and the summers before!
  3. Come to the 2019 reunion: Sunday, November 10th from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM @ The Funplex in Mt. Laurel, NJ!
  4. Keep up with our Upcoming Events page for events in your area!
  5. Watch videos on our Vimeo page!
  6. Wear your Lake Owego Camp shirts from this and past summers!
  7. And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram: @lakeowegocamp!

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What TO DO and What NOT TO DO Before CAMP!

It’s incredibly natural to go into apocalyptic mode this month.

You know what we’re talking about:

What do you want your last meal to be?
Do you want to see a final movie tonight or just relax and hug?
When would you like to take Rover for a final walk?
How about Grandma and Grandpa? Let’s give them one final call!
Give your sister one huge final good kiss goodnight! You won’t again till August!

We know you’re well-meaning, but we have some advice for what it’s worth: Stop. STOP! You’re freaking them out! Let’s all try to remain normal and happy and calm. Be cool! Let’s enjoy final pre-camp moments but not belabor them. Let’s focus not on what your kids are missing at home but what they’re about to embark upon at camp. In our experience, end-of-world conversations and conversations focusing on home breed anxiety for a number of reasons. Here are a few of those reasons, and here’s what your kids may be thinking: I don’t know what I want my last meal to be! Oh my gosh, but what if I pick the wrong one and I want mom’s mac & cheese tomorrow and I can’t have it! How can I live with that regret! I hadn’t thought about seeing a movie or walking Rover, and I’d sort of forgotten that I wasn’t hugging my little sister goodnight all summer. AH! That’s scary! Am I SURE I want to give all of this up?

Of course the answer is a resounding “YES!” The gifts of camp are immeasurable and what they’ll be experiencing in a few days is life-changing. So let’s not focus on a final tuck-in or that one last hug. Keep your kids happy and focused on moving forward towards camp. Will you treasure those final moments? YES! Should you talk about them with your kids? Probably not. We’ll say it again: play it cool.

Smile, keep calm, talk about the great adventure they’re about to have. “Goodnight, Honey. I love you, and I’m so excited for you” always works. It’ll make it easier for your kids to get on the bus, and it’ll give them the courage to get off that bus once they’ve arrived in Greeley, PA. We’ll take it from there!

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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 an increased risk associated with flea, tick 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 fleaand tick control as well as areas around bunks, buildings, and activity areas with fleaand tick control.
  • All trails and paths at camp are treated with fleaand 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
    • Tickchecks, 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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Packing Tips for Parents!

Hi Moms + Dads!

It’s that time of year again! Time to think PACKING! We know the packing list may seem overwhelming at first, especially for our newest LOC families. Here are a few outside-of-the-box tips we thought we’d share.

Packing Tip 1:
Our camp colors are BLUE AND WHITE, and our boys LOVE to wear them proudly. Unlike our sister camp, Timber Tops, you do not need to pack shirts of different colors.   During the 1st half of the summer, we provide them with a shirt for the three days of Olympics that depicts their team color. During the 2nd half of the summer, we don’t have a traditional “Color War”, but our own exciting Frontier Week. The teams are not depicted by color, but by tribe name that is chosen once the teams are formed. We do celebrate the 4th of July in a big way, so make sure to pack something to wear and fun hats or glasses or whatever wacky items your camper likes. During the 2nd session we have OWEGOWEEN for grades 2nd through 6th. Many like to make their costumes at camp but, some like to bring one.

Packing Tip 2:
Speaking of clothing, remember to pack a few WHITE articles of clothing. Can you say Tie–Dye?!

Packing Tip 3:
Your campers are never too old for pre-addressed envelopes or postcards. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and best family friends are definitely not getting that letter you promised unless it’s over-the-top easy for your camper to send. (Pre-address envelopes home too. It’s one less step for your camper to take while he’s running to the mailbox on his way to the basketball court, or the lake, or to adventure!)

Packing Tip 4:
We keep the boys very busy but there is some down time during each day. We have gathering decks with fun activities like knock-hockey, hoop shots and ping pong but Magic Cards and games like that are great to pack. Supervised Free Activity (pronounced S’Fa) is everyone’s favorite time to hang out on the gathering decks, write letters and relax. Most seniors, 7th-11th grade, pack a folding Camp Chair, like what you would bring to a sporting event. They use these at campfires. Some of the juniors do as well but, it is not necessary.

 Packing Tip 5:
Don’t buy expensive clothes, jeans or bathing suits. Don’t pack too many things to throw on the bed. Don’t pack anything you don’t want going in the laundry. Your son will be wearing the same t-shirts on rotation and getting dressed and ready faster than you thought humanly possible. They hate missing a single moment. Just LABEL EVERYTHING clearly. Every boy has a blue raincoat, a blue duffle, a blue sweatshirt, a blue…you get the picture. They are so busy running from one activity to another that it is inevitable that they will leave something somewhere.

Packing Tip 6:
If you’re worried that your son may need more storage space for his athletic equipment, we recommend gear bags that fit under the bed. Once again, label every cleat, shin guard, glove, stick and racquet.

Packing Tip 7:
You’ve probably heard the term “shoe bag” or bunk junk bag thrown around. At camp, shoe bags are often used to hang up on the wall or at the end of the bed and store extra “stuff” in (think flashlight, hair brush, etc). Small shoe box bins are great to keep socks and underwear organized within the cubbies and on top to hold extra stuff like magic cards, etc. You can pack right in them and they place them right into the cubbies from their trunks and duffle bags. You can find them at Target and Walmart for about $2/bin.

Packing Tip 8:
Leave the electronics at home! No matter what you hear from friends about other camps, LOC parents don’t sneak them into their campers’ bags! Our parents are rule-followers, and our kids follow their parents’ lead. At camp it isn’t “cool” to have electronics or phones. In fact, it’s “cool” to leave all that behind. Believe us when we tell you that Lake Owego boys appreciate unplugging. It’s just part of our camp culture.

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Top Ten 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! Talk about camp at least! We know that the change in weather has all of us thinking SUMMER, and we hope that these tipswill 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 TIPSfor NEWCAMPERS 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 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 newones, keeping an open mind! Camp is a great, safe place to go outside of one’s comfort zone!

6. Take advantage of NewCamper 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. Call the office for more info!

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!

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 newenvironments! 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 ANYTIME!

We’re here for you, always, so keep in touch!
We can’t wait to get started!
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