Visiting Day 2017!

With the exception of Color War break, probably no single event of the camp season is as hotly anticipated as Visiting Day! From the Manor House to Bunk One, camp is buzzing with excitement as we prepare to welcome parents, grandparents and siblings this weekend.

Here at camp, we always put some extra effort into getting ready for Visiting Day. The kitchen staff cooks up a storm to get that big, tasty lunch ready. Program staff help campers put the finishing touches on projects, presentations and new skills to show off on Saturday. And everyone works together to get every bunk extra clean for the big day.

We know our camp parents back home are anticipating this weekend every bit as much as their daughters are, with preparations for the trip to Honesdale underway well before the weekend rolls around! If you have questions about the best way to get to camp or other tips for Visiting Day, feel free to call us anytime.

It’s hard to explain the feeling of Visiting Day to someone who hasn’t experienced it. There is a lot of excitement leading up to the moment that the gates are opened to let parents on campus, followed by greetings that can be a bit emotional — understandably so! Afterward, though, the rest of the day tends to be calm and relaxed, with campers and their families simply enjoying their reunion in the way they like best. Campers may want to show off their new skills in their program areas, challenge their parents to a friendly tennis match, or simply relax and catch up over lunch. Counselors, group leaders and program directors are on hand to chat about how the summer has been going. We serve a full lunch at the Dining Hall, and many parents choose to bring some special treats from home to enjoy during the afternoon.

It seems like every year there’s another news story out there about how some summer camp parents go over-the-top for Visiting Day. While we understand there’s some entertainment value in hearing about parents who go to extremes to celebrate this special time with their children, we hope first-time camp parents know that elaborate bunk gifts, catered lunches and fancy gift baskets aren’t the norm. Ask our seasoned camp families and they’ll tell you the same thing we do: The most important present you can give your daughter on Visiting Day is the gift of your time and attention.

Years from now, when your daughter remembers her Visiting Day experiences, she probably won’t be able to recall whose parents brought what treats or how many gifts she got. What she will remember is how it felt to see your face for the first time in three weeks, and how special it was to have those hours of uninterrupted time with her family, sharing everything she had learned and experienced so far during her summer at camp.

No matter how you and your daughter spend Visiting Day, the time you’ll have together at camp is precious — not because of the gifts you bring or the treats you share, but because you have this time together.

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Professional Development in the Winter Office: Filling our Backpacks with new Perspectives

Every summer we arrive at Bryn Mawr with our own “backpack” made up of the experiences we have had over the past year. Some of those experiences have been happy and others may be sad, yet they have all shaped us in some way. As we told our leadership and general staff last summer, regardless of the number of years each one of us has been at Bryn Mawr, at the beginning of camp, everybody is new.

 While we all live in similar types of communities, we all have different perspectives based on our own family dynamics, school environments and groups of friends. These factors have a direct impact on how each one of us behaves and responds to others.

Try this activity: Think of a childhood memory in which you misbehaved in some way. What was the response from an adult? How did it make you feel? And what was the reason that you engaged in that behavior? Then reflect on how this incident may have influenced how you now manage behavior in your daily life.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend an all-day seminar at Columbia School of Social Work: Understanding and Managing Behaviors in Children and Adolescents. Throughout the day, we were led through discussions and exercises that focused on why kids act out, how we should respond and ways in which we can support them. Whether through our use of language, physical cues or positive reinforcement, we strive to continuously model appropriate behavior for our girls.

At Bryn Mawr, we spend two weeks before our campers arrive training our leadership and general staff. Of course, we can’t anticipate every scenario that we will experience during the summer (these girls can really keep us on our toes!) yet through workshops and conferences in the winter months, we can bring fresh ideas and new strategies to ease the transition to camp life and the challenges of a summer away from home. I am grateful to work with Jane and Dan who believe that professional development is critical to our success. Through my training, I have become less reactive, more mindful and acutely aware of how actions can have an impact.

 In light of Thanksgiving, here are some inspirational words from our lecturer, Dr. Rick Greenberg: the next time you talk with your daughter, actively listen. In fact, try to listen so closely that you are not even thinking about what you will say in response. You will be grateful that you gave her that time…those are the moments that she will remember!

Enjoy the Holidays!

Love,

Jocelyn Glantz

Assistant Director

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LBMC College Essay…

441. A number that could represent almost anything in the world. For me, this number is the amount of days I’ve spent at Lake Bryn Mawr, my sleep away camp, or as I usually refer to it as, “my second home.” Bryn Mawr is the most unique place i’ve been in my life; I always feel as though I’m a part of something special when I’m at camp. Bryn Mawr is so completely different compared to other camps because of its core values that campers are taught: the Angel Code. The Angel Code is Bryn Mawr’s philosophy, which is built on four basic values: loyalty, beauty, merit, and comradeship. These four values may seem silly when looked at separately, but when put together they are so much more. The Angel Code to me is the definition of what Bryn Mawr is, and I have definitely seen every girl at camp embody these ideals at some point throughout their experiences.

Growing up as a girl in the 21st century has had its share of struggles, but I can definitely say that going to an all girls sleep away camp, specifically Bryn Mawr, has made such an impact. When I first began camp at eight years old, I was merely a child – I did not have control over my own decisions, nor did I understand why I was being sent to camp, rather than the most obvious reason being to have fun. I looked up to my counselors; they were the people who dressed, played, taught, and did everything with, or for me. As a child, I did not have a voice, and looking back, I was stepped on by girls who did; girls who used their voices for the wrong reasons. After the summer ended, my parents told me that they had signed me up for the following one. I couldn’t understand or realize it at the time, but my parents knew that I needed camp; I needed a place that would transform me into a young woman with a powerful voice, one who could make decisions for herself.

The summers following seemed like a blur. Camp went on as usual, the poplar trees swayed and the lake remained serene, but I wasn’t taking advantage of the summers. Then on the first night of one summer, I was laying down outside, admiring the stars, and a tear began to stream down my face. Someone came over to comfort me and asked what was wrong. I looked at her, confused, and said almost to myself, “Could it be possible, is this my last summer as a camper?” A million memories flashed through my mind, and so I just laid down and went back to my stargazing. I tried as hard as I could to block out reality, but it was at that point that I began to realize that although camp would always remain the same, I would not. I was not eight years old anymore, I was fifteen and in the blink of an eye, my time as a camper would be coming to an end. It hit me how lucky I was to be able to take advantage of this beautiful place I was lucky enough to consider my “home.”

My eyes instantly widened after that, and I started helping younger girls: girls who were homesick, girls who were self-conscious, any problem a girl had I could help with, knowing I had been in their shoes once. “You should be a counselor,” I turned around to see a staff member talking to me as I aided a crying girl. “Really?” I had responded in an astonished tone. Up until that point, I had always thought of camp as a road that came to an end. It was then that I realized that just because the path ended for me as a camper, didn’t mean I couldn’t continue to as a counselor. So that’s what I did, I created my own path; one with more dips in the road, a few more detours, decisions to be made, and things to be held responsible for. I was now the one who came home and enthusiastically applied to be a counselor, rather than my parents signing me up. I now used my voice to advocate for myself and vothers, and I was now the one dressing, and playing, and teaching my campers. I slowly began to realize that as much as I thought I needed Bryn Mawr in my life, I knew that they needed me equally, if not more. And now whenever I look at my campers it’s so incredibly hard, for I wish I could be in their shoes – but I can’t, and I wouldn’t ever go back, because I wouldn’t want any second of my experience at Bryn Mawr Camp to be different.

49. The number of days I have left at Bryn Mawr, for I know that after this tenth summer I have to leave my second home, my safe haven, and go into the real world to start a new journey.

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An End of Camp Letter…

Dear Parents,

 The sun is setting earlier, the nights are getting cooler, and our summer at camp is coming to an end. Color War culminated in the traditional Sing and Final Fight earlier this week, and the last few days have been a blur of packing, cleaning up, finishing projects and preparing to close the books on the summer of 2016.

 The last days of camp can be emotional; after all, we have lived, played, learned, laughed and grown together for the last seven weeks. The bonds of friendship forged at camp are uniquely strong, and although campers are excited to go home and see loved ones, it’s sad to say goodbye, even when we know we’ll see each other again.

 The magical thing about camp, though, is that it’s more than a place where we spend the summer. It’s a community to which campers belong all year round. And just as camp friends stay in touch throughout the winter months, the lessons of camp follow each Bryn Mawr Angel home and become part of who she is.

That’s because camp isn’t just about making friends and learning new skills. It’s about learning and growing, letting your daughter spread her wings and find her own way, and making a place where she can feel safe exploring who she wants to be.

 When she played sports at camp, your daughter wasn’t only working on her athletic skills; she was learning be a good sport and a team player. She broadened her horizons with activities like archery and boating that she may not do anywhere but camp. On the ropes course, she learned to conquer her fears and step out of her comfort zone. In gymnastics, she developed discipline and focus, at fitness she learned the value of good health, and in yoga she gained mindfulness. In fine arts, she channeled her energy into creative expression, and in drama she built confidence. With her friends and counselors by her side, she celebrated her achievements and learned from her mistakes.

 Once the excitement of her homecoming has settled down, we hope you’ll have the chance to talk with your daughter about what she learned this summer — her successes and her challenges alike. Along with the values of Loyalty, Beauty, Merit and Comradeship, the lessons of the summer are ones she’ll bring home and employ at school, in activities and in her friendships throughout the year, whether she is “living ten months for two” and dreaming of next summer at camp or graduating from Bunk One and preparing to carry the LBMC spirit with her into the future!

 And as we do every year, we want to thank you — for the gift of camp you give your daughter, for the trust you place in us, and for being a part of the Bryn Mawr family. We treasure the opportunity to make a summer home for your daughter.

Love,

Jane and Dan

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Color War’s tradition of spirit and surprise…

“G-R-E-E-N! We’re 11 on a scale of 10!”

“G-O-L-D! 14-carat victory!”

Is it the world’s wackiest spelling bee? No, it’s time for Color War!

An epic competition between two teams represented by different colors, Color War is a tradition at many summer camps, including Bryn Mawr. While the basic premise is generally consistent from camp to camp, each community puts its own spin on Color War with unique traditions and individual approaches to the competition.

At LBMC, there are a few things that make our annual Color War really special. One is the leadership role played by our Bunk One campers. After waiting anywhere from three to nine summers to take the mantle of camp leadership, our oldest campers can’t wait to captain their Color War teams. They’ve been officially preparing for Color War since their March meeting at camp, when they selected team themes and started working on songs, cheers, and plans for the backdrops, costumes and stage movements they’ll present at Sing on the last night of Color War… but we know that the dreaming and planning has been going on unofficially for years as they’ve imagined what their Bunk One Color War experience will be like. Color War is a legacy each Bunk One leaves behind for future generations of Bryn Mawr Angels who will sing their songs and cheers in the dining hall, gaze up at their backdrops on display, and reminisce about their leadership.

Another thing that makes our Color War special is something that happens before it even starts: the “break” that officially begins Color War and the clues, skits, fake breaks and spirit chains that lead up to the big night. Each year the run-up to LBMC Color War is built around a different theme, and all the events, props, costumes and skits are dreamed up and executed by our own staff. While other camps favor celebrity appearances or other flashy ways of kicking off their Color War competitions, our campers look forward each summer to a series of clues and surprise events concocted and constructed right here at camp.

Each summer our special events staff makes their own job harder by having to top the break from the year before, and they always rise to the occasion. This summer is no exception! Over the course of the last week, strange things have started to happen around camp — flickering lights, weird weather, and an odd green substance appearing on campus. After dinner on Friday, Jane announced to camp that she had decided to bring in some experts to get to the bottom of things. Who’s she gonna call? Ghostbusters! Each year’s Color War break is inspired by a theme from movies, books or pop culture, and this year our creative team took their inspiration from the rebooted team of tough female foes of the supernatural.

Summoned by Jane, the Ghostbusters, played by members of the LBMC staff, showed up and started “investigating” paranormal activity at camp, inspecting cabins and confronting “ghosts” at all-camp events who have possessed other staff members. Each new encounter has built excitement leading up to the much-anticipated final showdown that will require Bunk One to muster all their camp spirit to defeat the baddies bringing ghosts to camp and reveal the Green and Gold lights that signal the start of Color War!

If that sounds complex… well, it’s all part of the magic of Color War, and to some extent, you have to witness it to really appreciate the wonder and mystery of the break. In a world of complex questions, rapidly evolving technology and instant answers, we love that camp gives our Angels an opportunity to experience a little bit of magic and true surprise!

Once Color War has broken out, the rest of the summer is dedicated to the spirited games, traditional competitions and new challenges that face the teams of Gold and Green. From wacky games to serious athletics, Color War gives campers of every ability the chance to shine as they support their teams and the spirit of sportsmanship.

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Opening Day 2016: Letting Go and Loving Camp

Dear LBMC parents,

Another first day of camp is almost here, and we couldn’t be more excited to get this summer started! From our first dinner in the dining hall to the last campfire of the season, we’ve got a calendar jam-packed with favorite traditions, new activities, and special surprises for every age group.

No matter whether you’re a brand-new camp parent putting your daughter on the bus for the very first time or a seasoned parent of multiple Bunk One alumnae, sending your child to camp can come with mixed emotions. You want her to learn and grow and make friends, develop new skills and build confidence. You trust that we’ll take good care of her and that she’ll be safe and healthy. And at the same time, it’s hard to let her go. When you love someone as much as we love our children, there’s a part of you that always wants to be by their side, protecting them, guiding them, and showing them how much you care about them. We understand completely! We’ve been in your shoes.

You’re going to miss your daughter this summer. You might even worry about her from time to time. And that’s OK! Those are normal feelings for any camp parent. And that’s why it’s important to remember that you are giving her an incredible gift: the gift of independence, time, and opportunity to learn more about who she wants to be.

Since we’re all parents of daughters here, let’s put it in terms we can all appreciate: Frozen.

In the Disney movie, when little Princess Elsa develops magical powers, her parents, afraid of what could happen to her, do everything they can to protect her and keep her shielded from the world. As a result, she grows up afraid of her gifts and unable to use them. But when Elsa is finally able to “let it go” and learn how to use her powers properly, she sees how they can be beautiful.

OK, so maybe your daughter doesn’t have secret magical powers. (If she does, we hope you noted that on her camper information form!) But by sending your daughter to camp, you’re doing the brave thing that Elsa’s parents couldn’t bring themselves to do. You’re letting go and allowing her to explore the talents, abilities and interests that she may not even know she has until she’s given the chance to discover them.

As a parent, letting go is hard, and it can even be scary. The great news is that when you send your daughter to camp, you’re giving her that freedom to explore her interests and talents in a setting where she’s supported, supervised, cared for and kept safe. Where you can check in to see photos and videos of her adventures, where she’s surrounded by friends and mentors, and where you know there are caring adults just a phone call away who will let you know if there’s anything she needs.

For those of us who spend the summer at camp, it’s an incredible privilege to watch these hidden talents bloom and grow — on stage, on the playing field, at the waterfront, in the art studio or the riding ring. (We haven’t had a camper develop magical ice powers yet, but anything is possible. Bryn Mawr Angels are full of surprises!) And we hope that while your daughter is at camp, you as parents will also open yourself up to the opportunities of the summer. Take some time to explore your own interests, travel, spend quality time with friends, or learn a new skill of your own. At the end of the summer, you and your Angel can compare notes and see who had the most fun!

As always, thank you for trusting us with your daughter. We know there’s no greater responsibility, and we treasure the opportunity to be part of her life. We’re ready to begin another summer of fun and self-discovery, and we can’t wait to see what this camp season will bring!

Love,

Jane and Dan

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Meet the Experts, Part 2: Prepare for camp with these tips from the pros!

Last month on the LBMC blog, we introduced you to a group of experienced Lake Bryn Mawr Camp moms who shared their perspective on everything from packing tips to surviving the first “empty nest” week. In fact, our moms had so many good reflections to share that we had to save a few more for this month!

As we enter the home stretch of preparing for camp, it’s important to realize that packing duffels and labeling clothes are only one part of getting your daughter ready for her first time at camp. There is also some emotional preparation, both for her and for you. Everything about her day-to-day life will be new, and it’s important that your daughter know what she should expect from camp, what will be expected of her, and who she can go to when she’s uncertain or homesick. Below, our seasoned moms will share some more of their reflections as they look back at how they felt getting ready for their own daughters’ first summers at camp — and at how camp impacted their daughters’ lives.

But first, we’d like to share some advice from one of our most trusted advisors. Bob Ditter is an expert in helping kids get the most out of camp, and for more than a decade he’s worked with our staff, campers and parents to provide training and guidance. We asked Bob to share his advice for first-time Bryn Mawr parents. In this short video he shares his strategies for helping set your daughter’s expectations about her relationship with her counselors, camp routines, and more. We encourage you to take a few minutes to hear his thoughts — and remember, we are always available to answer your pre-camp questions!

Bob Ditter Video

Tips From Our Moms

Robin: “LBMC did an amazing job for preparing us for our first year at camp. We followed the process from start to finish. If you are a first time camp parent, my best advice is trust the system. It works. Jane and Dan and their staff know the ins and outs and if there is any doubt, they want you to reach out to them – they are totally transparent, totally capable and work together to ensure your daughter will thrive!”

Laurie: “I’d advise your daughters to take full advantage of what Bryn Mawr has to offer. My daughters have said that being at Bryn Mawr was like being at a specialty camp for each activity! They actually became quite good athletes! I would encourage my child to try everything.”

Kimberly: “The one question I wish I’d asked was: How does it all go by so fast?? Definitely savor this special time in your daughter’s life. Before you can blink, she’s an LIT!!”

Laurie: “Parents and daughters should know that it is OK to be homesick or miss their parents or siblings. It doesn’t mean they don’t like camp or love camp; it simply means they miss you, and it is normal to feel that way.”

Julie: “TRUST JANE AND DAN!”

Laurie: “From my experience, I think Bryn Mawr tries to take care of children physically and emotionally. Would you believe I had such confidence in Jane and Dan and the way camp was run that I asked them for advice on a camp for my son? From our experience with Bryn Mawr, I see that my daughters have lifelong friends, that they learned how to live with others, how to deal with other personalities, how to get along with other girls. They learned great social skills, teamwork, leadership, helping and taking care of others, etc. They learned to participate, and share and try their best. I can honestly say that all the girls I know seem to be leading thriving successful lives.”

Thank you so much to our camper and alumnae moms who agreed to share their insight: Jody Googel, Robin Kranich, Laurie Bendell, Kimberly Glinert, Julie Solomon, and Rachel Strum.

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Meet the Experts, Part 1: LBMC moms share their advice for the first summer at camp

Spring is here, and that means the first day of camp is just around the corner! Every Mother’s Day weekend, we open up camp for one of our favorite events of the year: our Open House for new campers and their families. As we get ready to welcome our first-time campers and parents next month, we reached out to some of our camp moms, past and present, to share some advice for parents preparing for their own first day of camp! We asked them about their first weeks as camp parents, the questions they wish they’d asked, the suggestions they have for getting the most out of camp, their observations as their daughters have grown, and they flooded us with so much helpful information, it’s going to take two blog posts to share it all!

The moms we talked to have a wide range of experiences and perspectives on camp. Some, like Jody and Rachel, have more than one daughter in camp. Kimberly’s daughter has gone all the way through Bunk One and is returning as an LIT. And Laurie, whose daughters are grown and in their 20s, has been able to see them carry the lessons learned at camp into adulthood.

The First Week

The first week of camp is an exciting time for campers and counselors — and for first-time parents, it can be a little nerve-wracking! Even when you trust that your daughter is being well taken care of, it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions. Here’s what our seasoned camp moms had to say about their own daughters’ first weeks at Bryn Mawr:

Jody: “My advice is to occupy yourself a A LOT during that first week so you don’t have much time to think about it as you get used to the absence. At camp the girls keep so busy their first week, and it’s filled with exciting new things. Try and do the same for yourself! Maybe plan a vacation!”

Robin: “I remember the first week eagerly diving into all of the photos to get a glimpse of our daughter. Nothing was more thrilling than seeing her in the midst of happy rituals.”

Laurie: “I remember feeling nervous and wondering where their bed was, who they slept near, were they near the one person they each knew, whether they were in the bunk with that family friend from New Jersey… I wondered if they were homesick or happy, and I missed them. I couldn’t wait to receive that call from camp that each one was OK. What I remember most is that I felt that I sent them to a very fine camp and that they would be well taken care of.

Kimberly: “That first week, I remember being a bit in shock! But as soon as I heard from Jane that all was well, I definitely relaxed. And once I received my first letter, I knew my daughter was fine.”

Julie: “I remember how proud we were when she got on the bus — she was going to camp knowing the friends she had met the previous summer at Explorers but getting on the bus not knowing anyone specifically. We were thinking how brave and lucky she was at the same time.

Rachel: “I have two daughters at LBMC and I remember missing them so much and worrying a lot (OK, I cried) during the first week. More than that, though, I remember seeing the pictures start showing up online with their beaming faces with new friends, doing awesome activities, enjoying July 4th and being surrounded with love by Jane, Dan, the older girls and their friends. We felt so thrilled that we were able to give them the experience of a lifetime.

Communicating With Your Daughter

Between emails, phone calls, letters, Visiting Day, and photos and videos on the camp website, you’ll have a lot of points of contact with your daughter throughout the summer. Sometimes the emotions around those communications can be intense — and sometimes your daughter will be having so much fun at camp that she won’t write home as often as you’d like! We asked our experienced moms for their best advice about how to make the most of staying in touch during the summer.

Robin: “Take advantage of the email system to send quick notes to your daughter. They print them and put them on their beds. My daughter asked me to double space hers as I guess I wrote a lot and the text was dense, so I will do that this year! She also requested that I send her with all of her letters preaddressed and stamped. She said this prevented her from writing more (though I am not sure I believe it!).”

Jody: “You will hear this a lot, but do not read too much into the pictures you will see or not see of your child. I became, as a lot do, obsessed with the pictures. Many times my girls were not in group shots or did not have a huge smile on their face in the photo. This is OK. When I eventually asked them about this, they’d tell me they had an option for a group swim but opted to go to do arts and crafts or maybe they didn’t have time to smile or didn’t see the photographer that day to get into that picture. Maybe it was the day they forgot their water bottle in the bunk and had to run back. There are a lot of girls and you just have one or two you want to see!”

Laurie: “One of my biggest pieces of advice is for parents to know that if their daughter complains or is sad or angry, it is probably momentary. Those feelings are gone or have changed before the parents even receive the letter that their daughter wrote about it. Also, feelings may come out when they speak to Mommy and Daddy, but then the feelings are gone and their daughter is really OK.”

Julie: “One question I wish I had asked before sending my daughter to camp for the first time: What’s the setting/atmosphere of the phone calls?We were looking forward to the first phone call but underestimated how emotional it could be for camper and family. Take Jane’s advice and have a list of questions ready.”

Rachel: “I wish I had asked her to send me a letter the first day or two to reassure me she was doing well. I also wish I would have known about the letters that I could write that had fill in the blank return post cards attached that make it so much easier for kids. Every time we write them with a cute game or quiz and an envelope to mail it back in that is already addressed and stamped, they always send it back right away.”

Kimberly: “The best piece of advice I have for first time camp parents (handed over by Jane that first summer!) is to keep in mind that ‘snapshot in time’ philosophy. If you receive a not-so-great letter, whatever it was is most likely right in that moment. You are getting the letter a few days later, and that ‘moment’ has definitely passed. If you ask your daughter about it, she likely won’t even know what you’re talking about!”

Practical Tips and Tricks

As you start to prepare for camp, you’re probably thinking about clothing labels, packing lists and pre-camp physicals. We try to give parents as much information as we can about getting ready for camp, but our experienced moms had some suggestions of their own to add:

  • “I was very literal with the packing list … I could have sent her with a few extra pieces of her own clothing and a little more Green and Gold.”
  • “I don’t think I realized how her bed would become her home away from home, so being a little more thoughtful about making it cozy with blankets and pillows and pictures for the walls is a good suggestion.
  • “Read all emails from camp in a timely manner.”
  • “It’s a good idea to get started labeling, buying spirit items and clothes for special days, packing and filling out forms early! Camp comes so fast and it is so much better to get the work part out of the way in advance so you can spend quality time with your girls and deal with end-of-school-year activities.”
  • “Many other girls had ‘calling cards’ made with their home contact information so they can easily keep in touch during the school year.”
  • “The one question I wish I asked was maybe a few more specifics about packing the trunk. Having never packed a trunk (and not having gone to camp myself), it definitely was a very daunting task!”
  • “Relax, and remember — if something was wrong or there was an issue, camp would notify you.”

Thank you so much to our camper and alumnae moms who agreed to share their insight: Jody Googel, Robin Kranich, Laurie Bendell, Kimberly Glinert, Julie Solomon, and Rachel Strum. Watch out for Part 2, coming in May, when our camp moms and Bob Ditter will share their tips for preparing for camp!

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Meet Meryl: A camp mom in every sense of the word!

Joining the Lake Bryn Mawr Camp staff this summer is Meryl Heller, who will be an assistant division head in Junior Camp. Meryl’s perspective on life at camp is impacted not only by her own love of camp but by her dual role — you see, she’s not just a member of the leadership staff. She’s also a camp parent! We sat down with Meryl to talk about camp life from her three points of experience: as a camper, a parent, and a staff member.

1207_JeffLake_2225

LBMC: Tell us about yourself!

Meryl: I grew up in Millburn, New Jersey, and then went to the University of Maryland, where I studied speech and audiology before earning a master’s in special education from Montclair State University. I’m married with two daughters, and now my family lives in Randolph, New Jersey. I teach at Deerfield School in Short Hills. I love to stay active with volleyball and tennis, and I also love Mah Jongg.

LBMC: How long has camp been part of your life?

Meryl: Since I was a little girl! I went to sleepaway camp for the first time at age 7. I switched camps a few times to try different things (one of my camps didn’t have a swimming pool — that was a deal breaker for me!), and then I did a summer college program and teen tours when I got older. I didn’t find my summer home until I came back to camp as an adult.

LBMC: This is your first summer at Bryn Mawr, but it isn’t your first time working at camp, is it?

Meryl: Not at all! I started working at Jeff Lakes Day Camp as a waterfront counselor in 1991. With the exception of a couple of summers off, I was there every summer through 2015 — a total of seven years at the waterfront and 13 summers as a division head. I will miss my Jeff Lake family, but I’m looking forward to this new adventure.

LBMC: You’ll be working with Jocelyn and Eliza in Junior Camp, where many of your campers will be making the transition from day camp to sleepaway camp.

Meryl: That is something I will have in common with some of our campers! I think that gives me some perspective that will help make that transition a positive one for them and for me. My role is not just to be a parent but to help coach campers through the camp experience. Sleepaway camp is different from day camp because you’re away from home and family, and that can seem scary, but it also gives us the gift of time to get to know one another and learn how to solve problems together.

LBMC: How is sleepaway camp a unique environment for problem-solving?

Meryl: At day camp, you go home every day, and if a camper had a hard day or a challenge with a friendship, she might not have had the chance to resolve that before the end of the day. As a parent, it’s hard to know how to help your child approach solving these problems. But at sleepaway camp, where we’re all together all day and all night, there’s time to talk together, understand each other’s perspectives and feelings, and find solutions together. Healthy friendships require work and communication, and I’m happy to be one of the adult role models who can help coach campers as they learn how to be good friends, good communicators and good problem-solvers.

LBMC: You’re not just a camp staff member; you’re a parent of two Bryn Mawr Angels. How does that affect how you approach the job?

Meryl: I’m really excited to have found a summer home that I can share with my children, although there’s a challenge that comes with being a camp parent as well. It’s important to me that they have the same opportunities for independence as every other camper. I want them to have the fullest camp experience possible. Although I’ll be at camp with both my girls this summer, my older daughter started camp last year, so I can appreciate some of the nervousness and uncertainty that first-time parents in particular may experience. I know what it’s like to put your daughter on that bus on the first day and say goodbye! And I also know how exciting it is to get her letters and phone calls and see from photos on the website how much fun she’s having as she adapts to camp life.

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1, 2, 3, 4…We Want Color War!

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…Or should we say: We’re IN Color War!

Color War 2015 broke on Wednesday night, and already camp is overflowing with spirit, friendly competition, and intense Green and Gold pride. For our Bunk One campers, Color War is the culmination of all the leadership skills they’ve been learning during their years at camp; and for every camper and staff member, it’s a chance to celebrate the summer through fun, games, and lots and lots of cheering!

Each year, our Color War “break” — the event that signals the beginning of Color War — is more creative and spectacular than the last. Our top-secret Color War planning team seems to have a bottomless bag of break ideas, and we never know what they’re going to dream up next. Even Dan and Jane are surprised every year by the way Color War arrives!

This year’s Color War break had a “Night at the Museum” theme based on a mystical Lake Bryn Mawr Camp legend. In the Fieldhouse and the Dining Hall, where the backdrops from Color Wars past are displayed throughout the summer, something magical happens every night after Taps: Powered by the spirit of the Color War hatchets buried on camp, the characters pictured in the backdrops come to life. Should the hatchets be removed from their proper place, the backdrops would lose their ability to come to life, and the spirit of Bryn Mawr would be trapped for the rest of time.

Over the last week, the characters from past Color War themes began to reveal themselves, telling campers that they needed more spirit, more songs and more cheers to survive because it seemed like some of the characters were losing their power — and some had even disappeared completely! Led by Captain Hook (from the Notorious Villains backdrop), a series of characters such as Pippi Longstocking (Unaccompanied Minors), Winnie the Pooh (Bedtime Buddies), Rainbow Brite and Doc from “Back to the Future” made appearances as the problem became clear: Someone was trying to steal the hatchets.

More clues were revealed that a group of undercover operatives were trying to steal the hatchets for someone known only as “Command.” The villains schemed to unbury the hatchets and get them off camp. In a series of fake breaks, they made various attempts to escape camp with the hatchets, but the campers rallied together in spirit and trapped the bad guys inside a backdrop!

Last night, the operatives escaped from their captors and headed to the lake, where they attempted to get away on Captain Hook’s stolen pirate ship. Everyone in camp followed them down to the lake, where the Bunk One campers had to quickly assemble a catapult. Using the catapult, Captain Hook managed to catch the ship on fire, and the bad guys swam to shore, where they were vanquished by the group of Color War backdrop characters.

With the hatchets restored, who should appear but the mysterious “Command”… Jane?! Jane revealed to camp that stealing the hatchets was her plan to see how far campers would go to protect the values and spirit we hold so dear. With that, the giant letters G&G to represent Green and Gold were illuminated, and a surprise fireworks display lit up the sky — Color War 2015 had broken out!

In the days to come, there will be sports and games, treasured traditions like Apache Relay and Bucket Brigade, and intense preparations for Sing, the culminating event of Color War at which a new pair of backdrops, Green and Gold, will be revealed. We love this exciting time of summer — and we especially love the sense of magic and surprise that is woven throughout the buildup to Color War. Camp is a place where even the most sophisticated teenager can believe in magic, that paintings can come to life and a pirate ship can sail across the lake and songs and cheers have the power to protect the place you love.

Three cheers for Color War!

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