Camp News & Blog

Summer 2014 has Officially Begun!

The day has finally arrived — the duffels are unpacked, the buses are deployed, and Summer 2014 has officially begun!

Our counselors have spent the past week getting to know camp and, in a way, getting to know your daughters as they prepare bunks and program areas, learning names and important information about each camper. As excited as the counselors have been for camp to get started, we know campers are even more excited to disembark those buses, find their friends (old and new) and get the summer started.

The first few days of camp are always a settling-in period for everyone, from the newest Manor House camper to the oldest Bunk One girl. Camp has its own unique schedules, policies and routines, and it takes a day or two for everyone to click back into the rhythms of life on Bryn Mawr Mountain. Dan, Jane, the division heads and the group leaders are all actively involved in helping campers and staff settle in to the summer, especially when it comes to facilitating positive communication.

We spend so much time looking at devices these days — computers, mobile phones, tablets — that we get used to communicating with one another through screens. Not that long ago, we would have laughed at the idea of calling our children to the dinner table by phone, but now — how many of us have texted a child from another room in the house? We send emails or texts instead of calling our loved ones on the phone or meeting a friend for coffee and conversation. It’s fast and convenient, but we can’t help wondering how it affects our children, who are growing up in a world in which written electronic communication is the norm and face-to-face conversation seems to be more and more rare.

There’s one place, though, where face-to-face is the only way to communicate: Camp. All day, every day, we are helping campers become confident communicators and constructive problem solvers as they talk to one another in person — no sub-Tweets, re-Grams or Likes!

More than a decade ago, when the question of cell phones and other personal electronics at camp first started coming up, we talked it over and made a conscious decision that we wanted camp to remain a place where kids could truly unplug, engage their imaginations and just be kids. And we are glad to see so many parents who share our belief that the summer is an important respite for young people — a break from the schedules, pressures and commitments of the rest of the year. We even find that our staff members enjoy the time away from their phones and the realization that the world does not stop turning just because they aren’t checking Twitter and Instagram! We love summer because campers get a chance to replace SnapChats with fireside chats and have real conversations instead of watching real-time video. (And who needs Vines when you’ve got a ropes course to swing from?)

Of course, we know our camp parents, who don’t have the luxury of taking the summer off from cell phones and computers, are counting on us to keep you up-to-date on camp news. Look for weekly blog posts as well as photos, videos and more at the secure “My Angel” area of our website. And as always, please feel free to contact us anytime if you have questions about your camper.

Thank you for trusting us with your daughters. We are thrilled to welcome them to camp, and we can’t wait to see what the summer will bring.

Staff Week: Learning to be a Counselor by Being a Good Camper!

The first day of camp for campers is more than a week away… but here in Honesdale, camp is already alive with spirit as we welcome our staff back to Bryn Mawr Mountain for the summer!

To give campers a great experience, we rely on a great staff. Our employees come to camp with all kinds of experience coaching, teaching and working with children and teenagers. To complement that experience, get staff members acclimated to camp and set the tone for the summer, we spend the beginning of the summer staging weeklong training camps – one for leadership staff like group leaders and program directors, one specifically for riding staff, and one for our entire staff. Our full staff orientation, which we call Staff Week, started today, and it’s exciting to see all our counselors together for the first meals and activities of the year – we know it means camper arrival is just around the corner!

Staff Week is modeled after a real week at camp. We follow the daily camp schedule as much as possible and strive to create a true camp experience for counselors so they’re prepared to do the same for campers when they arrive.

One of the most important things we do during our staff training sessions is work to integrate our new and returning staff members into one cohesive group. Each year we welcome back many staff members who have been at camp before, and we also have many counselors, program directors and group leaders who are new to Bryn Mawr. Our top priority is making everyone feel at home, from the vets who have been returning to LBMC for decades to the new staff members from around the world, some of whom have never even been to this part of the country before. A counselor who is happy and confident is a counselor who is best able to focus on creating a safe and positive experience for her campers.

There are some times during Staff Week when meeting new people is clearly the objective of an activity – when we draw numbers for mixed tables at mealtimes, for example, or when we do group games and icebreakers. But we also take many opportunities to encourage staff to get to know one another in more subtle ways, through group discussions and activities, role playing and social events.

What’s so important about making sure new and returning staff get to know one another? Well, it’s exactly what we’re going to ask them to help campers do in just about a week. Other than keeping campers safe and healthy, the most important part of a counselor’s job in the first days of camp is making new campers feel welcome, helping returning campers readjust to camp life, and fostering a comfortable, friendly and homelike environment in the cabin. The best way we can prepare counselors to do that for campers is to make sure we do it for counselors! We lead by example in welcoming our counselors, and they learn through firsthand experience how a positive and nurturing atmosphere can help foster friendships among first-time campers and seasoned vets alike.

No matter how many times we watch the process unfold, it’s incredible to witness: In the course of a week, perfect strangers become close friends. Staff members know they’ve had a full week packed with unique experiences and new friendships; what they don’t always realize is that they’ve also been preparing to help recreate that welcoming experience for the campers who will be stepping off the buses in just a few short days.

“Coming to camp for the first time is such an exciting experience…”

Last weekend, we welcomed new families to camp for one of our favorite events of the year: our New Camper Open House! Coming to camp for the first time is such an exciting experience, and we love getting to spend the day with our newest Angels, showing them around the campus, answering their questions, even introducing them to the bunkmates who will someday be some of their closest friends.

Along with that excitement comes a mix of emotions — including nervousness. Would you believe us if we told you it’s often the parents who are more nervous than the daughters? Sending your child away for the summer isn’t an easy thing to do. We know — we’ve done it ourselves. That’s why we remind parents with pre-camp jitters to think about all the wonderful things they’re giving their daughters by sending them to camp:

• Independence. Camp is a place where your daughter can learn to do things for herself, to try new things and take responsibility for her actions and opportunities.

• Community. Ever heard the saying “summer sisters”? That’s who your daughter’s bunkmates will become over the years as they return to camp summer after summer. There’s no better way to get to know someone than to live with them! It’s been incredibly rewarding for us to watch our own daughters stay close with their camp friends into adulthood.

• Activity. Where else can a single day in your daughter’s life include a riding lesson, a gymnastics class, a tennis match, a soccer scrimmage, a dance rehearsal, a talent show and a sleepover with her best friends — with three healthy, sit-down meals, no sitting in traffic, and lots and lots of giggling and singing?

• Opportunity. Camp is a place where it’s not just OK to try something new — it’s the whole point. Your daughter will get to do things she might never have considered doing at home.

• Freedom. No worrying about outfits and hairstyles. Our campers and staff wear a uniform that is comfortable and ensures the focus stays on fun and learning, not on who they’re wearing or how they look. In our camp community, it’s about what’s on the inside.

• Confidence. No boys means no pressure to act a certain way. Campers are free to be themselves and explore their own interests, personalities and possibilities without feeling judged.

• Safety. Physical safety, of course, is a given. But we also value emotional safety — making camp a place where girls can feel comfortable being themselves and can learn how to build positive relationships with their friends.

With the first day of camp just a few weeks away, we are counting the days to a new summer making new memories with new and returning campers alike. Never forget that your camp directors are just a phone call away — and we can’t wait to welcome your daughter and your family to our camp community.

Signs You Were (or Are) a Lake Bryn Mawr Camp Counselor…

If you know anyone who’s ever worked as a camp counselor, odds are pretty good you’ve seen them sharing a blog post called “63 Signs You Were A Summer Camp Counselor”

We loved this post, too, and it got us thinking about our own staff. There are some things about being a camp counselor that are pretty universal — but there are also some experiences that are unique to individual camps. Since this is the time of year when most of our office is working full-time to hire the best staff in the world, we started thinking about all the memories and experiences our own counselors will have this summer… and it inspired us to create our own version! Presenting:

Signs You Were (or Are) a Lake Bryn Mawr Camp Counselor:

You think it’s completely normal to be best friends with someone six days after you’ve met them. That’s because you’ve been through Staff Week, the training-orientation-bonding-ritual that is every new counselor’s introduction to life at LBMC. You stepped off the staff bus on the first day not knowing a single person, and by the time you’d spent a week at “staff camp,” you couldn’t imagine you hadn’t known your fellow counselors all your life.

By the end of August, you have a hard time picking out an outfit. You spent the entire summer never having to worry about what to wear; thanks to Bryn Mawr’s staff uniform, the only decision you ever had to make was: navy or white? Fortunately, you went home at the end of the summer with a full set of staff T-shirts, so you are able to wean yourself off of camp style gradually.

You love free clothing. There’s something about summer camp that makes special T-shirts and sweatshirts extra special. If you’ve been at camp two or more summers, you almost certainly have a special staff shirt that is among your most cherished possessions — one that you’ll still be wearing in 15 years when your kids are asking “Why does your shirt say ‘We’re Back’ on the back?”

You put your blow dryer away in June and don’t miss it until September. Camp is a place where it’s what’s on the inside that counts. (In fact, it’s right there in the Angel Code: “Beauty is in more than skin. Beauty comes from deep within.”) Campers and counselors alike enjoy the opportunity to just be themselves without worrying about perfect hair, perfect makeup or the perfect outfit.

You own what seems like an unnecessary amount of green and/or gold clothing and accessories. Some of it was given to you by campers, and some of it you stocked up on in town after finding out which Color War team you’d be on. And you don’t dare get rid of that stockpile of Mardi Gras beads, feather boas, knee socks, wristbands, oversized sunglasses and glitter antennae just in case you’re on the same team again next summer.

You no longer know the real lyrics to certain pop songs. After singing camp songs in the dining hall all summer, you start to think of them as the real versions.  So when “Eye of the Tiger” comes on, you find yourself instead singing the 2001 Green Cheer: “Oz is ready for action, we will soar to the top, the Wizard grants the Lion back his courage…”

Your roommates/classmates/coworkers are, at this point, well-versed in the Bryn Mawr Problem Solving Method. And they know you’re being completely serious when, as you get to the part about brainstorming solutions, you tell them to say whatever comes into their minds because no potential solution is too ridiculous. And when you reach a solution, they have to admit that it was nice to be able to talk it out and collaborate on an answer instead of arguing.

Your idea of a fun night out is a pizza, a trip to Wal-Mart, and a stop on the way home for soft serve. Because when you’re with your friends, even a low-key trip to Honesdale is an adventure. And because Ice Cream Cottage has the best soft serve in the whole world.

Quiet meals make you nervous. If people aren’t standing on chairs, cheering and clapping, singing camp songs — well, there’s just something strange about that. A spirited dining room just feels right.

When you hear someone say “shut up,” you immediately respond, “That’s not a Bryn Mawr word.” Your response might not make as much sense in the “real world” as it does at camp, but you know what it means: In a place that’s emotionally safe for everyone, there’s no place for words that are intended to hurt.

You can’t bring yourself to eat a chocolate-covered frozen banana anywhere but camp… it just doesn’t seem right. BA-NA-NA-NA-NA-NA-NA. We’d explain more, but we’ve already said too much.

You know that “comradeship” is, in fact, a word. And it means being a friend and loving others until the end. Because you didn’t just memorize the Angel Code — you helped your campers learn what it means to live the Angel Code.

You know that while there’s a lake serene, while there’s a campus fair, while there’s a poplar tree… there’ll always be a Bryn Mawr. You miss standing with your arms around your campers every night singing those words as part of the Alma Mater — and you can’t wait to go back.

Ready to make some memories? Fill out our online staff application — or pass it on to a responsible, creative and fun-loving friend.

New year, New Leaf: Setting a Good Body Image Example…

One of the earliest signs of summer appeared in camp families’ mailboxes earlier this month: The camp uniform catalog from Clöz!

Lake Bryn Mawr Camp is, and always has been, a uniform camp. The reasons are many and varied, but at the end of the day, they really boil down to one fact: A uniform is a great equalizer. No matter where campers come from, the uniform takes the focus off what they have and how they look and emphasizes what really matters: who they are.

As parents, we want our children to feel good about who they are. But as human beings, it can be hard to set a good example, especially early in the year when we are focused on New Year’s resolutions, which often have to do with eating better, working out more, and losing weight.

It’s important that we set a healthy example for our daughters. And that means it’s also important that we show our daughters that being healthy means not obsessing about how we look.

Everywhere they turn, our daughters are inundated with messages that tell them appearance matters. Advertising, magazines, websites, music videos, TV shows… they all work together to give our daughters the impression that being good-looking is the most important quality they have to offer. We know that our daughters are intelligent, kind, athletic, and/or a million other wonderful things that are more important than looking like models in magazine ads. But how do we make sure they know it?

This CNN report,, shares some great tips for parents who want to encourage their daughters toward a healthy self-image. These include:

• Promote a healthy lifestyle for the sake of being healthy and active — not to look good or fit into a smaller dress size.

• Talk honestly with your daughter about the fact that healthy bodies come in lots of shapes and sizes.

• Set a good example. When you make comments about your own appearance (“I’m getting so fat,” “I need to lose 10 pounds”), your daughter hears and internalizes those remarks, and she’ll be more likely to adopt a similar mindset in regard to her own appearance.

This article from Our Bodies, Our Selves,, includes some good tips about making your home a “safe haven” for your daughter — a place where she can feel shielded from pressure to look a certain way — as does this Huffington Post article,, on raising a kind daughter.

If you’re looking for more resources for your daughter and/or yourself, check out this list,, compiled by A Mighty Girl. It includes recommended reading for girls of all ages, as well as parents.

Here’s some good news about body image: We’re starting to see it gain traction as a topic of public discussion. Young people and adults alike are talking about unrealistic portrayals of beauty in the media and pressuring advertisers and magazines to depict more realistic images of women. As attitudes evolve, we can help encourage positive self image in our daughters by making safe places, like home and camp, where they can feel comfortable being who they are — no matter what they look like.

The Season of Giving

The winter holidays have arrived, and no matter how you celebrate, we hope you and your family are enjoying the season!

Community and service are important facets of the Bryn Mawr camp culture, and many of our campers carry that spirit over into their year-round lives through fundraising and volunteering. At this time of year, when we are focused on family, food and warm feelings, it can be hard to break away from the fun to think about those less fortunate. Integrating community service into your child’s holiday season, though, has benefits not just for those you help but for your own family:

●      Volunteering becomes a lifelong habit. Children who grow up participating in community service grow up to become adults who participate in community service. When we teach our children the value of giving back, we’re helping ensure a new generation of giving.

●      Research has linked youth volunteering to reduced rates of teen pregnancy, drug use and dropouts, as well as a higher quality of life in adulthood.

●      Many of our camp families don’t celebrate Christmas, and with Hanukkah so early this year, some children may feel left out of the rest of the holiday fun. Getting the whole family involved in doing something good in the community is a great way to continue to share the season of light.

Not sure where to get started? This is the perfect time of year to begin wading into community service, as volunteer opportunities tend to be plentiful between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Here are a few suggestions:

●      Contact your local United Way or religious social services organization to find out where you can find family-friendly volunteering opportunities.

●      Use a website like or to locate kid-friendly volunteer opportunities in your area.

●      Check with your child’s school; they may be aware of volunteer organizations or opportunities suitable for children.

●      This can be a lonely time of year for those who aren’t near family; there may be opportunities to reach out to residents of local nursing homes or military installations.

●      Research local charities that may be of interest to your child. Young people are more likely to be interested in getting involved in a cause that appeals to them personally, such as fundraising for a disease that affects someone they know or volunteering in a local animal shelter. Programs that directly benefit other children are great choices; often a child will respond to the idea of helping other children “like me.”

●      Insurance and other restrictions mean not every community service opportunity is available to children, so be sure to contact your charity ahead of time to make sure they can accommodate young volunteers.

Giving back can be as easy as contributing to a clothing drive or as ambitious as taking a service trip to a foreign country. But whether you’re spending an hour sorting cans at the food bank or planning a “volun-tourism” trip overseas, you’re helping your child learn that it’s a wonderful thing to give back to others — and that helping others feels great at any time of year!

The Angel Code in Action: Hearts for Haley

If you asked most people to define “summer camp,” they’d probably give you some predictable answers: A place where children go to make friends and learn new things. A collection of cabins in the woods. A rustic setting on a lake.

These are things that are true of a lot of summer camps. But as our Angels past and present know, Bryn Mawr is more than a place. It’s a community! From pen pals and Peanut Daughters to reunions and reconnections, LBMC campers and staff carry camp in their hearts all year round, even when they’re far away from camp. Bryn Mawr Angels don’t just “live ten months for two”; they live the Angel Code every day of the year.

We couldn’t ask for a better example of our community of caring than the video that counselor Bri Dishong made for camper Haley G., who had open heart surgery this fall. Bri reached out to other Bryn Mawr counselors on Twitter to ask them to help show Haley their love as she prepared for her procedure. It didn’t take long for word to spread about the chance to support a fellow Angel, and photos started pouring in. The finished video includes pictures and hearts from dozens of current and former LBMC campers and staff members.

“It was pretty incredible,” Bri told Jane in an e-mail. “Just another reminder of what a great place and family you and Dan provide all of us!”

Buoyed by the love and support from her camp family, Haley is now recovering well from her procedure and looking forward to next summer at Bryn Mawr. We couldn’t be more proud of Bri and all the Angels who came together to show their “summer sister” how much they care. They truly embody the loving spirit of the LBMC community!

Homeward Bound…

As hard as it is to believe, the summer is about to come to an end. After nearly a week of fun and competition, Color War culminated in Sing, the Final Fight, and a victory for the Green Team. Our Bunk One campers are excited to look up at their Sing backdrops hanging on the dining hall walls and know that they’ve made their mark on camp for generations to come, and all our campers and counselors are now focused on getting ready to wrap up another season at LBMC.

The last few days of camp are structured somewhat differently than the rest of the summer. While activities continue, campers and counselors also work together to get ready to go home. Art projects are safely packaged for travel, cabins are cleaned, and the duffels and trunks come out so a summer’s worth of clothing can be packed up to be shipped home.

Although there’s a lot to get done, the last days of camp tend to feel a bit laid-back as campers make the most of the time they have left together. It can also be an emotional time, especially for our older campers, as everyone starts to face the prospect of going back to “real life” and spending ten months away from their “summer sisters.”

Because the end of camp can be hard, the traditions that mark the end of the summer are very important to campers and staff, particularly those girls who are finishing their Bunk One summer. On the last night of camp, everyone dresses in white for Banquet, a very special last dinner together. Bunk One campers give speeches about the lessons they’ve learned during their summers at camp, and we take the opportunity to thank the people who have helped make the summer a success, including our hardworking kitchen staff.

After Banquet, everyone in camp goes down to the lake for the final campfire of the summer. We sing the Alma Mater a final time as the camp initials and the year light up on the lake, and before saying goodnight, each camper and staff member makes a wish on a candle and floats it out onto the surface of the lake. Although it’s a tearful event, it’s wonderful to know that we all shared a happy summer together, and it’s always especially nice to see how the new campers have forged such close bonds with bunkmates who were perfect strangers just two months ago.

After the somber last night of camp, the morning of departure can feel hectic, although in reality it’s a very organized exercise. Campers and counselors are briefed on their bus assignments and departure times the day before, so even though it’s hard to get on the bus and say goodbye, the process of leaving camp is managed fairly smoothly. It’s an emotional time for everyone even the directors especially because campers are often facing conflicting feelings. They’re terribly sad to be leaving camp, but they’re also excited to get home and see their families, pets and friends. It’s a lot to process all at once!

Trip days: Let’s take this show on the road…

As much as we love camp, it’s always fun to take a day away for an outing. One of the most hotly-anticipated traditions of the summer is one of the trips we’ve been doing longest: our annual day trip to Hershey Park!

Located a few hours south of camp in Amish country, Hershey is a popular trip for a lot of reasons. Thrill-seeking campers love the roller coasters, but there’s a wide variety of tamer rides for girls who like a little less adrenaline (the classic carousel is always a favorite), and plenty to do for those who don’t love rides, like shows and games.

Oh, and of course, there’s the chocolate.

Our trip to Hershey Park always ends with a tour through Chocolate World, where campers learn how the famous chocolate bars are made – and where they get to shop for tasty Hershey goodies! This year we were fortunate to have sunny, cool weather on Hershey Park day. It was the perfect way to enjoy the park, and the long day flew by.

For campers, trip days are exciting breaks from the daily camp schedule. Staff enjoy trip days, too – but they’re definitely not days off. It’s important to us that no matter where we take our campers, they’re just as safe as they are on campus. On trip days, this means we add extra layers of organization to ensure our camp outings are safe and enjoyable. Since we can’t bring Hershey Park to Bryn Mawr, we bring our camp structure to Hershey Park!

Planning for a day trip begins long before the buses roll onto campus. Staff members are assigned to buses and trip roles to ensure a strong leadership presence every step of the way. Counselors are thoroughly coached on trip procedures and policies, and we ensure that every staff member understands the important role he or she plays in making trip day a safe and smoothly-run experience.

At the theme park, we use time-tested strategies to ensure campers are safe at all times. Dan and assistant director Bill Widman personally supervise the Hershey Park trip. We begin the day by establishing a home base where campers and staff know they can always find Dan, Bill and a nurse, and we make sure every camper and counselor knows how to find her way back to that spot. No camper is ever permitted to wander alone. Extra counselors are assigned to younger bunks to provide additional supervision and flexibility (for example, if four campers want to ride the Ferris wheel and four campers want to watch a show, there’s plenty of staff supervision to allow everyone to do what they want). Each age group has assigned check-in times throughout the course of the day, and the times are strictly enforced so we know everyone is accounted for. And members of our senior staff wearing trusty gold baseball caps make up the famous Bryn Mawr “Yellow Hat Squad.” Stationed throughout the park, they’re on hand to provide extra support to campers and counselors, make sure policies are being followed, and ensure camper safety at all times. We also take steps on the buses and in the park to ensure campers with food allergies and other considerations are able to enjoy the day safely.

Over the years, trip day has come to function like a well-oiled machine, and we often hear compliments from park staff about how pleasant and well-behaved our campers are. Most importantly, campers are able to enjoy Hershey Park and other day trips while feeling just as secure as they feel at camp. All the planning and organization pays off when we see the huge smiles on their faces as they walk through the park gates at the end of the day, still excited about all the fun they’ve had.

Exploring the summer camp experience!

We’ve got a group of very special guests on camp this weekend – our 2013 Explorers!

For one weekend each summer, LBMC welcomes a group of prospective new campers for a taste of summer camp life. Explorers Weekend is a mini-camp for girls who want to get a feel for Bryn Mawr before signing on for a full summer. Even though they’re with us for a very short time, our Explorers get the chance to sample nearly every aspect of camp, from a full range of program areas to dining hall spirit and special events – and of course, it wouldn’t be camp without a campfire.

Our goal for Explorers Weekend is to help potential campers get as realistic a camp experience as possible. They wear camp T-shirts, sleep in bunks, eat in the dining hall, participate in Talent Night, and attend a full schedule of daily camp activities designed especially for them. It’s amazing to see how quickly Explorers make friends and adapt to camp life – not only will we be sad to see them go home on Sunday, we know many of them won’t be ready to leave after all the fun they’ve had!

Explorers Weekend is staffed by an energetic group of Bryn Mawr moms, many of them LBMC alumnae themselves. As camp parents, they can anticipate many of the questions that may arise for Explorers and parents alike, since they were asking the same questions not so very long ago. They provide caring supervision throughout the course of the weekend. (And sometimes we suspect they’re having almost as much fun as the Explorers…)

The Explorers aren’t the only ones having a new camp experience this weekend; many of our Bunk One campers volunteer to be Explorers Weekend counselors and are spending their days accompanying our visiting campers to activities, eating meals with them and helping them settle into their cabins at night. They enjoy the opportunity to pass down their love of camp to the next generation of Bryn Mawr Angels. It also gives them a completely different perspective on camp as, for the first time, they really understand just how hard camp counselors work! It’s not unusual for Bunk One campers to go to counselors, group leaders and division heads after Explorers Weekend and express appreciation for everything they do. For our oldest campers, volunteering with our Explorers is great leadership experience, and more than one Explorers counselor has been inspired to return to camp after her Bunk One summer as a Leader-In-Training or junior counselor.