Traditions Old, Traditions New

“And how do we keep our balance? I can tell you in one word. Tradition”

Tradition is engrained in the backbone not just in Fiddler on the Roof but also in America’s Finest Summer Camps. Camp starts with the Opening Night Show and concludes with the Closing Night Show. There are campfires, singalongs, and color war in between. All of these things happen the same way, every year, each year bringing its own flare. Camp just wouldn’t be the same without our long-standing traditions.

But what’s better than long-standing traditions? New traditions that campers and staff add to camp each year. While certain traditions may seem like they’ve existed forever, they had to come from somewhere. One day, a camper or staff member said something, did something or had an idea that blossomed into a yearly tradition. For example, in 2015, we had a counselor who sang a song called “Hey Burrito.” This song is still sung every year during swim tests even though this counselor has not returned to camp. The ability of a counselor or camper to impact the entire camp for years to come is what is so special about traditions. Campers come to camp to be themselves. At America’s Finest Summer Camps, we value each individual camper. And who knows? Maybe your camper will bring something so unique to camp that we incorporate it into one of our long-standing traditions. The possibilities are endless.

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Learning to Lose

Walking off the field, high-fiving your teammates, and grabbing a snack after a close victory is one of the greatest feelings in sports. Players and coaches work hard all year to win. When they walk off the field after earning “the dub,” the whole team can take solace in a finite result.

The other team. The losing team. That is where the real character is shown. Winning is easy, taking a loss with good sportsmanship, and learning from it is significantly harder.

At America’s Finest Summer Camps, we offer top-quality instruction in all our activities to prepare campers for inter-camp competitions and for their lives at home. However, no matter how gifted our campers and staff are, we are not always the best at every activity. We lose sometimes.

Losing at camp, though, is not a permanent result. Losing is a learning opportunity and a chance to grow. It is also a chance to build resilience and perseverance to win the next game or competition. Our mature staff leads by example and loses with grace and sportsmanship. We always shake hands after games and work with campers not to be negative with ourselves or our teammates.

One of our coaches used to say “You have to learn to lose before you can love to win.” If you can’t learn to lose, which means using it as a tool to move forward and progress, then you will never get better to win. At America’s Finest Summer Camps, we cherish every win with humility and learn from every loss.

Win, lose, or draw, the true winners are the competitors who gave it their all, had fun and demonstrated sportsmanship. That’s what camp and competition are all about.

Generation Z Tech Free Living


iPhone/Smartphone, iPad/Tablet, Laptop, Television, Apple Watch/Fit Bit/Smart Watch, Amazon Echo/Google Home/Apple Home Pod, Bluetooth Speaker

This list of items can be found in nearly all our campers’ homes. We live in a tech-ridden world where technology is not only common, but a must to keep up with the fast-paced environment. However, at summer camp, we allow campers to remove themselves from technology and slow things down.

By eliminating technology in the bunks, America’s Finest Summer Camps foster an environment that allows campers to develop relationships and grow. Without electronic distractions in the bunk such as social media and video games, our campers have real face-to-face interactions, creating bonds stronger than technology.

This is most evident on a rainy day at camp. While a rainy day may seem glum and uneventful from an outsider’s perspective, campers in their bunks are anything but glum. Imaginations seem to run wild when 10 friends are stuck in a bunk together for hours. They create games, bunk traditions, or even mini business ideas in their bunk all because they were in an environment that nurtured this creativity and teamwork between campers. When the option is to create a game or play a video game, the video game is often the easy choice. When the option is creating a game or sitting on your bed, imaginations go into hyperdrive, allowing children to grow individually and with their bunkmates.

America’s Finest Summer Camps do understand the value of technology, however, which is why many of our member camps incorporate technology into their daily program with activities like coding, digital photography, music production, and digital media arts. We utilize technology in this capacity as a learning tool to equip our campers with a new skill set to use when they return home.

In a world where technology does so much for us that campers often don’t need to think for themselves, America’s Finest Summer Camps take this influence out. We allow campers to think. We allow campers to grow. And we allow campers to slow things down, if just for a short few weeks.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

-Ferris Bueller

At America’s Finest Summer Camps, we don’t miss it. We live it. All summer. Every summer.


During the day, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping at America’s Finest Summer Camps. However, this year, For the First Time in Forever, the “Snow [Glowed] White on the Mountain” in the summer camp theater. Summer 2019 was the debut of the musical Frozen at camp.

The excitement and anticipation for this spectacle were growing all week. The campus was buzzing with talk of Frozen with everybody excited to hear their favorite songs, with a special nod to Let it Go. While most of the camp was out enjoying our standard activities, a select few were in the theater rehearsing every song, every step until it was perfect.

Finally, the night had arrived. The theater looked different than it ever had before. The windows were blacked out. Extra lights hung from the ceiling. The set was the beautiful town of Arendelle, prepared as a show in the round. The lights turned off and the audience was silent as our theater director introduced the show: “Ladies and gentlemen…” The camp responded, “…And children of all ages.” It’s showtime.

Campers and counselors marveled at each number as the cast sang favorites, but they had to try not to sing along. Then, finally, the moment had arrived. A thirteen-year-old girl stood at the top of the icy stairs, looked at the camp, and began to sing with such grace and perfection. She NAILED Let it Go as the whole camp watched in awe.

The whole show saw laughs from Prince Hans and Olaf, amazement from Elsa and Anna, and chuckles from the trolls. At the conclusion of the show, the whole camp joined together in singing Let it Go to show the true spirit of camping. The whole camp sang in harmony as campers wrapped their arms around one another. It was just another one of those truly special moments at camp for which campers would say “You had to be there!” Whether you were there or just watch the video, Frozen was still a spectacle at America’s Finest Summer Camps.

Counsel for a Summer. Impact for a Lifetime.

Counsel for a Summer. Impact for a Lifetime.

Working at sleepaway camp for the summer is fun, challenging, and rewarding. You have the opportunity to live in a bunk with our campers on our beautiful campus in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. You will work with campers during each of our six activity periods. However, you will be with the kids so much more often than that. In fact, you’ll be with them from wake-up to bedtime. Mealtimes. Rest Hour. Shower Hour. Activity Periods. All-day long, you have the chance to interact with our amazing campers. And as lucky as you are to be with them, they are equally fortunate to have you as one of our amazing staff members.

Through all the time that you spend with your campers, it only takes a single moment…a single moment to change a child’s life. This may sound like something out of a fantasy novel, but it is absolutely true. We can all think back to a single conversation we had with an adult when we were younger that still impacts us today. The strangest part about this “moment”? You will never know it’s happening, and neither will the child. You may say something that seems inconsequential to both of you. Then, days later, that child is still thinking about it and you have long since forgotten about it. Years later, you’ve changed that child’s future based on a single conversation, and while they frantically search for your phone number to say “Thank You,” you may hardly remember that camper.

At the conclusion of my third summer at camp, I received a Counselor Appreciation letter from a camper who wrote about something that had happened the summer previously. The letter detailed a very intellectual and emotional realization that the camper had due to an interaction we had. However, this interaction wasn’t a profound conversation or a disciplinary issue. This interaction was me turning off the water while he brushed his teeth. He turned it back on. I turned it off. We went back and forth several times, and, amidst our laughter, I finally convinced him to leave it off once I left the bathroom. In my mind, that was the end. However, for reasons he explained in the letter, this was genuinely a meaningful moment in his life that he still thought about over a year later. Without his Counselor Appreciation Letter, I would have never known this “moment” existed.

As a counselor at sleepaway camp, we only ask that you come as you are. Athletic, quirky, nerdy, shy, outgoing, or anything in between. We’ve seen it all and appreciate it equally. As a staff member, we don’t expect your summer to be filled with life-changing moments. In fact, looking for these moments would be counterproductive. By simply being yourself, you will build strong relationships with your campers. So, don’t search for this “moment.” Embrace your individuality and cherish the summer with these amazing children because as much as you can impact them, they will certainly have an impact on you.

Camp Robin Hood Fall Semester at Camp

Over the years many people have joked around with us saying things like “if only camp were year-round!” and “my kids would stay all fall if they had the chance – they don’t want to come home!” Well this year they might just have that opportunity. 


COVID is forcing many schools to continue remote learning this fall. With proper screening, quarantining, testing and diligence Camp Robin Hood kept our community safe in a protective bubble for summer 2020 operating for 5 full weeks with no cases. We have the opportunity to continue what we started this summer over the course of the fall in what we call Robin Hood’s Semester at Camp.

If pre-teens and teens are being taught virtually this fall why not have them learn virtually from their happy place – CAMP – and not from their dining room tables? We can offer a safe space for kids, grades 6-11, to learn and also to spend time with their friends in small groups and to take advantage of all that our facility has to offer. Plus fall is the most beautiful time of the year in New England, with fall foliage creating a stunning backdrop for camp activities.

Designed for self-motivated students who thrive in an independent learning setting, the fall session will enable campers to study virtually during the day, and enjoy traditional camp experiences during the evenings and weekends – including bonfires, canoe races, sailing, tennis, and more, along with Camp Robin Hood’s treasured all-camp events. Students will work independently for the majority of the day, with two optional classes offered: Art and Sports.

Program Highlights:

  • Instruction and work online from 9:30am – 3:30pm, Monday – Friday (or however long it takes to get their homework/camp work done!)
  • Daily scheduled camp activities
  • Special events and social time
  • Camp fun all weekend until class starts again on Monday morning.
  • Bunks staffed by our regular camp staff with a 10-1 ratio
  • Enhanced wifi and plenty of workspace
  • Camp staff will hold campers accountable for being present in class, staying on task, and completing schoolwork (but not for reviewing or enhancing the work).
  • Your child’s school will supply the academic part of your child’s experience and we will provide the social, emotional, and physical side of their experience.
  • All Inclusive Tuition: Accommodations, Meals, Testing, Supplies, ALL CAMP ACTIVITIES!

Want to Learn More?

Visit our Semester at Camp page or call us at 312-404-1828 to learn more about this unique opportunity of remote schooling from camp this semester!

The Importance of Downtime

From wakeup to daily activities to songs at Evening Cove, every day at Laurel South is jam-packed with energy and enthusiasm. Campers are constantly on the move. And it’s interesting to point out that campers and counselors often forge theirdeepest connections during structured down times.

Harvard’s Graduate School of Education has several recent studies on the importance of down timefor children. Leah Shaferlooks at the benefits of playing during downtime and concludes that the best camps offer “opportunities for kid-directed play.” Included in her many benefits of playtime are intellectual development, social development, emotional development and physical development. Shafer says the best indicators for getting the most out of playtime are “choice, wonder, and delight.”

At Laurel South, campers improve their skills in daily activities, but are also able to explore choice, wonder and delight, as Shafer puts it, during Rest Hour, after dinner and before bedtime. The best part? Any downtime activity can help a child’s development. Making bracelets, playing cards,reading,creating an entirely new game and even cleaning up can be labeled ‘play.’(Just ask Mary Poppins!)

Playing during downtime sparks the curiosity and imagination of those involved. It’s often the foundation for inside jokes, creative stories and uninhibited laughter. More than anything, it’s part of the development of children and helping them create unique friendships.

Creativity at America’s Finest Summer Camps

Arts activities and studios at America’s Finest Summer Camps help campers unleash their creativity in many different ways!

In Sports Broadcasting, campers have the opportunity to gain experience with real studio microphones and go on the air, discussing camp sporting events. Those participating learn the fundamentals of speaking clearly and audibly on-air, as well as how to properly phrase sentences in the most convenient way for the listener. Campers can also experiment in an on-camp science lab. Some activities include exploding watermelons with rubber bands, making ice cream, and even shooting rockets into the air!

There’s also Digital Photography, where campers can use professional cameras to document their adventures around camp and capture moments that can be held on to for a lifetime. Right next door is Video Production, which is another area where campers are able to utilize professional equipment. There’s also a green screen, so videos made can have any setting, with no limits.

Campers can also find their voices in singing! Campers learn songs and perform them for each other, with the coaching of incredibly talented voice specialists. For more hands-on fun, campers can try sewing. They are given sewing projects for them to complete and take home with them. This includes scrunchies, tote bags, and even headbands. Sewing campers also help out with making costumes for the plays currently being produced at camp.

At America’s Finest Summer Camps, creativity and imagination are key. At the end of the period, every camper walks out with new knowledge or a new project. The possibilities are truly endless!

Visiting Day at America’s Finest Summer Camps

Visiting Day

It’s safe to say that on the eve of Visiting Day, the bunks at America’s Finest Summer Camps were filled with pure excitement and energy. Visiting Day is one of the most anticipated days of the summer, and with good reason; it’s the day where campers and their families are finally reunited, in a party of laughing, crying, and eating.

With the day finally here and the excitement levels high, campers began the day with the annual visiting day singalong. After, it was time to head back to the bunks and prepare for the moment that campers and their parents have been waiting so long for.

As cars filled with gifts, candy and excited parents began to pull into the camp road, the parking lot quickly filled up with parents and their families eager to secure a spot along the blue rope. 11 o’clock couldn’t come soon enough, as the lineup of moms, dads, grandparents and siblings continued to grow. They’re carefully counting down the seconds until they are able to run and greet their kids for the first time in weeks. As soon as the tape is cut, America’s Finest Summer Camps are instantly flooded with hundreds of people: The sight is like no other.

Once the hugs were hugged and the tears shed, it was time to enjoy the day, with many families opting to set up along the grass facing their camp’s beautiful lake. Chef and the entire kitchen staff spoiled everyone with a delicious barbecue lunch, packed with hot dogs, delicious burgers and the most amazing grilled chicken. Although many campers were already too full from the mouth-watering treats that their parents brought from home.

Most activities are available to partake in, including tennis, Gaga, volleyball, and free swim in the lake, allowing campers and their families to cool off and relax in the lake together and catch a break from the heat.

Fortunately, this is not only an opportunity for families to reunite, but for parents to finally meet the counselors who have been watching over their kids this summer.

Sadly, all things that are happy and exciting must come to an end. In the afternoon, the families must say goodbye as they wish campers a great second half of the summer, All campers are incredibly glad that they were able to invite their loved ones to camp for the day, and can’t wait to tell everyone at home about the incredible summer that they experienced this year.

The Courage to Connect at Camp

Connecting at Camp

When you strip everything away, it’s connection that we crave, isn’t it? I know that is what our new campers want to start right now. They just want to find a friend. And our returners come back for one reason: to rekindle the connections they love so much.

At camp, we remove all the barriers and do our best to connect. We drop our masks. We let our true and best selves shine through. We remember who we are and those around us join in on the party of that knowledge.

We talk about the summer burning brightly at America’s Finest Summer Camps. The light of camp, though, does not come from the nightly campfire by the lake. It comes from the light of connection created between the campers who run through our forests, sleep in our bunks, and play… together.