From the moment I arrived at Tripp Lake Camp as a camper, I fell in love with its beauty, its people and its spirit. That love only grew as a counselor and, since 1999, as Director of Tripp Lake.
My experience as a camper and counselor led me to a lifetime of working with people. After graduating from Lehigh University, I earned a Masters’ degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis, and then served for many years as a clinical social worker at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. My experience as a camper and counselor also gave me a deep appreciation for Tripp Lake’s traditions and, coupled with my time as a social worker, a unique perspective on the benefits for a young girl of summers spent at Tripp Lake.
My husband Mitchell and I live in Rye Brook, New York with our sons David and Michael.
At Tripp Lake Camp we have a tradition of helping others. I have never been more proud of our girls than I was this summer, as our campers have created Project Pink in an effort to help women with breast cancer.
The idea stems from the story of The Tutu Project, which you may have seen on the Today Show. Author Bob Carey is self-publishing Ballerina, a collection of humorous stories and images of himself in a pink tutu. When his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, Bob embarked on this project as a way of dealing with a difficult situation by laughing at himself – hence the pink tutu – and sharing the laughter with others. The Tutu Project expanded to helping women with breast cancer who have no insurance to offset their medical expenses. (To learn more, visit thetutuproject.com.)
In support of this cause, the entire camp donned pink tutus, and we had a professional photographer take a few photos that we are making available in 16″ x 20″ poster size. We are also offering a pink TLC T-shirt. All proceeds will benefit The Tutu Project.
A Project Pink Order Form is posted here. We appreciate your consideration of this worthwhile project and supporting our tradition of helping others in need.
Every summer, Senior campers at Tripp Lake Camp, in Poland, Maine volunteer their time and effort to Camp Sunshine. Camp Sunshine, in Casco, Maine, is an organization that provides a loving and happy atmosphere to children and their families suffering from cancer and other terminal diseases. Two TLC Senior campers took time to reflect on what it meant to lend a helping hand and what affect it had on them personally. We would like to share these stories with you.
Jamie W., camper, Senior II writes:
Living in this sacred bubble we call Tripp Lake Camp, sometimes we take for granted how lucky we are to be here. Recently, myself and ten other 1AB’ers (campers) volunteered to visit Camp Sunshine. Camp Sunshine provides one fun-filled, stress free week for families affected by cancer. I was assigned to play with 3-5 year olds. We played board games, drew pictures, played outside in order to ensure each child was comfortable and happy. Reflecting on my visit, I am now fully aware of how fortunate I am. It’s almost impossible to comprehend how such a young, innocent child could have gone through such an emotionally hard experience. Being in 1AB (a senior bunk at Tripp Lake Camp), we are often seen as role models. However, the kids at Camp Sunshine are my role models, as I strive to be as happy, loving, and able to live in the moment.
Emily G., camper, Senior II writes:
I have two legs, two arms, and all of my fingers and toes. Aside from an occasional broken finger or common cold, I am a healthy 15-year-old girl. It is not often that I imagine my life any differently. For example, having to deal with a life changing illness like cancer. I have recently learned that here at Tripp Lake Camp, we often take our lives, health, and happiness for granted.
On July 5th, ten Senior II’s (campers) traveled half an hour to Camp Sunshine. When you pull into the driveway, you are greeted by a beautiful, bright campus filled with a ropes course, open waterfront, art rooms, playgrounds, and other activities that Tripp Lake Camp offers as well. By the looks of it, you wouldn’t know that the campers and their families are fighting cancer, leukemia, and other serious diseases. Volunteer staff members, doctors, and full-time counselors work with the visiting families to give them an escape for a week from the battle they are fighting. In most cases, I was working with a child in the 6- to 8-year-old group, who were battling cancer. Their siblings were there enjoying the games/activities we played with the campers, while the parents had time to relax.
July 5th was probably the most moving reality-check of my life. There were many times I was fighting back tears of happiness because these beautiful, young kids get a chance to get away from the hospitals, chemo, and stress of home. But there were also tears of sadness. I have such a wonderful, worry-free life. I stress about school, tests and drama. These children at Camp Sunshine are fighting for their lives every single day. One boy I met was a 6-year-old named Aaron. His counselor had told me that, because of Camp Sunshine, he had willingly taken off his hat, which he hadn’t done since starting chemotherapy. He had been incredibly self-conscious since losing his hair during the treatment and refused to take his hat off for long periods of time. The day before we volunteered, Aaron threw off his hat while playing carelessly in the field. It was an experience that brought his parents to tears.
I had heard so many more stories like Aaron during the day from parents, kids and counselors. Each story made me more grateful for my life and opportunities. I felt amazing at the end of the day. So happy I had a chance to brightened 34 children’s day. Camp Sunshine is a heaven just like Tripp Lake Camp. It is my dream that more young girls and boys can share the experience that I have been blessed to have had.
Here’s an interesting article about how a child’s experiences at sleep-away summer camp can provide a great head-start once she embarks on her college career:
Creating Advantage in College
Summer camp gives children meaningful advantages in college.
Published on December 2, 2011 by Steve Baskin in S’mores and More
When I started my career as a camp director in 1993, my mother (the “Silver Fox”) shared the following thought with me: “summer camp is like college, but just a little bit early”.
Being a strong believer in my mother’s wisdom, I found myself thinking about this statement fairly often. Summer camp had been a huge part of my personal development as a young man, and had even found its way into my college and graduate school applications. Yet the idea that “camp was like college” did not seem to make sense to me at the time.
Over the past 16 years, I have found that this idea is actually a profound one.
Three years ago, we were talking with a friend whose daughter was in her first year at college. Both mother and daughter had struggled mightily with the separation. “During the first semester, we would talk everyday, sometimes 5 or 6 times. She was so sad and uncomfortable away from home. It really affected her grades and social life. She is better in her second semester, and she only calls once or twice a day. I still worry about her though.”
This conversation reminded me of a speech I heard by Dr Wendy Mogel a few years ago. Dr Mogel is a nationally-known clinical psychologist and educator who wrote the best-seller parenting book “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee”. She shared a story about a good friend of hers whose daughter was a freshman at college at Sarah Lawrence.
Unlike my friend, this woman’s daughter thrived in her first semester in college. She earned exceptional marks (making the Dean’s List) and she became president of the freshman class. During Parents weekend, her mother met the mother of a senior who was president of the entire student body and was weighing various job offers. The two mothers were sharing stories about their daughter’s college experience when the mother of the senior shared an unexpected thought:
“I bet your daughter went to overnight summer camp.”
“She did, but what makes you say that?”
“I am not surprised. I have noticed that my daughter’s friends who had strong freshman years all went to overnight camp at some point. The ones that really struggled did not.”
The contrast of these two freshman experiences (our friends and Wendy’s) compelled me to think about why this might be true. Here is what I came up with.
Going to college presents many challenges, three of which jump out at me:
Increased academic rigor (college work is simply harder than high school work)
Being away from home and your traditional support system (family, friends, familiar places)
Dealing with large amounts of uncertainty (what will classes require, how will I fit in socially, can I deal with this new roommate)
Of course, overnight camp does little to deal with the first challenge of academic rigor, but it helps substantially with both of the other challenges.
Camp helps students adjust to being away-from-home by giving them practice being away-from-home. Campers coming to camp (often as young as Kindergarten or 1st grade) get to experience being separated from home successfully. Certainly, most campers have some homesickness, but the supportive camp community and the fun activities help ease them through this initial challenge. Homesickness is natural. Children will miss their parents.
Further, we live in a society that sometimes suggests to children that they are only safe within eyeshot of their parents. Yet, we parents want our children to grow in confidence and independence so that they can live productive, fulfilling and joyous lives. Camp enables children to experience successful independence. Like college, they are away-from-home. Unlike college, they are in a community committed to their physical and emotional safety.
Camp also helps campers deal with uncertainty. The first week of camp is full of uncertainty: Who are these counselors? What are these traditions? Where do I go? Who will be my friends? Will I be successful? Just like college, there is schedule-related uncertainty (where to go and when) and social uncertainty (who, among this group of relative strangers, will be my friend).
The camper gets to experience overcoming this uncertainty. I like to think of it as strengthening the “resilience muscle.” Having done so, the next experience of uncertainty is easier to handle. The camper who comes to camp for several years gets multiple opportunities to strengthen his or her resilience muscle. By the time they go to college, they are much more confident and resilient.
So the former summer camper arriving at college as a Freshman can focus his or her energy on the challenges of academic rigor, but not worry about being away from home and the uncertainty of a new environment. Other students face all three challenges. Seen this way, it is not hard to understand how camp can help later with college.
Last summer, a long-time camp mom shared her thoughts about her oldest son going out-of-state to college. I asked her how she felt. “I’m going to miss him.”
“Are you worried about his first semester?”
“No way. He has already gone to camp for 9 years, so I know he will be fine. He is so excited to face this challenge. Camp has also helped me – I have had practice being separated from him. He is going to shine at school!”
Later that evening, my wife and I agreed on three things: First, this was one of the nicest endorsements of camp we had heard. Second, we are so happy to think that the campers who have become such an important part of our lives will have an advantage in college. Finally, the “Silver Fox,” once again, was right.
In this article, Ph.D Michael Ungar discusses the benefits of sending children to summer camp. He emphasizes seven key areas where camps provide children with the opportunity to develop coping strategies that foster resilience: Summer Camps Make Kids Resilient
In these past few exciting weeks, as we’ve put the finishing touches on our new website, I’ve often thought of a line from one of my favorite Tripp Lake songs: “For you girls belong to Tripp Lake, and Tripp Lake belongs to you.” When you’ve been a Tripp Lake camper you never really leave, and TLC never leaves you. From the moment I stepped on the grounds as a first year camper, Tripp Lake felt like home. I quickly came to understand why Aunt Ruth called it the “Promised Land.”
The memories of team games, cheering at the team trees, Sing Song and plays at Over-The-Wall, milk and cookie line at 11:20am every day, reveille playing to start each camp day, chimes playing to signal the start of another fun activity, and taps playing at night remind us all of how lucky we are to spend our summers together at Tripp Lake. No wonder the camp’s sparkling waters and towering pines have inspired so many talented Tripp Lake campers to write those beautiful camp songs!
The special friendships and the spirit of Tripp Lake bind each of us to the camp and to each other through the generations of Tripp Lakers. As we launch our new website, we are mindful of staying true to the traditions and values that have shaped Tripp Lake Camp since 1911 even as we embrace this new technology that enables us to stay connected – and reconnect – with Tripp Lakers present and past.
I hope you enjoy our new website and I invite you to share your own special memories of your experiences at TLC.