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Counselor Spotlights: Rachele Harvey & Wyatt West

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Name: Rachele Harvey

Where do you go to college? I graduated from University of Florida in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication.

Years at Camp Pinnacle: This will be my fifth, and BEST, summer at Camp Pinnacle!

What is your role at Camp Pinnacle? I’m the head of girls’ camp, so my role is to make sure every female camper has the best summer of her life!

What do you do when you’re not working at camp? I just returned from Rome, Italy, where I was enrolled in an emergent program, studying Italian language and culture. I also recently visited the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando and, of course, it was magical.

What’s your favorite adventure been? This past holiday season, I traveled to New Zealand with my parents. It was absolutely breathtaking. My favorite experience was hiking the Tongariro Volcano (the volcano from Lord of the Rings). It was 11.5 miles and very windy, but easily the most beautiful view I have ever seen.

What is your favorite camp song? Ra Ra for Pinnacle!

Tell us a cool fact about yourself. I can speak cat.

Where would you like to go on your next adventure? Iceland to see the northern lights.

Why did you decide to return to Camp Pinnacle? It’s my home. I love Camp Pinnacle more than I love most things. There isn’t another place I would rather be, and I absolutely cannot wait to share the summer with more than 600 campers!

What are you most excited about for the summer? Making new friends! I am excited to see returning faces and cannot wait to meet new campers—it’s going to be another great summer of fun and friendship!


Wyatt West

What do you do when you’re not working at camp? I’m a full-time student at Ohio State University, majoring in history with minors in geography and city and regional planning. While I’m not busy with school, I enjoy listening to music, watching and playing soccer, and hiking.

Years at Camp Pinnacle: This is my second summer.

Why did you choose to work at camp? I did the Alaska Expedition for Adventure Treks going into my senior year of high school. It was an amazing experience, and I really enjoyed the Adventure Treks philosophy. Camp Pinnacle shares that philosophy, and I knew I would love working in this part of the country with amazing campers.

What has been your favorite traveling experience? Traveling through Europe in May 2015!

What is something that you are proud of? This past semester, I participated in a huge service project with the Columbus Metropolitan Library Driving Park Branch. A partner and I built a map board game that taught the kids at the Homework Help Center about the electoral college, and they loved it! Definitely the highpoint of my semester.

Tell us a cool fact about yourself. I’ve been to 12 national parks, and I have an identical twin brother who will also be working at camp this summer.

Where would you like to go on your next adventure? I would not mind going back to Europe! But for something new, Asia would be intriguing.

What are you most excited about for the summer? Getting to meet all the great new campers and seeing all the awesome returners!

Reflections From a Loyal Camp Pinnacle Alumni…

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The Brand New CP Arts Center

The Brand New Arts Center

By Fayssoux Evans, 1998 – 2002

Growing up, my favorite part of summer was always Opening Day at Camp Pinnacle.  As a child I attended Pinnacle for five summers. Every summer, my mom would drive my sisters and I to camp, and without fail, I would get sick on Little River Road. I don’t know if it was the curvy roads or the excitement of heading back for another summer at Camp Pinnacle, but it was inevitable. My mom would roll down the windows, hoping the fresh air would help make me feel better. That’s how we would drive into camp every year — windows down, breathing in the smell of white pine and hemlock trees.

Today, when I drive through the new entrance gate at Camp Pinnacle, I still roll down my windows and breathe in the scent from the very same trees. And while camp still feels the same 15 years later, camp is a different facility in 2016 than it was  my last year as a camper in 2002. There are new trails, new people, new buildings, and new activities.

New porches, and a treehouse enhance the cabin experience but cabin life remains rustic to preserve the Pinnacle experience!

New porches, and a tree house enhance the cabin experience but cabin life remains rustic.

Over the past few years, Camp Pinnacle has been in a constant state of improvement. There isn’t one area of camp that has not been touched — from the new cabin porches, wooden walkways, treehouses and the new Arts  Center, to the new Mountain Slide, Lakeside Amphitheater, and water-zipline, along with miles of new mountain biking and hiking trails.  What has been particularly exciting is that all the new facility improvements have been intentionally designed to enhance Camp’s youth development goals such as community building, immersion in nature, and improving communication and collaboration skills.

The maintenance team led by Tom McCartney and George Nagel has been hard at work restoring Camp Pinnacle to its once pristine condition. But don’t worry, there’s still a rustic

The Girls cabins have all been updated for 2016!

The Girls cabins have all been updated for 2016!

feel at camp. It wouldn’t be Pinnacle without the moss growing on the cabin roofs, the loud BAM of wooden cabin doors closing, or the simple joy of communal bathrooms (though they are a lot nicer now than in my day!)  You still get the same wonderful, peaceful feeling when you sit in a rocking chair on the front porch of the dining hall, and look down the front lawn towards Wolfe Lake.

Camp is, as it always has been, a beautiful place, one of the few special  environments that still exists for children. Campers continue to spend their summers without television, cell phones, or video games in a rustic camp setting surrounded by nature and excellent role models—that hasn’t changed. But       Camp Pinnacle is growing and updating, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Fayssoux Evans

P.S. If any alumni find themselves in Henderson County this summer, come join me on the front porch for a Scooter Crunch Bar.

Happy Halloween and some thoughts

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We wish our Camp Pinnacle family a Happy Halloween. Halloween is easily one of the the three favorite holidays for the Dockendorf family.  I’m going to use pumpkin carving as a metaphor for how high the bar is being raised in our  globalized world.

When I was a kid, back in the dark ages, my parents would present me with my annual pumpkin a few days before Halloween. I would take my knife (kids could have knives back then), hack out a couple triangles for eyes and a nose, try to cut a couple of teeth into the mouth, throw in the candle, and there it was—my best effort! It was all my own work and done in half an hour. No stress whatsoever as I rushed outside to play. I had made my contribution to the neighborhood Halloween experience, and all of the pumpkins in the neighborhood were equally mediocre. That being said, nobody knew differently as we roamed the neighborhood in search of tricks and treats.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Fast forward to 2015: The pumpkins carved in my youth would be ridiculed now. Much of America is too busy to even bother to carve their own pumpkins.  Enter the faux-carved foam pumpkins available in stores everywhere!  For those making the effort, pumpkin carving, thanks to fancy stencils and an arsenal of carving tools, has gone completely over the top!

With thousands of stencils to download, many parents feel their young kids couldn’t possibly carve a pumpkin that would live up to today’s expectations. So some parents take over the task and end up carving the pumpkin themselves.  I was just about to fall into that trap.

My 8-year-old son, Charlie was obsessed with a New England Patriots  pumpkin. (We live in NC… go figure?) After a Google search with examples of complicated Patriots designs, I easily opted against the $10.95 Patriots Pumpkin stencil kit. I had to admit to Charlie that while I was surely good at something, I was hardly the Picasso of pumpkin carving, and we would have to opt for a much less ambitious pumpkin. Tears were shed!

Although we knew our best effort would pale in comparison to all that we had seen on the internet, we decided the best alternative was to create our own pumpkin. It was not the fanciest, the scariest, nor the most unique, but it was our pumpkin. No stencils, no dragons, no football helmets, and yet it was certainly worthy and “scary” enough to adorn our front stoop. And Charlie was even allowed to use a knife! We did it together, and we had fun. The process was far more rewarding than the result. The neighbors may grimace at our low-rent pumpkin, but by lowering the bar, we actually enjoyed the experience more!

The bottom line is that the consistently high bar for everything is stressing out both kids and parents. Kids often wonder how they are going to measure up. And they feel our stress as we wonder, too. Sure, the stakes in the global economy are much higher than they used to be, but there are costs to raising our kids to be “exceptional”—costs we don’t always take into account. As parents, we have certain image of success in mind for our kids—sports championships, music recitals, high grades, attending an Ivy League school—and as a result of these high expectations, some kids become more afraid of failure than ever before. High expectations are a good thing. After all, we want our kids to stretch themselves. But having unrealistic expectations isn’t healthy, nor is raising kids who feel that they aren’t allowed to fail, or that everything they do has to be perfect.

And isn’t it possible that we may be setting the wrong goals for our kids? What if we reframed things?

Hiking Tenant Mountain

Hiking Tenant Mountain

What if we focused less on specific goals and more on one simple question: How as parents do we find ways for our kids to shine? And guide them toward places where they feel happy and on point?

Put differently, perhaps we should focus less on accomplishment and more on finding great environments where our kids will experience successes and feel accepted.

I believe a “great environment” for kids has three important components.

First, it should be a good match for a child’s talents and interests—a place where they feel they have aptitudes and feel a desire to improve these aptitudes.

Second, the “great environment” should provide challenges and opportunities to grow by overcoming successively greater challenges. I.e.,  confidence grows from competence. And resilience grows because of hard work and even more by picking oneself up after failure. That “great environment” is a place where the culture says it’s OK to fail, and provides plenty of support when you do. A growth mindset that rewards hard work over innate talent is the theme here.

The final component of a “great environment” should be community and acceptance. This is often neglected when parents consider activities for their children. But as I look at my three daughters’ soccer teams at the end of the season; far more important than the skills gained or the games won, was the incredible rapport the girls developed and the friendships that extend beyond the field. To me, soccer,  like most youth activities, is merely a vehicle for healthy friendships, healthy bodies, and a respect for all that comes as a result of hard work.

Boys Cabin Playing Games

Working together and playing nice!

Which brings me to Camp Pinnacle. Ultimately, our goal is to create that “great environment” described above for your child. We want camp to be one of the healthiest and happiest times of a child’s life. Our campers say they love being in a place that doesn’t judge them and loves them for who they are, not who they are “supposed to be.” In a world where the bar is being raised every day, we want Pinnacle to be a place where kids can temporarily escape the competitive and digital world and simply enjoy being themselves!

Sometimes the simplest pumpkin is the most satisfying. Charlie and I are both glad we chose not to carve that Patriots pumpkin. By carving our own design, we were ultimately much happier.