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Video: 2015 Camp Pinnacle Orientation

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Tuckasegee Girls atop their new Tree House!

“Tuckasegee” girls atop their new tree house!

Camp Pinnacle is open and off to a tremendous start! We love this group of Session 1 campers, and everyone is having lots of fun, taking “reasonable risks” as they try new activities and accept small challenges on personal frontiers. With only two weeks to create incredible experiences, campers were out climbing rocks, summiting mountains, and camping out as early as the second day of camp!

We are ecstatic about our 2015 counselor team. Being a great camp counselor is a challenging and demanding job, and there is much to learn, even for experienced staff with years of experience. Our counselors go through two weeks of training, where we cover first aid and safety, teaching activity skills, and how to build the close-knit and kind cabin communities that make Camp Pinnacle so unique and wonderful. We begin by forming a cohesive counselor community; when we value and treat each other with kindness and respect, it sets the tone for the entire summer at camp.

New Fireman's Pole Outside the Renovated "Graveyard Fields" Cabiin

New fireman’s pole outside the renovated “Graveyard Fields” cabin.

Knowing how powerful a summer camp experience can be, we are constantly keeping up with the latest trends in youth development, education, and brain research in order to equip our counselors with cutting edge knowledge to help them be the best counselors possible.

Below are our 2015 suggestions for those who share our obsession in helping kids experience personal growth.

Our Kids

From Harvard’s Robert Putnam, the expert on community who wrote the seminal book, Bowling Alone, we have a treasure trove of data on how kids succeed among the inequality brewing in our country. One of his many conclusions is that it matters deeply who your kids go to school (and camp) with. He also stresses that non-cognitive skills (communication, collaboration, creativity, grit and resilience—the things we teach and practice at Camp Pinnacle) are very often the key to adult success.

Two generations ago, the vast majority of “our kids” went on to live lives better than those of their parents and society generally aided them. But their children and grandchildren (the current generation) have had less opportunity amid diminishing prospects and less help from the “bigger community.” Putnam tells the tale of a widening gap between “rich” and “poor” and lessening opportunity through poignant life stories of rich and poor kids from cities and suburbs across the country, drawing on a formidable body of research done specifically for this book.

Find the book here.

The Road to Character

Responding to what he calls the culture of the “Big Me” (which emphasizes external success), David Brooks challenges us, and himself, to re-balance the scales
between our “résumé virtues”—achieving wealth, fame, and status—and our “eulogy virtues”— those that exist at the core of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness—focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed. (Read more about how we focus on character development at Camp Pinnacle in this blog.)

Looking to some of the world’s greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and an understanding and appreciation of one’s own limitations, people have built a strong inner character.

Find the book here.

Masterminds and Wingmen

The author who brought us Mean Girls and Queen Bees and Wanna Bees, Rosalind Wiseman has now written the definitive book on boys: Masterminds and Wingmen. Using a panel of more than 160 boys, Wiseman exposes us to the world of teenage boys and gives us great insight into the lives our boys are experiencing, the rules of boys’ world, and how male teenage power structures work. She introduces the “Act like a Man Box” and the effects attempting to live up to these expectations can have on young male behavior. As school and the economy change, we are concerned that boys are falling behind, and we hope the culture we create at Camp Pinnacle will help our male campers (as well as our female campers) succeed in life outside camp.

Find the book here.

Below are books we still use frequently and have included on previous lists.

Mindset Carol DweckIn Mindset, Stanford researcher Carol Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success, but whether we approach challenges with a fixed or a growth mindset. Praising intelligence and ability isn’t the best way to foster self-efficacy and confidence, and may instead actually jeopardize success. Instead, understanding that the brain is malleable, and that we are all works in progress, leads to the development of a growth mindset. By encouraging and rewarding effort and hard work over innate talent, we can better motivate our kids to more eagerly approach new challenges while building resilience. We use Dweck’s book in counselor orientation to show them how to encourage our campers to develop a mindset focused on continuous growth rather than accepting our talents and abilities as fixed.

Find the book here.

Childhood Roots of Adult HappinessHarvard professor Edward Hallowell gives us a
wonderful five-step program to help give our kids a childhood that creates a footprint for them to
become happy adults. In The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, Hallowell promotes childhood as a time to provide opportunities to feel connected to others, to play and be joyful, to practice and attain mastery in numerous activities, to fail and build resilience, and to receive recognition.

We use Hallowell’s model in our counselor training and
wrote a blog about how his model applies to Camp Pinnacle.

We love this book!

Find the book here.

The Big DisconnectOne of the Wall Street Journal’s “most important reads for 2013,” The Big Disconnect: Protecting Child and Family Relationships in the Digital Age discusses how technology is affecting family relationships and how parents’ involvement with technology at home affects family connections. Renowned clinical psychologist and author Catherine Steiner-Adair explains that families are now in crisis around this issue. Not only do chronic technology distractions have deep and lasting effects, but children desperately need warm interactions with the adults in their lives.

Drawing on real-life stories from her clinical and consulting work, Steiner-Adair offers insights and advice on how parents can achieve greater understanding and confidence as they come up against the tech revolution happening in their living rooms. When Camp Pinnacle campers have an amazing experience and succeed beyond all expectations without any technology, they are often given a unique perspective on how technology fits into their lives. Read a recent blog we wrote about her book.

Find the book here.

Camp Pinnacle has hired an impressive team of role models!

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One of the greatest gifts of the summer camp experience is the opportunity for children to form relationships with impressive role models who will be remembered forever. This summer, we are bringing together some of the best young leaders from around the country to be exceptional role models for your children. We’ll have close to fifty leaders who will hail from 36 colleges and 21 different states. We all share one goal: To give our Camp Pinnacle campers the experience of a lifetime.

Meet The Counselors from Camp Pinnacle on Vimeo.

As the Assistant Director, one of my main focuses throughout the year is keeping up with our returning staff and spearheading our interview process for new staff. We have an extensive hiring process that includes three separate interviews in order to allow us to really get to know our applicants. This is followed by three reference checks and a complete background check. When assembling our counselor team, we look for a group of well-rounded counselors who have a passion for working with kids. We have partnered with these staff because of our belief in their ability to focus on safety, to be positive role models, and to best facilitate our camper’s personal growth and fun. As a staff, we work with our campers to create an emotionally and physically safe environment where everyone can grow and become their best selves.

I could not be more excited to share details about our 2015 Pinnacle Staff team!


Rachele Harvey will be joining us for her fourth summer at Camp Pinnacle as the head counselor for Girls’ Camp. She has recently graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in International Studies and minors in Italian and Anthropology. Rachele spent part of her winter in Peru and the Galapagos, hiking Machu Picchu and swimming with sea lions.

Carson Gernert will be the head counselor for Boys’ Camp. Like Rachele, he has been with us since 2012 when we reopened Camp Pinnacle.  Carson is graduating from the College of Charleston this May with a degree in Business and Finance. He spent part of his winter traveling across southeast Asia, including China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.

Visiting Looking Glass Falls!

Visiting Looking Glass Falls!

Outdoor Leadership

Jasmine Siemer-Dunbar and Andrew Buckless assist our Outdoor Director, Hoyle Adams in leading our outdoor programs.  Both are returning for their third summer at camp.  Jasmine is graduating from the University of Redlands in California, summa cum laude, with an emphasis in Integrative Psychology. Andrew, aka “Bucky”, is receiving his degree in Adventure Education from Plymouth State University. Bucky spent his winter climbing his way through Spain and Jasmine recently spent a semester in Indonesia.

Activity Leadership

Charlie Kendrick, our alumni director, will be returning for his 30th+ summer at Pinnacle to assist in our ongoing program improvement. Former Pinnacle camper Amanda Byrne will be returning to add some fun to our arts and crafts program. Jessica Eblen, a former tennis standout at University of North Carolina–Greensboro and head coach of the Hendersonville High School tennis program, will be returning to lead our tennis program.  Ed Majzlik will be back for his fourth summer at the riflery range.  Managing a nuclear power plant prior to “retirement” gave Ed the necessary experience to keep the range safe! Our mountain biking program is sure to be a knock-out again this summer under the leadership of Steve Drewry, who will be returning for his second summer.  Frank Burch will be joining us as our waterfront director.  He spent 10 years at our sister camp, Camp Champions. Frank has recently graduated from LSU with a degree in English.


A Camp Pinnacle Counselor Team at Triple Falls - Dupont State Forest

A Camp Pinnacle Counselor Team at Triple Falls – Dupont State Forest

Richard will be running our kitchen again this summer.  (Our returning campers know that Richard = incredible food!) Tom built Richard a test kitchen on property last fall – so he now has a place to hold his cooking classes!  Who wants to learn how to bake?


Adam Kleiman will lead our talented group of musicians again this year.  Adam spent most of his year with his a cappella group, the Pikers, at Washington University in St Louis. He will be joined by Hunter Tredway, who will be bringing back “the funk” on his bass guitar. Both are excited to share their love of camp songs with new counselors Ben Brown and Liam Arnade-Colwill. Ben plays guitar and recently joined UNC-Asheville’s chamber vocal ensemble. They were even invited to sing at the White House!  Liam plays trumpet and recently joined the Yale Symphony Orchestra.  A strong music program is one of the keys to an incredible summer, and we are excited to soon be able to hear camp songs reverberating from the dining room and amphitheater.

Oh, the joy of camp life!

Oh, the joy of camp life!

Returning Counselors

We could not be more thrilled to have a solid crew of returning counselors. Our returning campers will see many familiar faces! Third-year returners include Hannah McKinley, Wells Jones, Haley Sullivan and Laura Horowitz.  They will be joined by rock-star, second-year counselors, Page Nevel, Evan Seklecki, Hunter Tredway, Adam Kleiman, Josh Keener, and Tyler Weller. All have improved their outdoor and leadership skills, and many have recently earned Wilderness First Responder certification.

New Counselors

We have known many of our new counselors for years, as 65% were former students in our Adventure Treks program. Our counselors are currently finishing classes at Yale University, Kenyon College, University of Michigan, UNC–Chapel Hill, Notre Dame, Brown University, Tulane, University of Mississippi, University of Massachusetts, Oberlin, Georgia Tech, Appalachian State, UNC–Asheville, University of Texas, Ohio State, and other great schools.

The anticipation for the summer is growing every day in the Camp Pinnacle office, and we cannot wait for our staff team to finally arrive!  We begin with incredible people but then train our staff thoroughly so they can do the best possible job this summer.  That’s why Our counselor Orientation is two-weeks long (as long as a camp session.) Staff Orientation begins May 31.

Make sure to check out our counselor page on the web-site around May 15 for a complete list of our 2015 counselors and their biographies.

This is Fayssoux, signing off!

How Do We ‘Auto-Correct’ Our Kids?

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Not only do our Camp Pinnacle campers spend two weeks in nature, surrounded by surreal beauty and involved in action-packed camp activities, but they have the time of their lives without video games or technology. That’s one of Camp Pinnacle’s principles: unplugging from technology to reconnect with our natural surroundings and each other. Living in the absence of technology allows our students to focus on building strong, inclusive, and kind communities that focus on “face to face communication.” When one thrives without technology, it puts technology into proper perspective as a “useful tool” rather than a “must have.”

This video artfully and eloquently describes why we unplug for the summer.