Video: 2015 Camp Pinnacle Orientation

John Dockendorf17 Jun, 2015
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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.

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