What Could People Who Run a Summer Camp Possibly Do in the Winter?

John Dockendorf09 Feb, 2015
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“You run a summer camp?  What could you possibly do during the winter?”  This is a question we hear frequently! Although winter is slower than summer, our “To Do List” continues to expand as we assiduously prepare for summer 2015. Here’s a breakdown of what winter looks like at Camp Pinnacle:

The new girls treehouse complex with swinging bridge is nearing completion!
The New Girls Tree House Complex with Swinging Bridge is Nearing Completion!

Sharing Camp with Families – Whether giving a tour of camp, or talking on the phone or via Skype, this is our favorite winter pasttime!   We consider ourselves partners with our parents and we enjoy learning how camp experiences help our parents raise great kids.  We love opportunities to chat with new and existing families and eagerly await your questions and suggestions.

Meeting New Families – Though the bulk of our communication is done by phone and email, Ben and Dock try to get out and meet as many families as possible.  This year, visits include Durham, Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and many cities in Florida.  We are happy to visit and share Camp Pinnacle with you and friends – just ask! Enrollment is running 60% ahead of last summer so we do urge people to sign up quickly as we hate to disappoint folks.  We anticipate that sessions 1 and 3 will be the first sessions to fill.

one of our two new CP Handwashing Stations
One of Two New CP Hand Washing Stations

Constant Facility Improvement – We love our Facilities Team! Tom, George, Alaska, Steve, Hunter and James are outside regardless of wind, cold or rain making our camp facility just a little bit better every single day. We know our campers are going to love the new girls’ tree house complex, a new kayaking area with changing rooms, new back country campsites, new hand washing stations, new decks and our brand new boy’s cabin, “The Lodge.”  Dock and Ben have been laying out new mountain biking trails including an expansion of The Enchanted Forest. Ben is also building new features for the Mountain Bike Park.  Keep your eyes open! We still have a couple of surprises up our sleeve, as we prepare for campers to arrive. Much of what our Facilities Team does in the winter is necessary to make camp better but goes unnoticed. Examples include a new walk in cooler in the kitchen, a new walk in freezer in our pantry, new, improved electrical service to cabins and new larger water lines.

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

Interviewing Potential Counselors – The quality of the Camp Pinnacle experience is defined by the quality of our counselors, our ability to retain great counselors, and the depth and breadth of our two week staff training.  We are excited about the new counselors who will be joining our team of returning counselors this summer.  Selecting just the right counselors is critical, so we devote a lot of our winter to staff interviews.  We begin with a large pool of applicants. Every new counselor will go through 4 interviews, 4 reference checks and full background checks.  Our connection with Adventure Treks means we have known many of our staff applicants since they were young teens.   Counselors are coming from as far away as Hawaii, California, Utah, and Massachusetts and the colleges they attend include Yale, Brown, Kenyon, University of Michigan, Miami of Ohio, UNC – Chapel Hill, The Ohio State University, James Madison, and many more.

Programming and More Programming – Fayssoux and Hoyle are renewing permits in Pisgah National Forest and Great Smokey Mountains National Park, planning new hiking and backpacking itineraries, tweaking lesson plans for kayaking or tennis, creating new evening activities and special events, and streamlining scheduling. We are always looking for ways to improve our program and provide opportunities for our campers to take away even more from their two weeks at Camp Pinnacle.

Weddings and Educational Programs– The economics of maintaining a 126 acre facility mean we have to do much more than operate for 8 weeks as a summer camp. We are lucky that Camp Pinnacle is such a spectacular site that from late April through October, every single non-camp weekend will be reserved for a wedding.  During many spring and fall weeks, it’s also typical to find a group of school students experiencing outdoor education programs here at Camp Pinnacle.

Excited for more new biking trails this summer!
Excited for more new biking trails this summer!

Continuing Education – Although we have decades of experience, there is always more to learn.  This year Dock, Jane and Steve all attended the National Conference of the American Camp Association (ACA), where Steve, (former ACA Treasurer) was a featured speaker. Ben and Fayssoux will be attending the ACA Tri-State conference in New Jersey. We recently attended a symposium on Camp Nursing, and many of our counselors have upgraded their medical certification to Wilderness First Responder. We are constantly reading and staying on top of youth development research and parenting trends in order to insure that the Camp Pinnacle experience remains relevant for you our families.

Exploring – Of course the best part of the winter is when we get outside and explore new hiking or mountain biking trails, “discover” new waterfalls, or paddle new lakes or rivers with eyes on using them for our campers in the summer.

We can’t wait for the summer to begin.  Our first group of campers arrives in 128 days!

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