The fifth and sixth buses turn down Silver Lake Road to the welcoming screams of returning campers who have already arrived. Counselors form a makeshift tunnel with their arms for everyone on the bus to run through; the excitement is palpable. Smiling kids bound down the steps, high-fiving counselors as music from CHIP radio, the camper-run radio station, blares in the background.
They practically knock each other down as they run towards the canteen where they will have their lice checks before heading to their bunks, which were revealed to them only a few minutes prior when they got off on the exit from the highway towards camp. It’s a well- oiled machine, and the fact that owner Michael Baer has been a camper since age seven has given him the knowledge to know what works best. He notices a new camper hanging back, but before he even has a chance to radio the camp mom, one of the perceptive group leaders has already picked up on it and swept in to distract her with a piggy-back ride to see the 300-foot zip line which stretches across the center of camp and allows a birds-eye view of almost the entire campus, including the magnificent 96 acre Silver Lake. Michael makes a mental note and will check in later.
Nestled in the Catskill mountains in picturesque Swan Lake NY, are two of the country’s premier summer camps, Chipinaw and Silver Lake. With over sixty activities to choose from, taught by carefully selected and highly qualified staff from around the world, campers are exposed to activities they would not otherwise have a chance to do at home. Where else can a child swing on a flying trapeze, launch a rocket that they have built, and go down a water slide – all before lunch? It’s no wonder that so many consider camp the highlight of their year, living ten months for two as the saying goes (or eleven for one, depending on which of the camps they choose).
Chipinaw is a seven-week traditional summer camp experience and Silver Lake packs the same fun into two shorter sessions. And with three heated pools, nightly entertainment and activities, off-camp trips to attractions such as amusement parks and the bowling alley, six periods of daily activities chosen by each camper, campfires, color war…that’s a lot of fun to be had!
The quality of the people is really what makes these camps special. ‘Kindness is Cool’ is the unofficial camp motto and everywhere you look you’ll find kids helping and supporting one another. It’s not unusual to find an entire bunk in the arts pavilion making signs to support one of their own who has a role in one of camp’s Broadway-style shows or to witness a group of older and younger kids collaborating on a booth for Carnival as part of the Big Brother/Big Sister program, where a veteran camper is paired with a younger one. “We put them in touch before they arrive at camp – they FaceTime and text, and it gives the newer kids a familiar face once they get here to their second home. The older kids love sharing what they love about camp and getting their little ‘siblings’ excited to experience it for themselves.”, reports Shari Baer, owner. Weekly awards for Compassion, Honesty, Integrity, and Positivity (CHIP) round out a program where recognition is placed on who you are.
Clearly, it starts from the top. Owners Shari and Michael Baer are two of the kindest, warmest, coolest people you’d ever meet. They incorporate their altruistic nature from their winter home in South Florida into service projects at camp such as Project Morry – a swim-a-thon which raises money to send underprivileged children to camp and sending leftover candy and goods from Visiting Day to troops serving abroad.
Parents report that their children come home more responsible after a summer of making their own beds every day, learning how to navigate friendships with minimal intervention, and yes, even unplugging. Both Chipinaw and Silver Lake have a strict electronics policy for all campers and counselors. Says Adam Kappel, director of Silver Lake Camp, “They don’t even miss it. They have one small device so they can listen to music before bed or during shower hour, and most days they don’t even look for it.”
Choosing the right camp for you is a monumental task. It’s quite possibly a bigger decision than even where your child will go to college, as most families send all of their kids to the same camp, and for longer. Finding the right fit is essential as many of your child’s best memories and closest friends will be from camp. Having the ACA Accreditation is critical because it’s a voluntary commitment by the camp to maintain high standards in quality of programs, staff, safety, and facilities. Knowing that a camp has this accreditation can allow you to focus on the people and the spirit of the camp and find the best place for you. We invite you to visit us at www.chipinaw.com or www.silverlakecamp.com to learn more about how we can become your child’s second home.
Contact: Camp Chipinaw & Silver Lake
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