As I’m entering my fifth summer at Camp Schodack, it’s hard to believe that I was a camper for only four summers. On my first day of camp, I walked into a bunk of girls who had practically grown up at camp. They knew everything there was to know, whereas my only knowledge of Schodack consisted of some random broken green and white arrow framed in my living room. I had grown up hearing stories about Schodack from my dad and uncle but in 2013, I was ready to form my own memories.
On the ride up, everything was a blur. I was worried about whether or not I’d make friends, if I had all the things I needed, who I would bunk with, and most importantly, if I would make do with the endless dining hall options. As soon as I stepped off the bus, it all fell into place. My ears filled with the cheers of campers and staff who were as excited as I was to start off the second half of the summer. My concerns of finding friends disappeared as soon as the girls in my bunk bombarded me with hugs as if I had known them my entire life. My first day flew by with swim tests, lice checks, yearbook pictures, and the counselor show. By the time I crawled into my bottom bunk of G4b that night, I knew I was home.
My summers at Schodack had been filled with “firsts.” From learning stacking games to winning triple crown events, the “firsts” seemed endless. With camp drawing closer and closer, I am constantly thinking of all the “firsts” that will take place this summer. Meeting my bunk for the first time and watching all the instant friendships form. Writing Triple Crown scripts for my campers for the first time. Being able to participate in the counselor show that I so excitedly watched for my first night activity as a camper.
In my new role as a counselor this year, I’m so excited to have the chance to do whatever I can to ensure that my campers have as incredible of an experience as I did. I’ll be thinking of all the meaningful moments and role models that I had throughout my summers, and will try to pass on the amazing memories that I had to my own campers. Schodack is a magical place and I see it as my job to ensure that my campers experience the magic that I still see every day.
What’s so special about the magic of camp is how something that might seem imperfect at home, takes on a whole new meaning. The downpour that you would watch from your couch at home is turned into a chance to run through the rain, laughing with your best friends. Serving meals to the entire camp in the dark with no utensils for Medieval Night is not as crazy as it really sounds. Staying up until the morning writing scripts for triple crown is what you wish you were doing while staying up studying for midterms during the year. The list is endless.
Camp is almost 100 days away, and I know you’ll all be able to feel this magic and see exactly what I mean.
Since I was eight years old, almost every part of my life has been influenced by camp. Even as I’m writing this, my “Camp Schodack” playlist is playing softly in the background. It has over 150 songs – BPNs, alma maters, third camper’s choice tracks – and it is the culmination of the past 14 years of my life. I know that I’ll never be able to fully convey what camp means to me but I can tell you why I keep coming back.
I keep going back to camp because it is my home. Not only is it my home, but it was home to my father, my aunt, my cousins, and my sister. Schodack is where I learned to swim, ride a bike, take a five-minute shower, and stand on the Dining Hall roof in front of over 300 people and feel completely at ease. Schodack is where I learned to be a team player, a leader, and a friend.
I keep going back to camp because whether I’ve known them since 2004 or since just last year, my camp friends are the most important people in my life. The impact they have had on me in such a short amount of time is astounding. Truly, my words fail when I try and explain how grateful I am to Schodack for putting this group of people in my life. For lack of a better phrase, camp friends just “get it”. Whether that is in the form of a 3 a.m text in the dead of winter about a talent show idea or just sitting in plastic chairs at the canteen area eating gummy bears realizing that life simply cannot get any better.
I keep coming back to camp because over the past six summers that I’ve been on staff I have watched my campers grow up. This has been the most rewarding experience – one that has had a fundamental impact on my life. I have seen them conquer the climbing tower and I have seen them get into college. These young men and women who entered my life when I was 16 years old are some of the most intelligent, kind-hearted and hilarious individuals that I have ever met.
Things have changed tremendously over the past 14 years. I’ve gone from being a CIT to being in charge of the CITS, having my senior campers have their own senior campers and I’ve seen the counselors who I had when I was in junior camp with their children who are now old enough to be junior campers themselves. I guess all that’s left to say is that in 30 years I know that I’ll look back on my experience at Schodack and be able to say that I (Seminole) Let The Good Times Roll!
Want a fun way to think “camp” rather than “snow” during this long weekend? We’ve got some fun challenges that will test your Schodack knowledge!
Any camper who successfully completes our crossword puzzle and word search will get their name in a special edition of the Schodack Scoop this summer! Just click on the images below, print out the sheets and send us a picture of you with the completed puzzles! You can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or post them to our Facebook Page.
(FYI – This is the “Beginner” round. “Intermediate” and “Advanced” are coming soon!!!)
There has been a lot of talk lately about The GOAT – meaning the greatest of all times. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have been tagged with the acronym, while my first memory of its use was by Muhammad Ali about himself!
For camp, perhaps it stands for Greatest of all Tournaments! There are many optional competitions at camp, providing an opportunity for campers to compete. From running and swimming, in team sports and individual, across a whole range of activities.
The common theme, though, is peer. Whether it’s the Golden Bow in archery, or Carter’s Challenge (a decathlon-styled endurance event) – the events are open to everyone, but campers compete against others in their age group and gender.
And this is true for every event on camp that is based on skill…except one.
ROCK – PAPER – SCISSORS
I know, I know – your initial reaction may be that this is all about luck. Read on! This tournament has grown into one of the highlights of the summer with over 100 participants, from Junior campers all the way up through staff.
The ‘luck’ is greatly reduced because each round is played ‘First to ten and must win by two’. As Wesley Snipes said in a movie years ago “Anybody can win the lottery!” In Rock Paper Scissors, the skill factor in the first 3 or 4 goes, is minimal. But then the better players start noticing patterns and often reel off 4, 5, 6 ‘wins’ in a row, leaving their opponent bemused by what happened and with an odd smile of “How did that happen?” on their face. I should know! I am hopeless at this game!
An interim round (contested by the oldest players left in) brings us down to the final sixteen and those remaining players acquire huge cheering sections!
We have not yet had a girl win the tournament –Lauren Snerson made the final – though that is surely just a matter of time as more and more are taking part each year. Junior campers have won twice in the last eight years, while Middle Camper Jake Braunhut made it all the way to the finals in 2016 before going down in a close battle to staff member Chris Reilly – PBJ’s stare downs of his older opponent would have made Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson proud!
Back to The GOAT. No, not the tournament: to the Greatest of All Times. To all the skeptics out there who think this is a bunch of baloney, and who think that winning a 100-person tournament is a 1/100 proposition, how do you explain Evan Snerson?
He has contested seven tournaments since he was a Junior camper in 2009 – and he has won it four times! Four! When ‘his camper’, Gabe Lunin-Pack, beat him in the final in 2015, I could swear I heard Al Michaels shouting “Do you believe in miracles? YES!”
It clearly isn’t luck, but maybe the skill level is catching up to Evan, as he was a Round of 16 exit last summer. Is he too old? Is it impossible to keep playing at such a high level? Have his opponents figured him out? Maybe! But then they were saying the same things about Tom Brady too!
The twelfth Rock Paper Scissors tournament – July 28th , 2017
We are very happy to welcome back this awesome duo who will help Owen lead another successful year for the LTs!
We are excited to have Jamie Weiss back for her 14th summer at camp and second as coordinator! During the year, Jamie attends UMASS Amherst where she studies history and education.
She can’t wait to be back at camp and in the Rec Hall admiring all of the beautiful Tribals’ plaques! Jamie’s favorite camp meal is turkey dinner!
Fun fact: In addition to her dad growing up at Schodack, her grandpa used to stay at Krouner’s Hotel!
We can’t wait to have Ru Shah back for his fourth summer at camp and second as coordinator! During the year, Ru works in experiential marketing for different brands across the U.K from Oculus virtual reality to Cadburys chocolate!
He can’t wait to be back with the waiters and CITs for another amazing summer and see his campers from his first year at Schodack now on staff with him! Ru’s favorite memory from last summer was the LT Banquet!
Since moving back to London five months ago, after spending the past two years working in New York with one of the Schodack families, Ru has traveled to Portugal, Austria, Scotland, Netherlands, Germany and, most recently, he spent a month living in the rural Himalayas in Nepal building a school for over 360 children after the earthquakes devastated their remote village last year!
Fun fact: Ru accidentally ended up speaking live on national television in front of 180 news reporters and journalists in Jordan because he was sitting in the wrong seat!
We are thrilled to announce Shira Buchsbaum is is back for her 13th summer at camp and first as a Division Head! During the year she studies Anthropology at Brown University and spends her free time humming along to curated Spotify playlists or working through her extensive reading list!
Shira is excited to get back to star-gazing and stop-times on the tennis courts, dancing in the rain, and spending all day every day with her wonderful campers!
Fun fact: Shira has completed the “Triple Crown” of staff – she was a bunk counselor (for the Wichita Girls), an activity counselor (Arts and Crafts), and LT staff in three years!
We are excited to announce that Michael Samuels and Jake Steiner will be the SPECs for summer 2017! We are expanding the role of SPEC which will make their impact on camp even bigger! We can’t wait for them to start planning the activities that will give us the best Special Event summer ever!
We are very excited to announce that Michael Samuels is back for his impressive 15th summer at camp and second on Head Staff as SPEC! During the year, Michael attends the University of Florida where he is studying biology.
Now in his 6th summer on staff, Michael has held a variety of roles at camp such as bunk counselor, group leader, Tribals General (Seminole Synergy 2014), LT Staff and SPEC.
He can’t wait to be back at Schodack and planning awesome activities for all of camp! When he’s not running an activity, you can find Michael at the basketball court or soccer field coaching his Ultra Leagues team, Purple Reign!
Fun Fact: 99.2 percent of Michael’s wardrobe is neon!
We can’t wait to have Jake Steiner join our Head Staff Team as SPEC! This will be his 11th summer at camp and first as SPEC after spending the last four summers as Head Tennis and a group leader. During the year, Steiner has been traveling and teaching English in Thailand!
His favorite memory from camp is becoming best friends with fellow staff members from playing his all-time favorite game, Captain’s Coming! Steiner is excited to get to camp and see his first campers now on staff with him! Nyack Strong!
He can’t wait to be back in the Dining Hall to hear all the awesome bunk cheers and to enjoy his favorite camp meal, chicken caesar wraps!
Fun Fact: Steiner recently made dinner over the holiday for his family in a slow cooker that was supposed to take 16 hours but only took one. Another holiday miracle!
We are BEYOND excited to announce this next group of our Leadership Team! Our Division Heads play a huge role in making sure each Schodack camper has the summer of their lives. We could not be more proud of this talented group and can’t wait to see them in action at camp!
Adam Berg is back for his impressive 15th summer at camp and first as a division head! During the year he lives in Boston and attends Emerson College where he is working toward his master’s degree in creative writing. In his free time he can be found writing, drawing, reading and singing karaoke!
He is most excited to be back at camp where he can see the view of camp from the top of the climbing tower, seeing his previous campers and also meeting all of the new campers!
Fun fact: Adam and his brother, Ethan, have an elaborate handshake that’s about twelve years old now!
We are excited to have Ciara “Gooi” Ooi back for her 5th summer at camp and 4th as a division head! During the year she has been traveling and living in London and currently she is doing a ski season in the French Alps!
“Gooi” is counting down the days until she receives her five-year blanket and can’t wait to be back playing elaborate games of bunny bunny!
Fun fact: “Gooi” can wiggle both of her ears independently of each other!
We are happy to have Pharoah Sutton-Jackson back for his 10th summer at camp (dedication summer!) and first as a division head! During the year he attends Syracuse University where he is studying for his degree in pre-law philosophy! In his free time, Pharoah can be found weight training and playing basketball!
Pharoah can’t wait to get back to camp and enjoy his favorite meal, Chicken McSchodack!
Fun fact: Even though Pharoah is allergic to cats, he is still a devout cat lover. He lives with two brothers from the same litter, Kobe and Billy!
We can’t wait to have Dani MacKay back for her 6th summer at camp and 5th as a division head! During the year she is a Classroom Interpreter for a pre-kindergarten Deaf and Hard of Hearing class in Orlando, Florida!
Dani is looking forward to games of roof ball off the Jerry-K roof, seeing both new and returning campers and checking out the view from the corral hill!
Fun fact: Dani has never read or seen any of the Harry Potter books or films! What?!?!?
We’re excited to have Josh Baker back for his 4th summer at camp and second as a division head! During the year Josh lives and works with one of the Schodack families in New York as their au pair or ‘bro pair’, which is a term he coined!
Josh can’t wait to be back at camp for ‘The walk’ to services, which is one of his favorite parts of the week! His favorite camp meal is on the 4th of July when delicious burgers are served!
Fun fact: Josh only planned on coming to camp for one summer and then going home to start a job in London, however 3 years later he is living in New York looking forward to another wonderful summer!
We are ecstatic to have Allie Johnson back for her 6th summer at camp and 5th as a division head! During the year she is a 4th-grade teacher in San Antonio, Texas and loves exploring the city of San Antonio!
She can’t wait to be back at camp where she loves watching the sun hit the soccer field trees, which makes them glow during third camper’s choice! She also can’t wait for the awesome theme-night dinners served by the LTs!
Allie has already begun counting down the days until camp begins and is excited to see everyone back at her favorite place in the world!
Fun fact: In 2014, Kelsey Didion was Allie’s stunt double for a Tribals break!
Surprise Bracelet Makes its Way to Mom…Minus a Stamp!
Last summer was Ben’s first summer at Schodack, first summer away. I was missing him so much and the letters I was receiving didn’t exactly include all the information I was hoping for. The long awaited first letter literally said, “Dear Parents – I love Camp. From Ben.” The 2nd letter was more of the same, “Dear Mom – Camp is awesome. I can’t find my stamps. Love Ben.” I was thrilled that he loved camp but wanted more detail and emotion than I was getting from the letters.
About a week later I received an envelope that was a little thicker. When I opened it, the most beautiful bracelet fell into my hands. The note was written in Ben’s distinct, minimalist style, “Dear Mom – I bought this bracelet for you. Love you.” I found out later that Ben had gone to Howe Caverns on a camp trip. Instead of using the money his counselor had given him for a snack or souvenir, he bought me the bracelet. As I was enjoying his unselfish love, I realized how lucky I was to even have received the letter at all. Turns out, Ben never put a stamp on it! (see letter #3 below). He mailed the letter without postage, but somehow it still made its way to me!
We were told this at the winter reunion and wanted to share this lovely camp story!