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laurie-rinkeIn this new and improved version of our Trail Newsletter we are focusing on some of the many new additions to our website, camp program, facilities, and even the Trail Newsletter itself. With all that duly celebrated, I have to say that the most important new thing we add to our camp community each summer, are our New Campers! Given that Camp Echo Lake is such a warm and fuzzy place, we do a lot to help welcome our New Campers and their families feel part of the family as quickly as possible.

When a New Camper enrolled at Echo Lake we immediately send this new family a letter welcoming them to our camp family, and the welcome gift of the book, “Homesick and Happy” by Michael Thompson. We want all new families to know that we are excited that they are with us and eager to help them feel comfortable at camp. Starting in January, new families – right in line with our existing families – will start to receive emails from camp with packing lists, camper forms, and other information on a timeline that allows plenty of time to prep for camp and avoids sending things too early and causing unnecessary stress. We will help new parents prepare their new campers for camp, one step at a time.

In March all of our New Campers will get a letter from their Camp Big Sister (if they are a girl) or their Camp Big Brother (if they are a boy). The Camp Big Brothers and Sisters will send a letter talking about themselves, sharing great information about camp, and asking their Little Brother or Sister all about who they are. This outreaching Camp Big Brother or Sister will be a resource for our New Campers during the spring and, if they have not done so already, will be a friendly face to meet once they arrive at camp.

In April and May we host two great events to help bring our New Campers and New Parents further into our Camp Community. On April 22 we will host an informative and reassuring evening just for Parents of New Campers (this is open to Parents of all first time campers, whether or not you have an older child already at camp) in White Plains, NY. Tony and I will answer your questions, give you some of our advice and guidance, and generally share a fun and educational evening with our New Parents. The goal is to help you feel even more comfortable about sending your new camper to camp. On May 7 we will host a fun New Camper Picnic (this is open to all campers who are new to camp this summer, and their families) in Armonk, NY. Through games and activities lead by some of our staff, our new campers will have an opportunity to meet some other new campers, reconnect with us, and get a nice taste of the fun in store for them this summer. Both of these events truly help New Campers and Parents of New Campers feel supported and connected as the summer approaches.

There is so much that we do to help New Campers feel comfortable on the exciting and overwhelming first day of camp. From our helpful bus counselors that know who our New Campers are and will help them negotiate the bus ride successfully, to the camp arrival when Tony or I are the first people to greet the buses, we truly look out for our New Campers. As you may already know, we mix cabins within a group from year to year so when a New Camper comes into a bunk, they are entering a bunk of kids that are together in that particular grouping for the first time as well – regardless of how long they have been at camp. We assign all campers their beds, so campers do not need to worry about where they will sleep or where they will put their stuff. Our Staff know to pay special attention to new campers and all of our campers are reminded that they were once new themselves, and to please help welcome New Campers into our Camp Community as they were once welcomed themselves. To learn more about what the first day of camp is like, please read our recent Trail blog post highlighting the first day of camp:

Finally, and maybe most importantly, we are partners with parents to help all New Campers make successful adjustments to camp, and their summer home. If Parents have any questions, concerns, or want to share information about their child, please pick up the phone and call us anytime. We want to connect with you and give you any information we can share and hear any information you want to share in order to help you feel comfortable before, during, and after camp. Additionally, know that we are going to reach out to you to make sure that you are aware of how your New Camper is doing at camp and to work as a team with you if your New Camper needs any support to make their summer even more successful.

The bottom line is, when families enroll a camper at Camp Echo Lake you are very quickly welcomed to our Camp Community and are immediately considered part of our Camp Family. We pride ourselves in the fact that our New Camper experience is one that helps both campers and parents feel confident as they begin their camp adventure. New Campers can rest assured that they will be encouraged, supported, motivated, inspired, and loved at Camp Echo Lake, and they don’t even have to wait until they get to camp to feel part of the family, they all ready are.

Love and XOXO Always,


Read all the articles from this issue.