Thursday, March 26, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
As some of you might be aware I am the Rental Director here at Friendly Pines Camp, and it is my job to recruit and then make sure everything is perfect once the recruits arrive at Friendly Pines Camp. Now some people would ask, “Is he recruiting campers for the summer?” Well, the answer to that would be “No”. It is my job to find groups that want to rent out our camp in the off-season, such as schools, churches and other organizations looking for a relaxing site in the pines for their retreat, environmental camp, or business meeting. We have just said goodbye to over 100 students and teachers from the Scottsdale school district’s “Unitown”. During their stay, I check in with them everyday to make sure that everything is running smoothly.
We open up the camp to rental groups for about 9 months of the year and during this time many groups take advantage of the activities that we offer such as horseback riding and our ropes course, which Emily and Brannon head respectively; I do my best to keep them busy with groups. Well I hope that you have learned just a little about the off-season and our rental side of the camp, and I look forward to writing some more blog entries in the future.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
It was an impressive storm.
It started late Saturday night. By the time we saw the sun again on Tuesday morning, the snow was thigh deep. Trees, laden with mounds of wet snow, bowed to the ground. Some snapped under the stress. The veranda canopy’s metal super structure crumpled in the middle of the night as if it were made of Tinker Toys. It would have been a wonderful winter adventure, were it not for the fact that we had 115 people in camp – a high school group from Phoenix, most of whom had never seen a snowfall in their lives.
Our duties to the group prohibited us from standing in the warmth of our homes next to a picture window, clad in cozy wool sweaters, sipping mugs of hot chocolate, and issuing folksy proclamations like, “Heavens to Betsy, I haven’t seen a snow like this since the blizzard of (insert date here).” We had to engage instead of merely observe. That means lots of snow removal. Our maintenance staff started plowing at 5 AM and finally called it a day after one last swipe of camp sometime around 7 PM. Between serving up hot meals, our kitchen staff kept the coffee brewing and, yes, the hot chocolate mix coming. The rest of the staff started the morning by feeding the horses, lugging buckets of feed through the corrals. The snow in some of the unprotected areas was so deep that you could see where a horse’s belly had dragged as it trudged up to the feeders. With that done it was time to grab shovels and clear steps piled high like frosted cupcakes; and dig out walkways, the course of which one could only guess at. By the time the first clearing was complete, we would survey our work and, like Sisyphus, watch our efforts silently obliterated by a fresh covering. Time to start again.
This ordeal taught me two thing. 1) I’m so lucky to live in Arizona. I grew up in Michigan, but I left 33 years ago. In that time, I’ve grown a little soft and spoiled. 2) Friendly Pines has a wonderful staff. The crew never once complained. In fact, I heard far more laughing and joking than I heard grumbling. Most folks came in on their days off to help pitch in. I never asked, and not one of them requested to be compensated for their time. In truth, I have seen these displays of teamwork and selflessness over and over during my years at Friendly Pines. I have watched their pleasant, positive demeanor even at the end of the longest days. It is a loyalty and dedication to purpose that is difficult, if not impossible, to repay.
A totally unrelated item. Friendly Pines has gotten involved in a new ad campaign ….on TV. It’s not as dramatic as it might sound. The ad consists of a picture of the camp with some text and a voice-over, so it’s not that different from looking at an ad in a magazine but it’s on television. The medium is the message, right? It’s supposed to air through the month of March on Good Morning America and something called ABC News at 5. I was shocked to discover that the 5 referred to 5 AM; however, I’m told that people are actually up at that time and coherent enough to absorb current events. Anyway, keep an eye open for it, and let us know what you think.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Every year, at some point during the winter months, a picturesque blanket of snow visits Friendly Pines. This came in December as a gentle few inches, just enough to cover the ground and frost the trees. Then, after several weeks of warm temperatures and cloudless skies came 4 inches…and it kept snowing. Five more inches overnight…and it kept snowing. All day long we plowed and shoveled but couldn’t keep up. The steps and walkways around the Dining Lodge would be shoveled expertly only to be covered by an inch of new powder within the hour. It snowed all day and into the night. After almost two straight days of snow, 20 inches of snow covered camp. The gentle blanket of snow was replaced by the entire linen closet. It had been over a decade since anyone had seen a winter storm like this at camp.
This time of year is not only our snowy season but also marks the beginning of our spring season and we welcomed our first large school group from the valley. The students and teachers of Trevor Browne High School were treated to a winter wonderland. Everyone arrived to sunny skies and warm temperatures…Oh! it would change so quickly. Snowmen and angels were constructed, snowballs flew through the air, and hot cocoa was consumed at an impressive rate. When it was time for Trevor Browne to depart, shoveling, plowing and good spirits prevailed; the students and teachers all made it back to the comfortable climes of the Phoenix valley.
It is now time to share some pictures…words can only say so much.
Before the snow could get reigned in, walking to the Dining Lodge was quite the task.
Remember watching skits, singing songs, and basking in the warm summer sun at the benches? Where are they now?
Boys Village from the Dining Lodge. Note the deep foot prints.
Emily and Stevie try to dig out the luggage trailer.
The Post Office and Smoki/Comanche cabins after the first night of snow. We all thought it was quite the sight...We were wrong...
This is quite a sight!
Monday, February 2, 2009
The advantage of working with a team of twenty-somethings is that you are never very long in the dark when it comes to things like blogs, friending, Googling or Wikipedia. (Interesting note. Spell checker has placed that red squiggly line under the words blogs, friending, Googling and Wikipeidia, which makes me feel a little one up on Mr. Mircosoft Word.) On one of our recent road trips to a Tucson Round-Up, the idea of a Friendly Pines blog was suggested just as we were passing the town of Anthem on the I-17. By the time we’d arrived at Picacho Peak, the staff had brought me up to reasonable speed on the subject. And when we’d finally arrived in Tucson, the notion of a Friendly Pines blog was a go!
I must confess that I’m very self-conscious as I sit here and blog. It is common among camp directors to be inextricably linked to things old-fashioned. Uncle Bud used to tell us running a summer camp was comparable to driving a Conestoga wagon in the fast lane of the Black Canyon Freeway. He was right. Progress may sweep the rest of the world, but at camp it hits a speed bump. I still remember my first email account. Though it felt kind of hip to have one, I had a hard time trusting that it would work. It was the mechanics of getting from here to there that bothered me. So for the first few weeks I would type my message using the email program. Then I’d print it. Then I’d fax it. Baby steps.
We will make every effort to keep our blog informative and interesting. We hope that you will visit often and comment when you feel the urge. Our staff will read your comments before posting them. (We’ll cull the inappropriate ones.) In the non-summer months, you can expect a posting or two every week. We’ll even throw in some pictures. During the summer it is our intention to post daily if possible. I guess we’ll have to see how things go. If you ever have a topic you think would be one we should cover, don’t hesitate to suggest it. Some of the best ideas start out as suggestions from you.
That’s it for today. Not an all-together unpleasant experience. It was actually kind of fun. I’ve been told to keep things brief, besides I’m all blogged out for today. Bye for now.