Tag Archives: summer 2016

Pierce Country Day Camp in Roslyn celebrates 100 years

Will Pierce stands on a platform near the top of a telephone pole and peers w-a-a-a-a-y down into a hoop of fire. A hoop of fire he’s about to leap into.

He’ll pass through the flames and into a swimming pool at Pierce Country Day Camp in Roslyn. A camp owner-director braving the dramatic jump in front of campers and parents is a tradition masterminded by Pierce’s great-grandfather Forrester “Pop” Pierce, who founded the summer camp in 1918.

“The trick is to go through fast, like when you put your finger through a candle,” says Pierce, 32. “It’s a little bit scary, but mostly thrilling.”

When Pierce leaps this July, he’ll mark the 100th summer of Pierce Country Day Camp, which has been owned by four generations of the Pierce family. Will now runs the operation along with his cousin Courtney, also 32, and three members of what they refer to as “Generation Three” — Doug, 64, Greg, 60, and Forrester III, 59. Pop Pierce and the members of Generation Two are long gone.

More than 900 campers ages 3 to 13 now attend Pierce each summer, and they have included children of the rich and famous, such as Donald Trump’s 5-year-old granddaughter Arabella, daughter of Ivanka, who attended during the summer of 2016. In fact, one day last summer, in the midst of campaign season, Trump himself got her off the camp bus on her trip home to Manhattan, Forrester Pierce says, which amazed the bus staff. “As soon as they pulled away from the front door of the building, the phone rang here,” Forrester says, with the staff reporting the happening. “They were very excited.”

For decades, all of the Pierce family members have lived in homes either on the camp property or around its perimeter. “My cousins and I grew up like siblings,” Pierce says. “We would get home from school and run amok on the camp grounds. We were all counselors together.” And Generation Five has now begun — Will has a daughter, Brooke, 2, and is expecting another child this summer “right in the middle of camp,” and Courtney has two sons, Johnny, 4, and Charlie, 2, and is due with a third child in February. “I wanted to give my children the kind of family environment and experience I had growing up,” Will Pierce says. “I’m hoping one of my children will fall in love with the business and want to take it over like I did.”

(Credit: Pierce Country Day Camp/Marisol Diaz)

Pierce is among the oldest day camps in the United States. “It’s rare for a camp to be in business for that long. Seventy-five years is an extraordinary amount of time,” says Susie Lupert, executive director of the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey. The ACA is the accrediting body for U.S. summer camps. “It’s not just considered one of the oldest camps, but it’s also considered one of the best camps. They have been tireless leaders in the camp industry,” Lupert says. “They really are examples of people who are dedicated to youth development.”

Pictured: Helen Pierce, standing at left, with Forrester “Pop” Pierce seated at right, work with staff at Pierce Country Day Camp. The photo hangs in the hallway in the entryway of the mansion.

(Credit: Marisol Diaz)

Pop Pierce launched Pierce Country Day Camp in Deal, N.J., in 1918, moved the camp to rented property in Nassau County a few years later and then purchased an estate in Roslyn where he gave the camp its permanent home the 1930s. Pierce has grown to be among the biggest and most expensive camps on Long Island — eight weeks of swimming in the camp’s seven swimming pools, playing sports, making arts and crafts, shooting arrows at archery and more costs $8,950. Forrester Pierce says that’s so the camp can maintain state-of-the-art facilities — in 2016, for instance, the camp added an enormous treehouse called Treemendous and an outdoor “musical playground” dubbed Musical Rhapsody that includes a piano, xylophone and more. “That was just one year of capital improvements,” Will Pierce says.

(Credit: Marisol Diaz)

Ron Katz, 64, of Woodbury, was a camper at Pierce in the early 1960s. He sent his daughter Kim London, 39, of Port Washington, to Pierce and she was also a counselor there. “There’s every single activity you could ever wish to participate in,” London says of the camp. “I was the kind of kid who was a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. For me, having a variety of activities throughout the summer was perfect for my personality.” London now sends her daughter Brooke, 5, to Pierce.

Pictured: Madison Rosen of Manhasset 4, Brooke Lubin 4, of Roslyn of Chloe Schmidt 4, of Roslyn play the piano at Musical Rhapsody Garden at the camp.

(Credit: Pierce Country Day Camp)

During the winter, Pierce runs a preschool on the grounds. It runs its own bus transportation company. The family also owns a sleepaway camp called Pierce Camp Birchmont in New Hampshire that’s now part of Will’s father Greg’s responsibilities and just celebrated its 65th summer. “A lot of people say, ‘What do you do for the other 10 months of the year?’ ” Will Pierce says. They do hiring, capital improvements, logistics and more.

(Credit: Pierce Country Day Camp)

A Native American theme is part of the Pierce tradition — camp photos through the years show the Pierce men in feathered headdresses and Courtney Pierce in braids and Native American dress at traditional camp “Pow Wows.” “It’s part of our brand, the Pow Wows, the Native American motif, the ‘Hoop of Fire,’ ” says Doug Pierce of Generation Three.

Some summers over the decades stand out to the Pierces for a variety of reasons. During the summer of 1943, for instance, Yankee baseball legend Babe Ruth visited camp. During the summer of 1992, the camp buried a time capsule in honor of its 75th anniversary, which they will dig up this July. During the summer of 2014, the five current owner-directors participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge in front of the entire camp. “That was a fun moment because the camp loved it,” Forrester Pierce says. “Good old wholesome fun.”

(Credit: Pierce Country Day Camp)

(Credit: Pierce Country Day Camp)

Pierce tries to keep a balance between maintaining the spirit of camp days of yore and meeting the demands of a providing a modern camp, Forrester says. The day camp still has the giant robot slide (pictured), for instance — “When we have parents come back with their kids they say, ‘Gigantor is still here!’ ” Courtney Pierce says — but has eliminated a former program in riflery — “That wouldn’t go over with the parents these days,” Courtney says.

These days, parental involvement is much greater than it was decades ago, Forrester says. The camp has nearly tripled its office staff to handle calls from parents asking about transportation, suntan lotion, hydration and more, Forrester says. And for kids, the scheduling of activities is broader — the camp has added a STEM program and a theater program, for instance.

(Credit: Marisol Diaz)

Pictured: Laylah Kaypour, 4, of Port Washington walks the bridge on Treemendous in Pierce Country Day Camp in Roslyn, Aug. 19, 2016.

(Credit: Marisol Diaz)

Though Forrester Pierce says he spends much of the camp day in the office, he takes a lap around the camp grounds at least twice a day during the summer. “You hear the kids squealing and laughing,” Forrester says. “Nothing can bring a smile to your face more than listening to happy kids.”

Pictured: Sophie Weiss of Roslyn and Emma Forchheimer of Roslyn play xylophone at the camp’s Musical Rhapsody Garden.

(Credit: Marisol Diaz)

That’s made it worth the fact that for every single summer of his entire life he’s been working at the family’s camps, Forrester says. “I begged my father in college to have a summer off to drive cross-country. He said no. Once I retire, we will drive cross-country. I’ll be able to live that dream. It’ll be 45 years later, that’s all.”

Pictured: The camp’s Water World.

Four generations have been involved in running Pierce Country Day Camp, which has been in operation since it was founded by Forrester “Pop” Pierce in 1918.

Camp’s Legacy

If you ask a child to describe camp, the response would probably include fun, friends, swimming, Color War and of course the quintessential “bug juice.” We would all agree that this is an accurate picture. Yet, to truly appreciate the amazing and awesome value of camp and its enduring impact on a child’s life, one needs to look below the idyllic highlights.

The extraordinary process of a child’s personal growth and development during the summer seems meteoric. No sooner have the campers stepped off the bus for the first day of camp, they become fully immersed in activities and cabin life, arriving home looking older, standing taller and exuding a new found confidence. For some, the biggest hurdle will be boarding the bus in the morning, for others it will be putting their face in the water or learning to dive, or even hitting a pitched ball. There is no “one size fits all,” in terms of each child’s progress and expectations. The process itself is significant, not just the end result.

We applaud their perseverance, as they navigate challenges, embrace their developing strengths and expand their repertoire of skills, both personal and physical. Right before our eyes we view the transition of reluctance to confidence, reserve to animation, and dependency to autonomy. The global camp experience provides transferable skills and promotes greater self-awareness that is meaningful well beyond the summer. Its positive benefits continue to pay dividends and are applicable to all of life’s relationships, academic studies and careers.

It is a privilege to be part of this endeavor and to watch our campers blossom as they are steeped in the camp experience. I look forward to sharing this journey with you and your children as we embark on the 2016 summer at Pierce.


Day Camp

Our program grows as your child grows. Here is what you can look forward to this summer…

At Pierce, our campers can look forward to NEW and exciting programming from year to year as they “climb the ladder” with us. We want to share with you some of the big differences in our camp-wide program as our campers move up from our five-year-old groups and enter our six-year-old curriculum.

    • At the age of 6, the boys groups have an all male staff: General Counselors and Group Leaders.Summer 2016
    • Our 6’s move up to our beautiful Intermediate Pool with double chute water slides.
    • League Play – Our athletic program makes a significant jump forward with more intramural play!
    • Bowling – Once every 10 days, our 6’s will enjoy a short field trip for bowling…They love it!
    • Archery – A camp favorite is now enjoyed by all of our 6’s!
    • Sky-Fly – Our zip lines over our pond are scheduled and enjoyed…
    • Cranium Club (S.T.E.M) – Air conditioned and very creative, our new STEM program has become hugely popular. Another creative offering this year is called CLUB TUNES!
    • Summer 2016Bungee – Enjoyed by all… Now scheduled weekly for 6’s!
    • Tennis and Volleyball – These sports now becomes part of their weekly schedules
    • The 6’s Pow Wow is now at night! Complete with our famous Jump Through the Hoop of Fire!
Summer 2016

Food Allergies

One in every 13 children in the U.S. is affected by food allergies or intolerances. In a camp of 300 children, that means as many as 23 children may require special meal preparation.

All food allergies are not created equal. If a child with a peanut allergy is exposed to peanuts, it is often a life-threatening situation requiring immediate medical attention. If a child with celiac disease is exposed to gluten, they will likely have abdominal discomfort and associated symptoms, which may not occur until 72 hours after the exposure.

Handling food allergies effectively requires coordination of safe food handling, meal preparation, meal provision and dealing with exposure, so having a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) is considered best practice. Only an RDN has multiple layers of nutrition education and is considered the expert in handling such serious nutrition issues. Many camps are staffing nutrition professionals to handle everything from meal planning to gluten-free meal preparation to carbohydrate counting for campers with diabetes. If you do not have a nutrition professional on staff, some basic facts regarding food allergies are included below.

What is a food allergy?
An abnormal response to a food triggered by our body’s immune system resulting in symptoms.

An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system attacks a food protein that is normally harmless. The body responds by producing large amounts of histamine, which can result in symptoms that can be life threatening. These symptoms may include: swelling of the mouth, throat and tongue, difficulty breathing, lowered blood pressure and gastrointestinal distress.

A true food allergy is not the same as a food intolerance. The term “food intolerance” encompasses any adverse reaction to a food source that is not caused by an immune response.

What are the most common food allergies?
The following eight foods account for 90 percent of all food allergies: peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, eggs, milk, soy and wheat.

How many people do they affect?
Nearly 8 percent of school-age children suffer from food allergies.

How to provide safe meals?

  • Prepare meals for those with allergies in a separate area using pots, pans, toasters and utensils kept for those foods only.
  • Wash your hands and all surfaces prior to preparing meals.
  • Use squeeze bottles for condiments to avoid putting contaminated utensils into a jar.
  • Read all food labels; allergens can be found in many unexpected places, including seasonings and condiments.

What do you do if accidental exposure occurs?
Understand which allergy or intolerance you are dealing with.

For allergies that result in anaphylaxis, epinephrine, in the form of an EpiPen, is the medication of choice for controlling a severe reaction.

For milder reactions, an antihistamine may be adequate.

For accidental exposure to gluten, there is often no need for intervention. Celiac disease is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction. Symptoms generally occur 48 to 72 hours after exposure and may present as abdominal pain, bloating, and/or diarrhea.

It is becoming increasing popular to follow a gluten-free diet. For some it is for a true celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease that leads to damage of the small intestine with gluten ingestion. For others, there is a perceived health or weight loss benefit. In order to provide healthy gluten-free meals (not just pre-made, frozen meals) in an environment free of cross contamination, the staff preparing and providing the meals must be educated. The following link is a great resource for camps providing this service: http://www.celiaccentral.org/Courses/GREAT-Schools-Colleges-Camps/1053/

Caring for other people’s children is an immense responsibility. Providing safe and healthy meals is one of the most important aspects of a safe and healthy summer. Best wishes for a healthy Camp Season 2016!