Letters the Week of June 26, 2014


A Pine Forest Camp leader reacts to a recent blog post from a not-so-happy former camper and a teacher urges the community to lobby the state for more equitable public school funding rather than tax credits for private schools. 

Give the Power of Camp Another Chance 
I’m the great-grandson of Hughie and Selma Black, the founders of Pine Forest Camp, and represent the fourth generation of my family’s leadership here. 
The article “Left Out of Overnight Camp” by Jennifer Raphael (Headlines, June 19) was passed on to me, and I want to express how sorry I am that her time at Pine Forest was not the kind of memorable experience that we strive for.
The name-calling and teasing she describes is unacceptable at Pine Forest and any quality camp. It’s a form of bullying and should not have been tolerated when she was a camper, and certainly is not permitted now. 
Counselors today have extensive training on how to prevent this kind of bad behavior, and we have been vigilant in making sure that it is eradicated. Raphael’s experience illustrates how lasting the effects can be, and we are sorry that it happened here.
Call me sappy, but I believe in the power of camp. You can give your children a lot of things in life: a good education, great piano lessons, the list goes on. But there are some things you can’t give them: self-esteem, self-confidence and even the ability to navigate difficult situations. Camp gives children those gifts. 
I, too, first heard “American Pie” at camp, when I lived in Bunk Banana as a Junior Boy. Whenever I hear that song, it takes me back to a place that I have mixed emotions about. My counselor, like many, was always uncomfortable around me because I was the owner’s son.
When I think back to that summer, there were a lot of laughs, a lot of tears and a lot of growing up. That summer made me better and stronger; it shaped who I am today in positive ways. Camp teaches resilience. 
Although Raphael’s experience with Pine Forest isn’t one I’m proud of, or wish for any camper, I hope she’ll come visit us sometime, maybe even this summer. The sights and sounds will hopefully bring back happy memories. She will meet many campers whose days here are the highlight of their lives.
Her words have given me a unique perspective this summer, and strengthen my resolve to make sure that every camper comes home with happy memories, lifelong friends and self-confidence. 
Lee Forest Black | Greeley, Pa.
Forget Tax Credits, Lobby for Public Schools
According to the advocates for religious school tax credits (Headlines, “Groups Lobby to Keep School Tax Credits,” June 19), the credits are needed because 1) There is too much bullying in public schools; 2) George Washington High in Philadelphia has no paper to print tests, and; 3) Music nights and saxophone lessons are offered at a Jewish day school that benefits from the credits.
I am a public school teacher and I would feel a lot better if I knew that Jews of all denominations and their clergy were lobbying Harrisburg for full and fair funding of our public schools instead of for tax credits for private religious schools.
If we take that kind of inclusive approach, maybe then the legislature would provide Philadelphia schools with the funds for security to prevent bullying, for paper and other supplies necessary for learning, for music and art, for nurses and counselors, and for enough teachers in all our schools. That would truly be an example of tikkun olam.
Gary Turetsky | Maple Glen


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