Camp Birchmont

This summer, camps are expecting to bring back the fun. And parents are ready for it.

By Beth Whitehouse, Newsday

Pierce summer day camp in New York

While families are signing on for the summer, it’s not without wanting to know the specifics of how camps will protect their children, camp directors say.

Camps that opened last summer have shared their best practices with other Long Island camps, says Will Pierce, owner/director of Pierce Country Day Camp in Roslyn and president of the 30-member Long Island Camps and Private Schools Association. Pierce had 700 people on its campgrounds every day during the summer of 2020 without a single case of COVID-19, he says.

“In the worst-case scenario, day camps will be open under the guidelines from last summer, which worked incredibly well,” Pierce says. Those included pre-camp temperature checks, mask wearing by staff, small cohorts who spent the day together, and other restrictions.

But camp directors say they are waiting for the state to hand down 2021 protocols in the coming weeks, which may amend requirements. “That’s still an eternity in terms of the world we live in; things are changing quickly,” Coleman says.

Transportation to camp will also return; last summer parents for the most part had to drop their children off and pick them up. But how that will be handled hasn’t yet been prescribed by the state, Pierce says. His camp has its own buses and has been operating them for local school districts with all students wearing masks at a 50% to 66% capacity so that each child can sit next to a window and windows can be open when it’s warm enough, Pierce says.


Diana Shapiro, 38, of Great Neck, who works in finance, says her three children are the third generation to attend Pierce. Last summer, however, she and her husband decided not to send them because of uncertainty. This year, they feel comfortable sending them back; their older son and daughter, ages 10 and 7, will go to Pierce’s sister sleepaway Camp Birchmont in New Hampshire and her younger daughter, 5, will attend Pierce on Long Island.

The fact that their friends sent their children to Pierce last summer and had only good things to say, coupled with Shapiro’s expectation that vaccination rates will climb by summer, made the family feel good about resuming camp. “Things are just getting better,” Shapiro says.

Coleman agrees. “I’m all about 2021,” he says. “I think this summer will be one for the ages.”

Read the full article at

By Beth Whitehouse Beth Whitehouse,  @BethWhitehouse1

Beth Whitehouse writes about families, parenting and great things to do with the kids on Long Island. She’s been a Newsday editor and shared a 1997 Newsday staff Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the crash of TWA Flight 800.

The Difference Between Try and Triumph

Written by Laura Pierce - Owner/Director, Camp Birchmont

The Only Difference Between Try and Triumph Is A Little “Umph”!

If ever a day at Birchmont were aptly named, Spirit Day would be it; the energy level was high as all of our campers engaged in a full out, all day competition both home and away against Kenwood/Evergreen.

This year, our girls hosted as the camp home team while the boys travelled, each to defend last year’s title. We competed in every sport at every age and practically brought the Dining Hall down with songs and cheers at lunchtime.

While many of the soccer, basketball, baseball, and volleyball games were split, Birchmont did not drop one tennis match home or away. In the final count, Birchmont won the day on both the Boys’ and Girls’ sides, a fine reward for committed effort and great heart. This marks our 9th consecutive Spirit Day victory. The Silver Trophy cup will proudly rest in our Dining Hall for another year!!

Although the games were hard fought, the scores, seemingly so important at game time, were not as important as the day’s take-away, which was fun competition in the spirit of camaraderie, and sportsmanship.

After Spirit Day, we enjoyed a relaxing Sunday with late reveille (a customary way to start each Sunday), Breakfast in Bed, followed by a delicious camp wide Brunch and a Bookmobile. So happy to see lots of busy browsing at the Bookmobile which offered a nicely curated selection of young adult books. Just as grown-ups take to summer reading, it seems our campers like to relax with books in downtimes like Rest Hour and bedtime. I think it’s true, not every reader is a leader but every leader is a reader. In summer we read for pleasure, in summer, we read for fun.

Our annual summer Hoedown was a great event as always. Imagine a country western outdoor party with live music, mechanical bull riding, face painting, baggo-tossing, hay-riding, fried chicken munching, and sour pickle eating with all your camp friends… well, you will just have to imagine it, cause you weren’t here, and we don’t want to make you feel badly that you missed it.

This week was loaded with outdoor trips and camp outs. Our Explorer and Pioneer groups had their overnights under huge moons in our Orchard.

We said “bon voyage” to our Upper Seniors and Super Seniors who are off to 3 days in Quebec, our Lower Seniors have nearly perfect weather for their White Water Rafting Adventure, and our Junior Counselors are off the explore Acadia National Park in Maine. The Pioneers and Explorers seem excited to have the whole camp to themselves until upper camp returns.

This Sunday we will host our 30th annual chess tournament, and hold auditions for our camper variety talent show, which is always a summer highlight.

Hard to believe we are almost at our Parent Visiting Day and Session departure. But know that we will have fun till we’re done in the setting sun, with lots more smiles to come.

We Have Arrived!

Written by Laura Pierce - Owner/Director, Camp Birchmont

After traveling in buses, planes, trains and automobiles, we are all here together getting comfortable in our cabins and learning to embrace camp life. Or as the kids say “ Living our best life!” 😎🌟💪🏻

Our first week has flown by and campers are not thinking so much now about their parents and pets they left behind, but rather have begun charting a new course making new friends, and trying new things here at camp…even for our many returning campers; this summer will be unique.

For some, leaving home is a bigger step than others. It takes time to make a friend. But we see connections happening all over camp. One of the great joys of camping is asking kids to take a leap and finding out they are flyers. Independence is a flight path with an upward trajectory, and this week we are onward and upwards to a great summer ahead.

After a hot and hazy opening week with lots of Double-Swim and melting ice cream, this week has been filled with perfect temperatures, clear blue skies and bright sunshine. 90% of our campers have now passed their laps at the waterfront and begun sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding and water skiing. Our waterfront staff is working hard with the campers who have yet to pass this deep water safety test. We have the luxury of time here at Birchmont; time to rise to a challenge and prevail. Campers who have chosen fishing or waterskiing club have had the extra privilege of seeing the sun dip behind the mountains as taps plays to end each evening.

Our waterski show was a huge hit as the whole camp gathered on our beach to watch some spectacular skiing which hopefully will inspire our campers to try to get up on skiis themselves. When you have been around kids long enough you come to realize it’s true that the young mind is not a vessel that needs filling but wood that needs igniting. We hope to provide the spark, the magic, the guidance, and the fun this summer.

We have begun our Inter Camp Competition schedule with teams in swimming, soccer, basketball, and baseball. Our youngest girls and boys have met their Big Sisters and Brothers so they can greet each other throughout the camp day.

Our trip program began this week with Aquaboggan, Ogunquit Beach and Perkins Cove, Tubing down the Saco River, and our Pioneer and Explorer groups are having their overnights in the Orchard. We hope they see a moonrise and a thousand stars. It’s the best place on camp to take in a lake view and vast night sky.

On Saturday, we look forward to Spirit Day, a full day of fun and games with a rival camp with whom we have been enjoying spirited competition for many years. The silver spirit day trophy still rests on our Dining Hall shelf but it is ours to win or lose on Saturday. We are ready.

We hope you are enjoying our photos and first weekly video which should serve to give you a glimpse of what we are doing in this special place called Birchmont.