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Camp Improves College Admissions

These days, colleges look at more than just grades and school activities, but how students utilize their summer.

friends, falling creek camp

CNBC did a segment on how Summer Camp May Improve College Admission Odds back in 2014. Although high school grades and standardized test scores are still the main influence for admission, extracurricular activities, particularly those during the summer, are the next big factor.

What students choose to do during the summer tells the colleges what they will do while on campus. Do they want to be involved or rather spend their time sleeping and playing video games.

Steven Infanti, associate vice president for admissions at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, said, “when I look at an applicant who has a 2.5 [GPA], which would be kind of a borderline admit for us, but I see on his application, I participate in this camp… that shows a lot of initiative and someone who has a passion.”

woodworking falling creek camp

Camp relationships are another huge interest for college admissions. Campers who become counselors, for example, show positive qualities like leadership, resilience, and decent social skills, which are very attractive to any college or employer for that matter.

Camp also grows a child’s independence. Not only is this attractive on a college application, but it also PREPARES a child for college. Overnight camps offer a sense of independence that is important for the college atmosphere.

Something unique about Falling Creek is the Waypoints progression system and the freedom of picking activities on a weekly basis as well as the option to go on out-of-camp trips daily. Waypoints creates a goal-making process for the boys to strive for and progress through multiple levels in any activity they want to gain particular skills in. The boys also gain decision making skills as they set their own schedule. These are both valuable skills for colleges as well.

progressions falling creek camp

Summer camp is an exciting experience for boys as they experience, learn, build long-lasting friendships, and gain many skills that are crucial for college, careers, and life.

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Taking it to the "Max"; FCC in the Schools

Max from Greenville, South Carolina, has been a Falling Creek camper for several years. One of his favorite activities at camp was cooking the “Longenecker Lumps”. When I took a raptor program to Christ Church Episcopal School last year, he all but begged to become my very first “Lump Assistant” (LA) when we cooked them at the end of June Camp.

Max from falling creek

This school year, Max became a different kind of assistant as he helped me with several fifth grade raptor programs when I visited Christ Church Episcopal School. All together, we taught five classes, then an after-school class for CCES parents and siblings who were curious about what their child learned that day. Max is currently in the sixth grade.

During this past summer, Max was a member of a group at Falling Creek called the Falconers of Falling Creek Camp or FFCC, a six-day program for boys of many different ages, all willing to feed the birds daily, check on them each night and teach others at camp what they’ve learned when they present a program to the other campers on their last day with the birds.

Max had a number of roles as my Assistant Teacher at his school. Perhaps the hardest one for him was explaining to children only one year younger, just WHY he was there and acting as my helper. They had no idea that he had spent an entire week the summer before, learning-about birds of prey!

Connecting both the sight and sound at the same time is a great way to remember birds that you usually don’t see except in videos.  Here is Max at the class’s computer station, taking the place of Mr. Levin, the regular science teacher.Connecting both the sight and sound at the same time is a great way to remember birds that you usually don’t see except in videos. Here is Max at the class’s computer station, taking the place of Mr. Levin, the regular science teacher.

We wanted the students to hear the vocalizations made by each of the different raptors as they were displayed to the audience. A WiFi link was made between Cornell University’s Bird Lab and the school, with the bird calls running through the school room’s speakers. When a specific sound was required, Max accessed the website and then everyone heard the sound of the bird as it was carried around the classroom.

Another, often under-appreciated role that Max undertook, was taking care of the enclosures that held each of the birds. Untying the leashes, removing the lock, holding the box steady while the bird is removed, then reversing the process when the bird has been shown to the class…

Max falling creek

…Six birds for each of six classes, each time seeing to it that all safety precautions were taken for both the birds and the students. That’s a lot of repetition and concentration, all the time being watched by students only one year younger than Max. If I were his classroom teacher and giving him a grade for the day, you can bet it would have been an A plus!

Written by Steve Longenecker

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Mentors Matter

By Dusty Davis (FCC Chaplain)

Has it really been thirty-three years since I first ground the gears on my old Jeep to make it up the narrow gravel road to Falling Creek? I had just wrapped up my first year at Auburn University and driven up for staff training on little sleep, but with plenty of post-exam euphoria. For a flatland Alabama boy, I was in very new territory. The cool evenings in the Blue Ridge Mountains off of Bob’s Creek Road were a welcome change from the sweltering heat back home.

Falling Creek Camp Chaplain Dusty DavisFalling Creek Camp Chaplain Dusty Davis

I hardly knew anyone, but my intimidation evaporated as quickly as the morning fog on the upper lake when I saw how friendly and welcoming everyone was. By the first campfire, I knew that not only did I have some great adventures in store, but I had dozens of new brothers to experience them with. I showed up that first summer relatively inexperienced in many of the mountain sports and camp activities, stuff we jus’ couldn’t do back on the farm in “Bama!”

Typical for a twenty year old counselor, I looked forward to my days off and to session breaks. I was constantly dropping hints in the dining hall to see if some of the more veteran staff members would be willing to take me out on an adventure.

The climbing legend of all Carolina rock, Mr. Steve Longenecker, was kind enough to oblige. He took me, a complete newbie, up his classic route called, “The Nose” of Looking Glass Rock. The Brown brothers, David and Bucky, let me tag along with them on the French Broad and Chattooga rivers. And Garrett Randolph often hunted me down for a sunset trail run through the rhododendrons. I felt included and valued.

Steve Longenecker giving a Birds of Prey presentation at Falling Creek Camp.Steve Longenecker giving a Birds of Prey presentation at Falling Creek Camp.

Now when I look back, I realize that in each of these scenarios and many more, the senior counselors chose to drop down to a level below their expertise, so they could bring me along on their adventures and help me improve. What an unselfish thing to do! Longenecker didn’t need to burn his one day off climbing Looking Glass Rock for the umpteenth time…but he did. And I’m sure David and Bucky would rather have paddled more challenging sections of the rivers than the routes they chose for me, but each of these men, my mentors, wanted to pass the torch to me. They wanted me to love climbing and paddling and trail running as much as they did, so they selflessly taught me the skills they had spent years mastering. From them, I learned the importance of sharing my passions with the next generation of Falling Creek brothers.

What a perfect example of a Servants Heart.

Taking the initiative to help others is one of our core-values at camp. I was lucky enough to be the recipient of LOTS of help that first summer and, believe it or not, many of the activities that my family enjoys to this day have their roots in what I learned at Falling Creek way back then.

So, in this New Year, don’t just let your resolutions be about self-improvement, but set out to improve others. Take some less-experienced kids out with you in the same way my FCC brothers did for me a quick thirty-three years ago.

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Homesteading on the Archery Range

Our new raised beds for the F.A.R.M. program at Falling Creek Camp.Our new raised beds for the F.A.R.M. program at Falling Creek Camp.

Falling Creek Camp is pleased to announce a new activity that will be introduced to campers of all ages in the summer of 2016. We will have the opportunity to plant and harvest vegetables, tend to chickens and egg collection, create by repurposing materials, construct habitats, influence our footprint on the environment, and experiment with different composting methods, including black soldier flies, farming worms, and in vessel tumblers– all of this and more will be covered in our new activity focusing on homesteading skills.

The transformation of our activity area has involved relocating archery to a new structure next to riflery. This allows us to keep the target sports together and utilize the flat, open ground that the old range offers for raised beds and sunshine. Both activities will be in short walking distance to all of the other exciting programs offered at camp.

Relocated Archery range at Falling Creek Camp.Relocated Archery range at Falling Creek Camp.
Picking up some compost from Danny's Dumpster for our raised beds. Danny's Dumpster is a local business that has been our composting and recycling partner for many years.Picking up some compost from Danny's Dumpster for our raised beds. Danny's Dumpster is a local business that has been our composting and recycling partner for many years.

Our new F.A.R.M. program will focus on the words that make up the fitting acronym – Food. Animals. Repurposing. Manpower. The tasks and responsibilities each day will engage the boys with hands-on work and strengthen their connection we have with food. They will participate in projects and learn transferable skills that we can all add to our everyday lives. Those involved in this program will surely leave with an appreciation of sustainable living and quite possibly dirty hands.

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How do you hire 140 awesome counselors?

Camper and Counselor doing the 3-Legged Race at summer camp.

Did you know that more than half of our staff is made up of former Falling Creek campers and counselors? These are men who have experienced the magic of Falling Creek first-hand, men who value our traditions and have demonstrated a willingness to uphold our code of conduct. And did you know that roughly 50% of our counselors choose to return to Falling Creek each summer? That is a stat we are very proud of given the pressure college students feel to spend their summers pursuing corporate internships. (NY Times article, The Camp Counselor vs. Intern)

Each year we receive hundreds of applications, many from friends or family members of current FCC campers and counselors. Jim Goodrum, a.k.a. “Goody”, is our Staffing Director. He was a camper, C.I.T., counselor, and Program Director, and has spent a grand total of 30 years at Falling Creek! If anyone can spot a great counselor, it’s Goody. Outdoor Adventure Director, Ben Williams, and Program Director, Kyle Jeffries, also play a big part in our staff selection process and have a knack for finding just the right guys to make our activities sizzle. Ben has been on staff for 18 years and Kyle 6, so they know how to “pick ‘em”.

Goody thoroughly reviews each application and selects the best applicants for a personal interview with a Falling Creek Director. Next, reference and background checks are completed. Lastly, the best-of-the-best have a final interview with Yates before being invited to join our team.

Meet our Summer Staff!

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