Tradition & Foresight

CAMP SNAPSHOT

Pierce Camp Birchmont

Wolfeboro, N.H.

www.campbirchmont.com

Sessions: Full Session ($7,800), First Session ($4,800), Second Session ($4,300)

On the shores of Lake Wentworth, near the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, the Pierce family has operated Pierce Camp Birchmont for three generations.

Related Article: All In The Family

As a former athletic director, founder Forrester Pierce, Sr. began the program as a day camp in 1918 focusing on sports and fun.

Now as a resident camp, director Greg Pierce continues to cultivate those athletic roots. “We are primarily a sports camp with an emphasis on our tennis program and our waterfront activities,” says Pierce, who has directed the camp for 20 years.

Instruction Connection

Each camper who attends the resident summer program receives daily Red Cross instructional swimming, and at least an hour of tennis lessons.

With a USTA tennis pro on site, the children’s skills are developed and the top players participate in an additional 20-hour course of high-level tennis instructions.

Age level tournaments are also conducted as part of the child’s athletic growth, and Camp Birchmont hosts inter-camp competitions with a dozen other area camps in up to 100 different events.

Although the program accents tennis, it’s clear that they are still running a traditional camp program, not just a tennis camp. Basketball, baseball, soccer, rink hockey, archery, golf, mountain biking, and riflery are some of the other sports offered.

And with a Class A, six-mile long, two-mile wide private lake adjacent to the camp, as well as beachfront on the property, this uncrowded, clean water is used for skiing, tubing, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, windsurfing and wakeboarding.

Pierce adds, “Many camps with lakes are having the growing problem of safety as lakes become busier and busier, but we are fortunate to have a big, beautiful, quiet lake.”

W.A.G. is another athletic development program that includes weight training, gymnastics, or wrestling.

And for the children not so athletically inclined, there is a program entitled Notches. Within Notches, any child can learn arts, crafts, pottery, beading, tye-dying, nature study and nature walking.

Through the Notches woodworking program, children can build things to use while at camp, such as their own mailboxes, jewelry boxes and picture frames.

“We are a traditional camp; we even have horseback riding,” points out Pierce. “Since we have a big bulk of time, we try to do a lot, even within a sports camp environment. We have a talent show and a camp play every year.”

Recently added to the ever-increasing recreation options, was a bungee trampoline, with four trampolines propelling kids, attached to harnesses, jumping and flipping, up to 30 feet in the air.

No doubt there are fun options galore on this 300-acre camp. However, five times throughout summer kids are taken away from the facilities.

These road trips are part of the exciting and innovative trip program — a highlight for the children to leave their summer “home” and have a new and unique experience.

The younger kids may go on a day-trip to hike a nearby flume, or visit a water park, while the older campers take three-day white water rafting trips, and visits to Boston, Quebec and Montreal. “I’ve added this element into the program,” says Pierce. “But it’s a graduated process, from little trips for the little kids, and bigger kids get bigger, more adventuresome trips.”

Pierce Camp Birchmont is fortunate that one of the other family businesses happens to be a bus company, which gives the camp options for mobile programming. Consequently, if there happens to be too many rainy days, the campers are easily transported to nearby roller rinks or bowling alleys via the fleet of buses at the camp’s disposal.

Pierce notes that his market is predominately middle to upper class suburban children, and families pay $7,800 per child for the entire eight-week summer session.

“These, like most children in our culture, have increased pressure to perform,” says Pierce. “In their everyday life, they are running from ballet to soccer, to homework, and camp has replaced the traditional neighborhood.”

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