Tyler Hill Camp

Tyler Hill Camp

Tyler Hill Camp, developed on the grounds of the Wayne County Country Club in 1955, is located in Pocono Mountains region of Wayne County, Pennsylvania, USA. For over 50 years, Tyler Hill Camp became the summer home for children from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida and even as far away as Israel, France and Mexico. Located on 220 acres, Tyler Hill Camp features 2 lakes (Silver and Laurel) for various water sports, 12 tennis courts, 4 softball/baseball fields, 5 basketball courts, 1 regulation roller hockey rink and is the only summer camp with an on-site 9-hole golf course.


Tyler Hill Camp was founded in 1955 by William (Bill) Heft and Joe Bernstein. Bill was the Boys' Head Counselor for over 25 years, at Camp Rosemont, in Honesdale, PA. Bill and his friend Joe Bernstein purchased the Wayne Country Club, where they transformed it into Tyler Hill Camp in 1956. They had a third partner, Bob Weinberger, who after a few seasons sold his share to Bill and Joe.


The 1990s brought the greatest change to Tyler Hill Camp. During the winter of 90/91, Sy Sundick, the Girls' Head Counselor for thirty one years, and one of the key figures during Tyler Hill Camp's most successful period, retired. Bill Heft and his wife Pauline, along with their daughter Marian and son-in-law Jimmy Bongino, and their daughter Carolyn M Heft, sold the camp to Jay S. Jacobs, owner of Timber Lake Camp and Timber Lake West. The sale, closed by their daughter, Carolyn M Heft, became official prior to the 1991 season, but the Heft's and Bongino's remained with the camp until the summer's end. During the 1991 banquet dinner, the camp presented Bill and his wife Pauline with a set of golf bags as a symbol of gratitude for the last 36 years of hard work and dedication. In 1991, until 2005, Allen and Arlene Leibowitz were the Directors/Owners of Tyler Hill Camp and helped bring the camp back to what it used to be. With Al's experience as a high school principal and Arlene's experience as a teacher, they were chosen to oversee Tyler Hill's entire summer operation.

The summer of 1991 also brought along a new tradition to help kick off, or "break out", the end of the summer Color War competition between 2 teams of campers. With the entire camp gathered at the main basketball court, Jason Priestly, star of the hit show Beverly Hills, 90210, was the surprise celebrity guest that began numerous years of celebrity guest appearances.

The first major addition to camp in the 90's was the addition of an Olympic size swimming pool in 1992. The pool was built where a hard-top volleyball court once stood down by Silver Lake. The same year, former Boys Bunk 1 and 2 was converted into a movie theater, featuring a projection screen and real movie theater seats from the then recently renovated Calicoon movie theater. The movie theater is used for rainy day and evening activities, as well as an additional location to practice for the annual Boys and Girls Sing competition.

In 1992, the boys campus bunk lineup changed for the first time in Tyler Hill Camp history. Original bunks 1-8 were unused, and Bunk 9 became Bunk 1 for the 1992 and 1993 season. These 2 years, only 13 boys bunks and Senior Hall, the bunk for Supers and CITS, were used. In 1994, the bunk lineup changed once again and remained the same until 2003. The order of the bunks were reversed, Bunk 1 starting the lineup on the opposite end of campus, with Bunk 20 in original Bunk 3's former place. In 2003, 2 new boys bunks were built, situated next to the "new" Bunk 1 and 2. With this addition, the bunks continued through 22 in the same formation that it followed since 1994. The following summer, girls camp received its first major addition, when 2 new bunks were built on lower girls campus.(7&8)

The daily schedule underwent a minor adjustment in the early 90's. Prior to 1993, girls camp ran on a 15 minute later schedule, mostly to alleviate the overwhelming kitchen staff at meal times. It was also at this time when the usually divided co-ed camp not only began to run on the same schedule, but gender specific buildings and activities were combined for use by everyone: the formerly split tennis program was equally divided to encompass both boys and girls camp; the separate lakefronts were split once again, with all swimming taking place on the former boys dock (pavilion) and boating taking place on the former girls dock; the 2 arts and crafts buildings were now used for both boys and girls on their elective periods, with new craft areas added to the girls arts and crafts building.

Starting in 1995, a 3 year project began for the construction of Tylerdome. During the summer of 1995, a new regulation roller hockey rink was built in deep outfield of the softball field closest to the boys bunks, adjacent to the pit (parking lot). The following summer, a new basketball court was built right next to the hockey rink, above the road overlooking the "rope burn" area. Finally, both the hockey rink and basketball court were covered in 1997, completing the Tylerdome. The dome featured high ceilings and was open on all sides, allowing for cool breezes throughout the hot summer days, but sheltered out the intense sun and offered an alternative location for rainy day activities.

In 1997, the camp switched to a "buggy duty" system, alleviating the need for waiter service in the dinning room. One counselor from each table would pick up the food at a newly renovated counter in the center of the dinning room, between the In/Out doors of the kitchen. Several years later, the dinning room added toasters, as well as a pasta and soup station for the appropriate meals. The exceptions to the dinning room service would be for Monday night Food Court and the Wednesday schedule of "Breakfast in Bed", Buffet Lunch and BBQ dinner.

In 1999, a new outdoor adventure program was added to the daily schedule. The program, aptly named Quest, was conceived to facilitate team building exercises within each bunk, utilizing a new low and high ropes course off to the side of the golf course. Scheduled for a 3 hour extended period for every group once a week, the program allowed each member of the bunk an opportunity to showcase their leadership and cooperative group skills. Most of the same activities used throughout the summer are used during each pre-season counselor orientation, giving staff members the same opportunity to experience similar team-building exercises. The low-ropes course consists of various activities which require the group to work together to properly accomplish the specific task at hand. The high-ropes course consists of a climbing wall, with various levels of difficulty, a suspended bridge and a zip line. At the end of the 6 week Quest program, each bunk competes in an end-of-the summer WALO competition. All the skills experienced throughout the summer are put to a time test within each division, utilizing all the Quest activities on "Water", "Air", "Land" and "Odyssey".


The last several years brought a lot of structural changes to the campus. Beginning at the start of the decade, a porch was added to each of the respective Head Counselor Offices (HCO's). In addition, the girls camp HCO was moved to the far corner of girls campus, closer to the super bunks, to open up the campus and allowing a better view of Silver Lake. In 2002, a wrap-around porch was added to the canteen and the following year, the interior was renovated, adding wood paneling throughout the perimeter of the building. Two new boys and girls bunks were also added added due to the increasing camp enrollment, allowing for more flex space in the latter bunks. The boys bunk (1&2) was added to the line of bunks closest to the lake and the girls bunk (7&8) was added behind 11&12, completing the lower girls campus. In the early part of the decade, the main and secondary roads that lined the campus were paved, followed by the addition of new foot paths in 2006, leading in front of the lower campus boys bunks (1-16) and the upper campus girls bunks (9-16).

During the winter of 2002-2003, the Social Hall suffered extensive roof damage after a sizable snowfall. The building was un-repairable, so plans were drawn up to construct a new, larger building to facilitate a growing camper enrollment. The foundation was laid in 2003 and the building was officially completed for the 2004 summer season. The new building was built similar to the original design, with the exception that it was not built on risers, but rather on a concrete slab. The design was similar to the canteen, with a cathedral ceiling throughout plus a back patio, rather than a porch. The building featured a state-of-the art sound booth in the back of the building, with costume rooms, larger bathrooms and a dance room and weight room off to either sides. The building received another facelift in the fall of 2006, when hard wood flooring was placed throughout the building.

For the summer of 2006, the Arts and Crafts building received a much needed renovation. The woodshop, formerly the Boys A&C building, moved the existing ceramics shop to the former Girls A&C building right next door, allowing the cooking program to take its place. A wrap-around deck was added to combine both buildings into one large A&C center, offering woodshop, rocketry, candlemaking, cooking, stained glass, tye-dye, painting and macrame/beads. In the fall of 2006, construction began on a new Gymnastics pavilion overlooking Silver Lake. This pavilion will replace the existing gymnastics facility, which was situated in the pavilion of the old Boys campus dock.

In 2006, Andy Siegel and his wife Wendy assumed the position as Director/Owners of Tyler Hill Camp, along with Justin Mayer as Assistant Director and Bette Jane Weisenthal as Associate Director of Girls Camp. Andy Siegel joined Tyler Hill Camp in 1993 as the Freshman group leader. He previously held the positions as Assistant Boys Head Counselor, Boys Head Counselor and Associate Director. Justin Mayer joined Tyler Hill Camp in 2003 as a Division Leader. He previously attended Timber Lake Camp and following his stint as a Division Leader, became the program director in 2004 and Boys Head Counselor in 2005. Bette Jane Weisenthal started Tyler Hill Camp in 1979 as a group leader. After several years as a group leader for the Junior, Inter and Sub-Senior girls, Bette assumed the position as Director of the Drama department starting in 1988, a position she held until 1995. In 1996, she transitioned back to girls camp as the Girls Head Counselor, with Cindy Davidowitz as Assistant Head Counselor for several years, before passing that position on to Alyssa Flaum.

Notable Tyler Hill Traditions

A camp is more than a collection of buildings and land. What makes a camp special are those traditions that spring up over the years and make it live forever in the hearts and minds of those who spent their youth there:

Color War - An end of the summer competition where the entire camp is split into 2 teams, Blue & White, led by counselor leaders known as "officers". Lasting between 5 and 6 days, points are earned through athletic activities, sportsmanship, boating and swimming relays, all culminating with a "Sing" competition. Campers anticipate Color War all summer long, awaiting the "Break Out" towards the final week of the summer. Camp spirit is high, as both teams compete for the most sought after prize, the hatchet.

A hatchet is hidden in a well disguised location, with clues released twice a day, leading to the hatchet's general vicinity. The search is fierce, as many of the clues are riddles or anagrams, sending many hatchet hunters on a wild goose chase. The clues generally become easier as the competition draws to a close, allowing campers of all ages to decipher and search for the hatchet. Once the hatchet is found, this gives that team an added boost of confidence for remainder of the competition.

The Cisco Kid, The Hawk and Wonder woman - As the days draw closer to Color War, these characters make an appearance, alerting the camp that Color War is quickly approaching. The Cisco Kid, donned with a poncho and sombrero, is the guardian of girls camp. He advises the entire camp that he will defeat the Hawk, the guardian of boys camp, to kick-off the start of Color War. Legend has it that Color War can not officially start until the Cisco Kid defeats the Hawk in a full-out battle in front of the entire camp. After brief appearances by both the Cisco Kid and the Hawk, Wonder woman relays information to girls camp from the Cisco Kid, that he is ready for the final battle with the Hawk and that the Cisco Kid will prevail. Conveniently, the Cisco Kid has always won the final battle and Color War has started without hesitation shortly thereafter every summer.

Color War Breakouts - Starting in 1991, a celebrity was brought to camp to break out the Color War competition. The celebrities that have appeared for a Color War breakout are as follows:

* 1991: Jason Priestly, star of Beverly Hills, 90210
* 1992: Nitro & Ice, stars of American Gladiators
* 1993: Charles Barkley
* 1994: Hakeem Olajuwon
* 1995: Matthew Perry, star from the hit TV show Friends
* 1996: No celebrity guest
* 1997: Supermodel Tyra Banks and model Antonio Sabato Jr.
* 1998: Wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
* 1999: Shaquille O'Neil
* 2000: Justin Timberlake, popular lead singer from the band Nsync
* 2001: Carson Daly, host of MTV's TRL
* 2002: Tobey Maguire, star of the "Spider-Man" films
* 2003: Clay Aiken, American Idol runner up and boy-band O-town
* 2004: Paris Hilton and pro-skater Chad Muska
* 2005: Fergie, singer from the band Black Eyed Peas
* 2006: Two teen girls, Alex and Jordy, found 4 out of 6 hidden cryptexes, and broke color war, by the lake, to the entire camp
*2007: The "Megasaurus" Monster Truck Dinosaur rolled down the road by the lake

Watermelon Sacrifice - Legend has it that many summers ago, Big Al Leibowitz walked out on the boys dock during an intense storm and was greeted by a voice that instructed him to carry out sacrifices in honor of the Watermelon G-d. He promised Big Al that every summer he would provide ripe watermelons to Big Al's lake as long as the sacrifice takes and the white seeds were properly disposed of in the "boooket". Whenever Big Al noticed watermelons floating in the crib, he would gather a group of campers for the official ceremony. A sacrifice was chosen, most typically a staff member, and after a special prayer was said, the Watermelon G-d made it known whether or not the sacrifice was worthy of the newly discovered watermelons. If the Watermelon G-d accepted the sacrifice into the lake, it was a sign that Big Al could cut open the watermelons for the group. The first step was to properly pass out the "schmekal", or tail end of the watermelon, to the youngest camper in that group. If the camper was able to balance the schmekal on their head, they were able to keep it as a souvenir, providing they stored it in a tightly sealed zip-lock bag. After the schmekal was handed out, it was time to determine whether the watermelon was edible. If the watermelon was red, everyone was able to feast on the offering. If not, the watermelon was unable to be eaten and had to be properly disposed of. The main reason given for an unripened watermelon was if someone from the previous summer spit the white seeds instead of the black ones into the lake, rather than into the "boooket" with the rest of the watermelon rinds.

Tyler Hill Alumni

Notable Alumni

* [http://www.nba.com/nba_tv/bruce_beck_bio.html Bruce Beck] NBC Weekend Sports Anchor
* [http://www.marber4supremecourt.com/ Randy Sue Marber (Kornfeld)] - NY State Supreme Court Justice
*Irene Rosenfeld (Blecker) - Chief Executive Officer, Kraft Foods Inc.

Alumni Hall of Fame

See [http://www.tylerhillsamazing.com/hof.html Alumni Hall-of-Fame]

Historical Data

Boys Head Counselors

*Gabe Smith (1960-1965)
*"Big Ed" Michael (1966-1971)
*Artie Sunshine (1972)
*Irv Goldstein (1973-1978)
*Charles "Chick" Tayer (1979-1988)
*"Big Al" Leibowitz (1989-1991)
*Steve Frank and Bill Lalin (1992)
*Mike Singeiser (1993)
*Joel Diamond (1994)
*Jay Fleitman (1995)
*Andy Siegel (1996)
*Bob Siff (1997-1998)
*Craig "Laz" Lazarus (1999-2004)
*Justin Mayer (2005)
*Chris Beltz and Greg Ellis (2006-present)

Girls Head Counselors

*Sy Sundick (1960-1990)
*Kenny Weinman (1992-1994)
*Missy Kaufman (1995)
*Bette Jane Weisenthal (1996-2005)
*Alyssa (Frank) Flaum (2006-present)

Camp Organizational Structure

External links

* [http://www.tylerhillcamp.com Tyler Hill Camp Official Site]
* [http://www.tylerhillsamazing.com Tyler Hill Camp Alumni Site]

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