Falcon Camp: Fun for Now, Skills for Life.

Falcon Camp Canoe
Dave Devey gets excited when the weather starts to get warm
because he knows that summer camp is right around the corner–even if he has been coming to Falcon Summer Camp for the last 50 years. Dave first attended Falcon Camp in 1964 as a young 9-year-old camper. Now, Dave Devey is the current owner and camp director but to him it’s more than that. “Camp truly touches every aspect of my life.”

Falcon CampDave

Dave Devey in his element.

Falcon becomes more than just a camp for children; it becomes their summer home. In fact, Dave isn’t the only camper that has kept coming back: many campers return year after year (about 70%.) Most of the counselors were once campers, and like Dave, have a strong love for and connection to Falcon.

Falcon’s motto is “Fun for now. Skills for life.” They take this motto very seriously.

Unlike when I was a kid (100 years ago), kids now are focused at a very early age on one sport or activity. They seldom have a chance to try something new–especially as they approach double digits. Falcon encourages children to try a variety of new activities in a safe environment. Although many of the activities that Falcon offers are similar to other camps, one of the things that makes Falcon unique is that campers can choose their daily activities. Assistant Director, Nici Mahen describes the Falcon experience as “a place where children can make small decisions independently that build the foundation for life’s larger decisions.” Like their motto, “Fun for Now, Skills for Life.”

“We try to create a balance between tradition and continuity–which provides a level of comfort for returning campers–and encouraging kids to try new things,” Dave told me. “Falcon is a place to truly be yourself.” Having these choices allows children to discover who they are and what they enjoy.

Nici Mahen became a part of Falcon in 1985; she is about to celebrate her 30th summer there! In fact, Nici’s father, Bruce became best friends with Dave all those years ago when they were teens working at Falcon. The ties that people have with one another and with the camp make Falcon feel like a big family.

Falcon Camp FriendsThat’s exactly how camper Catherine Longhini explains Falcon:

“If I could describe Falcon Camp in one word I would say ‘family.’ The friends you make at camp aren’t just friends, they are as close as family can get. The bonds last a lifetime. Even if you don’t see them at all August through May, you know that when you see them again at camp it will be as if no time has elapsed.”

Falcon Camp

Assistant Director and former camper, Nici, with two of her children.

For some parents, sending their child away can be one of the most difficult things they ever do–even knowing that it will be an incredibly rich experience for them. So it’s definitely a comfort for parents to know that there’s another mom at camp to keep their child feeling happy, safe and secure. For Assistant Director and mother of 3, Nici Mahen, her summer home is Falcon.  During the year, Nici lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Jay, and two daughters, Sophia and Izzie, and son, Henry. But come summer, she heads back to Falcon.

“As a director,” Nici explains, “my decisions are guided by the philosophy of treating all of our campers as if he/she was my own child.” Besides being a mom, Nici previously taught elementary school; she has an Elementary Education degree with a minor in Childhood Development.

Falcon CampWhen Falcon Camp first opened in 1959, it was a boy-only camp with only 18 campers. Back then, there wasn’t one phone at the camp; messages were sent by motorboat down the lake to Firebird, a girls’ camp, that was situated across the lake. There, a CB radio was used for emergencies. Today, phones are limited to staff only. Their no cell phone policy encourages young people to talk to each other rather than through or around each other.

Much of the Falcon Camp experience is about getting outside. Falcon is situated on 15 acres of land surrounded by hundreds of acres belonging to the Muskingum Watershed District. The camp is also surrounded by 130 acres of Falcon’s farm property. Campers can play capture the flag and use the entire farm for their battle. Falcon’s property has room for 30 boats, 2 horseback riding fields; miles of biking and hiking trails; an archery and rifle range; basketball, tennis, volleyball and courts and a beautiful lake to swim in!

Falcon Camp ArcheryChildren are encouraged to take chances and try new things, which come more easily for some kids when they’re away from the familiar. Learn how to sail a sunfish, ride a horse or write your own play. “These new experiences give campers confidence that lasts well beyond the summer,” Dave explains. There are plenty of things to try: arts and crafts, drama, archery, horseback riding, sailing, canoeing, tennis, hiking and sports.

“There are so many camps that focus on a specific area,” explains one camper’s mom, Linda Parker. “Too find one that develops the whole child, lets them try new things without pressure, is refreshing.” 

The overnight camp experience gives Falcon staff the opportunity to give children more than just a broad overview; campers can achieve a level of mastery in the areas that they choose to puruse.  For example, a child may come home saying he/she got to paddle a canoe.  At Falcon, a beginner award in canoeing involves learning the parts of a canoe/paddle, correctly demonstrating strokes to ensure proper steering, safe entry and exit in the canoe, as well as how to safely right the canoe if it capsizes (a camper favorite!).


Falcon CamoFor campers who have never tried overnight camp, there’s Young Adventurers.This is one week overnight camp for younger children ages 6 – 9. Campers enjoy all the regular camp activities but with more supervision. The camper to staff ratio is an amazing 2 to 1 giving new campers the support and extra care that they might need.

For campers looking for a more intense creative outlet, Falcon has a new program where campers can experience the joys of photography, filmmaking, creative writing, and other multi-media projects. Projects range from commercials and documentaries to improving your photography skills and poetry.

Falcon Camp Horse

Besides all the daily activities, there are fun extras. A favorite is the unforgettable Falcon dances where all of camp gathers in the pavilion.  There are usually lots of costumes, lots loud music, and, of course, lots dancing. Or for campers with a love of horses, they can head to the stables before breakfast and help with take care of the horses by feeding, combing and brushing them.

“Camp has given me the experience of a lifetime,” says camper Morgan Curtiss. “Living with other kids can be stressful, but at Falcon, it is always exciting. This opportunity of living with other people has not only given me social skills that I will be using for the rest of my life–especially in the upcoming years when I go off to college–but it has also given me the best friends that I have.”

The basics:Falcon Camp Tennis Group
 Falcon is for boys and girls ages 6-16.
•  Days are broken up into 4 activity period.
  Campers can choose from 2, 4, 6 or 8 week

Falcon Camp, 4251 Delta Road S.W., Carrollton, OH 44615. (800) 837-CAMP

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Author: Heather Zachariah

Former Art Director for Home Magazine, Heather Leahy Zachariah, left her career in publishing after baby number number one. She now works from home as a freelance graphic designer and a chauffeur to her 3 busy kids. "Working on TipsFromTown has been a wonderful outlet for me. It renewed my love of publishing where I can design colorful, enticing pages online and allows me to share the things I love about being a mom." Heather grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a place that still is near and dear to her. " After living in Brooklyn for 18 years and studying Graphic Design at Pratt Institute, she now lives in the Jersey burbs. "I love living so close to NYC, but in my heart, I'm an Ohio girl."


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