News & Press

We Have Found Balance

Finding Balance

Finding Balance

By LA Guzda

As parents and educators, we may have had to deal with bullies and the awkwardness of being a teenager. But, thankfully, we didn’t have social media to shine a spotlight on our foibles -preserving them forever in cyberland.

Today, our youths face many of the same rites of passage – popularity, relationships, self-discovery; but also new challenges. Clearly, the opioid epidemic has not escaped our neighborhoods. Maybe it’s easy for you to talk to your kids, maybe it’s not. If you have ever caught yourself saying… “when I was a kid…” then perhaps you might benefit from joining the conversation with our youths, educators and other community members.

A new locally produced video series titled We Have Found Balance has been released to highlight these many issues facing young adults today and open a dialogue between students and adults. The purpose of the series is to help young adults know their voices are being heard and there are resources available to them. And, also to help adults better understand the challenges our youths are facing.

We Have Found BalanceSponsored by AMSkier Insurance, the six-part series features panel discussions from a wide range of experts in the Western Wayne, Wayne Highlands, Forest City Regional and Wallenpaupack school districts, as well as from members of the Chamber of North Poconos Leadership. The experts included teachers, counselors and community organization leaders from these districts.

The video series focuses on several issues central to young adults today. These issues include time management, stress and anxiety, social media, drugs and alcohol and planning for the future beyond high school. The project concludes with a segment dedicated to specific programs that young adults can access to receive counseling and support, such as the Student Assistance Program (SAP).

Each chapter features interviews with different students discussing these topics, each sharing their experiences and concerns, and followed by a panel of experts analyzing the interviews and providing advice and recommendations for ways students can cope with their issues and resources they can access to get help.

The We Have Found Balance project was inspired by the AMSkier Insurance Eat, Sleep, Play webinar.  Wayne Memorial Hospital’s long-time Community Health Manager Donna Decker and Wayne Highlands School District Superintendent, Greg Frigoletto and Wayne County D&A Prevention Specialist Mary Paladino, combined their experiences and passion to gather a team of experts to produce this project. This diverse group of community stakeholders got together with one goal in mind; to make something that would resonate with our community’s students and their parents.

The videos can be viewed at in any order or watched as one video. The webinar that inspired We Have Found Balance as well as links to other informative talk segments can also be found here.

social media alchemy

Social Media Alchemy For Business: Make It Positive

social media alchemy

Having a positive attitude is one of the best ways to attract more positivity in our lives, and certainly in our businesses. Today, our social media presence is truly an extension of who we are and reflects on our business culture and brand in deeply significant ways.  Social media is also a universe of trends. You want to trend positively.

One of the most significant ways you may demonstrate your brand is how you respond to negative feedback posted publicly on social media. View responding to a negative social media comment as an opportunity, not a threat. Set an example for your employees, clients and entire network by reacting to negative social media sensitively.

Here are a few tips for interacting with customers who might not have the nicest things to say about your business.

  • Respond publicly before moving to a private conversation. Responding publicly is essential to showcase your brand as transparent, attentive and helpful.
  • Never delete negative comments – deleting a negative comment makes you look like you don’t want to “deal” with the negativity, but as a business, it’s important to face the music and deal with harsh criticism honestly. How you respond will shape future dialogue with your customers.
  • Is a customer being rude? You still need to provide a polite and professional response.
  • Never respond negatively or defensively. Listen to them, get to the core of their complaint, establish a human connection and help them feel heard and do what you can to make it better.
  • There may not be a way to 100% satisfy every customer or client. Sometimes, even reasonable requests just aren’t possible. In this case, apologize with sincerity and offer an alternative. This helps customers believe they’re cared for, even if you can’t do thing exactly as they’d like.
  • If a complaint is not overly serious you may respond to the criticism with humor, if and only if it works for your brand. Humor can be a fantastic way to shift the conversation and defuse a difficult situation if applied carefully. In the case of a casual, quirky sandwich shop, the response below is brilliant and brought a lot of positive, organic reach to their social pages.

Now, let’s say you’ve tried your best to reach a peaceful solution. You’ve reached out to them, you’ve offered solutions, but they are particularly obnoxious, slanderous or outright offensively attacking your brand, it’s OK to hide comments or ban the user. Hiding comments is allowed on Facebook and makes it so the original commenter and their friends can see their comments, but no one else.  Banning someone should be a last resort.

Here are three steps to follow:

  • Hide or delete derogatory language and offensive terminology.
  • Respond to the original poster by asking them to privately message your brand to resolve the situation.
  • Ban the poster if they ignore you and continue posting offensive comments.

Running a positive business is a daily practice, and it’s important to walk the walk, and certainly, in the age of social media, to talk the talk.

At AMSkier Insurance, we’ll soon be celebrating our 100 year anniversary. We’re excited to continue learning and growing for another 100 years and beyond. Stay in touch with us on our journey.

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Campsickness: 10 Tips for Easing the Re-entry Home

Campsickness: 10 Tips for Easing the Re-entry Home

Author at Sunshine Parenting, Owner and Director of Gold Arrow Camp and friend of AMSkier, Audrey Monke writes about a lot of compelling topics for parents and camps. We felt that Audrey's recent article on 'campsickness' is especially important at this time of year. We hope you enjoy "Campsickness: 10 Tips for Easing the Re-entry Home" as much as we have.

From pictures posted on Instagram in the days following camp (and for the rest of the year), the message is clear. Some kids really miss camp after they get home — a lot. The feeling of missing camp is so intense for some kids that it leads to moping and sadness that perplexes parents. This post-camp phenomenon is aptly diagnosed as “campsickness.”

“Much like homesickness, campsickness is a natural response to the sadness and loss that may accompany the end of the camp season or session.” Camping Magazine

The end of camp, and being apart from a group the camper has grown close to, can lead to a time of grief similar to other changes and losses people experience in life.

Years ago, the mother of a 12-year-old camper called to complain to me: “I’ve raised and loved her for 12 years and you had her for two weeks, and now she wants to be at camp more than at home.”

It’s an interesting paradox to think about how something we do that is good for our kids — building their independence, friendships, and happiness by sending them to camp — can lead to some negative feelings as a parent. There’s something nice about feeling needed, and as our kids get older, even though we want them to be independent, it can be sad to realize that they really don’t need us as much and, in fact, may have been happier without us.

Think of campsickness as the exact opposite of homesickness. After the intense fun and bonding of camp, being back home — for many campers — can be a sad time. The routines, friendships, and all-out fun of camp are impossible to replicate at home. For many campers, going home and being in their own room, without their 10 BFFs constantly nearby, can be an adjustment. Many kids take to social media and Skype to keep their friendships going. Some parents are at a loss for what to do.

“As is the case with separation from the comforting, nurturing routines of home — not to mention the support and affection of family members — exiting the camp community can elicit many of the same feelings of sadness and loss. Paradoxically, these emotions may be most intense among older kids, suddenly cognitively capable of abstract thinking — delving deeper into their emotional world — and more focused on peer relationships than their younger campmates. And these strong feelings may emerge regardless of the length of the campers’ stay.” American Camp Association

Other kids, especially younger ones, may not be openly “campsick,” but they may just not seem like themselves, or they could exhibit some undesirable behavior. This week, a parent sent me the following email: “I’m wondering if any of your past blogs have talked about how to manage re-entry to normal life for campers after they come home? My daughter [age 9] and a couple of her friends who’ve been away at camp for a week or more are having some significant challenges adjusting to being home. We anticipated a couple days of getting used to old routines, but after five days, the girls are still really out of sorts.”

Her email got me thinking — and researching — the topic of re-entry after camp.

Here are some tips to help ease the re-entry home if you have an out-of-sorts or “campsick” camper:

    1. Let your camper rest! Camp is such a busy, active time and campers need lots of rest after they get home. Make sure they don’t have much on their schedule when they return and let them have several days to “chill” and get caught up on sleep. Many emotional and behavioral issues can be solved by a good night’s sleep.
    2. Encourage your camper to talk about camp and share stories. Ask open-ended questions about camp (if they seem open to your inquiries).
    3. Have them teach you a camp song or game.
    4. Use the photos on the camp’s website to spur conversation and help them remember. Print some photos and make a collage or album with camp memories.
    5. Encourage your camper to keep in touch with camp friends. Some campers like to write “real” letters to each other to keep the communication “campy.” Phone calls and video chats are also a great way to continue the more “face-to-face” connections they made at camp.
    6. Help your camper make plans for a visit or reunion with camp friends (or a video chat if that’s all that works).
    7. Suggest your camper write a thank you note to a counselor at camp who made their stay especially fun. Doing something kind for someone else, like writing a thank you note, will make your camper feel happier.
    8. Have a “campfire” in your backyard and roast a s’more.
    9. Plan and do a family outdoor activity together.
    10. Talk about camp plans and start a count-down calendar to next summer!

There are about a billion different ways you could have spent the last five minutes, and you spent them reading my post. Thank you! If you like Sunshine Parenting, please subscribe to get an email update each time I post (use box in right column). Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter for links to articles and ideas about camp and parenting. Have a happy day!

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Commercial Insurance Renewal Checklist

Do you have a commercial insurance renewal coming up? Small business owners can keep life simple with a commercial insurance renewal checklist.

Your Commercial Insurance Renewal Checklist

The first thing you’ll need to do is review any changes that were made to your business since you last checked in with your insurance agent. If the name of your business has changed, you’ve opened new locations or moved locations, or you’ve made changes to the amount of staff you employ, then let your agent know.

Next, you should check your liability insurance coverage. To have the proper coverage, it is crucial for you to complete your quarterly reports, and that your payroll figures are all up to date. The company’s assets are most effectively protected if they are properly reflected in your business’ numbers.

Additionally, it’s important that your insurance agent determine whether or not you have more than one kind of income or operation, that way we can get you the coverage you need if it’s not on your policy already.

It's also important that you check your workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Business owners can offer their staff protection through this coverage, but it’s important that your insurance coverage on your policy properly reflects your company. Your payroll needs to be properly divided into the right class codes, and all of your class codes need to be correct as well. This is also a good time to check to see if your business qualifies for drug-free workplace or safety discounts.

The last thing you should check on before your commercial insurance renewal is your commercial auto insurance coverage. As a business owner, you should check the driver's license information for those in your business who are operating your company vehicles to ensure that the DMV states they are qualified to operate your vehicles.

To learn more, or see how we can assist you in your Commerical Insurance Renewal, contact us at!

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Camp Counselor as Therapist

The New Camp Counselor Is a Therapist

Camp Counselor as TherapistWe're proud to have made the Wall Street Journal! Read, "The New Camp Counselor Is a Therapist" below:
With more anxious teenage campers, camps are putting more of a focus on mental health
Swimming in cold lakes, learning to canoe, braiding friendship bracelets…and talking with a therapist.

Summer sleep-away camps are bringing in social workers to talk with campers about their anxiety and struggles to relax, make friends and give up electronic devices and social-media apps.

Camp Fernwood in Maine hired one this summer to help redirect kids’ thinking if they start ruminating on something negative or are having a hard time communicating. Camp Foley in Minnesota filled a cabin with bins of Legos to give campers a space to decompress. And Lake Bryn Mawr Camp in Pennsylvania facilitates Skype sessions for campers who need to talk to their therapists—No other screen time is allowed at camp.

“It’s kids not being able to sleep. Kids being afraid to try new things. Kids worried about friendship, worried about what’s going on at home. They worry about everything, there is just a lot of anxiety,” said Jane Kagan, the director of Lake Bryn Mawr camp, which serves 7-year-old to 16-year-old girls.

Camp Foley renovated a cabin built to store ice and made it into a Lego room. ‘The campers need a place to get away from it all for a little while,’ says camp director Alli Faricy.

So far this year, two girls have gone home because of persistent panic attacks. A third became so distressed her hands went numb, Ms. Kagan said.

Camps generate $18.8 billion in gross revenues annually, mostly from fees, according to the American Camp Association. There are more than 14,000 day and sleep-away camps in the U.S., serving 14 million children. Many overnight camps now cost more than $10,000 for the summer, camps say.

Separating campers from their cellphones and addressing the anxiety social media can foster has become a big part of the mission of summer camp, many directors say. Time away from the screen lets campers connect with one another and build social skills that can atrophy when too much time is spent online.

Nearly half of children at sleep-away summer camps take some sort of medication, said Dana Godel, who founded CampMeds Inc., which sends medications for 10,000 children at 150 summer camps. The big three complaints are allergies, asthma and attention deficit disorder, and anxiety is quickly becoming the fourth, Ms. Godel said. She estimated that 20% of campers her company services take a sleep aid.

Henry Skier—president of AMSkier Insurance, which insures more than 600 camps—operates a hotline for its camp clients that receives hundreds of calls every summer. About five years ago, the hotline started receiving more calls about drug use, self-harm and suicide, he said. Those behaviors prompted residential camps to begin hiring social workers, he said, and he estimated the number of camps with a social worker on staff has risen to about 30% from 5% five years ago.

Maya Rigler, a 14-year-old at Camp Harlam in Kunkletown, Pa., said campers stress out when they settle into their bunk beds in the sparse wooden cabins without their phones. Maya said she knows campers who give friends their social media passwords while they are away because they don’t want to break streaks on social media conversations with friends.

“There is this constant fear of missing out,” she said. “You’re scared that something is going to happen without you there so you feel like you constantly have to be in the loop and be informed about everything or you won’t be a part of the group.”

When she arrived at camp in June and had to give up her phone, she felt very cut off and strange, she said. “But after that goes away, there’s relief,” she said.

Cori Miller is part of the “camper care” team at Camp Harlam that includes several social workers, teachers and a psychologist. In recent days, Ms. Miller, a social worker, said she asked a young girl who was cutting herself to sign a “safety contract” so the next time she felt badly she would ask for help. She conducted an intervention with a group of seventh-grade boys who were ostracizing a bunkmate because he chewed with his mouth open. And she was part of a team who asked a camper to leave after a string of aggressive behavior with no remorse.

“We’re constantly assessing kids and guiding counselors about how to say or do things better and notice what is happening around them,” she said.

Alli Faricy, director at Camp Foley in Pine River, Minn., said earlier this month, two 12-year-old boys were razzing each other. Then a third joined in, but misread the tone and turned it to one of animosity, she said. Counselors had to take the third boy aside and explain to him what had happened because he did not understand why everyone was so angry at him. “I see a lot more of this than I did just a few years ago,” she said.

Two summers ago, Camp Foley renovated a cabin built to store ice and made it into a Lego room, said Ms. Faricy.

“It’s quiet in there and they can be alone,” she said. “The campers need a place to get away from it all for a little while.”

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