Friday, March 28, 2008

Starting to Think About Summer Camp

The Roxiticus Desperate Housewives are starting to think about summer camp, and I'll do my best to cover the camps my kids have tried, and the ones my friends recommend.

Mendham Township Elementary School Pathways to Learning Summer Camp:
For starters, I can highly recommend the Mendham Township Elementary School Pathways to Learning Summer Camp that (soon-to-be-former) Superintendent Christine Johnson launched last summer. Last year, my girls attended the camp's first two weeks in July and begged me to go back for the final week in August. The MTES Cub Camp was the perfect way for my rising kindergartner to get to know some of the other kids she'd be in class with in September, and to get to know her way around the elementary school ahead of time. Camp is open to all children (from rising kindergartners through eighth grade) in Mendham Township and the surrounding communities.

This year, the Pathways to Learning Camp is back at MTES, running June 24 through August 1st with expanded hours (8:30am - 2:00pm). Campers are grouped by grade levels in order to provide appropriate activities and meaningful experiences.

  • Cub Camp - For students entering Kindergarten in September 2008
  • Junior Tiger Camp - For students entering 1st and 2nd grades in September 2008
  • Tiger Camp - For students entering 3rd and 4th grades in September 2008
  • Bulldog Camp - For students entering 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades in September 2008

Campers will spend an action packed week or weeks (you can sign up for 1 week or all 6 weeks or any number in between) engaged in activities such as creative fitness & sports games, visual and performing arts, challenges & contests to build teamwork & personal leadership skills, technology, theme days, literacy and math enrichment & skills reinforcement, and hands-on science projects. Certified teachers, district administrators, and junior camp counselors will staff the camp. In addition, a certified nurse will be on-site at all times. The MTES camp sounds "educational" but my girls never felt like they were in school, they were having too much fun!

Transportation and food services are also available at an extra cost. My kids won't eat anything but mom's home-made peanut butter and honey sandwiches, but there's a round-trip (or one way) bus option that I'll probably try this year. Last year, we signed up for it but cancelled the bus trip when they wanted my kids on the bus at 8:10am for a 9:00am start, so I dread the possibility that this year's bus ride could start at 7:30 in the morning. We are not morning people!

Camp tuition is $269 per 5-day week, $218 for 4-day (holiday) weeks, or you can pay $1,490 to register for all six weeks. The MTES Pathways to Learning Summer Camp is a great value if you don't need full-day day care. At some of the "country club" camps mentioned below, you could pay $1,000 for one week of camp.

Annie's Playhouse Summer Stars:
My girls also attended the Annie's Playhouse Summer Stars camp for three weeks last summer, and we'll do that again this year. The camp runs 8 weeks, from June 16th to August 8th. Most importantly the show, where your kids sing and dance and show off what they've learned, is Friday, August 1st. Phone: (908) 658- 3002.

Bad News on the West Morris YMCA Backyard Pool Program:

No, it's not a day camp, but it's what my girls do on summer afternoons. For three summers now, my kids have had private swimming lessons in our backyard pool. The West Morris YMCA sends out a high school or college kid who's passed their lifeguarding tests and the kids learn at their own level on their own turf (or surf, as it were). Unfortunately, due to rising gasoline costs, the West Morris YMCA has cancelled their Backyard Pool Program for the Summer of 2008. I will look into alternative programs and post them here.

All of the Usual Suspects:

Of course, all of the usual Roxiticus Desperate Housewives "kid stuff" suspects have summer programs. Check out Randolph Gymnastics, Garden State Ballet, and Pavan's Munchkin Tennis Academy at the Fox Chase Tennis Club (no web site, phone 908-879-5231).

Word of Mouth Summer Camps, Untested by this Roxiticus Desperate Housewife:

We have friends who swear by Harbor Hills Day Camp in Randolph, NJ. Since I have an nanny (remember, I'm an investment banker, not really a housewife), I'm not really interested in putting my kids on a bus at 8 in the morning and not seeing them again until 4 or 4:30pm. However, if you're looking for a full day camp with round-trip bus service and all the "country club" extras your kids can imagine (swimming, bungee jumping, go carts, etc.), Harbor Hills may be the place for you.

Hi-Hills Day Camp at Gill St. Bernards is right down the street from us in Gladstone, NJ. Cheaper than Harbor Hills but not quite as luxurious, Hi-Hills does offer horseback riding.

Meadowbrook Country Day Camp in Long Valley, NJ is another option if you're looking for full day care, want to spend a bit less than you would at Harbor Hills, and want your kids to have a more outdoorsy camp experience (e.g., fishing instead of bungee jumping).


DebOls said...

My 2 children have attended Meadowbrook for the past 2 summers (and attended Valley Brook, the adjoining preschool and kindergarten school). They have had a wonderful time, had tremendous supervision (pools have always scared me at camps!) and have made long time friends. Wonderful summers at Meadowbrook!