The season runs from June 27-Aug. 5. Mondays-Thursdays, campers populate the parks from 9 a.m. to noon; Fridays cap each session with field trips -- bowling, Fun Central, Splash Down, county pool, Wooden Wheels and the Ulster County Fair.
Traditionally five weeks long, a sixth session was added this year due to unprecedented enrollment in 2010. Last week -- July 11-15 -- was the most popular of all said Sports Camp Director Alissa Morano.
“Baseball/softball is always our busiest week because of Splash Down. It’s been a busy year for us, with at least 40-50 kids per session so far, and the new campers that join us each week seem to stick with it for the rest of the summer,” said Morano.
Sports campers arrive at 9 a.m. to warm up by stretching. They work on skills and pickup games for the first half of the morning, break for snack and then form teams for full games.
Morano, an elementary school teacher, was a Sports Camp counselor for ten years before becoming the program’s director in 2009.
“I enjoy camp because it’s a chance to see a different side of students’ personalities when they’re outside the classroom. You see them be who they want to be when they’re not sitting at a desk,” she said.
Arts & Crafts Program Director Lou Ann Judge has a similar tenure and also works with children during the school year. She has a special place in her heart for her campers and counselors.
“Our counselors are wonderful and the kids are a great, funny bunch. They keep me laughing,” said Judge, who oversaw 80 enrollees during Splash Down week.
Arts & Crafts begins with an organized craft, followed by playtime -- either swimming in the town pond or active games on the tennis courts -- then snack and free-form arts and crafts time. This year, campers will use their sand, lanyards and beads to create one-of-a-kind artworks. They painted wooden crocodiles and sharks; and decorated vibrant sock monkey puppets christened equally colorful names (e.g. “Sunshine” and “Mr. Rawr”).
For more information on SummerFun, visit the Town of Lloyd website, http://townoflloyd.com/.
The fish ARE jumpin’ and the cotton IS high as a line of little kids in the Lenape Elementary school cafeteria come up one after the other, asking, “Hey, Flash, what group am I in?” or “Flash, what can I do today?” Flash then answers their queries with a smile and a pat on their shoulder, head, back...she’s used to it.
“Flash” -- in case you’re wondering -- is Elise Cimino, Assistant Director of Camp Wiltmeet, the summer camp program at Lenape that is administered jointly by the New Paltz Recreation Department (under the guidance of rec director Chuck Bordino) and the YMCA out of Kingston (by Wiltmeet director Lee Anne Albritton). But on this particular day, Cimino -- with Albritton occupied in Kingston -- has the camp reins.
And they are in very capable hands, as Cimino -- entering her 15th summer at Camp Wiltmeet (she began as a camper at age ten), is a three-year math teacher in the Rondout School District and has worked in nearly every position at the camp since she was a teenager in training. She has also coached gymnastics for the Arts Community of New Paltz. So she knows the drill (so to speak) and does it with great kindness and humor.
Camp Wiltmeet is back in New Paltz for the first time in three years and offers two-week sessions to New Paltz kids (and from the surrounding area) for $140 per kid (in the New Paltz School District), and for the past weeks has accommodated approximately 130 kids from the ages of five to 15. Camp Wiltmeet began on June 27 and will run until August 14.
The kids have their choice from a number of recreation activities, such as for this week (July 9-15): arts and crafts (inside the Lenape cafeteria), playground, four-square (like “box-ball”, only with four people), tag (out on the field behind Lenape), baseball, gardening (in the Lenape Green Classroom at the side of the school) and dance (in the Lenape gym).
“Those are the Rec choices,” says Cimino, “those are balanced by the Skill choices, which this week we’re using a Halloween theme with puppets and masks.” Other Skill choices for the week are lacrosse, creating a newspaper, juggling, soccer, basketball, volleyball and ever-popular camp song-writing. “The campers choose a Rec activity everyday, while a Skill activity is chosen for the week,” adds Cimino. “There are 30-40 activities and they are rotated weekly.” The kids also swim at Moriello Pool three days a week.
The day starts with roll call and morning assembly at 9 a.m., where the campers decide just what it is they want to do that day (and get to interact on a “more personal” level with Flash). At 10 a.m. everybody goes off to their chosen activity, until 12:30 p.m., when it’s lunch time. At 1 p.m. it’s back to programs and activities until cleanup at 3:45 p.m.. The day ends with an assembly in the cafeteria at 4 p.m.
On this day first-year counselor Dorothy Sommer takes a group of six future gardeners out to the Lenape Green Classroom at the side of the school, New Paltz grad and counselor Vince Bordino takes a group of 15-or-so boys and girls out to play Four-Square on the playground and first-year counselor, Highland grad Katie Sulpice, helps a dozen kids in the cafeteria with arts and crafts. Even though the activities are structured -- wait your turn, be aware, etc. -- the three, emblematic of the Wiltmeet counselors, are, like Flash, into having fun with the kids.
For more information about YMCA Camp Wiltmeet at Lenape call 389-9176, or to register call 338-3810, ext. 115 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is: www.ymcaulster.org.
Like with Cimino at the New Paltz/YMCA Rec Camp, Gardiner Rec camp director Frank LaRonca has an easy way about him in dealing with not only the campers, but his counselors too.
Starting the day with an assembly out on the grass at Gardiner’s beautiful Majestic Park, LaRonca -- who in his other incarnation is a special education teacher in the Monroe-Woodbury School District and is in his third year as camp director -- manhandled his troubling megaphone (it needed batteries), then gave the kids some weather instructions about the heat (“Don’t overdo it”), the rain (“You won’t melt”) and possible lightning (“Go into the pole barn”). The kids (and the counselors) seemed to enjoy the monologue.
The Gardiner camp “has been around since the 1970’s, or even earlier,” said LaRonca, telling about a random group of older Gardinerites “who told me that they came to camp even earlier than that.” This Summer approximately 230 kids are using the camp, spending their days playing on the ballfields, doing arts and crafts in the gazebo, running around on the playground, climbing trees, playing tag, different sports, or just going down to sit by the Wallkill River, which runs along the West side of the park. Another great asset at Majestic Park is the brand-new pole barn, built by the Parks and Recreation Department of Gardiner and used selectively by the camp. “We can go in there if there’s a storm, or even put up a big sheet and watch a movie,” said LaRonca.
There is one six-week session (ending in mid-August) of the camp, all day, everyday. “It was a half-day until six years ago,” said LaRonca, who then listed the weekly rundown. “We have four sessions on Monday and Wednesday of one hour each: a free session to start the day, then performing arts, then library and finally sports, which all the kids rotate through on each day. Tuesday and Thursday we go to the County Pool and Friday is field trips.” The kids are separated into 24 groups, with the youngest kids (five and six-year olds) having one counselor per six kids; while the older kids (seven to 13) having 12 per counselor. There is also a Counselor in Training (CIT) for every group of 14 and 15-year olds. “The counselors return year-after-year and most of them are in education or studying to be in education,” said LaRonca. “And many of the campers go on to become CIT’s and eventually counselors. It shows their dedication to this camp.”
“This Summer we have specialists in each of our groups, like in performing arts, where we’ll have acting lessons and an end-of-the-Summer talent show, or in sports, where we teach the kids how to play baseball, basketball, soccer and the rest,” said LaRonca. In arts and crafts the campers have already made backpacks and this week are learning origami; while at the Gardiner Library, besides taking out books and reading, there are games and other themed events. “For field trips we go roller skating or bowling or to SplashDown in Fishkill, or watch a movie...it’s pretty diverse.”
One of the interesting side-lights to this year’s camp is the presence of counselor (and recent New Paltz grad) Brian Majestic, for whose great Uncle George the park was named. “It makes the Summer even more special,” laughed LaRonca.
“And in case you’re wondering,” added LaRonca, smiling, “the camp is overseen by the Parks and Recreation Committee of Gardiner and is fully self-supporting.”
LaRonca also plugs the YMCA and director Lee Anne Albritton. “When I took over as camp director I talked to her all the time to get her ideas. The Y does a great job with the summer camps.”
So whether you’re in Highland, New Paltz or Gardiner, you know that “the living is easy” for summer camp time in Southern Ulster County.