Roxy’s Best Of… New Jersey

The Best of the State of New Jersey, from entertainment and events to kid stuff (including birthday party venues and summer camp) to restaurants to art galleries and shopping

Nov
01

Blogging Out Hunger Returns

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My friend Deb over on Jersey Bites invited me to join the 2nd Blogging out Hunger campaign to help raise awareness and donations for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey — the largest food bank in the state.  Two years ago, when Roxy’s Best Of… New Jersey, Roxiticus Desperate Housewives and Roxy’s Bay Head Blog participated in the first ever “blog burst” to fight hunger in New Jersey, over 122 bloggers posted about the Community FoodBank’s desperate need for donations. 

As the 2010 holiday season approaches, we are hoping for even more bloggers to jump on board and help us spread the news about the 20th Anniversary of the FoodBank’s “Check out Hunger” campaign which is going on now through December. Check-Out Hunger is an annual awareness campaign and fund raiser for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey which actually began in New Jersey and is now run at supermarket chains across the northeast. I know you have seen those tickets at the check out counters of your local grocery stores, including Kings, Shop Rite, Wegmans, A&P, Food Basics, Foodtown, Pathmark, Super Fresh and Wawa. Please don’t ignore them. The Community FoodBank of New Jersey reports that need for nutritious food is up 30-40 percent at its partner agencies (soup kitchens, pantries, shelters, etc) this year.

We’re hoping our efforts will compel everyone to do something, anything, to help. Visit the Community FoodBank of New Jersey at www.njfoodbank.org or call 908-355-FOOD (3663) to learn more. What can you do?

  1. Make a monetary contribution: Visit http://www.njfoodbank.org/.
  2. Donate food: Drop off a bag of food at your local food pantry.
  3. Organize a food drive: We can help explain the logistics of starting a food drive. Just call 908-355-FOOD.
  4. Help “Check Out Hunger:” Look for the “Check Out Hunger” coupons at your local supermarket and donate. No donation is too small! In 2009 Check-Out Hunger crossed the $2 Million plateau for the first time. The campaign raised $2,093, 086 for food banks across the state. Since 1992, millions of people have supported the program at food markets and online at www.checkouthungernj.org.  Please make it a point to donate during the holiday season to the Check Out Hunger campaign.

Also, please visit the blogs below to check out their “Check out Hunger” posts.

JerseyBites

Roxiticus Desperate Housewives

JerseySmarts

Random Cravings

GServo

This list will continue to grow as the day goes on. If you are a blogger in New Jersey, please join in our efforts and feel free to jump on board even if you didn’t commit to participate. Just send a link to your post to info (at) jersey bites.com and Deb will get you listed.  If you know of a blog in New Jersey that you think should be involved, please email them a link to this post.

Aug
11

New Jersey American Water Launches Virtual Food Drive

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Roxy’s Best Of… is committed to blogging out hunger in New Jersey. I received the following note in my Bay Head water bill this month, and thought I’d share the info on a worthy cause:

New Jersey American Water is teaming up with other investor-owned utilities across the state to help fight hunger in New Jersey.
For its campaign, New Jersey American Water will be partnering with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey by conducting a virtual, Web-based food drive.

You can help a family in need.

Best of all, there will be no going to the grocery store, pulling something out of the pantry, or dropping off cans. Instead, a few clicks will do!

Take part in the virtual food drive page by clicking on the link. From there, you will be able to “shop” through a selection of food products needed by the Community FoodBank of New Jersey….like a turkey, vegetables, or ground beef.  When you’re finished shopping, go directly to the virtual checkout (no waiting in line needed), pay your bill online, and the rest will be taken care of by the FoodBank. All major credit cards are accepted.

The food drive will run from August 1 to September 30, when FoodBank contributions are normally lean. You can be sure, your contribution will make a huge impact in the lives you touch. Visit New Jersey American Water’s Virtual Food Drive and make your donation today!

UPDATE 10/5/10:  Good news, the virtual food drive is still online and I was able to make my donation today.  It sure was fun and easy to shop for turkey dinner, ground beef, mac & cheese, pancakes and milk for someone who needs it here in New Jersey.  Maybe the deadline has been extended through the end of the year?

UPDATE 11/1/10:  Unfortunate timing for our 2nd Blogging Out Hunger campaign…NJ American Water has shut down the virtual food drive.  Please click the link to Check-Out Hunger to learn how you can still contribute.

Aug
10

Maddie’s Major: Veterinarian, Minor: Singing

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Dreams are important… when we’re kids, and when we grow up. When I was 8 years old, I wanted to be a disc jockey and own radio stations. Today, as an investment banker who once put together a small-market radio group for a private equity fund, I’ve never regretted pursuing my childhood radio dreams.

My youngest daughter, Maddie, aspires to be a singing veterinarian. Because our twin babysitters are going off to college in a couple of weeks, eight-year-old Maddie is already talking about what she’s going to study when it’s her turn to go away to college (making her mom and dad officially empty nesters in ten years). Maddie would like to find a college where she can major in veterinary science (is there such a thing as pre-vet?) and minor in singing.

In the mean time, we’re trying to decide whether to make the commitment to a Master’s class at Annie’s Playhouse in Far Hills, NJ, in the Fall. For the past four years, London and Maddie have spent their summers at Annie’s Playhouse Summer Stars, but this year, for the first time, both of my girls have expressed an interest in “going pro” in the Fall, focusing on a career in musical theatre through the amazingly serious classes in acting, singing and dancing at Annie’s Playhouse. It’s clearly impressive to see what Annie’s Playhouse has accomplished for its most serious students… a couple of 10-year-olds from the Summer Stars camp already have their own agents and could turn out to be the next Jonas Brothers.

But talk about over-programmed. There is such a wealth of opportunities for children to choose from here in the Roxiticus Valley, including the local Hexagon Players performances. As much as London and Maddie LOVED softball in the Spring, we’ve rejected the Mendham Little League Fall softball program, and decided to wait until next year to join a 4-H dog club. London is a very talented dancer and already takes three hours of ballet on Monday and Tuesdays, as well as an hour of modern dance for both girls at Garden State Ballet in Randolph, NJ, but we’ve put off the third day of dance and participation in the Nutcracker until she’s old enough to be en pointe next year. London also wants to continue with intermediate gymnastics at Randolph Gymnastics.

So we’ll take the next few weeks of relaxation at our beach house in Bay Head, NJ, sleeping as late as we want with no commitments, to decide whether the girls want to get serious about a career in musical theatre, or stick to the lazy fun of song and dance of summer camp.

Mar
07

Roxy’s Best of Summer Camp 2010

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Now that the weather has warmed up and the snow has melted, the Roxiticus Desperate Housewives are ready to get serious about summer camp 2010.  As usual, I’ll do my best to cover the camps my kids have tried, and the ones my friends recommend. Some of my favorites haven’t posted all the details on their 2010 camp programs, but I’ll provide a summary of last year’s program now and update the dates and details as soon as they become available.

Mendham Township Elementary School Pathways to Learning Summer Camp:
While Mendham Township Elementary School has not yet posted this year’s details, I can highly recommend Pathways to Learning Summer Camp that former Superintendent Christine Johnson launched in the summer of 2007. In their first experience with Pathways in 2007, 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 Maddie, at the time a 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.

In summer 2008, the Pathways to Learning Camp returned to MTES, running June 24 through August 1st, with expanded hours (8:30am - 2:00pm). We took advantage of the camp bus service that picked the girls up in the morning, but our nanny or Rex or I picked the girls up at the end of the camp day. While I had assumed that, without Christine Johnson at the helm, the camp would be less enriching than the prior summer, London and Maddie insisted they had even more fun during their two week Summer 2008 stint, possibly because Mr. Gallo (the MTES Technology teacher) was their camp counselor.

London and Maddie were too busy with other camps and activities to go back to Pathways last summer, but I suspect that this summer, with the new MCAW programs introduced to Pathways to Learning during this school year, Summer Camp at Mendham Township Elementary School will be back and better than ever. If camp is organized as it has been in the past, campers will be grouped by grade levels in order to provide appropriate activities and meaningful experiences.

  • Cub Camp - For students entering Kindergarten in September 2010
  • Junior Tiger Camp - For students entering 1st and 2nd grades in September 2010
  • Tiger Camp - For students entering 3rd and 4th grades in September 2010
  • Bulldog Camp - For students entering 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades in September 2010

If I had to venture a guess, I’d say that this year’s Pathways to Learning Summer Camp will run six weeks starting June 28th, ending on August 6th, though it would be terrific if Pathways extended the program for eight weeks through August 20th. 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 sandwiches, but there’s a round-trip (or one way) bus option that worked well for us one summer.

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:
London and Maddie have now attended the Annie’s Playhouse Summer Stars Musical Theatre Camp for three summers, and we’ll be back again this year for four or five weeks. The camp runs 8 weeks, with a big show towards the end of camp where you’ll see your kids (and other talented summer stars) strut their stuff on stage at the Bernardsville Presbyterian Church. Annie hasn’t announced precise dates yet, but my best guess based on last year’s dates would be June 14th through August 6th, although due to all of the snow this winter, London and Maddie will be in school through June 25th, so we’d prefer a schedule that runs June 21st through August 13th.

Annie’s Playhouse Summer Stars. Phone: (908) 658- 3002. Please be sure to let Annie know that Roxy sent you.

Pavan’s Tennis Academy Summer Camp has moved to Flanders Valley Tennis Club

On and off for the past four years, London and Maddie have taken tennis lessons with Pavan’s Tennis Academy at Fox Chase Tennis in Chester, NJ, and Pavan also runs an awesome summer tennis camp for kids of all ages (kindergarten through high school). Last summer, London and Maddie spent three hours a day with Pavan for one week in August and both girls dramatically improved their strokes and presence on the tennis court.

As I posted over on Roxy’s Best Of… Chester, NJ, in May 2010, Pavan is leaving Fox Chase and moving to Flanders Valley Tennis Club with an all new summer tennis camp for all ages and skill levels that will run 10 weeks from June 21st through August 27th.  Phone 973-479-1329. Please be sure to let Pavan know that Roxy sent you.

Randolph Gymnastics

Randolph Gymnastics in Randolph, NJ, where London and Maddie are training for the Olympics, will offer a 10-week Summer Day Camp Gymnastics program from June 28th through August 27th. Both a full and half day camp schedule is available. The full day runs from 9:00am through 4:00pm and half day runs 9:00am through -1:00pm. Before and after care is available if needed. The minimum age for Randolph Gymnastics Summer Day Camp is five years old. Some of the camp’s activities will include: recreational gymnastics & open work-out, arts & crafts, games and races, swimming, non-contact team sports, and a climbing wall. The schedule is flexible, and you’ll find rates on the Randolph Gymnastics web site for one to five days per week and one to ten weeks of camp. Phone (973) 584-4111. Please be sure to let Shannon know that Roxy sent you.

Garden State Ballet:

Garden State Ballet, where London and Maddie attend weekly ballet classes, will offer a summer program at each of its three locations in Randolph, Rutherford, and Newark, NJ. Last year, London and Maddie experimented with modern dance and found that they enjoy it even more than ballet… now both of my girls have added weekly modern dance classes and will dance in two different workshops in this year’s recital.

Girl Scout Camp

Last summer, London and Maddie tried Girl Scout Camp in Jockey Hollow for the first time and loved it.  I’ll write more about their experience soon, but for now I’ll give you the link for Girl Scout Camp 2010 and let you know that the camp has my girls’ seal of approval and they will be headed back for one or two weeks this summer.  There are one night sleepover opportunities for rising 3rd graders and up… last year London had a blast with an extra free swim, songs and stories by the campfire, and trying out her sleeping bag in one of the cabins.

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 a 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). My good friend and fellow Roxiticus Desperate Housewife, Lynette, has twins who have enjoyed the camp for the past two summers, and one of my loyal readers left the following comment: “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.”

Roxy’s Mailbag received a rave for Soulshine Farm Summer Camp in Randolph, NJ: Yoga, farm activities, organic food!

More from Roxy’s Mailbag: Are you doing another post this year about camps? If so, I would love to give you information about the camp my kids have attended for the past 9 summers, headed into our 10th. I also work for the camp. It’s JCC Camp Deeny Riback in Flanders.  I would be happy to answer any questions you might have on the camp. Thanks — Lauren.

This just in from Dotty DeCota at Kangaroo Kidz Youth Gymnastics in Bernardsville, NJ: Summer camp runs from June 21-August 6 with full day and 1/2 day options. The full day runs from 9am -3pm and there are two 1/2 day options: for 3 and 4 yr olds 9-11:30am; for 5-12 yr olds 11:30am-3pm. Some camp activities include: Recreational gymnastics, crafts, games, pizza parties and more. Each week has a theme and the gym turns into the theme for the week. Please visit our website at www.kangarookidz.com for themes and prices. Or call Dotty DeCota at 908-766-0300.

Please see the comments on this post for a thoughtful review of Stonybrook Day Camp in Randolph, NJ.

If you have a favorite summer camp that you’d like to share with Roxy’s Best Of… readers, please leave a comment on this post or contact Roxy. With your input, I’d love to be able to expand Roxy’s Best Of… summer camp recommendations beyond Morris County NJ and Somerset County NJ.

1, including: Robyn already leave comments. Why don' you?
Feb
08

London and her BFFs at NJPAC… the Best Birthday Party Ever!

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London described it as “the best birthday party ever.” Maddie just loved having our own private balcony for ten, looking out over the crowd. Rex said, “Weird… but wonderful.” One of the other moms kept looking for Eloise from the Plaza Hotel… she didn’t find that naughty little six-year-old, but enjoyed many other surprises. I loved the trampolines, trapeze and contortionist but worried that London’s sister Maddie would be twisting herself into a pretzel during the after-party at home.

For those of you who are out of the loop, we’re talking about my daughter London’s 8th birthday party last weekend. Rex, Maddie, London and I were joined by three of London’s BFFs (best friends forever) and their moms for the Saturday matinee performance of Nebbia by Cirque Eloize at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) .

I quickly realized that I would have trouble describing the performance, so I was thrilled to find a short video (including the contortionist!) and I’ve posted it over on Roxiticus Desperate Housewives.

Jan
07

Bring Out the Cirque! Planning London’s Birthday Party at NJPAC

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Happy New Year!  Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions for 2009?

Our family just got the last of our New Year cards into the mail to friends, family and clients, which means it’s time to turn our attention to the next big event on our calendar… London’s eighth birthday. As Roxy’s loyal readers know, we have been planning a very special party for London at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, New Jersey. Three of London’s BFFs (that’s “best friends forever,” for those not up on the latest girl talk) and their moms will join London, Maddie, Rex and me for the 2pm matinee performance of Nebbia by Cirque Eloize at NJPAC on Saturday, January 31st.

I designed some cool accordion-fold photo invitations at Kodak Gallery online, with photos from the Cirque Eloize web site interspersed with photos of London.  The invitations look something like this:

Bring Out the Cirque… London Is Turning Eight!

Please Bring Your Mom and Join Us for

Cirque Eloize at NJPAC

2pm on Saturday, January 31st

Meet at London’s House at Noon for lunch. We’ll take two cars to NJPAC, and come back to the house for birthday cake after the show.

 

 

 

London and Maddie are really looking forward to the big day… they’re playing out every moment, from who sits where in our GMC Acadia on the way to NJPAC and back, to how it will feel to have one of those little balconies overlooking the stage all to ourselves and what flavor(s) of ice cream cake we should get for the after-party.  Seating arrangements in the SUV are surprisingly crucial to London’s sister, Maddie, who is 13 months younger.  Turning eight is a big deal in New Jersey, as this milestone brings an end to the cumbersome car booster seats required by law.  So London will have her first trip without a booster, but Maddie must wait another year to graduate.  Now, back to our regularly scheduled program, London’s birthday party at NJPAC.

If you haven’t heard about Cirque Eloize, I’ll share a few quotes from the NJPAC, Cirque Eloize, and Nebbia web sites:

  • Experience the sites and sounds of a European circus in a vibrant, fully-staged production that brings together a company of acrobats, clowns, jugglers, trapeze artists and musicians to create a rich, fast-paced tango of emotions. Last seen at NJPAC with their eye-popping spectacle Rain, this world-renowned company returns with Nebbia, a brand new acrobatic extravaganza. Cirque Eloize passionately pursues artistic perfection—and achieves absolute magic.
  • Éloize: Pronounced [EL-WAZ] Éloize is a word that comes from the Magdalen Islands and means “flashes of heat lightning seen on the horizon.” An inspiration for the troupe’s seven founding members, this lightning symbolizes the heat and energy that feed the troupe’s spirit.
  • At the heart of the circus arts revival, Cirque Éloize has been creating moving performances filled with magic since 1993. Continually striving for artistic perfection, it is one of the leading companies in contemporary circus arts. Based on the multidisciplinary talents of its artists, Cirque Éloize expresses its innovative nature through theatricality and humanity, and combines circus arts with music, dance and theatre in a break-through and original manner. With six original productions to its credit, Cirque Éloize has presented more than 3,000 performances in 330 cities and 30 countries located around the world. Cirque Éloize has taken part in numerous prestigious international festivals and has conquered Broadway with its show Rain.
  • Nebbia, the third part of the Sky Trilogy directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, was launched in December 2007. Nebbia is a creation of Cirque Éloize in co-production with Teatro Sunil. Meaning fog in Italian, Nebbia explores the world of dreams and the imaginary. In the fog, you get lost, you find each other, but above all, you are confronted with the unexpected… Nebbia will once again plunge you into a
    poetic and sensitive universe mixing acrobatics to theatre in a subtle way…
  • From Author and Director Daniele Finzi Pasca:  “From my very early age, I’ve been fascinated by acrobatics. Fascinated by the movement that defies the laws of gravity, that combines strength and lightness, precision, synchronicity, confidence, surprise and risk. I like what goes unexpressed in theater, the veiled, the gesture that remains invisible.  When the sky is very low, we see things we don’t normally see. We travel in a world of memories, invented images, what we call dreams for the sake of convenience. To tell my tale of a childhood that is re-invented each time, I use geometries and the lucidity of acrobatic theatre danced on stage by an extraordinary group of performers.”

London, Maddie, Rex and I just can’t wait!!

Cirque Eloize brings Nebbia to NJPAC for three performances:  Saturday, January 31st at 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday, February 1st at 2pm.

VIP Events: The Salons at NJPAC

While planning London’s 8th birthday extravaganza, I considered a sleepover at our home after the show, as well as an elegant evening of dining at NJPAC’s Theater Square Grill, but we eventually opted for the simplicity of an afternoon matinee followed by ice cream cake at home.  If you’re planning a unique event for an older child or adults (an extended family Easter or Mother’s Day outing, for example), you may want to consider the ”NJPAC Salons” packages.

VIP Amenities include:

  • Seats in a private box for the performance of your choice;
  • Exclusive access to an intimate suite adjacent to your seats for entertaining;
  • Pre-paid parking; and
  • Pre-paid coat check.

Fine Dining includes:

  • 3-course dinner at NJPAC’s 3 1/2 star Theater Square Grill;
  • Specially selected wine pairings for every course; and
  • Dessert buffet in your private salon during intermission (yum!)

All-inclusive pricing:

  • 6-guest package $1,050 plus the cost of performance tickets
  • 12-guest package $2,100 plus the cost of performance tickets

Your VIP evening at NJPAC is just one phone call away… call Rose at 1-888-466-5722 and be sure to let her know that Roxy sent you!

Some upcoming NJPAC performances that work well for a party or event include:

  • Golden Dragon Acrobats (Sunday, February 22nd at 3pm):  From bending into improbable shapes to forming human pyramids on moving bicycles, this internationally acclaimed troupe celebrates Chinese culture with time-honored traditions that date back 25 centuries. Perfect for the kids, and parents won’t be bored;
  • Fiddler on the Roof (Tuesday, March 10th through Sunday, March 15th): Chaim Topol returns to the role he immortalized in the Oscar-winning, big-screen version of Fiddler on the Roof. This revival of the Tony-winning musical, based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem, is driven by one of the most heartwarming scores in the history of musical theater, including favorites like “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” What can I say…tradition! A great choice for the whole family;
  • Steve Tyrell (Saturday, April 25th at 7pm and 9:30pm): A wonderful cabaret performer doing all Burt Bacharach. If you have never attended Cabaret at NJPAC, it is something to try — a real grown up night out. Performances are in the Chase Room. The stage is set so you and your guests look out at the lights of the city. Seating is at little tables and there is food and beverage available.
  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (Friday, May 08th through Sunday, May 10th) Rex, London, and Maddie treated me to Alvin Ailey on Mother’s Day last year, and we’re making it a Mother’s Day tradition again this year… maybe we’ll see you there?!
  • John Pizzarelli doing Sinatra (Friday, May 15th at 8:00pm)…a great Jersey night out.
  • Rain (Friday, June 12th through Sunday, June 14th): This Beatles Tribute was the hit of last season at NJPAC. It is back in June with 4 performances. Rain is a multi-media, multi-dimensional experience – a fusion of historical footage and hilarious television commercials from the 1960s lights up video screens, and live cameras zoom in for close-ups. Perfect for corporate entertaining or a grown up birthday with a 60s theme.

Your VIP evening at NJPAC is just one phone call away… call Rose at 1-888-466-5722 and be sure to let her know that Roxy sent you!

Jan
04

Starting to Think About Summer Camp 2009 — Roxy’s Best Of… Summer Camps in Morris and Somerset County, New Jersey

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The Roxiticus Desperate Housewives are starting to think about summer camp 2009, and I’ll do my best to cover the camps my kids have tried, and the ones my friends recommend. Some of my favorites haven’t posted all the details on their 2009 camp programs, but I’ll provide a summary of last year’s program now and update the dates and details as soon as they become available.

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 former Superintendent Christine Johnson launched in the summer of 2007. In their first experience with Pathways in 2007, 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 Maddie, at the time a 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.

Last summer, the Pathways to Learning Camp returned to MTES, running June 24 through August 1st, 2008, with expanded hours (8:30am - 2:00pm). We took advantage of the camp bus service that picked the girls up in the morning, but our nanny or Rex or I picked the girls up at the end of the camp day. While I had assumed that, without Christine Johnson at the helm, the camp would be less enriching than the prior summer, London and Maddie insisted they had even more fun during their two week Summer 2008 stint, possibly because Mr. Gallo (the MTES Technology teacher) was their camp counselor.

I expect that the Pathways to Learning Summer Camp at Mendham Township Elementary School will be back and better than ever under the guidance of our new Superintendent, Kristopher Harrison. If camp is organized as it has been in the past, campers will be grouped by grade levels in order to provide appropriate activities and meaningful experiences.

  • Cub Camp - For students entering Kindergarten in September 2009
  • Junior Tiger Camp - For students entering 1st and 2nd grades in September 2009
  • Tiger Camp - For students entering 3rd and 4th grades in September 2009
  • Bulldog Camp - For students entering 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades in September 2009

If I had to venture a guess, I’d say that this year’s Pathways to Learning Summer Camp will run six weeks starting June 22nd or 23rd, ending on July 31st, though it would be terrific if Pathways extended the program for eight weeks through August 14th. 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 worked well for us last year.

Last year’s camp tuition was $269 per 5-day week, $218 for 4-day (holiday) weeks, or you could 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 have also attended the Annie’s Playhouse Summer Stars Musical Theatre Camp for two summers, and we’ll be back again this year. The camp runs 8 weeks, with a big show towards the end of camp where you’ll see your kids (and other talented summer stars) strut their stuff on stage at the Bernardsville Presbyterian Church. Annie hasn’t announced precise dates yet, but my best guess based on last year’s dates would be June 15th through August 7th, although London and Maddie will still be in school if the first week starts June 15th, so depending on the last day of school in other districts it may be June 22nd to August 14th.

Annie’s Playhouse Summer Stars. Phone: (908) 658- 3002. Please be sure to let Annie know that Roxy sent you.

Pavan’s Tennis Academy at Fox Chase Tennis Club in Chester, NJ

London had a make-up lesson this morning over at Pavan’s Tennis Academy at Fox Chase Tennis Club, and Pavan assured me that he’ll be running his awesome tennis camp for kids of all ages (kindergarten through high school) again this summer. London and Maddie spent three hours a day with Pavan for one week in August last summer and both girls dramatically improved their strokes and presence on the tennis court.

Based on last year’s dates, I’m going to guess that Pavan’s Summer Tennis Camp will run 9 weeks from June 22nd through August 21st. Last year’s pricing for the one hour Munchkins (age 4-7) and Advanced Munchkins (age 7-8) program was $140 per week. The three hour Beginner and Low Intermediate (age 9 and up) program was $345 per week. The four hour USTA Players’ Development, Intermediate and Advanced Intermediate (USTA and high school age) program was $500 per week.

Phone 908-879-5231. Please be sure to let Pavan know that Roxy sent you.

Randolph Gymnastics

Randolph Gymnastics in Randolph, NJ, where London and Maddie are training for the Olympics, will offer a 10-week Summer Day Camp program from June 29th through August 28th. Both a full and half day camp schedule is available. The full day runs from 9:00am through 4:00pm and half day runs 9:00am through -1:00pm. Before and after care is available if needed. The minimum age for Randolph Gymnastics Summer Day Camp is five years old. Some of the camp’s activities will include: recreational gymnastics & open work-out, arts & crafts, games and races, swimming, non-contact team sports, and a climbing wall. The schedule is flexible, and you’ll find rates on the Randolph Gymnastics web site for one to five days per week and one to ten weeks of camp. Phone (973) 584-4111. Please be sure to let Shannon know that Roxy sent you.

Garden State Ballet:

Garden State Ballet, where London and Maddie attend weekly ballet classes, will offer a summer program at each of its three locations in Randolph, Rutherford, and Newark, NJ.

The West Morris YMCA Backyard Pool Program:

No, it’s not a day camp, but it’s what my girls like to do on summer afternoons. For the first three summers after we moved out from New York City to the Roxiticus Valley, my kids had private swimming lessons in our backyard pool. The West Morris YMCA sent 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 the crazy price of gasoline last year, the West Morris YMCA canceled their Backyard Pool Program for the Summer of 2008. This summer, the price of gasoline shouldn’t be an issue — today I watched our local Exxon station post the price at $1.49 per gallon vs. last summer’s four bucks. As soon as I learn more (they usually mail out applications in April), I’ll let you know if the West Morris YMCA Backyard Pool Program will resume in 2009.

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). My good friend and fellow Roxiticus Desperate Housewife, Lynette, has twins who have enjoyed the camp for the past two summers, and one of my loyal readers left the following comment: “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.”

Roxy’s Mailbag received a rave for Soulshine Farm Summer Camp in Randolph, NJ: Yoga, farm activities, organic food!

If you have a favorite summer camp that you’d like to share with Roxy’s Best Of… readers, please leave a comment on this post or contact Roxy.  With your input, I’d love to be able to expand Roxy’s Best Of… summer camp recommendations beyond Morris County NJ and Somerset County NJ.

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Dec
18

Last Chance! Get Your Tickets to Cirque Eloize, Giselle, or the Golden Dragon Acrobats at NJPAC — Promotional Code Deadline Extended to December 30th

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If you’re like me, with less than a week until Christmas, you may have made a list and checked it twice, you may even have it divided into suitable gifts for naughty and nice, but you haven’t purchased and wrapped your gifts for everyone on the list….particularly if you’re still lacking the inspiration to surprise the most special people in your life. We got our tree at Alstede Farms in Chester, NJ last weekend, and as you can see from the photo on the right, it’s a beauty. I really started to get into the holiday spirit as we hung each ornament on the tree with care, and reminisced about which little shop in New York City’s West Village or Lambertville, NJ, each one came from, who picked it out (London and Maddie get to choose one special ornament each year) and when it came to be a part of our family’s holiday ornament collection. We’ve been listening to Christmas songs on our iPod, pulling surprises out of the Advent Calendar every night, and London and Maddie have been wrapping up homemade gifts for everyone left and right. Their mom, on the other hand, is a bit behind on the shopping and wrapping and I’m counting on the United Parcel man to deliver a bunch of goodies just in time. The other members of Rex’s family — Grammy (Rex’s mom) plus London and Maddie’s three brothers, one sister, niece and two nephews — aren’t coming to celebrate with us until Saturday, December 27th, so Secret Santa has a little extra time to pull the extended family gifts together.

If, unlike me, you celebrate Hanukkah rather than Christmas, you’re just kicking back in your easy chair and waiting for the post-Christmas sales to get serious about your holiday shopping. This year, Hanukkah starts at sunset on Sunday, December 21st and runs eight nights through Sunday night, December 28th.

For procrastinators of all faiths, I’ve got some terrific news: NJPAC has extended the deadline to use the TREAT promotional code to buy your tickets to Giselle, Cirque Eloize, and Golden Dragon Acrobats. Through Tuesday, December 30th, use coupon code TREAT to purchase tickets online, by phone (1-888 GO-NJPAC) or at the NJPAC box office and you’ll get one free child’s ticket for each adult ticket purchased for Giselle, Cirque Eloize or Golden Dragon Acrobats. Discount is valid for Sections A, B, C, and D (no G or P) and expires December 30, 2008. Subject to availability and not valid on prior purchase. This holiday promotion offers grandparents, aunts and uncles, godparents or parents an amazing local opportunity to treat the young person in your life to the magic of live performance with a sweet holiday discount from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC).. a unique holiday gift that promises a child-friendly cultural experience at a great value.

While I don’t mind explaining to London and Maddie that even Santa needs to cut back on the excessive amount of Barbies and plastic toys this holiday season, I have been searching for one or two meaningful, magical gifts that would keep Christmas special for my girls. As my most loyal readers know, Rex and I believe in encouraging our daughters’ passions (music, dance, gymnastics and tennis) and exposing them to a wide range of child-friendly art and culture. Just in case we have the next Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana or Jonas Brothers musical talent hiding in our basement, London and Maddie have asked Santa for a drum set for their girl band, the Butter Bites. At first, I thought they were looking for the modern electronic kind, but I’ve become convinced they are seeking the old fashioned make-a-lotta-noise-till-mom-says-turn-it-down that I dreamed of as a third grader when I had a crush on the drummer in the Branchburg Central Middle School Band. I will sleep soundly on Christmas Eve believing that Santa will deliver. Add that to the keyboard Santa left under the tree last Christmas, a second-hand guitar that needs to be re-strung, two microphones and a karaoke machine, and the Butter Bites will be all set to explore their musical passions over the long cold winter.

I have also committed to celebrating London’s 8th birthday with three of her closest girlfriends and their moms at the Cirque Eloize performance at NJPAC in January. We just received our tickets in the mail, and the girls are over the moon with excitement about it. Over the past year, London and Maddie have enjoyed three different performances at NJPAC: Rex and the girls took me out to see Alvin Ailey on Mother’s Day and we were all so impressed that we’re headed back for this season’s Mother’s Day performance; we introduced the girls to a bit of Mom and Dad’s history through Twyla Tharp’s interpretation of the music of Billy Joel in “Movin’ Out”; and most recently experienced the magic of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Cats. So we’ll be looking down from our own little box in the Grand Tier at the Saturday matinee performance of Cirque Eloize in Nebbia, and London and Maddie invite you to join us at a discount.

Cirque Eloize at NJPAC:

Experience the sights and sounds of a European circus in a vibrant, fully-staged production that brings together a company of acrobats, clowns, jugglers, trapeze artists and musicians to create a rich, fast-paced tango of emotions. Last seen at NJPAC with their eye-popping spectacle Rain, this world-renowned company returns with Nebbia, a brand new acrobatic extravaganza. Cirque Eloize passionately pursues artistic perfection – and achieves absolute magic. Our gang will be celebrating London’s birthday at the Saturday matinee, but there are three magical Cirque Eloize performances of Nebbia scheduled: Saturday, January 31st at 2:00pm and 8:00pm and Sunday, February 1st at 2:00pm. Use NJPAC discount code TREAT to purchase tickets online, by phone (1-888 GO-NJPAC) or at the NJPAC box office by December 24th through December 30th and get one free child’s ticket for each adult ticket purchased for Cirque Eloize in Nebbia.

Giselle at NJPAC:

Using the choreography created by Marius Petipa in his definitive revivals, the State Ballet Theatre of Russia performs Adolphe Adam’s beloved ballet – the timeless tale of a lovely yet fragile maiden, whose death from a broken heart dooms her to eternally roam the earth as a restless spirit. This sumptuous, traditional staging will be performed with full corps de ballet. The State Ballet Theatre of Russia brings Giselle to the stage at NJPAC on Sunday, January 18th at 4:00pm. Purchase tickets online, by phone (1-888 GO-NJPAC) or at the NJPAC box office by December 30th using NJPAC coupon code TREAT and get one free child’s ticket for each adult ticket purchased for Giselle.

Golden Dragon Acrobats at NJPAC:

From bending into improbable shapes to forming human pyramids on moving bicycles, this internationally acclaimed troupe celebrates Chinese culture with time-honored traditions that date back 25 centuries. The Golden Dragon Acrobats come to NJPAC on Sunday, February 22nd at 3:00pm. Use NJPAC promotional code TREAT to Purchase tickets onlne by phone (1-888 GO-NJPAC) or at the NJPAC box office through December 30th and get one free child’s ticket for each adult ticket purchased for the Golden Dragon Acrobats at NJPAC.

Here in the Roxiticus Valley (Mendham, NJ), we’re operating on a winter storm warning tonight — visions of a snow day school closing filled with sledding and snowball fights and snowmen with carrot noses dance in our heads. London, Maddie, Rex and I extend our warm wishes to all of you as you head out for another weekend of holiday shopping. Stay warm and safe and don’t forget to Shop Local NJ!

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Dec
16

Blogging Out Hunger: The Early Results Are In!

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To everyone who made a contribution to the Community FoodBank of NJ and/or helped to raise awareness of hunger here at home in New Jersey, thank you so much for participating. According to our fearless leader, Deb of JerseyBites, yesterday’s event was a great success. We got some nice online coverage… the FoodChannel has us on their home page, which was a nice surprise, and we also got coverage on NJ.com. The Ocean Star (down by our beach house in Bay Head, NJ) is running an article this Friday.

I really enjoyed reading the thoughtful posts by so many talented New Jersey bloggers. The great news is, our “Blogging Out Hunger” campaign raised almost $6,000 in online donations (more may come in through the mail). With 122 blogs participating, Njfoodbank.org enjoyed 920 unique site visits, which represents 20% of their total site traffic for December. The PR company says those are great results, especially for a first time strictly viral campaign right before the holidays.

Thanks to yesterday’s effort, hunger in New Jersey may take a brief holiday, but the heightened demand for support from the Food Bank is a problem that’s likely to be with us for the foreseeable future. I’m going to post the Blogging Out Hunger button in my sidebar to try to keep the donations coming in all year round, so please help out when you can.

Thanks to Deb from JerseyBites for coordinating the NJ Blogging Out Hunger effort, and thanks again to all of you….for reading and caring.

Roxy

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Dec
14

100 New Jersey Bloggers Won’t Let This Bank Fail: Help Fight Local NJ Hunger Through the Community FoodBank of NJ

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No matter how you feel about the government bailout of the nation’s largest banks, I think you’ll agree that there’s one bank that we can’t allow to fail: the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.  Over 100 New Jersey bloggers have united to fight local NJ hunger in a coordinated “This Bank Can’t Fail” blogging campaign for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey on Monday, December 15th. Our goal is to spread the word about the increased demand being put on the food pantries in New Jersey and how everyone can help.  As you are probably well aware, the Food Bank is in desperate need of donations this holiday season. With bare shelves and demand for food among state residents far outpacing supply, the FoodBank is in danger of being unable to meet the needs of New Jersey’s hungry.

Oh, and our team of NJ bloggers will be in good company. Legendary music icon Bruce Springsteen will be lending his voice to the fight against hunger in New Jersey by headlining “We Can’t Let This Bank Fail” – a major advertising campaign and call to action for people to contribute in any way they can to help the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.   Although Bruce Springsteen has been a supporter of the FoodBank for 23 years, often donating proceeds from his concerts to the organization, this ad marks the first time Springsteen has publicly lent his image to the campaign, due to the urgency of the situation.

The Community FoodBank of New Jersey is facing a dire shortage of food.  Without the public’s support, it may, for the first time in its history, begin to ration food. This is a state-wide crisis, with the unstable economy resulting in a 30 percent increase in those needing food. In years past, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey has provided assistance to more than 500,000 New Jerseyans, but expects to see a major uptick in need this year, especially during the winter months when people often struggle between paying heating and food bills.

To really understand the serious need for donations, please click on the link below and take a minute to view the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXH_aBJKcE4

We’re hoping our efforts will compel everyone to do something, anything, to help. Visit the Community FoodBank of New Jersey at www.njfoodbank.org or call 908-355-FOOD (3663) to learn more.  What can you do?

  1. Make a monetary contribution: Visit http://www.njfoodbank.org/.
  2. Donate food: Drop off a bag of food at your local food pantry.
  3. Organize a food drive: We can help explain the logistics of starting a food drive. Just call 908-355-FOOD.
  4. Help “Check Out Hunger:” Look for the “Check Out Hunger” coupons at your local supermarket and donate. No donation is too small!

In addition to my post here at Roxy’s Best Of… New Jersey, I’m also running motivational Music Monday videos over at my Roxiticus Desperate Housewives site (Bob Geldof leads Band Aid to “Feed the World. Let Them Know It’s Christmas Time”) and Bay Head Blog (USA for Africa sings “We Are the World).  The list of over 100 participating New Jersey Bloggers for today’s “We Can’t Let This Bank Fail” campaign includes:

1) JerseyBites.com

2) RedBankGreen.com

3) Jersey Girl Cooks

4) Simply Sable

5) John and Lisa are eating in South Jersey

6) Padma’s Kitchen

7) Chefdruck

8) Life Lightly Salted

9) My Italian Grandmother

10) Cook Appeal

11) Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars

12) Mommy Vents

13) This Full House

14) Paper Bridges

15) Motherhood Avenue

16) The Kamienski Chronicles

17) Down the Shore with Jen

18) Fits and Giggles

19) House Hubbies Home Cooking

20) Nourish Ourselves

21) Partybluprints.com

22) Tommyeats.com

23) Off the broiler

24) Mrs. Mo’s New Jersey Baby

25) IamNotaChef.com

26) SimplyBeer.com

27) HistoryGeek.com

28) Savy Source Newark

29) Momlogic New Jersey

30) SurvivingNJ.com/blog

31) SurvivingNJ.blogspot.com

32) JerseyGirlGuide.com

33) Roxy’s Best Of…

34) Citizen Mom.net

35) Lynetteradio.com

36) Jersey Beat

37) Pop Vulture Phil

38) JerseySmarts.com

39) LongBeachIslandSummers.com

40) WildwoodSummers.com

41) Mike Halfacres Blog

42) Somerset08873

43) Family, Friends and Food

44) KateSpot.com

45) NewJerseyMomsBlog.com

46) JCRegister.com

47) New Jersey Real Estate Report

48) Riverviewobserver.com

49) More Monmouth Musings

50) Man of Infirmity

51) Another Delco Guy in South Jersey

52) SweetNicks.com

53) Average Noone

54) Cleary’s Notebook

55) Welcome to my Planet

56) The Center of New Jersey Life

57) Sharon’s Food Blog

58) Morristown, Chatham, Summit, and Madison NJ Real Estate

59) Midtown Direct Real Estate News

60) New Jersey Real Estate

61) BlowUpRadio.com

62) LazlosDen.com

63) The Ridgewood Blog

64) Book a Week with Jen

65) Banannie

66) Cartoongoddess.com

67) Matawan Advocate

68) Take Back the Kitchen

69) The Joy of Toast

70) Route 55

71) Montclair Kids.com

72) SaveJersey

73) Stompbox

74) Joe the Blogger

75) Environmental Republican

76) Stacey Snacks

77) Subversive Garden

78) New Jersey Pathfinder

79) Cooking With Friends Blog

80) Triple Venti

81) Read All About It

82) Rich Lee on Media

83) Likelihood of Success

84) Cape Cuisine

85) The Business At Hand

86) NewJerseyTaxRevolution

87) Figmentations

88) MiddletownMike

89) Caviar and Codfish

90) A Day in the Life

91) Mack’s Journey Through Life

92) Alice’s Restaurant

93) Tiger Hawk

94)Politics Patrol, The Bob Ingle Blog

95) The Food Chain

96) Henson’s Hell

97) Cranbury Conservative

98) Baristanet

99) New Jersey: Politics Unusual

100) Jersey Shore Blog

101) Plainfield Today

102) Beacon Bulletin

103) Journal Square Jersey City 07306