Roxy’s Best Of… New Jersey

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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 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?
  • robyn
    4:46 pm on March 7th, 2010 1

    Hi. Funny, I have heard the same things about Harbor Hill Day Camp, but have never been there myself. I send my daughter to Stonybrook Day Camp, also in Randolph. She went for the first time last year (before kindergarten). I had the same thought, “Do I want to put her on a bus at 8 and not see her til 4:30.” I have to say, I now only wish I had sent her the prior year too. (Inside secret, this year I think 3’s and 4’s have a majorly reduced summer tuition). In any case, Stonybrook was the most nurturing environment. My daughter got the best experience. She felt like a superstar on stage, an artist in the crafts, and she became a proficient swimmer- a total ral camp experience. Not to mention, I learned that she was fearless - she took on the challenge course like a pro! If you want your kids to have a phenomenal summer- check out Stonybrook Day Camp. I just got a postcard that they are having a Spring Fling (party) open to camper families and the public May 1st. My daughter is so excited to go back!


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