Choosing a day camp for your child is a very important decision for any parent to make. We all want our children to be safe, learn, grow, have fun and make lasting friendships.
But, today, there are so many camps to choose from — many more that there were when most of us were kids. And, with so many working parents nowadays, there are even more things to consider such as: transportation and aftercare options, special needs and shadowing availabilities and meal plans.
Today, there are typical day camps, as well as specialized sports camps, arts camps and special interests camps. It actually seems like almost every place from day care centers to most local kid-related businesses is offering some sort of summer programs.
With all of these choices, how are we supposed to choose the best camps for our children? Patch has taken some of the guess-work out of it for you, by offering a partial list of some popular camps servicing our areas.
Jeff Lake Camp (Stanhope, NJ, 973-347-1230) has been providing preschoolers through 10th graders, from Essex, Morris, Union, Somerset and Sussex counties, with a true day camp experience, for 54 years. The camp, which is well-known for its exciting and innovative color-war breaks, and sports programs, offers door-to-door transportation, healthy meals, special events, day trips, overnights, arts and crafts, ceramics, karate, nature activities, drama, gymnastics, archery, rope courses, mountain biking, go-carting, mini-golf, playgrounds, five heated pools, and a 50-acre lake for boating, fishing, with water slides, and water trampolines.
Willow Lake Day Camp (Lake Hopacong, NJ, 973-663-2732) is a camp for kids and teens ages 3-15, which offers healthy meals, arts and crafts, adventure activities, special events, trips and overnights, many sport activities, batting cages, theatre, dance, cheerleading, music, cooking, nature, swimming in four heated pools, waterfront activities including hydro- tubing, themed pontoon boat rides, and fishing, playgrounds, and Legoland activities. The camp offers door-to-door transportation for residents of Essex, Morris, Union and Sussex counties and works with families to make transportation arrangements.
Stonybrook Day Camp (Randolph, NJ 973-584-0078) is a camp located 12 miles from Livingston and 10 miles from Morristown, which serves every town in between, offering door-to-door transportation, for children aged 3-15, and a daily healthy lunch menu. The camp offers the typical sports, arts and crafts, water and boating activities expected at a day camp, as well as activities like science, rope courses, cooking, environmental gardening, paddle boats, aqua bikes, fishing, metal design, fabric/fashion design, wax sculpting, dance, drama, music, improvisation classes, as well as a camp musical. There is also a TeenXtreme program with local trips and overnights.
Meadowbrook Country Day Camp (Long Valley, NJ, 908-876-3429) is a traditional day camp, for children aged 3-14, offering a wide selection of athletics, creative arts, nature, and special events, and swim in a 9,000 square-foot pool complex, featuring 3 heated pools. It also offers unique activities, such as: an arcade (no quarters needed), bumper boats, mountain boards, fishing, ropes courses, a climbing wall, and Native American studies. There are also weekly special events, late nights, campfires, a ¼ mile wooded mountain bike trail and a Dance Show. The camp provides door-to-door transportation to Morris County and parts of Essex, Union, Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, Middlesex, and Somerset counties. Extended hours are available from 7:30 a.m.–6 pm. There is also Travel Camp for kids in grades 7-9.
Spring Lake Day Camp (Ringwood, NJ, 973-831-9000) is a camp for kids entering nursery school through 10th grade, which offers transportation from parts of Bergen, Passaic, Morris and Essex Counties. The camp offers typical camp sports, swimming, arts and crafts, as well as go-karting, a recording studio, climbing towers and rope courses, Bungees, beach volleyball, dance, cooking , computers, science, nature, a petting zoo, gardening, archery, dance, music and weekly special events, and shows. There is also a five-acre lake for boating and fishing, and water slides. Children in grades 4-10 are also invited to participate in an optional travel program, with overnight trips for kids in grades 6-10. Meals are available.
Camp Funplex (East Hanover, NJ, 973-428-8772) is one of the best kept summer camp secrets in Northern New Jersey. Here children, aged 4 to 13, and CITs aged 14-15, have access to all of the thrills and air-conditioned indoor amenities they love about the Funplex, as well as typical camp fare activities like: arts and crafts, sports, swimming, day trips, special events and themed Fridays—and the unusual, a Splashplex water playground featuring slides, water blasters, a Hydro Storm Tower and outdoor inflatables. The camp is affordable and convenient for working parents and offers early drop off, late pick-up, and meals. And, unlike other camps, Camp Funplex offers nonconsecutive two-week session intervals, for 8 weeks, which allows for family vacation planning.
The JCC MetroWest summer camp family (973-929-2901) includes an incredible selection of camp opportunities for kids ages 15 months-grade 12, from Early Childhood Camps, Camp Deeny Riback, Triple Threat Theater Camp, One-Week Exploration Camps, to Teen Travel Camps and Special Needs Programs, as well as post-camp programs for Weeks 9 & 10.
Camp Riverbend (Warren, NJ, 908-580-CAMP) has been providing children ages 3-14, with a full range of sports, creative activities, dramatic arts, and environmental programs, for 49 years. The camp provides transportation for campers from select towns in Hudson, Morris, Essex, Middlesex, Union, and Somerset counties and four heated pools. Campers can be enrolled for as few as two consecutive weeks or longer — up to the full season. The Riverbend Experience is geared to campers in the 1st through 7th grades, and aside from the usual camp fare activities, it also offers miniature golf, dance, and a synchronized swim club. In addition, the camp offers two co-ed Teen Travel Adventure programs for kids in grades 6-8: Day Trippers and Teen Travelers.
Gesher Summer Camp (at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy, in Livingston, NJ, 862.437.8111) is a camp for pre-K to 10th grade children, offering indoor and outdoor tennis and basketball courts, a ropes course, sports, two pools, a unique Israeli Culture program, special activities, shows, theme days, overnights, under-nights, and day trips. The camp also offers door-to-door transportation from Livingston, Caldwell, Roseland, West Orange, South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn, Short Hills, Springfield, and Montclair, as well as before and after care and kosher food services.
Morristown-Baird Day Camp (Morristown, NJ, 973-539-3032) offers children ages 4-14, a traditional camp, as well as specialty camps in the following areas (dates vary): Advanced Digital Film (ages 11-14), Digital Photography with iPAD Integration (ages 10-13), Ceramics Camp (ages 8-12) Digital Photography Camp (ages 10-13), Guppies-Half Day (ages 3 ½ to 4 ½), History Adventures Camp (ages 9-14), Mountain Biking Camp (ages 10-14), Beginner Bike Camp (ages 9-14), Writing Workshop (ages 9-13), World Languages-French (ages 6-9), Math Skills Camp (ages 8-13), TeenXtreme (ages 11-13), Graphic Design Camp(ages 9-12), Digital Film Editing (ages 11-14), Musical Theatre Boot Camp (ages 10-15), Strength and Conditioning Camp (ages 11-16), Beginner Sports Clinics (ages 6-13), Basketball Clinic (ages 6-13), and Field Hockey Clinic (girls ages 8-15). The traditional camp offers early arrival and extended day programs, as well as meals.
Newark Academy Sports Camps (Livingston, NJ, 973-992-7000) led by a dedicated staff of coaches, and local college and high school counselors, young sports enthusiasts will discover all of the action and excitement they can handle, during their time off from school, here. Camps include: Mott-Leeney Baseball Camp (ages 5-13), Girls Basketball Camp (Ages 8-14), Boys Basketball Camp (ages: 8-14), Boys & Girls Fencing Camp (Ages 7-14), Boys Wrestling Camp (ages 7-18), Elite Prep Lacrosse Camp (13-15), Boys and Girls Soccer Camp (ages 6-14), Boys and Girls Swim Camp (ages: 12-17), Girls Field Hockey Camp (ages 8-14). Lunch, snacks and drinks are available for purchase in the dining room, and a daily swim session in the large, heated, indoor pool, is a special activity offered to all campers.
Camp Invention (800-968-4332) Led by educators at local schools, the Camp Invention program is a fun-filled, week-long adventure in creativity that immerses children entering grades one through six in exciting investigations, science experiments and engineering challenges that promote life skills essential to success in the 21st century. Locations are available throughout NJ.
Essex County Environmental Center Nature Explorers Summer Camp (Roseland, 908-973-228-8776) is a cooperative program between the Environmental Center and the NJ Audubon Society, which offers varying, one-week themed, outdoor explorations with activities and crafts for children in grades PreK-4.
Turtle Back Zoo (West Orange, 973-731-5800) offers one-week age- appropriate themed camps that run in June, July and August, for children entering K-8th grade. Children gain an introduction to the extraordinary world of animals, nature, and science via games, teacher-led lessons, behind-the-scenes visits, up-close animal encounters, hands-on science, and fun crafts.
Harbor Haven (at Golda Och Campus, West Orange, NJ, 908-964-5411) is a camp for children ages 3-15, with mild special needs. Activities include: sports, music, drama, academics, social skills, computers, social skills, dance, nature, karate, tennis, cooking, swimming, photography, outdoor adventures and arts and crafts. Before care, after care and transportation are available. The LIFE Skills Summer Program at Harbor Haven focuses on a number of age appropriate areas for 16-18 year olds, with mild special needs including Learning Independence, Functional reading, writing and math, Employability-fostering workplace behaviors and skills.
Diamond Gymnastics Summer Camp (East Hanover, NJ, (973) 560-0414) is a 10-week program that runs from the end of June through the end of August, which can be attended for individual week(s) or for all 10 weeks. A full-day camp is offered to boys and girls ages 5-12 years, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with early drop-off and late pick-up options. Camp activities include: gymnastics instruction, rock climbing, outdoor play, arts and crafts, swimming and more. The Half-Day Mini Camp for 4 and 5 year olds, runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and includes gymnastics instruction, arts and crafts, creative indoor/outdoor games, storytelling and more. The 13-14 year-old camp invites campers to enjoy all that is offered to the full day camp, plus one or two day-trips, per week.
Local Camp Programs:
West Orange: The 2013 Summer Guide will be issued in May 13, in the meantime the 2012 Booklet should be used for reference. Other programs include: Mountaineer Baseball Camp (grades 3-9), Thunder & Lightning Football Camp, and First Week Basketball Camp (elementary and middle school boys and girls). The West Orange Community House and Boys and Girls Club Summer Camp offers day camps, with early drop of and after care programs for children in K-Grade 7. Locations and activities vary.
Livingston Summer Programs include: Livingston Kids’ Camp (grades 1-7), Counselor-In-Training Program (grades 8-9), Afternoon Mini-Camps (grades 1-6), Kindergarten Camp, Pre-School Camp (ages 3-4), Play Pals (ages 2-3) and From Here to Broadway! Theatre and Dance Camp (info coming 3/1). A Summer Camp Open House will be held on Feb. 27, at 8 p.m., at the Livingston Senior/Community Center
Maplewood/South Orange: Kid's Kamp, is a traditional day camp (grades K-5), South Mountain Adult School Children’s Summer Programs (grades 1-12), The Baird (ages 8-15), Pirate Sports Camp (ages 7-12) and the South Mountain YMCA Camp.