Archive for August, 2016

Hi-Hills Traditions August 19, 2016

The 2016 camp season was a memorable one for us at Hi-Hills as we ushered in our 50th anniversary. We have so many reasons to celebrate this year on the picturesque campus of Gill St. Bernard’s, with this blog series featuring many wonderful stories. It provided personal narratives about our camp staff, the value of an ACA accreditation, opportunities for learning enrichments and academic advancement with GSB faculty, the beauty of the great outdoors and the expanded Home Winds campus, and lastly, the traditions and benefits of our camp clubs.

This summer campers had the opportunity to select from one of five dedicated clubs that included drama, arts and crafts/yearbook, all-sports, the great outdoors, and cooking. Every day, campers had a slotted time to attend their “club,” which provided an opportunity to meet older and younger campers as well. A new twist in 2016 was to pick just one club for the summer, rather than moving to and from the various clubs each week. It was a time to learn, be creative, try something new and call that club a second home each day.

The great outdoors club had robust camper participation and was always full of adventures and discoveries under the direction of Activity Specialist Matt Hibbett. Campers explored the Home Winds terrain on foot and uncovered creatures such as the Carolina Wren and Golden Finches, along with garden snakes and western box turtles. Fishing was a popular option with the goal to see how many sunnies or bass a camper could catch and release. Throughout the summer, campers traveled to the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center to learn more about the life cycle of rainbow trout, which are farm raised here. Campers also discovered which wild life animals are native exclusively to New Jersey. The club culminates this last week with the hanging of birdhouses made by campers. Each birdhouse is unique with holes to accommodate the different species that call the great outdoors home.


The cooking club under the culinary direction of counselors Megan DeMichele, Betsey Swartz, Emily Fuchs and Maria Diaz was a sweet success this summer as well. Campers learned several skills and techniques needed in the kitchen. However, all eyes were on the oven or the stovetop when preparing sweet and tasty treats. The club was able to visit the GSB Community Garden and gather some seasonal fresh ingredients for recipes and learn the fundamentals of cutlery. This access allowed campers to see the benefits of having a garden, where some fruits and vegetables come from and how to make healthy recipes. What everyone enjoyed the most, however, were the camp classics such as monkey bread and Rice Krispie treats!


The arts and crafts/yearbook club headed up by Media Specialist Julie Harris, Camp Photographer Bridget Toolan and Head Counselor JoAnne Hibbett provided a forum for our drawers, designers and photographers. Campers had access daily to a digital camera and were able to make their own personalized yearbook of camp activities. This scrapbook of drawings and pictures went home with campers as a keepsake from the club. Several campers preferred to have a box of markers and crayons and created their own daily yearbook of Pokémon characters or other images of their liking. It was a wonderful summer forum to be creative.


The all-sports club led by Patrick DeMichele, Erica Phiansunthon and Mark Broseker was a popular spot to play camp classics such as capture the flag, spud, kickball, hide and seek, keep away, gaga, around the world and red light/green light. Campers were never at a loss for learning a new game, perfecting a skill and having an amazing time.


Drama club under the creative direction of Hi-Hills Performing Arts Specialists Stefanie and Giulia Santoro and GSB Performing Arts Chair Paul Canada revolved around summer’s coolest musical, Grease. For six weeks, campers and counselors rehearsed lines, learned dance moves and created costumes to prepare for their upcoming performances. Campers and counselors debuted the show twice this summer as we went back to Rydell High and together sang with Sandy, cheered for Danny, rooted for Pinky and were inspired by Teen Angel. Our talented crew of Hi-Hills campers and counselors showcased their summer talent right in the GSB Theater! It was a wonderful ride in the Greased Lightning car as we experienced life and love in the 50s right here at Hi-Hills.


As our camp season comes to a close, thanks to all the counselors and Hi-Hills staff for sharing their tremendous artistic, culinary, creative, and athletic talents with campers this summer. Their second home awaits them again next summer.

Exploring the Great Outdoors at Hi-Hills August 4, 2016

Come explore the great outdoors at Hi-Hills! Nestled among the trees on the Home Winds Campus, a winding stone path leads to the home of popular camp activities such as fishing, paddleboats and archery. It has also served as the site for specialty events like Carnival and color war competitions. Campers are even able to learn about animal life by visiting the goats, donkeys, ducks, and the most recent addition, a family of bunnies. The great outdoors here spans 128 acres, with an additional 80 making up the rest of Hi-Hills at Gill St. Bernard’s.

Matt Hibbett, an avid outdoorsman, oversees this program. Hibbett has a clear passion and respect for his terrain. He is a retired Deputy Fire Chief and was a Search and Rescue Responder in the World Trade Center after 9/11. Hibbett enjoys hunting, backpacking and fishing in his spare time. He is also a nationally certified trainer and coach with NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program), where he works with elementary through college students in Warren County. On top of all this, Hibbett is an instructor with the Division of Fish and Wildlife, Hunter Education, for the state of New Jersey.

Hibbett joined Hi-Hills three years ago as the archery specialist. His responsibilities have grown tremendously since he first joined us–he now supervises all great outdoors activities (fishing, paddleboats, archery and nature), a camper outdoors club, and constructs many of the color war “Survivor” challenges. Hibbett also began a project as part of the camp’s 50th anniversary where members of the outdoors club made birdhouses to offer another home for wildlife at the great outdoors.

New enhancements introduced by Hibbett this summer include motion-sensor night vision cameras to discover the animals that roam the area after camp hours. These cameras give campers a first-hand view of this nighttime natural habitat. One of Hibbett’s goals for this summer has been to establish a geo-caching site for Home Winds. Geo-caching, a popular outdoor game, involves giving players geographical coordinates of items which they then search for with a GPS device. The game teaches campers how to navigate using points, weights, latitudes and satellite coordinates.

Hibbett thrives in the outdoors and has clear methods of directing, teaching and infusing excitement into all the activities. Anyone who has spent time with him can attest that he easily engages with campers young and old in a meaningful fashion. Hibbett’s ultimate hope is that, each summer, campers leave Hi-Hills with respect and love for the great outdoors.