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Hi-Hills Reunion Halloween Party November 13, 2012

Dear Hi-Hills,

For the second year in a row Mother Nature attempted to put a damper on our Hi-Hills Halloween reunion, but she was unsuccessful this year.  We were sorry that many of our families and staff were unable to attend with Hurricane Sandy just hours away.  We missed you all.

We truly hope this blog post finds all our Hi-Hills families safe after the recent events of not only Hurricane Sandy but also Nor’easter Athena.

The reunion was a blast.  Thank you to all of our camp families and friends who were able to attend our Halloween party.

The costumes were amazing, spending quality time with camp friends reminiscing on the fun and good times of last summer; conversations about the Hi-Hills Musical, the staff/ camper basketball game, carnival, leagues and even, the now infamous all-star week. My favorite question to ask campers was what is your summer highlight? The responses ranged from, campouts, day trips and fishing, too slip’n’slide, arts and sports tournaments.

Camp Reunion

Hi-Hills Day Camp Reunion

 I count myself lucky because I go to Hi-Hills every day of the year. I constantly think about the goals we achieved during the summer of 2012 and what fun we had doing it.  So to hear staff and campers laugh together as they relive a moment from a campout or an activity is a wonderful feeling. I enjoy watching our camp community remember just how fun these experiences were and how much these times mean to each of them.

There were games and activities, including Halloween crafts: pumpkin painting, fusion beads, lanyard and face painting. In the Athletic Center we played basketball and bounced until our hearts content on our Halloween themed bouncy castle.   And of course it wouldn’t be Halloween without apple dunking.

Julia S. won the jar of candy for making the closest guess of ‘how many pieces of candy were in the jar’. She guessed 185, and there were 200 pieces in the jar. The best costume went to Sophie and Erika (see photo), both winning a Hi-Hills sweatshirt.

Reunion Party

Sophie and Erika

Please see our website for photos from our camp reunion. Be sure to send in your pictures from the event and we will add them to our gallery.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Jack, Cindy and Beth

Athletics at Hi-Hills Day Camp August 10, 2012

Good Afternoon,

John Toolan pulls down the rebound and traffic, outlet pass to Dylan Vaidya, Vaidya with the no look bounce pass, Zach Riddle catches it in transition, Riddle is really pushing it, he lofts the ball high in the air, and its slammed home by Ed McCarthy, BUNK 11 HAS DONE IT FOLKS, THEY ARE THE WORLD CHAMPS….sorry about that, guess I’m just getting caught up in athletics today.

Athletics is the alternative to Leagues play here at Hi-Hills as the sports are still there but it’s less about competition and more about making sure the campers enjoy themselves while learning the proper rules for the sports. Sports played often include: tennis baseball, soccer, basketball, GaGa, Polypong, kickball, dodgeball, World Cup, and Ultimate Frisbee.

Today in athletics I got to spend time with Bunks 10, 11, and 13. The campers got to play World Cup and GaGa; for those unfamiliar with GaGa please see last Monday’s blog on Sportsmanship Week as the rules are defined there. World Cup is essentially half field soccer with teams of two competing against each other in a tournament. Teams advance by scoring a goal and the last team left is eliminated. This continues until there are only two teams left at which point it becomes a best two out of three situation.

All the games were closely contended with all of the campers winning at least one game in the various sports we played. Athletics Head John Bellina was proud to tell me about the campers’ time here in athletics. “It’s just amazing how fast these kids learn. When they first came in many of them struggled with certain sports as they were new or confusing, but here in week 7 its clear many of them are not only quite talented but have even started to teach me some things.”

Tennis at Hi-Hills August 10, 2012

Good Afternoon,

Welcome to another exciting entry in the Hi-Hills blog. Today we will be exploring the exciting world of tennis. Here at Hi-Hills our campers get to play this wonderful sport 2-3 times a week and boy do they make the most of it. From learning proper technique to competing in matches, even to creating some new and exciting games, these campers don’t waste a single second out on those courts. Under the expert tutelage of our resident Tennis aficionado Marc Willemsen our campers will soon be able to challenge the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and recent Olympic Gold Medalist, Andy Murray.

Today I spent time with Bunks 10 and 11, otherwise known as Team Party Campers and the Hawt and Spicy Nachos respectively. The session started off as always with proper tennis etiquette and stretching as safety is one of our primary concerns. Once that was taken care of we moved on to some exciting games including Tennis Hazard, Tennis Survivor Island, and Clean the Room. Clean the Room is essentially a Tennis relay race with two lines lining up on opposite sides of the court as each team sending one member at a time to serve a ball, if they succeed the next time in line then takes over, if they don’t they must retry until they make it, first team to complete their line twice wins. Tennis Survivor Island is a game where the campers get to work on returns (both forward and backhand) and location. Campers are tossed a ball and told with which swing to return the ball. If they make it over the net in play they advance, if not they must go to the other side of the net (the ocean) last camper standing wins. While in the ocean a camper can return to play if they A) catch a ball after a bounce or B) catch a ball in the air, at which point everyone in the ocean is returned to the field of play. The final game we played today was one of the campers’ favorites, Tennis Hazard. Tennis Hazard is a combination of Tennis and Dodgeball which involves the campers hitting the ball then running around the court avoiding balls thrown by the counselors and other campers. If they get tagged they are frozen where they stand, only to be freed if another camper can tag them on his or her way around the court.

After tennis was over I managed to talk to the tennis specialist Marc Willemsen about the campers. “I have to say, I’m really impressed with these campers this year. I came in expecting to have to spend a lot of time teaching the rules and proper techniques but these campers absorb information like sponges.” Marc followed up by telling me while it’s a little early to predict future success, he would not be surprised if come the 2020 and 2024 Olympics, the tennis world is dominated by the stars we see here at Hi-Hills.

Sportsmanship Events and Dance at Hi-Hills Day Camp!! August 3, 2012

Good Afternoon,

Today’s blog is action packed as so much has occurred over the last two days. Since the last entry we have had an Apache Relay, a Broadway Musical, a Swim Meet, and I even managed to stop by Performing Arts for a couple sessions this morning. There is certainly never a dull moment around here as Hi-Hills is still going full throttle, even if the summer is winding down.

On Thursday we had our Annual Apache Relays which came down to the wire closer than this writer can recall it ever being. In a change from previous years, this year’s relay was split into stations with points being scored at each station and tallied at the end to determine a winner. The stations this year included: a Crab Race Relay, a Ball & Bucket Relay, Frisbee Toss, Capture the Flag, GaGa, Ladder & Hurdles Relay, a 100 Meter Dash Relay, and a Backwards 100 Meter Dash Relay. Each station was decided by less than ten points and in the end it was the Manatees coming out on top.

We also had the first ever Hi-Hills Musical which was a great success. All the campers’ effort and time was well worth it as it was quite the sight to behold, I’m not one for gossip but there have been rumors of some potential Tony Nominations for both the cast and the producers. A big thank you is in order for the Producers, Stefanie Santoro, Cat McCormack, and Johnny Sanserve, as well as a big congratulations for the actors and actresses: Josh Monto, Jolie Golden, Christina Tamchin, Robert Bellina, Mitchell Dubson, Erin Flaherty, Elizabeth LeClerc, Timmy Miller, Morgan Champey, Abigail Rogers, Lindsay Frucci, Katie, Seidel, Stephanie Oliver, Megan Hausser, and Mariel Ganes, take a bow campers, you’ve earned it.

Pirouette, Twist and Shout, Plié, Charlie Brown: these are just some of the moves our campers have learned this year in the exciting world of Dance. Lead by our incredible Dance Instructor Cat McCormack, campers have been learning everything there is to know about the art of dance. Once or twice a week each bunk gets to spend time working on their dance moves and let me tell you they are a sight to behold.

Today I got to spend time with Bunks 9 & 10 and boy can they bust a move. Both bunks worked on their gymnastic skills as Bunk 9 learned the proper technique for cartwheels and somersaults as Bunk 10 managed to master the one-handed cartwheel. After gymnastics Bunk 9 moved on to an exhilarating game of freeze tag as Bunk 10 began learning ballet including perfecting their Grand Jeté.  After speaking to Dance Instructor Cat McCormack, I was able to gain a little more insight to just how skilled these campers are, “I keep having to turn away talent agents,” says Cat, “I know Julliard, the Joffery Academy of Dance, and the American Ballet Theatre want these campers, but they chose to come to Hi-Hills and as long as they are here, I will teach them to the best of my abilities.”

The final event of the week was the Counselor Pool Relay. This race consisting of five counselors on either side involved dressing in a full suit including blazer, swimming a lap back and forth, undressing, then passing the suit onto the next counselor in line. The competitors included, for Morris: Mike Lubinsky, Will Traver, Guillermo Gonzalez, Emily Pope, and Randy Brown; while racing for Somerset was: Cory Georgeson, Robbie Lister, Craig Brown, Megan DeMichele, and CIT Paul Graybeal. In a photo finish Randy edged out his younger brother Craig by mere milliseconds to give the Morris Manatees the victory.

It’s been an exciting and action packed week here as Sportsmanship Week has wounded down. From a Tug-of-War to a Pasta Hunt- to Apache Relays, and even a Musical, there has been something for everyone. In true Sportsmanship Week fashion the campers and counselors alike have been nothing but gracious no matter what the score was for any of the competitions. In the end, the Curse of the Purple Pasta was broken as the Somerset Sharks won with a final score of 21,475 to 21,412. Regardless of score those it’s clear everyone was a winner this week as the games went back and forth and excellent sportsmanship was shown all around proving that as the old adage says, “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”

Hi-Hills Leagues and Pasta Hunt August 1, 2012

Good Afternoon,

The MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA and now the HHL, that’s right, today’s blog will be on the Hi-Hills League. The HHL started in 2002 as a way to broaden the sports appeal and options for the campers. Prior to Leagues there was athletics but campers competed primarily with their own bunks and there was no championship to win or compete for. Leagues allowed the campers to get to know each other regardless of  their bunk as they get to meet and work together with other campers outside the ones they spend the majority of their day with.

Today the HHL is divided into two leagues the Boys League and the Girls league, each league is made up of four teams captained by a counselor who compete in various sports 3 times a week with two practice days in order to secure the best possible seed for the playoffs in Week Seven. This year the teams include: Emily’s East Coast Eliminators, Catherine’s Crazy Crocodiles, Megan’s Megamillions, and Nicole’s Notorious Narwhals for the girls and for the boys we have Jesse’s Jaguars, Brian’s Bombers, RJ’s Wolverines, and Guillermo’s Annoying Oranges.

Today I had the privilege to be the play by play anchor of a HHL basketball game between RJ’s Wolverines and Guillermo’s Oranges as well as be the color analyst for a HHL game of Tennis Baseball between Nicole’s Narwhals and Catherine’s Crocodiles. Joining me in the booth for the basketball game was Bunk 11 counselor, and fishing buddy in the offseason, Cory Georgeson. In what can only be described as a back and forth battle between two incredibly worth opponents the Wolverines managed to win by 3, 18-15. Even though the Oranges did not win, they made their coach, Harlem Globetrotter hopeful, Guillermo Gonzalez proud. There were behind the back passes, crossovers through the legs, and even a few dunk attempts by the home team. The Wolverines were paced by Nick Spinelli’s 8 points while Edward McCarthy led the Oranges with 7. After the game I jetted over to the Tennis Baseball field for the game between the Narhwals and the Crocodiles. I managed to slip into the booth right as the game started joining my co-anchor, former Professional Tennis Baseball legend turned TV Analyst, Marc Hungarter. What a game folks let me tell you, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time in a back and forth battle the Crocodiles managed to hang on for a 10-6 victory after loading the bases with the tying run at the plate. Kristen McGuire came up huge for the Crocodiles with 2 big hits and 4 RBIs while Lily Lorio and Abigail Rogers led the Narwhal effort with a pair of hits apiece and 5 RBI between them. With just a few days until the playoffs begin this is turning into one league you don’t want to miss.

In a surprise twist this article is a two for one deal as Sportsmanship week continued with a major event this afternoon. Today we had a Pasta Hunt inside the confines of the Gill Saint Bernard’s Track. The campers’ task, should they choose to accept it (which they did) was to gather as many pieces of pasta as they could find within the borders of the track. Plain colored Pasta would be worth 1 point, Red worth 5, Green worth 10, Blue worth 20, Gold  worth 50, and somewhere in there, there was a singular Purple piece of pasta worth a whopping 500 points. At the end of the competition, (and a whole bunch of pasta counting) the Sharks managed to break the curse of the Purple Pasta Piece (in the past the team who found the Purple Paste Piece has always lost) and win, needing the Purple Pasta Piece’s 500 points to turn a 27 point deficit into a 473 point victory. At the end of the day the stands read Sharks 16,506 Manatees  15,816, with the Sharks holding on the lead they’ve kept for much of the week. In honor of Sportsmanship week, and the fact that the Sharks have held a slim lead all week, instead of a quote today it was suggested by some of the Shark’s counselors that it would be fitting to end todays blog with the Manatee’s cheer in an attempt to bring them some luck in the following days. “M-O-Double R-I-S Manatees, M-O-Double R-I-S Manatees!” Good luck to both teams in the rest of the week’s activities and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.


Tug of War July 31, 2012

Good Afternoon,

Oscar Olson, Sidney Johnson, Henry Seiling, Conrad Magnusson, and Patrick Flanagan. If these names are unfamiliar to you, that’s not too surprising; these are the men who comprised the only American Gold Medal in the now defunct Olympic sport of Tug of War. Yes, that’s right, tug of war was once an Olympic game. The Tug of War was an Olympic sport from 1900-1920. You may ask why I’m bringing this arcane trivia up, but don’t worry, no I haven’t lost my mind, today is our annual Hi-Hills Tug of War Games. Every summer we have a tug of war competition during Sportsmanship Week between the two teams using appropriate sets of Bunks. This means Bunks 9 and 11, Bunks 10 and 12, Bunks 13 and 17, Bunks 14 and 18, and finally a competition between the counselors on both teams. Each round is done in a best of three format, meaning the first to win two out of three is the winner.

Every single match was incredibly close and in true sportmanshiplike fashion many of our campers, whether they won or lost, offered congratulations and shook the hands of members of the other team over a tough challenge. The Sharks won the first two match-ups 2-0 and 2-0 for Bunks 9 and 11 and Bunks 10 and 12. The Manatees came storming back to win the second two matches 2-0 and 2-1 for Bunks 13 and 17 and Bunks 14 and 18 respectively. The final match-up came down to the counselors of the Sharks and the Manatees. After losing quickly in the first match the Manatees managed to land a 5 Star blogging recruit out of the office to even things up and win match two. The rubber match saw another 5 start recruit from the office join the fray in the Sportsmanship week’s program director Mike Trapani. After a tough competition which last well over 3 minutes, The Manatees just barely managed to squeeze out the victory. After the match was over there were hi-fives and handshakes all around on both sides as each team clearly gave it their all and it was a fun thing to be a part of.

Overall today was an exciting day, I got to go fishing with Bunk 11 in the morning and help support the Manatees in their victory in the afternoon. At the end of the day the scores for Sportsmanship Week read Sharks 2361 – Manatees 2216. Allow me to leave you with a snippet of a conversation I overheard between two of the Bunk 11 counselors after the Tug of War match-up. “Congratulations on the victory Mike you guys really earned it.” said Bunk 11 counselor Cory Georgeson, “Congratulations to you as well Cory,” said fellow Bunk 11 counselor Mike Lubinsky “Today wasn’t about catching the most fish, winning Tug of War, or even Team Shark and Team Manatee, rather, it was about the campers, and based on the fun they’ve had and the smiles on their faces, it’s clear that today, here at Hi-Hills, we are all winners.”

Fishing at Hi-Hills! July 31, 2012

Good Morning,

In a surprise twist, today will be a double feature as there is just too much going on in camp to limit today to just one blog entry. The morning will detail a fun excursion into the Deep Blue, while the afternoon will chronicle a competition of epic proportions.  This morning I got to spend my time fishing with Bunk 11, the Hawt and Spicy Nachos. Twice a week, every week, a bunk gets to go fishing at a beautiful lake in Schooley’s Mountain Park in Chester, New Jersey.  Em Foster, our fishing specialist drives the bunk to the lake and starts off the day by explaining rod and reel safety and proper fishing etiquette. Once that is taken care of each camper waits in line to have a worm attached to their line and off they go fishing away to their hearts content.

While this was my first time fishing at this lake, The Hawt and Spicy Nachos had already been here once this summer, so they were seasoned pros. I could not catch a single fish all morning meanwhile most of the campers were catching multiple fish. By the end of the trip the Hawt and Spicy Nachos had caught over 20 fish. Needless to say I was quite impressed. “Don’t be too surprised these campers tend to thrive at everything they put their mind to,” said Bunk 11 counselor Cory Georgeson. “The first time they went fishing they were a little hesitant as they were still learning the rules and proper safety, but look at them now, they managed to catch more fish than all of the counselors and CIT’s combined.”

Sportsmanship Week!! July 30, 2012

Good Afternoon,

Here at Hi-Hills sportsmanship is of the utmost importance. It is for that reason that we devote an entire week to it and its principles in the attempt to teach and encourage using sportsmanship in all facets of life. The goal of sportsmanship week is to build a sense of teamwork and cooperation between campers and staff through fun games and competitions. While there is a point system for the competitions this week there will be just as many points distributed for proper sportsmanship as there will be for actually winning thus showing that how you play the game is just as if not more important than what the scoreboard says.

At the beginning of camp today, the campers were split into two separate teams, the Somerset Sharks and the Morris Manatees. The Sharks are captained by counselor Brian Trapani and Jen Monto while the Manatees are captained by counselors Guillermo Gonzalez and Catherine Sharretts. This morning as the teams met for the first time they began to create team cheers as well as started to design their flags for their respective teams.

Today we had five competitions including two games of kickball, a game of hockey, Gaga, and Nuke ‘Em. For parents unfamiliar with GaGa and Nuke ‘Em, their rules are fairly simple. GaGa is essentially a small court (octagon) version of dodgeball where campers cannot catch the ball, there are no lines, and they are out if they are hit on the legs; while Nuke ‘Em is volleyball but the campers can catch the ball instead of having to hit it.

Every single game was unbelievably close as no game was won by more than five points. The Somerset Sharks won the first kickball games by the slimmest of margins narrowly edging out the Morris Manatees 6-5 and in game two scored 7 straight in the final inning to win 13-8. The hockey game went down to the wire as the Manatees scored three quick goals at the end which proved to be the difference maker in a 9-6 victory. After hockey I managed to catch the end of the third GaGa game. The first game was swept by the Manatees winning the top 4 spots. Not to be outdone the Sharks came back and did the same in game two. In the pivotal game three, Sharks occupied fourth, third, and second while the Manatees managed to notch First place.  The final competition Nuke ‘Em saw the Sharks’ amazing comeback come up short as time ran out on the Manatees’ thrilling 15-12 victory.

All the teams played their hearts out as is clear from the closeness of the scores. To show that winning isn’t everything even though the Manatees won four of the five events, yet the final score on the day was 1154 to 976 in favor of the Sharks.  At the end of the day I managed to sit down with the Director of this week’s Sportsmanship Program Mike Trapani. “At the end of the day it isn’t about who won or who lost; it’s just as easy to be a sore winner as it is a sore loser. What we try to do here is teach campers how to play fair and have fun. As long as those two things are accomplished it really doesn’t matter what a scoreboard says because in the game of life, as long as the game is played just and fair, everyone is a winner.”

Olympics at Hi-Hills July 28, 2012

Good Afternoon,

Start with Blue, Black, Red, Yellow, Green Rings, toss in a Torch and make it once only every four years. If you haven’t guessed by now today is the start of the Olympics (Go USA)!!!! To honor that all week we have been having Olympic themed events and activities. From music to art and even sports everyone has been getting involved and creating fun Olympic themed activities.

In Music the campers got to listen to 10 different countries national anthems, including: England (the host country), the United States, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Russia, Germany, Portugal, and South Africa. They all picked their favorites as well as identified the instruments. In Arts & Crafts the campers got to make Olympic themed creations including torches, medals and crowns. Dance allowed the campers to feel what it’s like to win an Olympic medal as medals were awarded for different competitions.

The campers all received Red White and Blue bracelets in honor of the Olympics. It truly has been a festive week. Gracious as always, Olympic host country, Great Britain’s representative at Hi-Hills, Camp Director Jack Dinwiddy was heard wishing the United States “good luck” as “second place behind England would still be a pretty impressive accomplishment”.

Lower Bunk Late Night at Hi-Hills July 28, 2012

Good Afternoon,
Not even the Greek God Aiolos, (keeper of storm-winds, squalls, and tempests) could stop Thursday night from happening. If you could not make it tonight I’m sorry to say you missed an amazing Late Night. Capture the Flag, swimming, and some delicious Hi-Hills Burgers and Hot Dogs.

The night started out with a few friendly games of capture the flag in which score was not kept but fun certainly was. Afterwards the campers were in need of a refreshing break so we all adjourned to the pool for some fun water games and even got to spend time in the always impressive Splash Pad. Also, while at the pool we had possibly the greatest dance off in Hi-Hills history. Due to the impending storm, we moved dinner inside of Founders and it’s a good thing we did as the storm started not too long afterwards. For food, all the counselors worked together to make Hi-Hills burgers and hot dogs making sure all the campers were well fed. For those who were still hungry after dinner we had 2 highly tasty cakes and ice cream sundaes for campers and parents.

Overall it was a very fun and exciting night. Between playing sports, getting to relax in the pool and more food than one could shake a stick at, there was opportunities for everyone to thrice and enjoy themselves. Bunk 12 counselor Dylan Rowell could be heard asking, “Can we do this every week?” and Bunk 11 counselor Mike Lubinsky said, “This is the most fun I’ve had all summer.” Clearly the campers aren’t the only ones enjoying themselves during this best summer ever.