ACA Tri-State Camp Conference March 20, 2015

The American Camp Association (ACA) held its annual Tri-State Camp Conference this week. It is the largest gathering of camp professionals in the entire world! The camp community comes together to participate in a variety of educational sessions–not to mention perusing an exhibit hall hosting more than 300 booths–to learn fresh and new ideas for the upcoming season. The Tri-State Camp Conference is an amazing opportunity for those looking to better the lives of children through camp.

Hi-Hills has been participating in the Tri-State Camp conference for over 20 years, and each year brings new and exciting opportunities. Our administrative team attends a variety of educational sessions over the four day conference. Each session is attended with the goal of bringing back new and innovative ideas. We reference the past camp seasons’ surveys before picking specific sessions to ensure the material collected is in congruence with the wants and needs of our families.

Some of the great sessions we attended this year included: “Why Parents Are Our Most Valuable Customer in the Camping Industry,” “New, Fast, and Effective Methods to Teach Staff to be Outstanding Leaders,” and “The Argument We Must Make: Camp Creates Advantages for School, College, Career and Life Readiness.”


If you haven’t done so already, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date as we head toward summer. Spring has begun and what a great way to kick-off the season at the ACA Tri-State Camp Conference!​

Coding and Camp February 19, 2015

Hi-Hills Day Camp prides itself on flexibility, convenience and fun! One way we are able to provide all three to our families is through the combination of traditional day camp and enrichment programs offered over our 11-week summer session. We have something for all ages, from academics, athletics, and the creative and performing arts, to science and technology.

Each year, Gill St. Bernard’s School (where Hi-Hills is located) participates in the global “Hour of Code” movement. The Hour of Code is an international project designed to introduce students to computer coding. The program is based on the recognition that most students never (or rarely) have had an opportunity to try computer coding and that computer coding skills will become increasingly important in the coming years. For more information on the Hour of Code please visit

Due to the overwhelming demand and popularity within our campers’ various school systems, we at Hi-Hills have expanded our technology programs to include coding. In the summer of 2015, we will offer app, mod, video game and aircraft design classes.

Camp creates an atmosphere where children can grow and succeed in areas they enjoy both inside and out of the classroom. As an extension of the Gill St. Bernard’s family, our combination program allows for students to conquer their individualism while also having fun. Furthermore, it helps students stay involved in education for more than just the school year. Providing these types of opportunities for children is something we strive for here at Hi-Hills.


On March 1, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., we will be hosting our second Open House of the season. Come meet members of our great staff as well as gather more information with regard to combining traditional day camp and enrichment programs. Pre-register for an Open House. Any additional questions, please call the Camp Office at 908-234-0067 or email us at

Second Annual Hi-Hills Professional Development Day January 16, 2015

The holidays are a time when families and friends gather around for delicious food, laughter and good fun. The Hi-Hills staff is quite similar in the sense that it becomes a family over the summer when creating a fun-filled atmosphere for all Hi-Hills families (and of course there’s always great food compliments of Chef Anthony). One of the best parts of being a Hi-Hills staff member is that we, as a whole, continue our support for one another throughout the entire year.

On January 3, Hi-Hills Day Camp hosted its second annual Professional Development Day for all summer staff members. The day was filled with fun activities and informative information to help create an even better summer for campers. We reviewed our survey results from campers, parents and staff. This was a great way to recognize the hard work of our staff, as well as to discuss specifics we could improve to make next summer that much more successful. After discussing ideas for new themes and dress-up days for 2015, as well as reviewing the #BeBetter movement and upcoming Hi-Hills events such as camp fairs and open houses, we broke for lunch and prepared for the always-impressive American Camp Association members to join us. The American Camp Association discussed how to establish solid group dynamics, how to lead an elective activity and how to be an effective activity leader—all areas of the camp that can be applied to every age group and make for an even stronger staff.

Last year’s goal for the staff was communication. This year the goal is consistency. There are many different aspects of the Hi-Hills Day Camp that we want our camp families to enjoy. In order to provide the best customer service, flexibility and convenience for our families, we strive to stay consistent with our product and hope it continues to help develop the camp and our campers as individuals.


We are extremely appreciative of our campers and families, because without you all Hi-Hills would not be what it is today. In order to continue being the go-to camp for the best summer ever, we will pursue our goal of consistency by providing our staff with extra training and learning opportunities throughout the year. We at Hi-Hills wish you a very healthy and happy New Year. If you have not registered yet, please visit our sign-up and/or camp dates pages for more information. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Whiz Kids July 30, 2014

Put on your lab coats! Whiz Kids are exploring the world of science by observing objects, doing experiments and experiencing new things in this exciting enrichment program.


This week the Whiz Kids searched for fingerprints in their classroom using microscopes and baby powder. This is similar to how detectives work to find fingerprints at a crime scene! The campers found the experiment to be a challenge, but greatly enjoyed finding the fingerprints. It takes patience and concentration and the campers did a fantastic job.


Campers also participated in a session on constellations to discuss what they are, what they are called and where in the sky you can find them. Students made constellation scopes that projected a constellation on the wall with a flashlight. Each camper chose a constellation and drew it on a piece of black paper, then poked holes into the paper where the stars of the constellation would be location to allow light to shine through. The paper is then connected to the scope with a flashlight running through it. In the dark you can see small dots which form the camper’s chosen constellation. It was a simple project, but one that helped each camper understand the constellations and what they mean!

Art Explosion Week: Art Party July 17, 2014

Your campers have been busy! It is Art Explosion Week at Hi-Hills Day Camp and everyone is having a blast with all the fun activities this week offers.

Our Art Party was a new, two-day event that gave campers a chance to learn about court room art. We welcomed a special guest, Mr. Ted Michalowski, an artist who does federal court drawings. He is called in by news teams to sit in on federal court cases to visually document what is going on and the images are then used on television for news reports. Ted started the session by explaining to campers what his job is and why it is important before showcasing some of his artwork. The campers were intrigued and wanted to see him in action, so that is what they got!


Bunk counselors participated by putting on a mock trial. A crime was stated and roles were given out for each counselor to play. There was the case of the stolen saxophone as well as the Blue and Green team “unfair point trial.” As the counselors put on the skit, campers were given the job of acting as the jury and watched the scene unfold. Ted then went to the wall and drew the scene. He drew each counselor in-character as well as any special actions that were performed. He drew fast and large and the kids were so amazed with what he was producing. Ted explained to the campers that it was important to represent the characters as who they are, but also to capture a moment quickly. The campers were so excited and were amazed at what Ted could do.


The next day, the campers were given the chance to try court drawing themselves. Ted gave each camper a pen and watercolor and taught them what to look for when drawing another person. Ted commonly uses watercolor in his paintings because it is fast and gives him the ability to quickly add details and perspective to a standard line drawing. Every camper was very engaged in the activity and created beautiful art.


Even our Kinder Campers joined in on the fun as Ted helped the young campers with their own drawing activities. They were all very engaged and happy that Ted showed them how to draw their friends!

Thank you to TT, the Activity Leader for Arts & Crafts, all counselors who participated and Ted Michalowski for teaching the campers about this unique form of art!

Archery at Hi-Hills July 10, 2014

Archery at Hi-Hills has been a great success thus far. All campers have learned proper shooting form, safety rules and techniques according to the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) model. Our campers are using state-of-the-art Genesis bows and learning Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) style without sights. The most important thing that we want campers to learn is how to arch correctly and accurately.


As the weeks have passed, campers have improved on their shots and understand what they need to do to get the best one. Each age group shoots at different distances, but we are moving to a point where the kids are ready to move back and take more difficult shots. We have also been having some fun in our color team competitions by shooting for points. The specific game changes each week, with different tasks and targets. This week, the targets are zombies and a small plastic ball suspended on a fishing string.


Some campers are very interested and excited about archery, so much so that they have participated in archery club. In club, campers get a chance to improve their technique and try more difficult shots that they would not get a chance to do in their bunks. Campers participating in club are becoming more accurate and confident shooters and are excited to participate every day.


CITs are also learning the safety instructions of archery and how to manage and run an archery range. Each Counselor in Training was given the chance to manage the field, with safety as the number one priority.

For more information about what we are teaching campers, visit and

Mad Science Week is Here! June 25, 2014

Hello campers and parents! It has been a fabulous start to Hi-Hills Day Camp this week. Our first theme is Mad Science Week and we are so excited for our dress up day on Friday as Robot Invasion! We cannot wait to see all of the creative costumes.

Campers are having fun in the sun while also learning some new, cool science facts. In music, campers are learning about traveling sound waves using a slinky, while in Arts & Crafts they are creating some chemical reactions with watercolor and salt. In Nature, campers are meeting all of camp’s creepy, crawly friends and learning a bunch of fun facts.

Have you ever heard of a milk snake? If you haven’t, you would think that its name is pretty funny. They got their name because everyone used to believe that snakes would come onto farms and suck the milk from the cows! This story was not true because the snakes were after the rodents, not the milk!


In addition to these fun activities, the Slippery, Slimy Science class is experimenting with all sorts of materials to create some fun projects. They are making Play-doh, glue, bouncy balls, tie-dye paper and more. Today is also the start of leagues and trivia which we are very excited to start.


Check back in at the end of the week for the Hi-Hills Herald and the weekly photo gallery!

Summer is almost here! June 4, 2014

With Summer Fun starting June 9 and Hi-Hills Traditional Day Camp beginning June 23, the Hi-Hills staff has been working especially hard over the last few weeks to get the GSB campus ready for camp. Everyone has been busy with decorating the “Top 10 Reasons” kiosk (see our Facebook page for a recap!), prepping the barn for our activity specialists to begin their projects and wrapping up our final open house with a record-breaking number of attendees.


Two weeks ago our program leaders met to review and finalize their summer schedules which are jam packed with fun and exciting activities for the campers. This week we will be hosting our first staff training session of the season. We will be welcoming members of the American Camping Association from New York who will be providing our staff with more tools and skills that adhere to the ACA standards, making our camp the place for your child’s best summer ever!

To sign up for Hi-Hills Day Camp, head on over to our registration page. We look forward to seeing you at camp this year!

The “Be Better” Movement February 28, 2014

When choosing a day camp, a parent looks for a place that will suit their child’s needs, their child’s likes and dislikes. Some families go to camp fairs, others go to open houses and some simply surf the web looking for the ideal summer getaway for their child to go and make life-lasting memories. What is it about summer camp that makes a child savor and cherish a moment? Is it the games in the pool; the camp songs; the campouts? Summer camps offer a variety of options for your child to enjoy their youth and have some plain old fashion fun, but what separates one camp from another? Aside from day-to-day offerings and unique facilities used on campus, have you ever considered the message the camp promotes? Sure, camp promotes fun; all camps do in some way, shape or form, but what camps go deeper in their mission statements and go above and beyond to make sure their mission — providing your child with the summer of a lifetime — happens?

As a leader of the Hi-Hills Day Camp staff, I found this an imperative question to answer. The people who are responsible for making your child’s summer are the camp staff. They provide the activities, the games, the events and all of the other fun that makes camp just that: camp. A staff member’s job is to motivate a child’s life in a positive manner. They need to have the will, the mindset and most importantly the training to do so. Each year camp brings along something new for the campers, whether that be a playground, a splash pad, or give-a-ways. This year, Hi-Hills is bringing a fantastic staff to the table. With a combination of returning and new staff members, Hi-Hills has made their staff a priority for no other reason but to ensure that your child has the best summer ever.

We pride ourselves in giving your child limitless options of activities in state-of-the-art facilities with an atmosphere of fun. It is our mission at Hi-Hills to not only provide your child with the summer of a lifetime, but give them the skills to make a difference in their lifetime. In doing so, we have created an in-house motivation message called the “Be Better Movement.” Our movement consists of four parts: Be You, Be Creative, Be Challenged, Be Strong. Each part is unique and will provide your child with the necessary skills to make their journey through life the best that it can be. Our variety of activities allows your child to be who they want to be; our “your choice” daily sessions allow for your child to be creative by opening their mind; our lessons in swim, tennis, yoga, and other skill-based activities allow for your child to challenge themselves and show improvement; and the social exposure our camp provides allows for your child’s personality to grow in strength. Each week at Hi-Hills has a different theme. We will have a Be Better Bunk challenge at the end of each week that correlates with camper skits to see which bunk used the theme of the week to help them “Be Better.” This will allow for both educational and physical growth of your child on a daily basis through the exposure of fairness, responsibility and initiative.


As a staff, we find it very important that you as parents have access to your child’s day-to-day experiences. We will create a series separate from our website on the social media outlet Tumblr to provide parents with pictures, write-ups and descriptions of the campers’ improvements with the Be Better Movement. This will not only be a great outlet for the camp to keep you updated with your child’s experiences, but it will also be great documentation of your child’s individual progress throughout the summer. This progress will show that your child is receiving the summer of a lifetime and is learning the life skills necessary to journey through life happily.

We will send frequent reminders as to when the Tumblr account has launched and other exciting things to look for via our social media outlets and website! If you have not registered for camp yet you can do so here on our website or contact the camp office at 908-234-0067.

Assistant Director
Nicole Spiotta

Staff Voices: Happy Holidays from Hi-Hills December 23, 2013

brian_resavedThe holidays are always a magical and exciting time of year. Hi-Hills Day Camp provides me with those same feelings come summer time. I’m really looking forward to this coming year with the Hi-Hills Community. To give us all a taste of the summer while spreading some holiday cheer, let’s stop and smell the chestnuts roasting over an open fire, the holiday ham, grandma’s fruit cake, fragrant Christmas trees, and those holiday cookies that are everywhere.

Some of our fondest memories take place in and around the kitchen, sharing special meals and treats. This prompted me to think of the moments spent with my own children, when it was still easy to carry them both in my arms and make their favorites. The holiday sugar cookie is a great traditional treat and can be handled by the hands of grandchildren to grandparents. The recipe is simple, the decorations are fun and the forms they take are limitless.

Below is the recipe I used for my children or you can ask grandma for hers to share with you that you can pass onto later generations.

Spend time with family and friends creating these wonderful holiday cookies and memories that will last a lifetime. Feel free to send pictures of your creations that can be posted and shared with rest of the Hi-Hills community.

Enjoy these holiday moments and have a Happy New Year.

Brian Gary, Activities Specialist – Arts and Crafts

Brian’s Sugar Cookie


  • Sifted, all-purpose flour (4 cups)
  • Baking Powder (2 tsp.)
  • Sugar (1 ½ cups)
  • Eggs (2)
  • Butter (¾ of a cup)
  • Vanilla Extract (2 tsp.)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Stir flour and baking powder into a bowl
  • Beat butter and sugar (until fluffy), then add eggs and vanilla
  • Combine and stir the flour and baking powder bowl with the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla bowl
    • Will form a stiff dough
  • Roll out on a lightly floured surface
  • Cut into shapes (1/4 thick)
    • Pick your favorite cookie cutter for this part
  • Place onto a lightly greased cookie sheet
  • Bake for 10 minutes
    • Rotate on the 5th minute
  • Once cooled, Enjoy!

Hi-Hills Introduces “Staff Voices” December 19, 2013

While our campers are busy with their school work during the off-season, here in the camp office we have our own work cut out for us as we prepare for the summer ahead. There are many exciting announcements coming up in the world of Hi-Hills Day Camp, and we can’t wait to share all of the ways we plan on making summer 2014 the best summer yet!


Earlier this month, we introduced our new assistant director of summer and auxiliary programs, Nicole Spiotta. We would also like to introduce our updated “Staff Profiles” page. Along with our new profiles page is our ongoing “Staff Voices” series, which began with Thanksgiving last month.  We hope these new additions will keep you in the camp spirit as the calendar works its way toward June!

Here Comes Harry! December 13, 2013

To kick off the holiday season right, Hi-Hills has a present for all: a new and improved mascot! We are excited to introduce Harry the Hawk!


Harry has many different styles. He can be fun and friendly as well as bold and proud. Each camp season brings a new beginning to summer, and even though Pauly has been a pal of ours for some time now, this summer brings new beginnings with a new friend. Take a look below at pictures of our new camp buddy.



Harry will be a major part of camp this year and will be featured on clothing, bags and other merchandise for sale. We here at Hi-Hills look forward to the beginning of Harry’s journey alongside with the fun-packed summer we have planned for your child. We wish all of our Hi-Hills family a safe and blessed holiday season.

Continue to check our website and visit us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for frequent updates and upcoming events.

Staff Voices: Happy Thanksgiving from Hi-Hills November 26, 2013

As a self-confessed “sentimental fool,” I’ve always considered the period between Halloween and the winter holiday season as my favorite time of the year. Whether it’s the changing color of the leaves, my family’s traditional Italian Thanksgiving–yes, there’s plenty of pasta before the turkey!–or the joy I feel after the year’s first snow, these upcoming months are truly magical.

Lately, though, I’ve found there’s another two-month period that I treasure just as dearly as those precious holiday moments. Each summer, from mid-June to mid-August, I go to a place that has created more wonderful memories for me over the last 15 years than I thought I’d experience in a lifetime.

The place? Hi-Hills Day Camp.

For 15 years, Hi-Hills has truly been my “summer home.” I’ve worked in various different capacities ranging from bunk counselor to athletics director to specialties supervisor to…well, whatever I’m needed for, in an environment that I feel truly fortunate to be a part of each and every glorious summer day. Whether it’s the hustle and bustle of campers heading to the pool for a refreshing swim, athletes competing in a dramatic Leagues contest or the connections being made between counselors and campers in the early morning hours prior to assembly, there truly is something special for everyone at Hi-Hills.


While seven months may seem like a long time to many, Summer 2014 at Hi-Hills will certainly be worth the wait. And I have two little Gesualdo girls who, though they don’t see eye-to-eye with their father on many things at their age, would definitely agree on that point. My daughters don’t have to go to Hi-Hills during the summer. But they choose to go each year because of the dedicated staff, the outstanding variety of activities and the unquestionable beauty of the Gill St. Bernard’s campus.

I hope to see many of our 2013 campers back for another summer joined by a plethora of newcomers as we continue to build on traditions and add to the ever-growing Hi-Hills family. Thanks so much for sharing your children with us each and every summer. While the two months we spend with them seem to be gone in the blink of an eye, the memories we make will last a lifetime.

On behalf of Hi-Hills Day Camp, I’d like to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all of our families. We’ll see you before you know it!


Marc Gesualdo, Program Operation Coordinator

Hi-Hills Welcomes New Assistant Director November 11, 2013

nicoleHi-Hills is proud to announce the appointment of Nicole Spiotta as the new assistant director of summer and auxiliary programs. Spiotta is a graduate of Drew University and holds a degree in political science. Her responsibilities at camp include supporting Camp Director Cindy Wyatt in the day-to-day operations of Hi-Hills’ and all summer programs. In addition to her many years of experience managing camps and sports clinics, Spiotta also has an extensive career in softball, serving as both a player and a coach. Spiotta, who played Division III softball with Drew, currently coaches at Raritan Valley Community College.

On a personal level, Spiotta has an infectious personality and thrives at completing new challenges. When not on the softball field or working out with her team, Spiotta manages her own business, which offers private softball instruction and DJ Entertainment. She also volunteers her coaching experience with younger girls, through local recreational and town programs.

Spiotta looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm and high energy level with campers during her first summer here at Hi-Hills! “The Hi-Hills reunion made me want the summer to get here that much sooner,” she said. “I can’t wait.”

Welcome Nicole!

Hi-Hills Reunion Celebrates Halloween Fun October 28, 2013

IMG_9787Hi-Hills would like to thank all campers, families and staff members who attended Sunday’s third annual Reunion and Halloween Party. For those who could not attend—you were certainly missed! The camp atmosphere returned to campus, reminding us that summer is just around the corner. Campers decorated pumpkins, played laser tag and got the chance to meet our new assistant summer and auxiliary programs director, Nicole Spiotta. Visit our photo gallery to view photos from Sunday’s event and be sure to check our website for 2014 registration forms, discounts and open house dates. We look forward to seeing you soon for another terrific summer at Hi-Hills Day Camp!

Halloween Raffle Winners

  • Kurt Hunziker: Hi-Hills Backpack
  • Anthony Clerici: Hi-Hills Sweatshirt
  • Shan Ali: iTunes Gift Card
  • Tyler Rooney: iTunes Gift Card
  • Alexandria Rooney: iTunes Gift Card
  • Robbie DeVergillo: Hi-Hills Hat
  • Ryan Bullett: Hi-Hills Hat
  • Schuyler Bellerjeau: Hi-Hills Backpack
  • Roxy Hadiyan: Hi-Hills Sweatshirt

Also, congratulations to Colton Rooney for winning this year’s Best Costume award, as well as to Jason Monto for winning the candy guessing competition—in case you were wondering, there were 285 pieces of candy in the jar! Winners will receive their prizes in the mail shortly.


Cindy, Beth and Nicole

Hi-Hills Day Camp Halloween Reunion Party October 18, 2013

GSB13-77-Halloween_400x400Current and past Hi-Hills families are invited to dress in their spookiest costumes and stop by Brueckner Hall on Sunday, October 27 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. for the third annual camp reunion and Halloween party.

The event will feature a costume contest, live DJ, face-painting, pumpkin decorating, bobbing for apples and more. Light refreshments will be served, and attendees will have the chance to win Hi-Hills sweatshirts and other goodies during a raffle. Many 2013 camp counselors, including Mr. Nature and his critters, will be in attendance and are looking forward to reuniting with their bunks. “I’m so excited to spend an afternoon of fun with Hi-Hills Day Camp friends and family,” said Camp Director Cindy Wyatt, who encourages all to attend this year’s event for what is sure to be a scary good time.

Interested parties can RSVP to the camp office by phone at 908-234-0067 or by email at

Hi-Hills Day Camp 2013: A Retrospective August 14, 2013

The 2013 camp season combined the beloved traditions kids and parents have grown to expect from Hi-Hills with several exciting programs which will create new memories and traditions in the years to come. Over the course of these last eight weeks, campers have competed on the athletic fields and cooperated during technology education projects. They have showed off their talents in the performing arts while learning new skills on the tennis courts, in the pool and on the archery range. And that’s only the beginning–campers took advantage of the 79 acre GSB campus as they participated in a wide range of specialty and enrichment programs such as pottery, music, yoga, dance, nature, martial arts and more. With camp coming to a close, we’d like to take a look back at some of our favorite moments from throughout the summer.

The season began with two weeks of Summer Fun–a program which bridges the gap between the end of the GSB school year and the official start of Hi-Hills on June 24. Each week of camp began with a different theme–some of this year’s themes included Mad Science Week, Sportsmanship Week and Arts Explosion Week–and ended with a celebration of that theme during a dress-up contest and a bunk cheer competition during Council Ring, our special end-of-week closing ceremony.

Part of what makes Hi-Hills so unique is its flexible scheduling–campers can enroll in either a full-day traditional day camp program, or they can sign up for a half-day at camp while they explore some of the diverse enrichment programs we offer. This year, we offered programs in pony riding, mountain biking, sewing and lab science, as well as a wide range of academic enrichment programs. We also offered athletic skills camps for lacrosse, soccer and basketball.

There are always a few special events that campers and staff look forward to each year, such as the boys’ and girls’ campouts during week three, the sportsmanship games during week six and the annual camp play–this year a musical production of The Wizard of Oz–during week five. Throughout the summer, we invite family members and special friends to join the fun at Hi-Hills during the Parent Luncheon and the two Kinder Camp Garden Parties scheduled in both July and August. Two special events particularly stand out as highlights of the summer: the Lainie’s Angels campers-versus-counselors charity basketball game, and, of course, Carnival—an annual camp extravaganza complete with blow-up water slides, a face-painting booth, cotton candy, a pie-eating contest and even a dunk tank.


Each summer we try to build upon the previous year to deliver an even better camp experience. Some of our additions in 2013 include an aquatic rock climbing wall at the pool, a brand new low ropes course and, for parents, a revamped website, a robust Facebook page with daily posts and images and an updated format for our weekly camp newsletter, The Hi-Hills Herald. We also expanded our involvement in the Black Rocket program, which teaches kids technology skills while working with them to create their own video games and short films.

Camp director Cindy Wyatt hinted at big things to come for next summer. “It’s always so neat seeing campers year after year and how much they grow,” she said. “The excitement on their faces never changes. For our campers, being a part of Hi-Hills is like coming home every summer.”

Hi-Hills Lends Support to Families with Childhood Cancer August 7, 2013

This Thursday, Hi-Hills Day Camp will host its second annual campers versus staff charity basketball game. All proceeds will benefit Lainie’s Angels, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing counseling and support services to the families of children diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders.

Fifteen years ago Lainie Afendoulis, age 10, was diagnosed with cancer. Her family noticed that, although the hospital cared for Lainie’s medicinal and emotional needs, they themselves faced the daunting task of managing their daughter’s treatment within a hurried and, oftentimes, confusing hospital environment. While busy doctors and nurses focus their efforts and attention on patients, families often struggle trying to cope with their child’s cancer diagnosis alone. Inspired by his daughter’s fight against cancer Lainie’s father, Stathi Afendoulis, founded Lainie’s Angels in 2000, offering guidance to those families facing similar situations.

Donations to Lainie’s Angels are used to establish networks of Parent Advocates—volunteers, like Stathi, who have cared for a sick child in the past—who act as mentors, sharing their knowledge and experiences with others. Parent Advocates also facilitate peer-support groups, allowing families of sick children to meet and discuss their hardships with one another. Today, Lainie’s Angels has led to counseling programs in Chicago, Toronto and Manhattan. Read more about Lainie’s Angels and their “by parents, for parents” philosophy at


Please stop by the Athletic Center at 2:00 p.m. (after the Parent Luncheon) to check out DJ Nicole Spiotta and support a great cause while watching Hi-Hills’ counselors and staff face-off against campers on the basketball court. Entry to the gym is free, and a representative from Lainie’s Angels will also be in attendance, accepting donations and providing information to all parties interested in offering their support.

Sportsmanship Week at Hi-Hills July 31, 2013

Each week at Hi-Hills, we add a unique twist to our favorite activities with a different theme. Some of this summer’s themes have included: mad science, marine life, the arts and planet earth. The week six sportsmanship theme is a special one because it coincides with a camp-wide Leagues competition, always a favorite with our campers.


The Leagues program organizes campers into eight different teams that compete for points in games like “kickball,” “tennis-baseball,” basketball and soccer. The playoffs begin next week, and trophies are at stake!

Here are this week’s Leagues standings:


Team Wins Losses Ties Points
Mighty Ducks 8 2 0 16
Pandas 6 7 0 12
Orangutans 4 6 0 8
Parnmesans 2 8 0 4


Team Wins Losses Ties Points
Jellybeans 10 0 0 20
Mummies 5 5 0 10
Elephants 4 4 1 9
Destroyers 0 9 1 1

During sportsmanship week, we expand our regular Leagues program with several special events. Instead of the usual Leagues teams, the whole camp splits up into Team Peapack and Team Gladstone. On Tuesday, campers competed in an athletics tournament involving a mash up of their favorite Leagues games. Today was the “Pasta Hunt,” a scavenger hunt that challenges campers to search for colored pasta shapes in order to score points. Also today, campers competed in a “penny-diving” competition at the pool.


There are even more great events planned for the remainder of the week. Thursday is the Hi-Hills “Mini-Olympics.” Friday is the “Counselor Swim Relay Race,” where the counselors get a chance to show off their skills to the accompaniment of cheering campers. Some of the specialty counselors are also getting in on the fun–Stefanie is hosting a singing competition in music and Johnny is pitting Team Peapack and Team Gladstone against one another in a Pictionary showdown during arts and crafts. As always, campers will get the chance to show off their team banners and cheers at Friday’s Council Ring.

As an integral part of every event, points are awarded for good sportsmanship in order to encourage fair play and friendly competition.

Good luck to both our teams!

Week Six Enrichment Programs July 30, 2013

Each week at Hi-Hills Day Camp, we offer a flexible schedule of half-day and full-day enrichment programs in athletics, academics, performing arts and more. Week six boasts one of our most diverse schedules to date–in addition to Coach Mergin Sina’s Hoop Academy, campers can sign up for sewing class, an expository writing clinic, Singapore Math Review and a hands-on lab science program. Black Rocket, a favorite with our campers, is back this week with a class on Hollywood special effects.

Campers enrolled in “Gooey, Slippery, Slimy, Sticky Science,” led by GSB Lower School science instructor, Lynn Prosen, explore the fun side of science through hands-on experiments. Campers learn fundamental aspects of chemistry while creating slimes, foams, bubbles and other fun, sticky substances. Some of their experiments include making a fizzy volcano, fake snow and a Mentos geyser.

In Sewing Camp this week, campers are creating their very own pillows, skirts and bags–all from scratch. Along the way, they learn how to operate an electronic sewing machine, read a pattern and properly measure fabric–no more asking mom or dad to sew on buttons!


GSB Middle School Language Arts teacher Zoe Tuohy is offering an expository writing class this week to refresh students’ essay and paragraph writing skills. Students enrolled in the program work on their individual needs with regards to the structure, mechanics and voice of their academic writing. Likewise, students enrolled in Singapore Math Review get a refresher on last year’s progress while previewing the main topics of the coming school year.


Read more about our specific programs and about Hi-Hill’s flexible scheduling.

Hi-Hills Carnival 2013 July 25, 2013

The annual Hi-Hills Carnival is one of our favorite camp traditions–something our kids look forward to all summer. Campers showed off their carnival spirit yesterday by dressing up and competing in a costume contest. Superheroes, clowns, pirates, cheerleaders and even the Phantom of the Opera made an appearance at morning assembly; some of the bunk counselors and CITs also joined in on the fun.

When Carnival time finally came, the bunks rushed onto the athletic field, where the specialty counselors and CITs had prepared the first wave of activities. Some of the featured attractions at this year’s Carnival included: the “Wild Rapids” water slide, a pie-in-the-face booth, a dunk-tank run by the lifeguards, several skill games and a marriage booth, where campers exchanged pipe cleaner rings with their new “best friends for life.” Em hosted a Coke-Pepsi taste test, and Mr. Nature ran a duck-fishing game. The kids also enjoyed some freshly-made cotton candy.


Not to be outdone, each bunk sponsored its own booth during the afternoon session of Carnival, which took place after lunch. The boys set up a cow-milking station using rubber gloves, and they ran several sports-themed challenges, such as a football accuracy game and a water balloon toss. Bunk 17, The Chicken Fingers, held a pie eating contest. The girls painted nails, applied temporary tattoos, and ran a Frisbee toss and a water gun accuracy game. At each booth, campers earned tickets which they traded for some fun prizes. Stefanie, Johnny and Diana painted faces while Mindy and the CITs made delicious snow cones. Carnival ended with grand finale, as the campers unveiled some secret routines they’d been working on during dance classes during a flash mob dance party.


With Carnival over, and as the operations crew removed the last traces of broken water balloons and whipped pie filling from the athletic fields, one question alone turned over in the minds of Hi-Hills staff: “how long until next year?”

Check out our gallery to see photos from throughout the day.

Art Education at Hi-Hills July 17, 2013

All around Hi-Hills, our campers have been singing, dancing, painting, sculpting, acting and, above all, celebrating their own creativity as part of our week four theme — the arts. Here at camp, we believe that art education is an essential part of any well-rounded academic experience, whether it is taking place in a traditional school setting or at summer camp. A 2002 study by the Arts Education Partnership has shown that students involved in arts programs perform better in reading, writing and mathematics courses than students without access to such programs. Likewise, the Center for Arts Education in New York has published a 2009 study which shows that schools offering programs in literary, visual, media and performing arts boast some of the city’s highest graduation rates.

Our pottery instructor, Brian Gary, studied painting and drawing in Amsterdam and New York City. According to Brian, it is important for students to be exposed to the arts early on in their education because it teaches them “self-expression and a lifelong sense of self-confidence and creativity.” Johnny Sansevere, an art educator during the school year and our arts and crafts instructor here at camp, adds that studying the arts “fosters solving problems in a creative way.”


Diana Fiore, our dance instructor, reflecting on her own training in ballroom and tango dancing as a child in Colombia, stresses the connection between learning dance and being exposed to other cultures. “Dance,” she says, “was culturally embedded for me, and gave me the opportunity to socialize with other people.” Where language barriers build up walls between different cultures, Diana feels that music and dance are universally human and allow people from different backgrounds to find common ground. Beyond learning coordination and balance, Diana’s dance students learn how to collaborate and connect with other cultures.


For Stefanie Santoro, who studied flute performance as an undergraduate and is the camp music instructor, studying the arts is also a fun way to challenge students to step outside their comfort zones. This is especially important for students who are more introverted; participation in the performing arts can give them a platform for public self-expression that will build confidence that carries over into daily life.


Stefanie and Johnny, along with some choreography help from Diana, are currently rehearsing with the kids for our camp musical, The Wizard of OZ. A more difficult production than last year’s High School Musical, this year’s musical involves campers from all bunks, including Kinder Camp. Opening night is slated for August 2, with more details to follow as we approach the big day.

Be sure to check out the Hi-Hills Herald, as well as our weekly photo galleries, for more information about the great arts programs we offer here at camp.

Pony Camp at Hi-Hills July 10, 2013

This week at Hi-Hills, campers and staff are celebrating our planet earth theme by learning more about the natural world. Keeping with this theme, we’re excited to offer pony riding lessons hosted by Morristown, New Jersey’s Ponyshare LLC. Since 1985, Ponyshare has offered mobile riding lessons for summer camps and after-school programs, as well as entertainment for birthday parties and other outdoor events.

Campers enrolled in the Pony Camp and Pony Share Petite enrichment programs, after learning essential safety techniques, are introduced to three ponies: George, Pepsi and Vanilla. The Ponyshare philosophy stresses the importance of earning the right to ride by understanding and appreciating the animals. Campers learn proper grooming techniques, including brushing a pony’s mane and cleaning its hooves. After, they are given a thorough explanation of horse tack, or equipment, such as the bit and the stirrups. Then, finally, they’re ready to get up in the saddle.


By the end of the week, campers, many of whom began the program with no experience in equine sports, will gain a mastery of basic riding technique. Our younger campers in the Pony Share Petite program (from three to five years old) will learn to make their ponies start and stop on command, and will be able to steer their ponies independently. Campers in the Pony Share program (ages nine through 13) will even learn to trot their ponies.


According to Ponyshare staff, the potential for constant achievement drives interest in equine sports; there are always more skills and techniques to master for riders at every skill level. And, unlike in other sports, riders have the unique opportunity to grow along with their animals as they advance their own skills.

Check out our website for more information about our unique enrichment programs.

Academic Enrichment Programs at Hi-Hills July 3, 2013

Summer is a time for fun and relaxation–a time for kids to recharge their batteries before they return to another year of academic rigor in preparation for high school or college. But many experts say that two or three months away from the classroom can actually undo some of the hard work that students and teachers put in during the school year. According to research from the National Summer Learning Association, 66 percent of teachers reported spending three or four weeks of the school year re-teaching the previous year’s curriculum; twenty-four percent of teachers even reported spending five to six weeks on old material. That’s why at Hi-Hills Summer Camp, we believe it’s important to mix summer fun with academic programs designed not only to keep students in a scholastic mindset, but to give them a head start on the upcoming school year. To that end, we offer several flexible enrichment programs in mathematics, computer skills and writing that allow campers to enjoy traditional camp activities while also devoting time to their studies. Campers can attend a half-day enrichment or academic program and then spend the rest of the day in the pool, on the athletic fields or in one of our other great programs.

In mathematics, we offer a six week geometry session taught by Gill St. Bernard’s Upper School instructor Ed Brown. Students enrolled in this course cover a full range of topics in Euclidean geometry and receive course credit and advancement to Algebra II upon successful completion of the program. We also offer a math clinic geared toward students in grades 6-12 that evaluates troublesome math concepts and works with students individually to reinforce the skills needed to succeed in the coming year. For students entering ninth grade, we offer a special math refresher designed to prepare incoming freshmen for the challenges of high school level geometry and algebra courses. Interested parents can also enroll their children in a fourth and fifth grade Singapore Math Review program later in the summer.


Strong computer skills are no longer optional for students in our tech-savvy world. We offer courses in keyboarding for students in grades 5-6, and also a course in Microsoft Office for students in grades 7-8. Eileen Procaccino, the data systems manager for the GSB I.T. Department, teaches both courses.

For students looking for a refresher in expository writing, Zoe Tuohy, who teaches middle school English at GSB, is giving a writing clinic for students in grades 5-8. Students enrolled in the course will improve the structure, mechanics and voice of their academic writing.

Full program descriptions and dates are available here on our website. Take advantage of our flexible half-day program schedule and sign up today.

Mad Science Week with Black Rocket June 26, 2013

It’s Mad Science week here at Hi-Hills, and we’re excited to offer a one week filmmaking course hosted by technology education pioneers, Black Rocket. The “Lightz! Camera! Action!” program guides students through the entire process of filmmaking, from creating a story and script, all the way to editing the final cut. By the end of the week, our campers will have worked together and created their very own short films. These will be available for download on Monday, June 1, on Black Rocket’s website, which parents will be able to access with a unique user ID and password supplied by Black Rocket.

The award winning Black Rocket program, which the New Jersey Small Business Development Council named small business of the year in 2011, is a technology-based education program that prepares students for global competition in an increasingly tech-focused economy. Encouraging cognitive reasoning and divergent thinking, Black Rocket introduces students to the latest technological innovations in order to foster tech skills in a fun and creative learning environment.


Our campers brainstormed ideas with Black Rocket staff before writing scripts for a short film in either the mystery or comedy genre. Some of their ideas included: a classic whodunit involving a stolen stuffed animal and the enigmatic Double Cape Bandit, a time-travelling adventure story, the invasion of camp by cookie-fearing aliens, and a surprise birthday party with a twist ending you’ll need to see to believe. Black Rocket staff were impressed by how well our campers collaborated on their creative stories!

Throughout the week, campers acted out their scripts, designed props and filmed scenes across our campus. They took turns as actors/actresses, directors and technical assistants. Black Rocket staff guided campers through the basics of the editing process, but ultimately the artistic direction of each film was left to the campers. We’re all looking forward to seeing the finished products!


Hi-Hills will be offering other great Black Rocket enrichment programs later this summer. In “App Attack,” offered from 8/19 to 8/23, campers will have the opportunity to create their own mobile application or video game and learn all about app publishing. Other programs include 3D and LEGO video game creation tutorials, as well as classes in stop motion animation and claymation. Check out our site for more scheduling information and sign up today!

2013 Week #2 Recap June 21, 2013

Week #2 of Summer at GSB has come to a close here at Hi-Hills. In addition to our tried-and-true camp classics like dance, swimming, and athletics, Week #2 featured specialty programs in sewing, mountain biking, and chess. Throughout the week, our Hi-Hills specialty counselors stopped by to put the finishing touches on their program areas in preparation for next week.

We kicked off Week #2 early with staff orientation this past weekend. During Saturday’s session, we were excited to have Kyle Medeiros from the American Camp Association lead the training. He taught counselors some fun games to play with campers, as well as important techniques and information to make camp a safe, fun, and inclusive environment all season long. On Sunday, the counselors were assigned their bunks for the summer, and began to set up the campus for our official start date on June 24.


Campers had the opportunity to participate in a week-long intensive mountain biking enrichment program led by Gill St. Bernard’s School photography instructor Bob Ort. They learned the fundamentals of the sport while taking day trips to Stephens State Park, Allamuchy Mountain State Park, Allaire State park, and more!


As part of our sewing enrichment program, led by instructor Cecelia Rhodes, campers made personalized throw pillows and had the chance to design and sew their own skirts. Sewing will be offered again later in the summer from 7/29 to 8/02. Be sure to check out last week’s recap for more information about our Chess Enrichment program, led by Coach Marty Sobin, the founder of NJ Chess.


Camp Programs Director Cindy Wyatt put the whole family to work as daughter Sarah and son Josh helped out all week with set-up and office duties. Brian Gary, our pottery instructor, transformed the robotics room into an art studio complete with spinning wheels and plenty of clay. Elliot, our archery instructor, built us a few targets on the range. The ever-popular Mr. Nature even brought over a few of his creatures to the scout barn. Meanwhile, Hi-Hills is proud to present the newest addition to our pool facilities: an aquatic rock climbing wall!


We brought the week to a close on Friday (the first day of summer!) with another edition of our camp talent show. Participants showed off their dancing, acting, and musical talents in front of their counselors and peers. After the show, campers cooled off in Founders Hall with some delicious ice-cream sundaes. Take a look at our new online photo gallery to see pictures of all our great activities.


It has been another great week at Summer Fun, and we all can’t wait for the start of Hi-Hills Day Camp on Monday, June 24. Next week we’re proud to feature Maestro Soccer Camp, led by Gill St. Bernard’s 7th/8th grade soccer coach Jim Buchanan. Campers in the program will have the chance to improve their game through comprehensive training in fundamentals and tactics. Next week will also feature classes in archery, pottery, dance, and cooking. There’s still time to sign up today!

Mountain Biking June 19, 2013

This week during Summer at GSB, our campers had the opportunity to participate in a week-long intensive mountain biking enrichment program led by Gill St. Bernard’s School photography instructor, Bob Ort. “Mountain Biking – Mind, Body, Spirit” offers a comprehensive introduction to the sport for those at the beginner to intermediate level. Campers learn the fundamentals of bicycle maintenance and repair, as well as the techniques needed to operate their bicycles safely and efficiently on a variety of different trail types. When he isn’t guiding campers through the physical challenges of mountain biking, Bob teaches healthy lifestyle skills using the Mind-Body-Spirit philosophy of the sport.


Bob has been involved in cycling sports for fifteen years. He began cycling while competing in triathlons, but eventually segued into mountain biking and competitive road biking. He still regularly competes in cycling events several times annually, while also running a mountain biking club at GSB during the school year. Bob incorporates his photography background into the program by documenting the campers in action. According to Bob, these photographs are important not only because they preserve an exciting memory of the experience, but because they allow campers to share the moment and encourage others to get involved with the sport.

On Monday, after getting a quick orientation to the program, campers stopped by Marty’s Reliable Cycle in Hackettstown, New Jersey to pick up some necessary safety equipment for the week. Fully equipped, the group headed over to nearby Stephens State Park to get their first taste of real life mountain biking. The park offers 6 miles of marked trails, including a 2 mile section of the Highlands Trail which runs the length of the park. Campers enjoyed a fast and exciting run down “The Maze!”

On Tuesday, the group took a trip over to the Deer Park trails at Allamuchy Mountain State Park. Wednesday, they headed south to Monmouth County to test their skills on the sandy trails at Allaire State Park. Experiencing nature firsthand is an important goal of the program, and each day campers travel to new parks and trails across the state.

A typical day on the trails involves an hour and a half of biking in the morning, followed by a break for lunch and then another hour or two of trail work before packing up and heading home to campus. During lunch breaks, Bob steers his campers away from greasy fast foods and encourages them to fuel their bodies with nutrient rich food that will allow them to perform at their highest level, physically and mentally.

Mountain biking is more than just a fun and exciting experience. The sport encourages an appreciation for the outdoors beyond what you can see through the window of a car. It fosters an all-around healthy lifestyle by combining physical exertion, good food, and a positive mindset. Throw in some experiential education out in the elements, and you have the Mind-Body-Spirit philosophy that is so integral to the mountain biking experience.

Summer at GSB offers “Mountain Biking – Mind, Body, Spirit” again later in the summer from 7/08 to 7/12. We are also proud to offer Bob Ort’s digital photography classes (available for grades 6-8 and grades 9-12) from 6/24 to 6/28 and from 7/01 to 7/05. Take advantage of our flexible scheduling and unique enrichment programs and sign up today!

2013 Week #1 Recap June 14, 2013

Summer Fun has officially begun here at Hi-Hills Day Camp! Our first week of the 2013 season was full of great activities, both indoors and out. Our campers escaped the heat in the swimming pool, matched wits on the chess board, and showed off their skills in our camp talent show as we kicked off what is sure to be another great summer.

A light drizzle on the first day of camp couldn’t dampen our spirits as we watched the first groups of eager campers arrive at the entrance to the Lower School. Our martial arts instructor, Ben, put campers through a Tae Kwon Do workout, while our dance teacher, Diana, taught the campers a few new moves. Campers expressed their creativity in Arts and Crafts classes, and in our Lego-Land room. Meanwhile, our Intensive Musical Theater Experience enrichment program rehearsed with long-time GSB performing arts teachers, Amy and Dave Southerland.


On Tuesday our campers celebrated the sunshine by enjoying some free swim time in the pool and on the Splash Pad. They played soccer, and experienced our unique Ga-Ga pit during a few exciting games of GSB Ball! Our younger campers even won some fabulous prizes in Camp Bingo.


All week, Coach Marty Sobin, our Hi-Hills chess instructor and the founder of Jersey Chess in Sparta, led his students through a crash course in the finer points of the age-old game. Coach Marty has nearly ten years of experience as a chess teacher, and he runs several after school enrichment programs in the area, including the chess program at the Lower School here at GSB. Some of his private students have even gone on to compete in U.S. Chess Federation rated tournaments. Coach will be here all next week (June 17 – June 21) and will also be teaching at Hi-Hills during the week of August 19th. If you’d like your camper to have some educational fun while practicing logic, cognitive skills, and discipline, there is still plenty of time to sign up!


Thursday, campers continued to work on their talent show routines in between their regularly scheduled activities, like dance classes, martial arts, and athletics. When the big day finally arrived Friday morning, campers dazzled and amazed with their singing voices, musicianship, and acting chops. The Bunk 7 girls “just wanted to have fun” with their dance routine, and the Bunk 6 boys presented the newest installment of their popular “Dorito-Eating Monkeys” skit. Later in the show, the Bunk 4 boys got the audience going with some live Rock and Roll!


By closing time on Friday afternoon after the talent show, campers were exhausted from a week of Summer Fun but perks right up for a special ice cream sundae social! The Hi-Hills staff will be busy getting ready for an exciting Week #2 at Hi-Hills. In addition to our great traditional day camp activities, we will be offering enrichment programs in Mountain Biking, Sewing, and Chess!


Take advantage of our flexible programs and scheduling – sign up now for next week!

So Why Hi-Hills? June 11, 2013

ingredientsChoosing the right camp for your child is not as easy as it once was. There are more options than ever before, so how do you choose?

Most of us are into health and wellness, and are learning to read nutrition labels. Read the nutrition label of your camp and see what meets the needs of both your child and your family. You may find the perfect camp is right here in Peapack–Gladstone!

Here are the ingredients in Hi-Hills:

  • We are ACA accredited, which means we meet the over 344 standards set by the America Camp Association.
  • Transportation is available for up to one hour from camp in one of our state inspected vehicles and driven by a trained driver.
  • We offer age-appropriate lessons in swim, tennis, nature, technology, art, athletics, archery, dance and science.
  • Lunch is provided by Flik Dining Services, offering healthy and nutritious choices. Some food even comes from our own garden!
  • Facilities you really need to see to believe! 77 acres of fun with a splashpad, pool, fields, ropes course and classrooms along with air-conditioned areas to keep camp going rain or shine!
  • Staff, new and returning, all go through an extensive training program for three days to review procedures on safety and security as well as the day-to-day procedures to make for a smooth-running camp. The fun part is we get to play the games and participate in the activities, too!
  • Last but not least is flexibility. With 11 weeks of camp and over 60 week long options there is truly something for everyone. Hi-Hills requires no minimum number of weeks, so you can come for a week or come all summer long!

What’s New With Hi-Hills? April 18, 2013

What’s new?

So much! Hi-Hills has a new website, new look, new low ropes course, new games, new programs, new activities, new dinning hall and more.

Beginning in the fall of 2012, Jack, Cindy and new to her position of office manager, Beth, have been working with the new GSB Communications department to create a more uniform and easy-to-navigate website.  We are very pleased and excited with the outcome.

The website and appearance speaks for itself and we hope you are as happy with it as we are. The new game and programming ideas came through surveys from both parents and campers. We heard we should add more Legos so we asked our GSB woodworking department to build two Lego tables for our program. Mr. Ort was eager to work with Beth and have his classes become involved to create and build them.

We also heard you want some technology and science. We have partnered with two great companies: Sensational Science and Black Rocket Technologies. Both companies will be offering week-long programs under our enrichment portion of Hi-Hills and Black Rocket will also be one of the new activities during the Hi-Hills traditional day camp. In addition, we have our own Mrs. Prosen offering two new science courses.

Our low ropes course has been an idea in the making for the last two years. Hi-Hills is looking forward to the many benefits of team building beginning with our staff during orientation to our Kinder Campers learning the benefits of communication and teamwork as they balance on the whale watch.

The new dinning hall has been a wonderful addition. We now have a food court where we once had seating and now all seating is air-conditioned.

We look forward to sharing these new additions as well as the many old favorites which have come to make Hi-Hills a very special place to spend your summer!


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.