Hi-Hills Traditions August 19, 2016

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does Hi-Hills Camp Accreditation Signify to Families? July 22, 2016

Hi-Hills has been an accredited member of the American Camp Association (ACA) for the past 30 years. An ACA accreditation signifies that the Hi-Hills camp directors, together with Gill St. Bernard’s School, are committed to providing and maintaining the best practices in camp operation. These guidelines for accreditation are set forth by a collaborative panel of experts from the ACA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross and other noted youth-serving agencies. During a re-accreditation process, a thorough review of over 300 health, safety and program operation procedures are evaluated and reviewed to ensure that a camp is meeting its nationally-recognized standards.

So, what kind of standards are there at ACA? There are guidelines for camper-to-staff ratios for every age group, goals for camper activities, food service guidelines, staff qualifications, safety regulations, requirements for emergency transportation, first-aid facilities, training for special programs and staff and many more!


Accreditation is not a requisite for running a camp; rather, it is a voluntary one. There is a financial investment as well as the ongoing commitment to stay current on camp trends and standardized practices. More importantly, an ACA accreditation is a visual industry benchmark and acknowledgement to campers and their families, the community at large, and to the state, that Hi-Hills provides a safe, nurturing and quality camp experience for children ages three to 16. ACA standards are recognized mandates by courts of law and government regulators as the standards of the camp community.


Camps offered at Hi-Hills are all accredited as they each serve a distinct audience. Whether you are exploring Kinder Camp for your preschooler, a traditional day camp for a child in grades one through six, Teen Travel for middle schoolers, or lastly, our new Leaders of Tomorrow Camp for rising high school students seeking to foster leadership skills as well as develop their communication and decision making skills, our camps reflect a commitment to the growth and development of each and every child. Each program is recognized for its “intrinsic merit in enriching the lives through the camp experience,” the tagline of American Camp Association (ACA).


Camp prepares a child for life and provides opportunities to foster key life skills like responsibility, cooperation, courage and self-esteem. We at Hi-Hills certainly agree: we’ve been doing it for 50 years!

What’s Your Game This Summer? July 13, 2016

The summer sports season is in full swing. Is your child playing a summer sport or participating in off-season training? At Hi-Hills, we offer many options for summer exploration! This includes learning the basic fundamentals of a sport, strengthening a child’s athletic prowess, or fostering life skills with First Aid, CPR and lifeguard certification. Hi-Hills provides over a dozen sports specialty camps for children ages three to 16 to meet their personal goals in a relaxed, fun atmosphere.


Our camps take advantage of the impressive fields complex, basketball courts and Athletic Center located on site at the picturesque, 208-acre campus of Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone, NJ. Hi-Hills works with notable club coaches and GSB athletics staff who contribute to players’ understanding and respect for the game and assist in general skill development. Participants will receive in-depth fundamental and team training, in addition to building their leadership skills.


Upcoming camp programs being held at Hi-Hills include soccer camp, Club Soccer and High School Prep Camps, pre-school soccer camp, and tennis technique and skills camp. Previous camps include lifeguard training, First Aid, CPR certification and re-certification, mountain biking, softball and Leadership Academy.


Experience Hi-Hills sports camps in 2016, and set your adventure on the playing fields or the court! If you have any questions, please contact Assistant Director of Summer and Auxiliary Programs, Nicole Spiotta, at 908-234-1611, ext. 251. Let’s go Hi-Hills!

What’s on Your Summer Agenda? July 7, 2016

Summer is the ideal time to swim, relax, travel and spend time with friends and family. Summer is also the perfect chance to explore a new interest, strengthen a particular skill or take an academic course for advancement. Whatever goal you may have in mind, Hi-Hills offers a diverse curriculum of summer enrichment and academic courses that will inspire your child. Our programs are open for children from preschool through grade 12. Cindy Wyatt, Director of Summer and Auxiliary Programs at Gill St. Bernard’s School and Hi-Hills, is on hand and ready to help navigate your goals as well as offer a parent perspective to your summer mix!


Enrichment camps are a wonderful summer forum to captivate a child in addition to developing and preparing for the year ahead. Whether your child’s passion is in the creative and performing arts or science and technology, Hi-Hills offers numerous options to grow. The goal is not to become an expert, but rather to inspire future exploration. Some of the programs offered here at Hi-Hills include musical theater, sewing, STEM and STEAM camps, coding, gaming, cooking, gardening, and creative writing. Our schedule includes both morning and afternoon time slots allowing for a balanced day of learning and traditional summer camp.


Academic camps are a terrific avenue to pursue a love of learning, along with opportunities to participate in an accredited course for the upcoming school year. Course offerings include geometry, algebra, chemistry and biology as well as study skills, writing and Singapore math classes. Students can gain knowledge, confidence and advancement in a small class setting led by GSB faculty.


So what’s on your summer agenda? We have many options to explore all summer long! Let us fill your child’s summer with learning, engagement and fun. The door is open for you here at Hi-Hills! Contact us today to learn more.

Every Summer Has Its Story June 30, 2016

Every summer has its own story: a rich tapestry of traditions, songs, pictures and games joined together with campers, counselors and camp staff. This summer, Hi-Hills has a remarkable story to tell! 2016 marks our golden anniversary: 50 years of providing summertime fun and making memories that remain in the hearts and minds of our campers.

Hi-Hills began in 1966 in the mountains of Watchung, then moved to the fields of Bernardsville and today makes its home on the beautiful 208-acre campus of Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone. With each change in venue, Hi-Hills has grown. Today, we offer an incredible range of activities and programs in academics, outdoor exploration, performing arts, sports and traditional day camp.

Hi-Hills Camp is so excited to be celebrating 50 years and to mark this exciting milestone with our campers and families.

Camp pride is evident at Hi-Hills. Our campers love to return each summer, and many of them go on to become counselors and activity specialists, returning to summers at Hi-Hills as teenagers and young adults. Over the course of 50 years, we have seen time and again as camp pride evolves into staff pride. Our counselors are the best ambassadors, passing on the wisdom and traditions of Hi-Hills.

There are several staff members who can trace their origins with Hi-Hills back to Marv and Bunny Goldberg, the founders of the camp. Em Foster marks his 32nd summer with Hi-Hills. Having served as a counselor, bus driver and the athletics director, Em is now the camp’s fishing specialist.


Auggie Lorrio, the division coordinator for swimming and water safety at Hi-Hills, has been a major force in Hi-Hills aquatics for 21 years.


Additionally, Jenn Monto is celebrating her 11th summer at Hi-Hills. She has the unique perspective of having been a camper, counselor and camp parent. Perhaps one day we will welcome her children, who attend camp alongside her now, among the next generation of counselors. Monto has served as a counselor, special events division head, spirit coordinator, and is now the director of the Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) program.


Join the celebration for a day, a week or the rest of the summer and set your sights on a memorable journey alongside our amazing staff.

Wildlife at Hi-Hills August 12, 2015

The Home Winds Campus has been a fantastic addition to Hi-Hills this summer. Encompassing 128 acres, the property is home to the great outdoors program. In addition to the fishing, paddle boating and archery activities, campers have had the opportunity to see some of the local Home Winds fauna. Just in the pond itself, campers caught bass, blue gill sunfish and perch. They also found small turtles, fresh water clams, and various frogs (bull frogs, leopard frogs and tree frogs). Some of the bunks were lucky enough to see an osprey, a great heron and a corn snake. We even welcomed some of the wildlife into our Hi-Hills family like Blue the baby painted turtle (who has been appointed as our junior mascot), and Crusher (who has become our resident snapping turtle).


This summer, our great outdoors coordinator, Matt Hibbitt, set up a wildlife feeding station that has been monitored by motion activated cameras. The station has yielded over 400 photos and includes infrared photos of deer and raccoons. In addition, the camera has caught bucks, doe, fawns, squirrels and flying squirrels in action. Campers have been able to view the photos on their visits to the great outdoors, and have learned all about the different animals and how they interact with each other. Consequently, we have been able to allow campers to connect technology with their natural surroundings.


All bunks have been able to enjoy their summer at Home Winds. Even Kinder Camp paid a visit this week for their first great outdoors session of the summer. During their trip, they visited the chicken coops and the donkey pens. It has been an incredible summer, and we cannot wait for even more fun to be had next summer at Hi-Hills!

Hi-Hills Goes “Under the Sea” August 11, 2015

Week seven brought us performing arts week at Hi-Hills, and it was nothing short of fun, fabulous and of course dramatic. All of Hi-Hills had been buzzing with excitement for our production of The Little Mermaid. Thanks to the hard work of our performing arts specialty counselors, Stephanie and Taylor, the theater transformed into a nautical spectacle with dazzling costumes and props.


Every camper involved delivered a fantastic performance and wowed us with their singing! We would like to recognize them all:

  • Madison Gesualdo as Ariel
  • Josh Monto as Prince Eric
  • Andres Castano as Sebastian
  • Cassidy Gesualdo as Flounder
  • Eddie McCarthy as Scuttle
  • Julia Spinelli as Ursula
  • Robbie Bellina as King Triton
  • Mitch Dubson as Grimsby
  • Christina Tamchin and Anna Leung as Flotsam and Jetsam
  • Abigail Saitta, Amanda Bullet and Anjola Olawoye as Mersisters
  • Ariella Robbins as Seahorse
  • Caitlyn Murgatroyd as Sea Creature

In addition to The Little Mermaid, we have been celebrating performing arts all around Hi-Hills. Parents, grandparents and siblings got to join in on the fun during our second Parent Luncheon for the summer. Kinder Camp performed a lovely song, and Bunks 11 & 13’s counselor, Patrick, played the saxophone as everyone dined and bonded. Alongside the daily trivia, we have also been giving out a bonus Broadway question. Moreover, Friday’s dress-up day brought out many drama inspired costumes.


Olympics Week at Hi-Hills July 30, 2015

The highly anticipated Olympics Week is here! Campers have been engaging in various team games and events for which they are awarded color wars points. While the competition is fierce, sportsmanship is emphasized above all else. Our philosophy is that all camp activities go hand-in-hand with good character, humility and graciousness. For this reason, campers and counselors are awarded points and recognized for their good sportsmanship and leadership.


On Monday, the blue and green teams competed in an old-fashioned kickball game. However, there was no clear winner. Instead, campers and counselors learned a lesson in sportsmanship by sharing points to reinforce the value of teamwork. The following day, a gaga game ensued with the green team emerging victorious. The blue team’s captain stood out with her stellar sportsmanship cheers for which they were awarded 250 points.


Thursday was an action-packed day for Olympics Week. The day kicked off with the blue vs. green survivor challenge #1. The challenge entailed tying sticks together to retrieve a key, which would open a box with a mystery message written as a puzzle. Both teams worked together using their creativity and wit to accomplish the tasks. Ultimately, the blue team prevailed and racked up 1,250 points. Following the challenge, everyone made their way over to the front courtyard for a Hi-Hills favorite tradition: the blue vs. green pasta hunt. While the blue team found the highly coveted purple pasta, the green team reached a close second with 1,976 points!


We are all gearing up for Hi-Hills’ first survivor day tomorrow. The blue and green teams will be required to complete a total of ten challenges from paddle boat races to a fish casting challenge, sling shot and bean bag games, water balloon launching, an archery challenge, a scrabble puzzle and tether rings. Each activity requires an immense about of teamwork and support. We can’t wait for campers to put their skills to the test.


Good luck blue and green teams!

The Annual Hi-Hills Carnival July 23, 2015

Week five at Hi-Hills marks the much anticipated Carnival Day. On Wednesday, campgrounds converted into a spirited carnival. The morning began over at the Home Winds campus, where water balloon catapults, a dunk tank, cotton candy and a waterslide were waiting for us. Campers shot hoops at the beanbag toss game and arrows in the archery range. Bunk 9 in particular enjoyed squirting each other during a water gun fight. Everyone had a blast posing with silly disguises at our photo booth, and cotton candy was truly the perfect treat. With laughter and smiles all around, we could not have asked for a more fun-filled morning!


In the afternoon, everyone donned their costumes and made their way over to the Athletic Field for even more fun and games. In addition to a water balloon toss game, nail and tattoo station and a pie-eating contest, we enjoyed tasty snow cones, made spin art, and competed in a potato sack race! Our specialty counselors, Mr. Nature and Mr. Em kept the fun going with their flamingo fishing and Coke and Pepsi challenge games. With so many creative costumes, the costume competition was tough to judge. Our winners this year included:

  • Anjola and Anna as “Sweet Treats”
  • Ellie, Campbell, Quinn, and Bianca as the characters from Inside Out
  • Emma, Julia and Erin as characters from Mario Kart
  • Betsy and Kiara as clowns
  • Nick as Ron Burgundy
  • Jason as a grumpy grandma

We all had a fantastic time at carnival, and would like to thank everyone for their participation, creativity and enthusiasm! Look out for photos from carnival and updates in this week’s upcoming issue of the Hi-Hills Herald.

Special Events at Hi-Hills 2015 July 16, 2015

Each week Hi-Hills brings new and exciting events and activities to our campers. This week we had three special events!

Tuesday was Bring your Friend to Camp Day, where we gave a warm Hi-Hills welcome to all our new friends. Campers and their friends participated in all bunk and specialty activities. In nature, they met Aurora, the hairless guinea pig, as well as other furrier critters. During arts & crafts, our friends immersed themselves in this week’s visual arts theme by working on some tie-dye art. Down in the great outdoors, our new friends participated in archery, fishing and paddle boating, and friends joined their campers’ leagues teams for the day. Despite the passing showers, everyone had a blast!


On Wednesday, Kinder Camp participated in their annual Garden Party. Evans Hall was beautifully decorated with sunflowers that had our Kinder Campers photos on them. Kinder Camp celebrated summer by singing fun songs that they had been practicing since the first day of Hi-Hills. Parents, siblings and even grandparents attended to support their little campers stellar performance. The program concluded with each camper receiving a “Be You” tag for the #BeBetter Movement. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed some tasty refreshments.


Our third exciting event of the week was the parent luncheon. Parents joined their campers for a scrumptious lunch, where they met their friends and counselors. Campers showcased their artwork hanging in the dining room along with the group murals from weeks one through three. It was a fabulous afternoon, and we are already excited for the next parent luncheon on Thursday, August 6.


On behalf of the entire Hi-Hills team, thank you to our campers, parents, counselors and staff for making all of our special events this week so incredible! Look out for the fourth issue of the Hi-Hills Herald this Friday.

Meet Our 2015 Hi-Hills Team July 8, 2015

It is another fabulous week here at Hi-Hills. With Week #3 underway, we thought it was time to meet all the incredible faces that are working with the campers every day.

Bunks 1 & 2: Kinder Camp

Beth Hansen: Beth joined Hi-Hills Day Camp in 2003 as a head counselor in Kinder Camp. In 2012 she became the Kinder Camp Supervisor, and at the end of the summer joined the Gill St. Bernard’s staff full time as the Transportation Coordinator. Beth has an A.A. in Early Childhood Education and a B.A. in Psychology. During the camp off-season, Beth spends her days arranging transportation for various groups and working on the next summer’s camp activities and events.

Zoe Quan-Shaw: Zoe attends Gill St. Bernard’s School where she is an honor list student. She will be a senior this coming year. She fences and loves to bike ride and ski. Zoe is a volunteer at Mustard Seed Child Care Center, and is interested in going to university in the UK for environmental studies. She is also involved in a club called HOPE, which stands for Helping Other People and the Environment.

Jamie Goetchius: Jamie is excited to be back at Hi-Hills this summer. She has attended GSB for thirteen years and will head off to Bucknell University in August. Some of her passions include theater, music, art and cooking. Jamie loves to meet new campers and reunite with old ones! She looks forward to this summer being her best yet!


Bunk 9: The Firejets

Joanne Hibbett: Married to the Big Guy, aka the Archery Man, Joanne is excited to join Hi-Hills this year. She has worked in NYC for twenty years, at a financial company based in the World Trade Center, the Hard Rock Café and Bloomingdales. Joanne loves to attend concerts, dance and go to the gym. She has a strong affinity for animals, and has volunteered at Common Sense for Animals. Joanne has been involved with Special Olympics, and has worked at a daycare for eight years. She is currently working at Warren Hills High School as a personal aid for a special needs student. Joanne enjoys working with children and helping them grow and excel with all of life’s opportunities and endeavors.

Jason Monto: Jason is a high school student entering his senior year. He is a member of his school’s baseball team, drama club, key club and the National Honor Society. He loves working at Hi-Hills and wants to attend a four-year college, aspiring to work in the film industry.

Ben Hogoboom: Ben is going to be a freshman at Pomona College in the fall. He is interested in computer science, theater and foreign languages. In high school, Ben enjoyed acting both in main stage and drama club productions as well as writing and editing the humor page of his school’s newspaper.

John Raymonds: John is currently majoring in interactive media and game development at The Savannah College of Art and Design. He aspires to one day work at Valve Corporation and design the next big video game! When John is away from the computer, he spends his time hiking, kayaking, zip-lining and enjoying the great outdoors!


Bunk 10: The Lovely Ladybugs

Betsy Swartz: Betsy is a recent graduate of Elizabethtown College with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She plans to pursue her lifetime goal of becoming a teacher. Throughout college, she worked closely with the Education and Child Life Program at Penn Stare Hershey Medical Center as a volunteer. She hopes to work closely with sick children in the hospital setting to keep their education on track. When she is not at camp, Betsy enjoys cooking, swimming and spending time with her family!

Kerry Stranick: Kerry will be a junior at Bridgewater-Raritan High School. She is an honor roll student, and participates in the school’s symphonic band. She plays the flute, piano and loves to draw. Kerry has been taking dance classes since she was four years old. Her favorite classes are ballet and pointe, but she also takes modern and contemporary dance. She has been attending Hi-Hills as a camper since she was seven, and as CIT for two years. She looks forward to a great summer at Hi-Hills!

Kiara Marin: Kiara will be a sophomore at Rowan University, double majoring in math and education. She plans on becoming a secondary education math teacher. Kiara has volunteered in a classroom setting as a teacher for five and nine year olds.


Bunks 11 & 13: The Speedy Cheetahs

Patrick DeMichele: Patrick is a recent graduate of Bridgewater-Raritan High School. In the fall, he will be attending Misericordia University in Dallas, PA, where he will be studying to become a physical therapist. Patrick started at Hi-Hills Day in 2004 as a camper, and is now in his third year as a counselor. Patrick was the drum major of the nationally recognized BRHS Marching Band. In addition, he was on the BRHS Varsity Lacrosse Team and was a member of the BRHS Wind Ensemble. Patrick was also a member of the NJ All State and CJMEA Region II Symphonic Bands. He has been an active member of the Somerset county 4H Association since 2008, and loves reading, music, video games, lacrosse and working with children.

Ben Green: This is Ben’s fourth summer at Hi-Hills as a head counselor. He just completed his second year of teaching fifth grade students in Hamilton, NJ. Ben loves movies, books and any kind of game!

Julian Gammon: Julian was formerly a camper at Hi-Hills for seven years and is excited to begin his counselor journey. He will be entering eleventh grade at Mendham High School in September. Julian enjoys skiing in the winter and running spring track. He also likes playing soccer, basketball and tennis. Julian plays clarinet in the wind ensemble and takes private lessons. He also volunteers for ASP, an organization that builds homes in Appalachia.


Bunks 12 & 14: The Hi-Hills Heroes

Megan DiMichele: This year marks Megan’s twelfth year at Hi-Hills and her fifth year working as a counselor. She graduated from Bridgewater-Raritan High School in 2013 and is currently a rising junior at Elizabethtown College, where she is majoring in Occupational Therapy. At school, Megan serves on the executive board for three clubs and plays for the school’s lacrosse team.

Dylan Rowell: This summer marks Dylan’s fourth year at Hi-Hills. She is a rising sophomore at the University of Richmond where she plans to major in journalism. At school, she serves on the executive board for the Richmond Rowdies and is also a member of the Debate Team and Delta Gamma sorority. In addition, she will be an Orientation Advisor for the class of 2019 this fall.

Amanda Toolan: Amanda is a rising junior at West Morris Central High School. She is involved in a project called Peace and Highlanders for Humanity. Amanda loves children, and recently volunteered at a track meet for disabled children. She is looking forward to working with Hi-Hills, and giving campers a great summer!

Emily Fuchs: Emily is a senior at Ridge High School and has spent the last eleven summers at Hi-Hills. She is on the varsity ski team, and is currently working on her Girl Scout Gold Award. She is looking forward to working with the campers and helping them make new memories like she has over the last eleven years.

Erica Phiansunthon: Erica has been a student at Gill St. Bernard’s School for eleven years and is about to start her eleventh summer at Hi-Hills. She has been involved in many roles at Hi-Hills day camp from a teen travel camper, to a Counselor in Training and now a junior counselor this year! Erica lovess being active, and is a part of the GSB varsity girl’s soccer team and varsity track team. Along with sports, she loves being creative and doing arts and crafts. Erica is excited to help engage the kids in all activities and she hopes to give her campers the same fun and exciting new experiences that she had as a camper.


Bunks 15 & 17: The Bronanas

Matthew Rivas: Matt will be entering his senior year at Texas Christian University in Fortworth, TX this fall. This is his third year working as a head counselor at Hi-Hills.

Bridget Toolan: Bridget is going into her sophomore year at High Point University in North Carolina. She is working towards a degree in Graphic Design. This is her third summer at Hi-Hills as a staff member, but her fourteenth summer here in total.

Andrew Hansen: Andrew has been attending Hi-hills for eleven years now, going on twelve. He started as a camper in 2003, and became a CIT in 2012. He will be entering his senior year at Mount Olive High School. Andrew has played the trumpet in band for nine years, and enjoys playing video games and giving campers their best summers ever.

Graydon Rogers: Graydon is going into his junior year at Morristown High School. This is his first year working as a counselor at Hi-Hills, but his twelfth year here in total.


Bunks 16 & 18: The Sensational Showstoppers

Maria Diaz: Maria has been working with Hi-Hills for thirteen years. She is a head counselor for the upper girls bunk as well as a bus driver. For eighteen years, Maria has also been employed with Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School’s Transportation Department. In 1999, she was awarded the Golden Apple Award from the Bridgewater Board of Education for excellence in community service. Maria is a mother of three wonderful daughters and a grandmother to five awesome grandchildren. She loves working with children, being outdoors, reading, crochet, working out, movies, Broadway shows and fine dining. In the future Maria hopes to retire and enjoy spending time with her family and travel to different states and countries.

Jess Cefalo: Jess currently attends Bridgewater-Raritan High School and in two years she plans to attend college to become a doctor. Her favorite activity is yoga, and she also likes to play sports. This year marks Jess’ tenth summer at Hi-Hills!

Cara Rosen: Cara is a recent graduate of Ridge High School. This fall she will be attending the University of the Arts in Philadelphia for five years to become and art teacher and work in hospitals for art therapy.


Teen Travel:

Craig Brown: This summer marks Craig’s fifth summer as a Hi-Hills counselor, during which he has worked with both the youngest and oldest age groups at camp (and almost all other age groups in between!) He currently studies at Rutgers University in his third year of college. He is a big music fan and loves to ski and play ultimate Frisbee.

Specialty Counselors

Chris Walsh, Low Ropes and Tennis: Chris holds a Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education from Florida State University as well as a coaching certificate. In addition, he has received a Teacher of Health and Physical Education Certification in New Jersey. Presently, Chris teaches grades Pre-K to twelve, coaches two tennis teams, and is in charge of the scoreboard operation and public address announcements for basketball events at Gill St. Bernard’s.


Missie Becker, Low-Ropes: New to Hi-Hills this year, Missie is a music education major going into her senior year. She has taken advantage of many opportunities to teach music and other activities to children and adults, and has loved every minute of it! She is very excited to be working here at Hi-Hills this summer!

Em Foster, Great Outdoors – Fishing: Em has an educational background with both bachelor and maters degrees in education and math. He is starting his thirty-second year at Hi-Hills!

Matt Hibbett, Great Outdoors – Archery: Matt is a retired (twenty-eight years) deputy fire chief. In addition he was the platoon commander for ten years. Among many outstanding positions, Matt has worked as a rescue squad officer, was deployed on 911 to the World Trade Center, and was a part of the Ground Zero search and rescue operations. He is certified in high angle rescue and swift water rescue. In addition, Matt has extensive archery experience, from being a national archer to being NASP Certified as a Level 3 specialist instructor. He has been an assistant coach for two archery teams, which have achieved multiple state championship wins. Matt is an NJ Fish and Wildlife Hunters Education Instructor for firearms and archery. He has thirty-five years of experience in hunting, fishing and hiking in areas including but not limited to Montana, Colorado, Alaska and Nova Scotia. Matt also has twenty-five years of experience in construction trades.

Sarah “Bam Bam” Hogoboom, Great Outdoors – Archery: Sarah, commonly referred to as “Bam Bam” at camp, will be a junior this fall at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, where she hopes to major in world politics with minors in history and education. She tutors three times a week with local second graders and loves all things Disney!

Thomas Stranick, Great Outdoors: Thomas is a lifeguard and all around helper at the Great Outdoors. This is his first year working at Hi-Hills, although he has been attending camp here for nine years. He is an incoming junior at Bridgewater-Raritan High School. Thomas is also an avid musician and plays guitar and violin.


Taylor Patullo, Performing Arts: Taylor is a college student going for her Masters Degree in Speech Language Pathology. She has been performing her entire life and hopes to continue as a performer, vocal therapist and director after graduation.

Stefanie Santoro, Performing Arts: Stefanie is a graduate of the John. J Cali School of music with a degree in flute performance. She is currently studying with the principal flutist of the American Ballet Theater and Judith Menendhall in New York City. Stefanie teaches private flute, piano and voice lessons at Scotch Plains Music Center. Fun fact about Stefanie: she is one hundred percent Italian, and speaks the language fluently.


Savannah LoPrinzi, Pottery: Savannah is currently a fine arts student at Raritan Valley Community College. She enrolled in many ceramic classes and plans to further study ceramic throughout her Bachelors. She recently received her second Nota Bene award from Raritan Valley. The Art Department has also awarded Savannah with a scholarship to Peters Valley School of Craft this summer.

Lindsay Bloom, Arts & Crafts: Lindsay is a graduate of Montclair State University and holds a degree in Early and Middle Childhood Education. Currently, she co-teaches kindergarten and runs an afterschool homework club at an elementary school in Great Meadows. Lindsay has seven years of classroom experience teaching pre-kindergarten through the sixth grade. In addition to being a teacher, she is also a volunteer firefighter for a local fire department and coaches the fire department’s friendly competition team in firefighting skills. Lindsay enjoys barbequing, baking, being in the water and motorcycle rides. Most of all, she enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and dog, Nattie.



Augie Lorio, Division Coordinator – Aquatics: Augie holds a B.S. and M.S. in physical education and has been teaching for 29 years. Currently he teaches physical education and health at Bridgewater Raritan Middle School. He has coached and taught swimming for over 20 years and has his water safety instructor certification from the Red Cross. Auggie has managed a swim club for over 15 years and has expertise teaching all levels of swim instruction from infant to adult.

Camila Castano, Lifeguard: This is Camila’s third year at Hi-Hills. Last year, she was a Counselor in Training. Camila is Columbian and moved to the U.S. in 2011. She will be a senior at Gill St. Bernard’s School this fall. Camila plays tennis and volleyball, and intends on going to college in the fall of 2016. She is interested in psychology, business, French and the arts.

Brendan McKee, Lifeguard: Brendan is seventeen years old and a junior at Bridgewater-Raritan High School. He is an AP student and member of the high school lacrosse team, as well as the Red Cross and SHARE clubs. Brendan is a certified as a Lifeguard and in CRP through the Red Cross. He has worked at Hi-Hills as a Counselor in Training and also volunteered as an assistant coach for his town’s Pee-Wee lacrosse players. In the future, Brendan’s goal is to pursue a career in medicine and genetics.

Tatiana Milner, Lifeguard: Tatiana will be entering 11th grade at Randolph High School. She has many diverse interests which range from playing on the varsity tennis team, acting for film, volunteering as a drama instructor for the after school program at Center Grove Elementary School and being a Certified Therapy Dog handler and evaluator. She enjoys working with children and has participated in the CIT program at Hi-Hills. Tatiana plans on majoring in Pre-Veterinary Studies in college.

Jenna Naples, Lifeguard: Jenna is a rising senior at Immaculata High School. She has played varsity lacrosse all three years and was a captain this past season. She is a part of both the National honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. Jenna will participate in her third year of building homes in Appalachia this summer. She cannot wait for an awesome summer!

Lea Gurval, Lifeguard: Lea Gurval is a rising senior at Union Catholic High School. She is a certified lifeguard as well as a certified babysitter. Lea is a member of the Spanish National Honor Society. In addition, she plays varsity softball at Union Catholic and also plays for the 18u Clifton Cobras. After high school she plans on attending college and studying broadcast journalism or law.

Eric Patullo, Lifeguard: Eric is a rising senior at Bridgewater-Raritan High School. He is a member of the Bridgewater varsity soccer team and plays club soccer for the Jersey United U18 ASL team. He is hoping to play soccer in college. Eric enjoys volleyball and golf as recreational activities. This past year he was a volunteer for the Special Olympics and plans to go to college for Elementary and Special Education.



Karen Morrow: Karen joins the Hi-Hills camp office staff this year. She currently teaches second grade in Tewksbury, NJ. Karen attended the University of Maine in Orono, and is currently working on a Masters of Education in Reading. Growing up in Maine has instilled in her a love of outdoors and nature.

Sarah Wyatt: This is Sarah’s eighth year here at Hi-Hills Day Camp and she has loved every minute of it! Sarah just received her associate’s degree from Raritan Valley Community College and will be attending Montclair State University in the fall. When Sarah is not at camp, she spends her time with her two dogs, Baxter and Samantha.

Stay tuned for weekly updates in The Hi-Hills Herald posted every Friday!

Leagues at Hi-Hills July 1, 2015

With week two in full swing, there is one word on everyone’s minds: leagues! Leagues is an exciting athletic competition that Bunks 9 through 18 take part in during Hi-Hills. Campers are assigned to teams that consist of members of their own bunk and those from other bunks as well. There are four boys’ teams and four girls’ teams which will compete in this year’s sports: basketball, soccer, and tennis baseball. The philosophy behind leagues is “to create an atmosphere of friendly competition, in which campers of all athletic ability levels can experience the camaraderie and social benefits of playing on an organized team.” The weekly schedule for leagues allows campers to play games on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while teams use Tuesdays and Thursdays to re-group and practice. Weekly team standings will be announced and posted in the Hi-Hills Herald, and additional trophies and accolades will be awarded to teams and individual campers for achievements this season.


Now in its 15th season at Hi-Hills, everyone at camp is ecstatic for the 2015 leagues season to commence. On Monday, campers were placed into teams, where they came up with creative names. This year’s boys’ teams are Bat-Men, ‘Lil Cutie Clementines, Bengal Tigers and Maroon Macaroons. The girls’ teams consist of Blue Lightening, Blazing Comets, Kerry’s Kangaroos and Dark Magic. Down in arts & crafts, campers have been making team shirts that will serve as their uniform for the season. All week long, teams have been playing scrimmages in preparation for Monday’s first official competition. Good luck to all teams, and let the games begin!


Camp Pride at Hi-Hills June 24, 2015

Welcome to your Best Summer Ever! Hi-Hills has officially kicked off Summer 2015, and we are thrilled to announce this week’s theme: Camp Pride! Throughout the week campers have been orienting themselves with all things Hi-Hills. On Monday, bunks met up to get to know one another and worked together to create a bunk name and bunk cheer. They will be showcasing their bunk pride at Friday’s Council Ring. During performing arts, campers learned the Hi-Hills song. For this week’s dress up day, we will all be donning our favorite camp t-shirts! We can’t wait to see all the Hi-Hills spirit!


One of the best ways we embody camp pride here at Hi-Hills is through the #BeBetter Movement. Founded by our Assistant Director of Summer and Auxiliary Programs, Nicole Spiotta, the #BeBetter Movement integrates camp spirit with character growth. Each week, both bunk and speciality counselors recognize campers who go above and beyond to accomplish goals by awarding them with a dog tag. Campers can be commended for making good choices, trying out new activities, conquering fears and welcoming new friends. The movement encourages four focal points: Be You, Be Creative, Be Challenged, and Be Strong. The #BeBetter Movement is not just limited to campers; even counselors and staff can be recognized for outstanding achievements throughout the week. As a result, we practice camp pride and spirit by also encouraging self-improvement and development.


We look forward to wrapping up a fabulous Week #1 at Hi-Hills. Check back Friday for the Hi-Hills Herald and weekly photo gallery.

Summer Fun 2015 Week #2 Recap June 19, 2015

Week #2 of Summer Fun at Hi-Hills Day Camp ended on an incredible note! This week our campers’ schedules were jam-packed with various outdoor activities including low ropes, swim, sport court, tennis, archery and fishing. Indoors, campers relaxed in the game room, created masterpieces in pottery and arts and crafts, and of course played a good old game of gaga. Check out the highlights below!


This week, each bunk trekked over to the garden, where Mrs. Prosen led campers through the beds to pick radishes, lettuce and strawberries to take home. What a treat!



Here at Summer Fun, we never let the rain dampen our fun! With the game room loaded with board games, including jumbo chess and checkers, and Lego Land stacked with Legos to build and create, our campers certainly kept their spirits high. On Thursday, low ropes moved to Bruckner Hall, where Mr. Walsh and Missy led team-building exercises. In addition, the Athletic Center was converted into volleyball, tennis and badminton courts.



New to Summer Fun and Hi-Hills this year, the go-carts have already become a camp favorite. Campers raced around our circuit, and practiced safety at all times.


Arts and Crafts:

Our Summer Fun arts and crafts/pottery specialist, Savannah, prepared exciting projects this week. With finger puppets, puffy paint creations, and mushroom bobble-head pottery work, our campers definitely brought out their inner artists.


Performing Arts:

Taylor, our performing arts specialist, played an advanced charade game called Celebrity with several bunks, where campers acted out characters and famous people that they know. They also learned a theater warm-up and Hi-Hills favorite game called Zip Zap Zop. Campers showcased their skills during Friday’s talent show. From skits to songs to artwork, this week’s talent show was entertaining all around.


Although Summer Fun has come to an end, we are all excited for the start of Traditional Day Camp at Hi-Hills on Monday, June 22! Thank you for a great week we hope you enjoyed Summer Fun just as much as we did!

Summer Fun 2015 Week #1 Recap June 12, 2015

What a fantastic start to Summer 2015! Week #1 of Summer Fun at Hi-Hills Day Camp was better than anyone could have imagined. The Home Winds addition allowed campers to enjoy archery and fishing. Bingo included fun and exciting prizes like the infamous Rubber Chicken! The weather stayed in our favor so that all outdoor activities, including swim and tennis, were enjoyed by our campers. Bunks participated in low ropes where they put their balance to the test. Campers worked on Father’s Day presents at pottery and practiced for the talent show during performing arts. We also explored the GSB Garden and picked strawberries at the Community Strawberry Festival.


Week #1 wrapped up in true Summer Fun fashion with gaga games, talent show performances and an all-camp dance party! We can’t wait for next week!

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 hourofcode.org.

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 info@hihills.com.

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 state.nj.us/dep/fgw/nasp_video.htm and naspschools.org.

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 info@hihills.com.

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 lainiesangels.org.


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!