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.

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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

Ingredients:

  • 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.)

Directions:

  • 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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

Sincerely,

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.

Best,

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.

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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.

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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.