Week Six Enrichment Programs July 30, 2013

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

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

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


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


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

Hi-Hills Carnival 2013 July 25, 2013

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

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


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


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

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

Art Education at Hi-Hills July 17, 2013

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

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


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


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


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

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

Pony Camp at Hi-Hills July 10, 2013

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

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


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


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

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

Academic Enrichment Programs at Hi-Hills July 3, 2013

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

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


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

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

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

Mad Science Week with Black Rocket June 26, 2013

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

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


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

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


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

2013 Week #2 Recap June 21, 2013

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

Mountain Biking June 19, 2013

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

2013 Week #1 Recap June 14, 2013

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

So Why Hi-Hills? June 11, 2013

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

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

Here are the ingredients in Hi-Hills:

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

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

What’s new?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Hi-Hills Reunion Halloween Party November 13, 2012

Dear Hi-Hills,

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

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

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

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

Camp Reunion

Hi-Hills Day Camp Reunion

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

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

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

Reunion Party

Sophie and Erika

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

Happy Thanksgiving,

Jack, Cindy and Beth

Athletics at Hi-Hills Day Camp August 10, 2012

Good Afternoon,

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

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

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

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

Tennis at Hi-Hills August 10, 2012

Good Afternoon,

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

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

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

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

Good Afternoon,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hi-Hills Leagues and Pasta Hunt August 1, 2012

Good Afternoon,

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

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

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

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


Tug of War July 31, 2012

Good Afternoon,

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

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

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

Fishing at Hi-Hills! July 31, 2012

Good Morning,

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

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

Sportsmanship Week!! July 30, 2012

Good Afternoon,

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

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

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

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

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

Olympics at Hi-Hills July 28, 2012

Good Afternoon,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carnival!! July 25, 2012

Good Afternoon,

Hi…welcome…to….today’s…blog. Sorry I’m so out of breath, I’ve just been having so much fun at Carnival today. I spent today touring the different booths with Bunk 11 counselor Mike Lubinsky. There was face painting, the Pepsi-Coke Challenge, miniature golf, Cotton Candy, a ball and cup version of three-card Monte, frog toss, a pie eating contest and even a tattoo parlor. The two biggest attractions (literally) were the Amazon race and the Wet and Wild Water Slide.

Each bunk had a chance to make up their own individual booth and run it with the help of their counselors. The booths were designed for the campers to be able to win tickets which they could then exchange for some really awesome prizes, including some delicious Cotton Candy. As has become the norm when I compete with the campers they beat me (yet again) at essentially every booth I tried. These campers sure are something special, they even beat me at miniature golf, and I actually golf on the weekends.

After getting soaked on the Water Slide, I managed to talk to Bunk 9 counselor Robbie Lister about previous Carnivals as he has been at Hi-Hills since he was a camper. “Honestly, I don’t know how they do it. Every year the Carnival just gets better and better, and it was already pretty awesome to begin with.” Well there you have it folks, from a counselor who has been here for years, our Carnival may not have a flashy name but it more than makes up for that with its amazing fun and games.

Winter Wonderland July 25, 2012

Good Afternoon,

Take some snow, add a corncob pipe, a button nose, two eyes made out of coal, and an old silk hat with just a pinch of magic left. This particular combination can only mean one thing; it’s time for the Winter Wonderland. Not even a heat wave could stop the dedication of these spectacular campers and counselors last Friday as many of them came dressed up in winter clothes following last week’s theme of Winter Wonderland.

Some of the bigger events included snowman races and a holiday shopping spree. The snowman races required campers to run around a group of snowman carrying a “snow” filled sled over there head. Due to the weather, water was used instead as a way to keep cool. The holiday shopping spree, consisted of a race around a Christmas Tree and Hanukkah Menorah presents in hand passing them off to the next camper in line until the entire line finished.

With the heat as strong as it was last week it would have been very easy for everyone to say, “It’s too hot let’s not do this,” but these campers and counselors would not let that happen. The dedication they show week in and week out is just incredible, and I applaud them for truly working to make this the Best Summer Ever. “I hope one day my children can go to a camp of this caliber,” says Bunk 11 counselor Cory Georgeson , “there is just such a camper first mentality here it’s amazing. The effort all the counselors put forth for the campers, it really brings a smile to my face.”

Pottery Corner! July 23, 2012

Good Afternoon,

Welcome to the exciting world of pottery. For today’s blog entry I got to spend the morning with our resident Pottery expert, Steven Panicani and Bunk 13 down by the Scout Cabin as we taught the campers how to make a multitude of items, including: nameplates, pendants, necklaces, keychains, and pinchpots.

 The first activity we did this morning was nameplates. By taking basic clay and molding it into a rectangle, the kids could then carve their names on them and voila, some beautiful nameplates were designed. Last week, some of the campers started making pinchpots, so when the nameplates were finished those campers got to start painting their pinchpots with Glaze while the other campers focused on making keychains and pendants. When they were done Steven and I took all the artwork to the kiln to be (cooked) and the campers will hopefully be able to take home their beautiful creations later this week. It’s really amazing how advanced these campers are when it comes to pottery,” says pottery specialist Steve, “when I was a camper I couldn’t do half the things these campers can.”

 This was the third occasion I got to spend time with Bunk 13, and they just continue to impress me. They just keep getting better and more talented each and every week.  “It’s really something else watching these campers work” says Bunk 13 counselor RJ Rescigno  “the amount of focus and skill they have in incredible. If I’m lucky maybe by the end of camp some of their skills will rub off on me.”

Archery at Hi-Hills Day Camp!! July 20, 2012

Good Morning,

William Tell, Robin Hood, Legolas, Green Arrow, and Hawkeye. Can anyone tell me what these legendary and/or fictional men have in common? A) They would have loved to spend time this summer at Hi-Hills B) They all pale in comparison to our expert archery teacher Elliott Cohen  C) They all dot their “i”s with hearts or D) They greatly enjoy dancing in the rain.  If you guessed B, they all pale in comparison to our expert archery teacher Elliott Cohen you would be correct. We would also accept answers A and D as well.

If you haven’t guessed by now, today’s blog is on the wonderful world of Archery. Archery is an ancient sport that dates as far back as 10,000 BCE and possibly even further. While rendered obsolete on the battlefield with the invention of firearms, it still remains a hugely popular recreational activity and sport (It’s even included in the Olympic Games).

“At Hi-Hills our goal is to teach the campers proper bow etiquette and usage,” says Archery Instructor Elliott Cohen, “along those lines safety is always the biggest concern so prior to every bunk getting started, I like to sit down with them and make sure they clearly understand all the rules and safety precautions.” Elliott went on to explain to me how the campers use a 50 point system with five arrows worth up to 10 points each depending on where they land on the target. There are different distances set up for the campers, ranging between 20-30 feet away from the target depending on skill level.

Between bunks I was granted a one-on-one tutor session with Elliott to see just how hard this archery thing is. Let me tell you, the skills these campers are showing are quite spectacular, I struggled to hit the target more than once while most of the campers are hitting it three or four times from an even further distance than me. After failing miserably Elliott said to me, “Don’t feel too bad, these campers make it look so easy. It’s not every day you get campers of this skill level, these Hi-Hills campers are quite the young marksmen.”

Kinder Camp Garden Party July 19, 2012

Good Afternoon,

I honestly don’t know where to begin; in a surprising first I’m nearly speechless. If your curious as to why all you need to do is ask someone from the extended Kinder Camp family.  I just arrived back from the party of the century. The Kinder Camp Garden Party featuring Bunks 1 and 2 absolutely blew the roof off of the athletic center this afternoon. The campers sang a seven song set to rival just about any music act from the last 30 years. Move over Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and anyone else who thinks they’re on top; The Sunnies and Munchkins are the new kids on the block. With a mix of new songs and even a few from my childhood the Sunnies and Munchkins put their names on the music map emphatically. They sang Baby Shark, Crocodile Song, Skidamarink (one of this bloggers favorite childhood songs), I am H-A-P-P-Y, Smile, The More We Get Together (my other favorite) and finished off with the instant classic The Hi-Hills Song.

After their standing ovation finished we were served cake and lemonade in celebration of Kinder Camp’s first in what should be an incredibly long line, of shows. I even hear they are set to headline The Tonight Show next week. During the cake eating I had the privilege to speak to music director Stefanie Santoro who told me just how hard the campers had been practicing leading up to this event.  “I would practice with them just about every other day and could always hear them practicing as they would walk down the hallways.” It’s clear that campers and counselors alike put a large amount of time and energy into this party and I am glad to tell you it was a rousing success.

By the end of the show I couldn’t tell who was more impressed the parents or the talent scouts that were scattered in the audience. As always here is a quote to end on, “Overall a good time was had by everyone and these campers will be singing for a long time to come,” said music specialist, Stefanie  Santoro “I just hope when the millions start pouring in they remember the simple young music teacher who helped them organize their first show. ” Also an autograph or two isn’t too much for the blogger who was there to document their debut, right? (…right?)

Parent Luncheon!! July 19, 2012

Good Afternoon,

Let’s start off with a nice roast turkey carver, add some roasted potatoes and the always amazing GSB garden vegetables. Add in two highly deliciously Chocolate and Vanilla cakes and we have quite the meal. No need to adjust your blog, this isn’t the Food Network, but it is PARENT LUNCHEON DAY!! Today you get to join me in spending part of the day with your children seeing exactly what they have been up to the last 3 and a half weeks.

During lunch we enjoyed the splendid musical styling of Music Specialist Stefanie Santoro on the flute. I managed to sit with a few bunks and got to speak with counselors, campers, and their families. “It’s really nice to meet the families, “says Bunk 13 counselor, RJ Rescigno, “we’ve gotten to spend so much time with the campers these last few weeks its really cool to get to know them in a different setting.”

The Parent Luncheon has been a key event at Hi-Hills since its inception back in 1966. “It’s a great way to showcase the camp,” says Camp Director Jack Dinwiddy, “one of the best attributes to this camp is the sense of community that exists as a whole. The parents always come out in great numbers and it really allows them to see just what their children are doing that makes going to Hi-Hills truly the Best Summer Ever.”

After lunch parents were allowed to stay and spend time with their children during clubs. Overall it was a rousing success and quite an amazing time to boot. On my way out I managed to get one final quote from my favorite counselor. “I really enjoy being able to tell the parents about all the amazing and incredible things these campers have done so far,” says Bunk 10 counselor Dylan Rowell “The only thing better than seeing the parents reactions is actually seeing the campers succeed.”

Picture day and Music at Hi-Hills Day Camp!! July 17, 2012

Good Afternoon,


Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?

In the lane, snow is glistening.

A beautiful sight,

We’re happy tonight.

Walking in a winter wonderland.

Today’s blog is a double whammy. First, this week’s theme is Winter Wonderland and today I spent time with bunk 14, the Fuzzy Bunkaroos. After spending a session with them I have to say, boy do they know their music. Our music specialist Stefanie Santoro started off the day working with the basics of music including learning measures, clefs, and notes. Once the campers had a strong foundation they begin learning how to read and write notes in 4/4 time using Claves (a simple percussion instrument) to make and keep beats and rhythm.

We followed that up by learning the different instruments and what families they belong to.  The campers then had a chance to identify music from movies including answering what movie they were from and more importantly what instruments they could hear. We finished off the time we had by learning the notes and singing the classic holiday song composed and written by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith respectively, Winter Wonderland.

I mentioned earlier in the blog that today was a double whammy and I am a man of my word. In addition to spending time in music, today was also Picture Day. If any of the parents out there are wondering why your children were told to wear their Camp Tees today, this is why. Each camper posed for an individual picture in his or her camp tee shirt and another picture or two with his or her bunk. A few bunks even decided to take a few snapshots of themselves making funny faces, some of which had the photographer and this blogger in stitches. These pictures will be posted online shortly.

Music specialist, Stefanie Santoro was pretty busy with all her classes but I did manage to get this quote from her in-between classes, “These campers are honestly unbelievable, they soak up everything I teach them like sponges. If that wasn’t impressive enough they then use what I teach them to learn even more by themselves. The campers at Hi-Hills are easily the best students I have ever taught.”


Arts and Crafts at Hi-Hills!! July 13, 2012

The year is 1985, Back to the Future is setting records in the box office, The Goonies our director’s favorite movie isn’t far behind. A-Ha and Wham! can be heard on nearly every station on the radio…Sorry this Blast to the Past theme is getting to me. Good afternoon and welcome to another amazing edition of Match Game 73 I’m your host Gene Rayburn…wait that’s not right, I’m Tyler and it’s time for another entry into the Hi-Hills Camp Blog.

Today I got to spend time at one of the most creative locations in the camp, The Arts & Crafts Room. Before starting for the day I got to speak to the man of the hour, Arts and Crafts specialist Johnny Sanserve,  “It’s really about keeping the kids focused and entertained, there are a lot of art programs out there than only run through the motions. I like to pride myself and especially these kids on the ingenuity they show here in the Art & Crafts Room.” Today’s events included tie-dyeing t-shirts for some of the older bunks while the younger bunks got to paint door hangers and create flowers out of everyday household items.

The older bunks got to learn a little about the tie-dyeing process as well as the history of it which dates back to certain locations in Ancient Japan, Peru, and even the Hausa region of West Africa. They learned that it was first documented in America in around 1909 and later on became a strong social symbol in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

I ended my day hanging out with the always wonderful Kinder Camp where we got to paint door hangers and created and paint flowers out of items easily found around the house. The door hangers came out splendidly while the flowers were true works of art. By drawing and coloring a stem on a piece of construction paper and gluing a painted coffee filter at the top we created Daisies, Roses, and an assortment of other beautiful flowers.

The more time I spend with the campers here at Hi-Hills the more I’m amazed at just how spectacular each and every one is. As has become tradition, here is a particular poignant quote I picked up on during my time in Arts & Crafts. “It’s really amazing what these campers can do with a brush, crayon, and marker,” says Kinder Camp counselor Sarah Wyatt, “there are definitely some budding Picassos and da Vinci’s in each and every bunk.”

Special Events at Hi- Hills! July 13, 2012

Good Afternoon,

Before I start today’s blog I would like to give a brief overview of our special events programs here at Hi-Hills. Each week is centered around a different theme. We plan events, we participate in events, we learn about, and even dress up according to the week’s particular theme.  2012 themes are as follows, Week 1: Dr. Seuss, Week 2: Stars and Stripes, Week 3: Blast from the Past, Week 4: Hi-Hills Winter Wonderland, Week 5: Olympics, Week 6: Team Spirit, Week 7: Muppet Invasion, and Week 8: Super Heroes.

Following the theme of this week Blast from the Past, we had two major events today. The first was the arrival of an Iris Mist colored 1967 Pontiac GTO. The campers got to take in a beautiful model as well as learn a little about how cars were designed back in the late 60’s. This included how this particular model had a “pop top” which would protect the vinyl seats from the sun’s UV rays and how it was one of the first models to be up to the CARB (California Air Resources Board) standards. It was then a revolutionary act as California was the first and only state to have regulations that preceded the Federal Clean Air Act. Amidst the “ooohs” and “ahhhs” of the campers I managed to get one staff member’s opinion on the car. “It’s really a gorgeous car, “ says camp photographer, Wes Spears “and to think I could learn so much from just one model, this really makes me want to do some more research when I get home.”

The second of our two major events of the day was a “Classic Car” Water Race, which consisted of two expertly designed cardboard cars made by our Special Events Coordinator, Mindy Schwartz. With the help of the CIT’s, including drivers Christina and Elisabeth, the race was on. In what can only be described as the race of the century, Christina who was representing the Kinder Camp and lower bunks crossed the finish line milliseconds before Elisabeth who was representing the older bunks and teen travel. Overall it was a fun and fair race. To be honest I think the counselors may have enjoyed it just as much as the kids. “I didn’t want the race to end” said lifeguard Randy Brown, “watching the kids reactions, and cheering on both teams, I just wanted to stay in the moment as long as I could.”

This just about  does it for Day 3 of what I like to think of as the Best Blog Ever . As always I’d like to leave with a quote, “At the end of the day it’s all about the campers and as long as they’re having fun, we are all having fun.” Said Counselor Robbie Lister dripping with water after helping lead his car to victory.

Camp-out at Hi-Hills! July 11, 2012

Once again, it’s your friendly neighborhood blogger here to update you on the fun and exciting events taking place at Hi-Hills during the Best Summer Ever. Every summer the girls and boys in the upper bunks (age nine or older) look forward to the camp outs. The camp outs are held on the beautiful campus of Gill Saint Bernard’s down by the Scout Cabin adjacent to the stream. Tents are set up for the campers to spend the night after an evening chock full of events.

Last night Bunks 13 and 17 affectionately referred to as The Corndoggs and The Thundercats had one incredible camp out. There was soccer, swimming, capture the flag, a cookout, s’mores, and more fun than you could shake a stick at.

The afternoon started off with a friendly game of soccer that saw Sean Kellogg score a hat trick (3 goals) and captain his team to a 4-2 victory. Also lighting up the scoreboard were Counselors, Guillermo Gonzalez & Cory Georgeson and Day Camp Supervisor Marc Hungarter with a goal apiece. After working up quite a sweat, everyone headed over to the pool for some free swim. By the time we got out of the pool it was already dinner time, where Marc and Bunk 17 counselor Brian Trapani cooked up some awesome Hi-Hills Burgers and hot dogs.

After dinner we finished off our athletics for the night with an amazing game of Capture the Flag in which This Team narrowly edged out The Can’t Touch This Crew with a score of 3-2. In a surprise twist, yours truly was selected by team captain Tim Miller to compete on This Team. Campers Ben Wolff and Sean Kellogg ran circles around the counselors to the tune or two quick scores. Not to be outdone counselor RJ Rescigno managed to get a point in as well. In an attempt to show that age is just a number, the two oldest competitors, Marc and a dashing blogger named Tyler finished off the scoring for the night.  By this time we were all exhausted and returned to the campsite for what can only be described as the most spectacularly delicious s’mores this blogger has ever had the chance to eat. The next morning the campers awoke at the crack of dawn to the smell of some scrumptious pancakes cooked by bunk chef Brian along with other assorted breakfast foods.

As is clear to see we had quite the exciting time last night. That being said, I need some sleep, so in similar fashion to yesterday allow me to leave you with a quote from last night.  “I really enjoy being able to spend more time with these kids,” says Bunk 17 counselor Will Traver, “They are just such a fun group to be a part of it and doing events like this camp out only makes us closer as a group.”



Summer Blogging! July 10, 2012

Good Afternoon Parents,

My name is Tyler Rowell, and I will be your blog host for the duration of the summer. Each day I will be detailing a different activity or event that occurs here at Hi-Hills Day Camp. My goal is to keep you educated and up to date on what exactly it is your children at doing here at the place affectionately referred to as the Best Summer Ever.

Today I got to spend my morning with Bunks 1 and  2, known collectively as Kinder Camp. These children  may be young but you wouldn’t know it the way they took to the pool. Under the watchful eyes of Sarah, Monica, Stefanie, and Merideth these campers could have easily been mistaken for a school of fish.

During my time with Kinder Camp I spoke to Aquatic Director Augie Lorio and he explained to me the program that we use here at Hi-Hills. It is called the Learn To Swim Program and was created by the American Red Cross and is used nationally. There are six levels to this program with most of our campers residing in the first four levels. Level One involves a basic introduction to swim, which includes having a lifeguard holding the child up as they learn to kick and start to float. In this level the child’s head stays above water at all times. In Level Two, they learn to float on their front and back. In Level Three they begin to learn basic swimming techniques, including the Freestyle and Backstroke. Level Four consists of refining these strokes.

I also spent time with Lifeguard Randy Brown who explained how they plan to teach the campers a new stroke each week and that during each level they work on survival floating, treading water, and other water basics. Each lifeguard also has certain levels that they work with certain bunks on in order to build consistency with the campers in order to further their learning.

That just about wraps up Day 1 of the new and improved Summer Blog, if you will allow me to leave you with a quote Randy gave me that exemplifies working here at Hi-Hills, “I may work primarily at Level Two, but these campers are all Number One in my heart.”

The 2012 Hi-Hills Day Camp Teen Travel Program February 24, 2012

Traditionally the Hi-Hills Teen Travel Program creates a great deal of excitement with our oldest  campers.  Besides the obvious appeal of action packed day trips and water parks, The Teen Travel Program has become a rite of passage. Many campers join our Hi-Hills community from an early age (as young as 3 years old) and wait patiently  for this opportunity and privilege.

Teen Travel

Awesome Day Trip Fun

Our Teen Travel program is unique in a number of ways, but above all for our scheduling. Teen Travel Campers spend 3 days a week (Tues-Thurs) traveling on exciting day trips.  Monday and Friday they experience our Traditional Day Camp with a special schedule geared toward them.  At Hi-Hills we feel  campers at this age can and should be able to make more choices.  So we provided them with options and they create their day under the watchful eyes of our trained counselors.  Whether it’s participating in a dance class or creating a challenging game of gaga.  From arts and crafts to swimming and hiking Hi-Hills has a facility to deliver a fun day rain or shine.

We used feedback from our 2011 Teen Travel staff and campers to develop our 2012 program, that we recently announced, click here to view our 2012 Teen Travel Schedule. We are very excited about EVERY trip this summer.

 Teen Travel Overnight Trip

Back by popular demand we are heading to Connecticut for another round of ClubGetaway as our annual overnight trip. Each year ClubGetaway develops a range of new programs and activities for our campers. Parents can expect their children to participate in everything from, zip lining and sports tournaments, to water sports and Bouncy Boxing, Club Getaway has it all.

2012 Day trips include Six Flags, Mountain Creek, Dorney Park, CBK a Safari, NY Sightseeing, and a trip to Broadway, Surf Lessons, the Jersey Shore, Karting, Climbing, Camping, Paintballing, and much much more. 

Week 8 Teen Travel Camping Trip

One of my favorite trips of the summer has to be the overnight camping trip in week 8. This is an opportunity for children to experience a “residential” rustic camp . We build a camp fire, cook S’mores, bring a guitar and tell stories. We have the best capture the flag game of the summer and “hang out”. After spending the summer together it’s a great way to end the program and reminisce about all the fun and great memories we made together.


Teen Travel

Teen Travel Camping Trip 2011


If you have any questions about our Teen Travel Program please feel free to contact Jack in the camp office 908-234-0067 or email him at info@hihills.com

Have a great weekend


‘Tis The Camp Fair Season! February 14, 2012

The first thought that comes to mind as I reflect on the past month is where did it go?? January and February are very busy months in the summer camp calendar because it’s the time of year also known as the Camp Fair Season.

We kicked off January and the Season with our first Supervisors meeting. The Team joined me for a delicious meal at a local bistro. We used the time to catch up, talk camp and make plans for the upcoming year.  I always enjoy spending time with this particular group. I sent them away thinking about their specific personal goals in their role, for the upcoming summer, in preparation for our next meeting on March 3rd.  

January 8th marked our first Summer Camp Open House of the season. Cindy and I, with help from the Supervisor Team spent the day giving camp tours to families. Children and parents are always very excited about camp after seeing the Gill St. Bernard’s campus. (If you missed it, be sure to see check the schedule for upcoming Camp Open House Events at our Somerset County NJ campus.)

We spent the remaining weekends of January and into February at Camp Fairs in various locations across New Jersey.  Those cold winter days indoors always get everyone excited for the summer days outside at Hi-Hills!

Hi-Hills Camp Fair
Hi-Hills Day Camp, Camp Fair

Camp Fairs also provide the opportunity for parents to find information about our camp and summer programs for kids; to meet the Directors and Staff; and to ask questions in search of the best camp for their children.

We find that parents are always interested in the unique qualities that set Hi-Hills Day Camp apart from neighboring camps. There are many, but I will share 5 with you.

  1. The Hi-Hills Philosophy, which emphasizes the overall development of the camper. 
  2.  Our Unbeatable Facilities: Gill St Bernard’s School is a beautiful 73 acre “New England” style setting with  facilities that allow us to offer numerous programs in all weather conditions. (And for days when the summer heat gets out of control; parents love the AC!).
  3. We provide Flexible Scheduling options to suit the ever-changing needs of parents. Whether parents request a shorter day, week or require extra care, we are able to tailor our program to accommodate.
  4.  Our extensive (and health-conscious!) Food Menu, provided by Flik Independent School Dining Services. (Click here to view a sample menu.)
  5.  Convenient Door-To-Door Transportation options. We provide services throughout Morris County and areas of Somerset, Middlesex, Hunterdon, Warren, Sussex, Union and Essex Counties.

For more information on Hi-Hills Day Camp feel free to contact me at the camp office: 908-234-0067 or email, jdinwiddy@gsbschool.org .

Throughout February I will meet with returning staff and focus on program planning. Stay tuned for more news to come soon!


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A New Camp Tradition! December 9, 2011

Hi-Hills’ new camp tradition, our CAMP REUNION.

Originally scheduled for October but due to the unseasonable snow the reunion was moved to December.  This turned out to be a great way to kick start the holiday season. It was such a delight to see so many of our “summer” friends again. GSB’s Bruckner Hall was crammed with holiday craft activities and games, Mr. Nature brought along some of his animals, including Dalmatian the rabbit. Hi-Hills’ Athletic Duo John and Marc were on hand to lead camp games in the old Gym and we even had a 5 in one inflatable castle, outside. That’s correct, “outside” on December the 4th!  We made snowflakes, had face painting, lucky dip and guess how much candy was in the candy cane.  It’s tough to decide which of the games was more fun: “pin the Nose on Frosty” or “fill Frosty’s hat with snow balls”. I have uploaded a few picture highlights of the afternoon.  Next year and weather permitting, we will revert back to our original theme, the Hi-Hills Halloween Party.  


Hi Hills Summer Camp Reunion

Our First Ever Camp Reunion


December is a busy month here at camp. We are planning for January 8th Open House and New Jersey Camp Fairs in Bridgewater and East Hanover. I want remind all parents that our “referral” offer is still available into 2012, so be sure to tell your friends and colleagues to stop by at one of our camp fairs and many summer camp Open House events, (1/8,  2/12,  3/4,  4/1, 6/3). I would be more than happy to lead a private tour also.

Camp Calendars and Teen Travel Update-

In early 2012 we will announce on our Day Calendar and Teen Travel Schedule with details of our overnight trip on hihills.com

Kids Zone –

A big announcement at the reunion was the unveiling of our new “kids zone” on hihills.com. This area of the website is packed with year round camp games, craft projects you can take on at home, competitions, Birthdays, a camp countdown (coming very soon) and more. The kids zone will be updated monthly with more fun than you can handle.

Calling All Staff!

If you are interested in working at camp, whether you are new to Hi-Hills or looking to return for the summer of 2012, please fill in the following application form and send them to the camp office. We will be interviewing from January.

Please stay tuned for more exciting blogs including some special guest bloggers!

Take care,



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