August 5, 2013 at 2:55 PM
LIVINGSTON, NJ – Each summer at Heritage Middle School, local children attend a Livingston Recreational Summer Camp where they participate in numerous activities such as soccer, kickball, tennis and arts and crafts with a special event each week. This week, 102 young adults from Livingston joined the Recreational Camp Staff and participated in the week’s special events, which included “Surprise Day” and MTV Day.
The summer of 2013 marked the first summer that the camp had a “Surprise Day.” This year’s Surprise Day was designed by Camp Director Brian Cohen, Assistant Director Janet Kelton and Special Events Coordinators John Jacob and Natalie Natale, who selected the Harlem Wizard basketball team to play a scrimmage against the staff. According to Cohen, they coordinated this specific activity because each year needs to involve something different, and inviting a popular team to camp was something that has never been done before.
“We are lucky to have people like Senior Youth and Leisure Services Director Jennifer Hessberger, who approved this event,” Cohen said. “She knows what is required to organize and run a successful camp where the children of Livingston have a fun summer experience.”
For more than 25 summers, Livingston children entering grades one through seven have been eligible to enroll in the camp. For six weeks, campers are divided into groups by age and gender and follow a pre-planned daily schedule. Activities include outdoor sports, indoor gymnasiums, a game room, dress-up days, arts and crafts and more.
Each Friday, the camp holds Special Events that include the annual Red versus Blue All-Camp Color War, MTV Day, a Pool Party, Carnival Day and Last Blast. On Friday, August 2, the campers participated in MTV Day, where each age group performed a dance or act that they had spent the week preparing.
“My favorite camp activity is MTV Day because you get to express yourself through dancing and get to watch everyone else’s funny performances,” said returning 13-year-old Camper Gibral.
The camp also includes weekly swimming trips by bus to Northland Pool and optional field trips to various locations throughout New Jersey. In 2013, the camp traveled to Powerhouse Studios, Liberty Science Center, Florham Roller Park, Hanover Lanes, an outdoor Laser Tag and Tomahawk Lake.
The camp also offers a half-day special as well as a full-day activity option. All campers begin as early as 8:45 a.m. and can choose to end their day at either 11:45 or 2:45 p.m. Counselors are available daily to escort children to their parent’s vehicle. According to Cohen, the majority of the staff are returning campers who enjoyed their experience at the camp as a child.
“At camp the kids get to learn more about interacting with other people and learn to get along with each other outside school,” said Girls Six Counselor, Christine Ackermann. “They get to meet new people with the same interests as them with not as limited of a friendship as they might have in school.”
Returning Camper Nicholas Tice agreed, saying that he enjoys getting out of the house and having the opportunity to be with peers outside school.
“The counselors here are so nice and when the seasonal sports end we can come here and have fun,” said seventh grade camper, William Farrell. “It’s a chance to meet people, work together and make good friends.”
According to Camp Director, Brian Cohen, the camp was originally held at Monmouth Court in Livingston and has grown so tremendously that they were made to switch venues. He also said that the coming weeks tend to be fan favorites, which will involve an All-Camp Pool Party and Color War.
“The greatest aspect of a summer camp is being able to see the campers have fun,” Cohen said. “I also like seeing them have a positive experience being involved in the variety of activities that we offer them here."