BELMAR, NJ — Cruz Bay Café owner Rick Bott couldn’t have found a more fitting way to welcome to the Taylor Pavilion his young neighbors — the 100 youngsters enrolled in Belmar Summer Camp. He treated them to lunch.

“Since June, I’ve been watching the kids come to camp, Monday through Friday,” Bott said. “So I said, why not serve them up something special for lunch.”

When he contacted the borough about his idea, a special day was made of it. Beach Party Day not only featured dozens of hots dogs and hamburgers courtesy of Cruz Bay Café and watermelon and waters provided by the borough, but a giant water slide was set up on the beach and music was played for the enjoyment of the first- through sixth-graders.

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For Bott, it wasn’t only serving up lunch that made his day. It was what he received in return — thank-you cards from the appreciative day campers.

“That meant so much more to me and my wife Cindy than anything else. It was priceless,” he said, adding that the cards have been placed on display for all to see. “We are so glad they enjoyed lunch just as much as we enjoy giving back to the local community.”

After being displaced by Superstorm Sandy for four summers, the summer camp has once again made Taylor Pavilion its home base. On the northern end of the new pavilion, Cruz Bay Café is the open-air beachfront concession operated by Merri-Makers of Edison.

Three years ago, the camp was expanded to a full-day, eight-week program, with a counselor-to-camper ratio of 1 to 10. In addition to a host of activities held at Taylor Pavilion and the Fifth Avenue beach, the campers enjoy trips to Maclearie Park, the new Fifth Avenue playground at Silver Lake and the Belmar Public Library.

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