CHATHAM, NJ – Plans for a summer recreation camp are coming together. The camp, which would replace the long-standing Recreation Camp that canceled in 2017, would be held at the Colony Pool, if committee members approve.
A presentation about the proposed camp was made by Dorothy Lee, a member of the Colony Pool and Tennis Advisory Committee, at the Thursday meeting of the Township Committee. Robert Hoffmann, the township administrator, said he would like to meet with Lee and others to “flesh out” some details, including whether the township, which is a member of the joint insurance fund, would face any liabilities.
The mission statement for the camp is “Utilize the Colony tennis and pool facilities to create a casual, fun and affordable summer camp for members and Chatham residents.”
Committee member Tracy Ness said these plans would allow Chatham to offer a recreation camp such as other towns do in the area. When the camp was canceled, attendance at the camp had gone from about 300 children in 2011 to 116 campers in 2016. However, as the end of school arrived, parents tried to register their child for the summer recreation camp only to find out it was gone, said Ness. https://www.tapinto.net/towns/chatham/articles/chatham-township-pulls-plug-on-sbs-summer-cam
In March 2017, Lee presented a petition with 182 signatures to the committee asking for the camp to be reinstated, and suggested there was a third-party who could run it as a private business. The committee would not change its mind and there was no camp in 2017. https://www.tapinto.net/towns/chatham/articles/petition-to-bring-back-sbs-summer-camp-committee
Thursday night, committee member Curt Ritter asked if the goal was to increase membership at Colony.
Lee said it might provide an additional reason for people to join, if well-attended, and could provide an income stream for the township. It will also provide some employment opportunities for Chatham teenagers and teach them leadership skills, she said.
Committee member Karen Swartz cautioned planners to remember that before the Recreation Camp was closed, there was “an abundance of kids from out of town … Make sure we are running a camp for our kids.”
Ness said it would be appropriate to look at this year’s camp “as a pilot” for other years. She suggested making sure to “promote it, then the residents will tell us” if they want a camp.
If it is approved, the camp will be offered to Chatham residents entering first through fifth grade. It will last for six weeks, beginning the week of July 8, through the week of August 19. There will be no camp the week of August 5. Each session is two weeks, with camp running, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Thursday. Fridays will be used as severe weather makeup days.
Activities will be 45 minutes long, and held on a rotating schedule, based on age group. Campers will be offered tennis, swimming, arts and crafts, and other games. Tennis instructors will be drawn from the Chatham tennis team and swim instructors will be drawn from the pool’s swim team instructors.
Leadership is already in place. The camp director will be Chloe Blanchard, an elementary school teacher and former International Ivy Campsite director. Blanchard grew up and attended school in Chatham.
The co-director will be Frank Wulff, a security guard at Columbia Middle School, wrestling, baseball and softball coach and a former police officer.
Still to be hired will be a head counselor, other counselors, tennis teachers, extra lifeguards and a swim instructor. Current or alumni members of Colony have priority for those positions, according to Lee.
The final cost per two-week session is not set, but is expected to be between $150 and $200 a week for members. The committee has included all its anticipated expenses and created a budget, which allows the camp to be profitable with even as few as 30 campers registered – although Lee said they hope to have 50 and would welcome more. When committee members meet with Hoffmann, the budget figures will be checked and a final weekly cost will be set.
The committee will return on Feb. 28, to present a final plan.