MONTCLAIR, NJ - Without much fanfare, on July 5, Montclair Grass Roots began it's 50th year of providing the township of Montclair with service. The extensive 6-week summer program for children ages 5-11, will conclude for the year on August 11.
Since 1967, Wallace (Wally) and Celine Choice have been instrumental in making sure that children have a safe summer experience. Campers are given a variety of stimulating outdoor activities engaging nature, social games, and local community outings that explore the townships local treasures (museums, library, pool, etc.). Campers are also occasionally taken on field trips to places like the zoo or the beach. Guest speakers have been known to drop in and the culminating activities showcase the dance and other artistic activities that students partake in.
Taking place in the setting of county run Glenfield Park located on Maple Avenue, Montclair Grass Roots benefits from partnerships with such organizations as MNDC (Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation), and provide jobs for youth. In addition, most of the camp counselors are Montclair residents.
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Through funding from MNDC, the state, county and various grants and partnerships, Grass Roots has aided working families during the summer when their children are out of school and seeking affordable summer camp that keeps their children safe and engaged. The cost for the 6-week program is $600 and, if needed, the program offers before care and aftercare at a minimal additional cost.
Clementine Lewis, Grandparent who's own children attended Grass Roots years ago, has returned to enroll her grandsons Benjamin and Solomon mainly from her previous experience. The affordability, proximity to her home, and the comfort of knowing that her grandchildren are safe and engaged is an echo expressed by many of the returning parents and guardians enrolling their children once again for the summer.
Activities include : swimming, tennis , roller skating, dance , basketball, volleyball , arts and crafts. Lunch and afternoon snack are also provided daily during camp hours, at no additional cost.
Scheduled trips this summer include local visits to the Montclair Public Library, Montclair Art Museum, Glenfield Planetarium, Newark Museum, Meadowlands along with other outings that are often of interest to children, but most importantly merge learning and fun together.
This year Mrs. Choice is Joined by Katherine Nicholas and Lynn Williams, administrative staff, along with a staff of 15 covering the Cubs 5-6 , Bears 7-8, Tigers 9-10 , and Eagles 11-12.
At this time no major celebration is planned, however, there is a closing program at the end of the summer that will undoubtedly include a recognition of this great community service that has served and impacted thousands of children and families in Montclair.
(The author served as a camper in 1967, having Councilwoman Dr. Renee Baskerville as a camp counselor. Later, during the 1970s, Grass Roots provided him with his first job as a junior counselor through the MNDC work program).