SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - This past Friday, Brookside Camp invited parents to attend a barbecue picnic and camp carnival with inflatable rides for the kids. The kids also collected canned food for the Scotch Plains Food Bank and next week they will participate in a used book swap.

Exclusive only to Scotch Plains and Fanwood residents, Brookside Camp is a full-day summer camp program for kids entering first through seventh grades.  Weather permitting; the kids go all day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Over the past several years, the camp has continued to grow by popular demand.  

This year, seven new camp counselors needed to be added to entertain 300 campers.  “Open registration was in January for the Summer 2013 program which sold out in three days,” said Recreation Supervisor Steve Dahl. 

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“Brookside camp is awesome.  My son has been going all summer long for the past few years and loves it.  It’s so much more affordable than any other camp program out there.  Every winter, I’m on the look-out to tell my friends when registration is open so we can snag a spot for our kids,” said Fanwood resident Neda Yarnall.

Deputy Mayor Colleen Gialanella, who has school-aged children and also works full-time as a school administrator, has been largely instrumental in promoting and protecting  park and recreation programs like the small-fry  half-day and full-day Brookside summer camps.  “We’re looking into building an open-air pavilion to be ready for next year’s campers, possibly with overhead fans where the kids can be in the shade or escape temporary rain,” said Gialanella. 

This year’s lucky campers had the option of going to The Crayola Factory, Medieval Times, The Funplex, bowling and mini-golf. Some of the optional day trips are add- ons for a nominal fee, like The Funplex and The Turtle Back Zoo. Both were so popular they trips filled up almost immediately.    

“Brookside camp is an amazing program. Especially for parents who work. During the school year, my kids are in school but, how do you fill that gap in the summer time?  Long live Brookside is all I can say,” said Scotch Plains mom Cindy Schroeder.