Spring is here!

Spring is here!  Which means that summer is not too far behind it.  Have you decided on your children’s summer plans?  If not, consider attending one of our Spring Events.

  • Open Houses for children of all ages, Sunday April 13, 10 am -12 noon and Saturday May 3, 11 am – 2 pm that day.  Participate in lots of fun Riverbend activities, meet our counselors, and get a tour of our camp site.  RSVP required.  A parent must accompany children.
  • “The Saturday Club” just for young children ages 3-6 (currently in nursery school or kindergarten).  A structured program of games, songs, crafts, cooking, nature, music and more, led by our amazing Riverbend counselors.  9:30 -11:00 am, Saturday April 12.  Limited spaces available so RSVP required.  A parent must accompany child/children during the Club sessions.
  • None of these dates work for you?  We’ll be happy to schedule a private tour for your family most weekends or after school.  Contact us to schedule your visit.  Most tours last about 30 minutes.

Let’s face it.  The beginning of spring has not been very welcoming, and we all know the old adage that April showers bring May flowers.*  We thought it would be fun to give a few fun activities over the next few weeks that you can do inside, but will still remind you that warmer weather is right around the corner.

The first fun craft is to make Grass Heads!  They are simple to assemble and once they sprout, will provide loads of fun for kids of all ages.  And for the little ones, trimming the “hair” with safety scissors is a great way to practice those fine motor skills.

What you need:

  • knee highs or lengths of stockings, cut and tied on one end
  • clear cups or other container
  • grass seed
  • soil
  • decorations for the cup to make faces
  • glue

What you do:

Fill the bottom of the stocking with about 1 Tablespoon of grass seed.  Add soil until you get a good sized ball (or head).  Tie a knot at the open end so that it is all pretty firmly packed.  Decorate the cup to look like a face, or whatever your want!  Add the “head” to the cup so the seeds are on the top.  Add water.  You want it to be very damp, but not soaked or the seeds will drown.  Place it in a sunny window and water every other day or so.  The soil should remain damp.  The grass will start to sprout in about a week.  Trim the “hair” as needed.  Post your pictures to Instagram and tag or hastag #campriverbend so we can see your fun creatures.  

*If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?  Pilgrims!  

 

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Upcoming Events

announcement

UPCOMING EVENTS

“Hop on in” to Camp Riverbend’s Saturday Club, where we’ll explore the wonderful world of frogs with games, crafts and cooking. It will be this Saturday, March 22, 9:30-11:00 am.

Meet our counselors and take a tour of our camp site. Free! Limited spaces available, so RSVP is required to miriam@campriverbend.com or 908-580-CAMP. A parent must accompany each child.  This is for children currently in preschool and kindergarten.

Can’t make it this weekend? Final Club date on April 12!  Our last Open House of the season will be held on Sunday April 13, 10:00-12 noon.

Share the news!  If you refer a friend to camp who enrolls, you can earn up to $100 credit for your 2014 tuition!  See our website for details.

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Irish Soda Bread Muffins/Biscuits

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

This past weekend at Saturday Club, campers made Irish Soda Bread muffins.  They were a huge hit!  An added bonus is that they bake a lot faster than traditional soda brea.  Without further adieu, here is the recipe for your baking pleasure!

Recipe courtesy of Simply Recipes.

Soda Bread Biscuits Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 12 biscuits.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet you want them)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds*
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of raisins*
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk**

*These add-ins are optional. 

**You can substitute the 1 1/4 cups buttermilk with 1 cup 3 Tbsp of regular whole milk mixed with 1 Tbsp of white vinegar.

Method

Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter a standard muffin pan or prepare tins with paper liners. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces into the bowl of flour. Using your (clean) fingers, work the butter into the flour, schmooshing (is that a technical term?) the butter between your fingers and mixing with the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. If you are using raisins, caraway seeds, or any other add-ins, mix them into the mixture now.

Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour the buttermilk into the center of the well. Use

Using teamwork to get it all mixed together.

Using teamwork to get it all mixed together.

a wooden spoon to gently mix the flour into the buttermilk until the flour is moistened with the buttermilk. Then use your hands to form the mixture into a loose, shaggy, slightly sticky ball of dough. The dough should be a little sticky, if it’s too dry, add a tablespoon more of buttermilk. If it’s just too wet to handle, add a sprinkling more of flour. Do not over-mix!

And at this point work quickly. As soon as the acidic buttermilk interacts with the alkaline baking soda, bubbles will form and leavening will start.

Break off 12-equal portions of the dough and place them in the wells of the muffin tin. Put in the oven and bake for 12-13 minutes, until the tops are nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for a couple minutes in the pan. Remove the biscuits from the muffin tin to a rack to cool for a few minutes more.

Serve with butter and jam.

Enjoy!  We have also been pinning some fun St. Patrick’s Day crafts and other recipes on our Pinterest page.

 

****UPDATE****

I made these as individual biscuits on silpat baking sheets.  You can use parchment paper if you do not own silpats.  They came out great!  They were tasty and pretty, too. I might reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees next time because I felt they got a little dried out inside.  I’ll experiment and report back!  Click Irish Soda Biscuits to see the photo.

 

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Camp Clover at Camp Riverbend

For the past two years, Camp Riverbend after our campers go home, something special happens here…we become Camp Clover for 1 week. Camp Clover is sponsored by Atlantic Home Care and Hospice and is a free, week-long summer bereavement day camp to help children and teens deal with the loss of someone close to them. Children ages seven to 15 are invited to participate. For more information, read yesterday’s blog post.

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Camp Clover

Camp Clover

Camp Clover

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Mr. Breene bringing some counselors to an activity.

There is something very special that happens at Camp Riverbend after all of our campers and counselors are gone for the season.  Camp Riverbend becomes Camp Clover for 1 week called Camp Clover.  It is a bereavement day camp, sponsored by Atlantic Home Care and Hospice, to help children and teens deal with the loss of someone close to them.

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We did it!

Children ages seven to 15 are invited to participate. Camp Clover offers traditional summer camp programs like swimming, sports, and arts and crafts, as well as educational and therapeutic activities designed to assist children in their grieving process. Activities are planned to foster coping skills that children can use throughout their lives.

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Some time to reflect.

Camp Clover is run by trained staff and volunteers and is funded strictly by donations. The camp provides free bus transportation and lunch.

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A therapy dog visits Camp Clover

We think that it is a wonderful camp and we are proud that we have been a part of it for the past 2 summers.  The Breene Family is being honored at the Atlantic Hospice Spring Gala 2014 with the Community Award and we humbly thank them for the recognition.  For more information on Camp Clover, read the  Hospice Newsletter Fall 2013 v2 or visit their website.  To refer a child, volunteer, or donate, call 973-379-8444.

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arts&crafts

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Time to cool off

 

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Upcoming Winter Events

camp-riverbend-somerset-county-njAs you many of you already know, Camp Riverbend is a family-owned and operated day camp in Somerset County, NJ for boys and girls, ages 3-14.  Camp runs for 7 weeks, from Monday, June 30 – Friday, August 15, 2014. Campers can attend any two consecutive weeks or more. Camp runs Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Campers 
Campers are grouped by the grade they enter in the fall.

  • The Clubhouse - Pre-school and kindergarten groups are co-ed. Each group has 3 counselors for 16-18 campers, or 2 counselors for smaller groups. 
  • Riverbend Experience - Campers entering 1st through 8th grades in the fall are in single-sex groups. Each group has 2 counselors of the same gender. 
  • Teen Travel Adventures - Our teen travel programs for campers entering 7th, 8th and 9th grades are co-ed. These groups have 2-4 adult counselors.

Now that 2014 is here, many families are beginning to look into their options for their children for the summer.  To help you better make that decision, Camp Riverbend invites you to attend one of our Open House events.  The first Open House is Sunday, January 26, drop in any time 10 am to 12 noon.  Sample Riverbend’s awesome summer activities this winter, with lots of fun stuff for kids and parents, including games.  Meet Riverbend counselors and tour the camp site. RSVP to miriam@campriverbend.com.  The next Open House will be held Sunday, February 23rd.

We also have our Saturday Club; specially for young children ages 3-6, currently in nursery school or kindergarten.  Crafts, games, cooking, music and more, led by Camp Riverbend counselors.  The first session is a “monster theme” on Saturday January 25, 9:30-11:00 am.  RSVP required to miriam@campriverbend.com.  Free but Limited spaces available.  The next session will be Saturday, February 22, same time.

We hope to see you soon!

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Homemade Crystal Ornaments

Our crystal snowflake

Our crystal snowflake

We found these snowflakes from Martha Stewart.  We shared the link on our facebook page a few days before Christmas, but I thought they were neat enough that they can be done anytime, in any design you or your little ones desire.  As usual, I like to try out the craft first so that I can get any kinks out of the way for you!

Here is my first tip: Gather your jars first!  We made gorgeous, large snowflakes.  And I had NO jars in which the snowflakes could even remotely fit.  Back to the virtual drawing board we went to make much smaller snowflakes.  We even had some hearts and some abstract designs!

What you’ll need:

Our snowflake is growing!

Our snowflake is growing!

  • Pipe cleaners
  • String
  • Pencil
  • Jar, with a loud mouth
  • Borax
  • Food coloring
  • Boiling water

What to do:

Make shapes with the pipe cleaners.  Tie it with string or ribbon to a pencil. Find a big enough jar so the suspended flake won’t touch the sides.  Fill with 3 tablespoons borax and 1 drop food coloring per 1 cup of boiling water. We used 2 cups of water/6 TBSP borax for a tomato sauce jar.  Hang the snowflake in the jar. Let sit overnight; remove.  We did this in the morning and they were finished by lunch time!

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Our snowflake is drying!

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New Year’s Eve Traditions

NewYearsEveIt is hard to believe that the end of 2013 is upon us, but here it is.  New Year’s Eve is tomorrow!  For some parents, NYE plans are very different now that they have children.  You may not be out all night at the hottest club in town, but fun can still be had!  One idea is to adopt some traditions of your very own, that you can do year after year.  We did some searching and found some interesting traditions from around the world.

Spain In Spain, it is customary to eat 12 grapes, one at each stroke of the clock.  Each grape is for good luck for each of the months of the year.

Denmark In Denmark people stand on chairs and jump off them to leap into the new year to banish bad spirits.

Russia In Russia they write down a wish on paper, burn it, throw the ashes into a glass of champagne (or sparkling grape juice) and then drink it before 12:01 for the wish to come true.

Mexico  While also following the grape tradition of Spain, Mexican families decorate homes and parties in colors that represent wishes for the upcoming year: red encourages an overall improvement of lifestyle and love; yellow encourages blessings of improved employment conditions; green for improved financial circumstances; and white for improved health.  Another tradition is to make a list of the unhappy event of the previous year and then burning the list in the fire before midnight to banish the bad luck.  At the same time, discuss all the positive events so the good luck continues.

Japan It is customary to clean the house, inside and out, in Japan.  It is also customary to eat long noodles to signify longevity in Japan and other Asian countries.

Turkey  Pomegranates are eaten for many reasons.  They are red, which stands for life and fertility.  The round seeds represent prosperity and their medicinal properties represent health.

In Germany, Poland and Scandinavia, it’s believed that eating herring at the stroke of midnight will ensure a year of bounty—as herring are in abundance throughout Western Europe. Also, their silvery color resembles that of coins, a good omen for future fortune.

Italy  In Italy they toss old things out the windows to make room for the new.  Look out below!  They also eat cotechino con lenticchie: pork sausage served over lentils. The lentils are a popular meal because of their coin-like shape.  Lentils are also eaten in Hungary in a soup.

Philippines  In the Philippines it is customary to eat 13 round fruits, 13 being a lucky number.  In other parts of the world, 12 round fruits are eaten, 1 for each month of the year.

Here are some other traditions:  At midnight, open all the doors in the house so the old year can leave before the New Year can enter.  Make loud noise with pots and pans and other noise makers to scare away evil spirits.  Some other foods eaten in many cultures for NYE are black-eyed peas, rice, cabbage, and other leafy greens.

What New Year traditions do you have?  Are there any new ones you will start?  Whatever you do, please have a safe and happy New Year!

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Early Registration Info

We have a few more crafty posts for you over the next couple weeks, leading up to the holidays.  We hope you are enjoying them and we would love to see what you are crafting with your children.  You can post them to Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook and tag @CampRiverbend and/or #campriverbend.  

If you have not registered your campers for summer 2014 yet, you might want to take advantage of our early bird discount for registering before the end of the year.

Early Registration Discount: Register by December 31, 2013 and deduct $275 per child from the 7 or 6 week tuition, $225 per child from the 5 week tuition, $175 per child from the 4 or 3 week tuition or $100 per child from the 2 week tuition. Not applicable for 3 and 4 Year Old Half Day or Day Trippers campers.

Check out the Camp Riverbend site for more information under parents, then, registration.  We have referral discounts and sibling discounts, too.  

 

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Homemade Gifts – Snow Globes

Do you like to give homemade gifts to teachers or grandparents?  We do, and as a teacher, I can tell you that they are appreciated.  I know my parents and in-laws always love and appreciate the homemade gifts, too.  As mentioned in a previous blog post, Camp Riverbend and homemade go hand-in-hand!  For this one, we decided to take our “relaxation jar” idea and make it into a snow globe.

Finished snow globe

The nearly-finished snow globe

The first step in this process may be the most challenging, unless you buy new jars.  I used an old jam jar, which entailed removing the label and the sticky residue.  I tried 3 different methods.  The first thing I tried to do was fill the jar with water and microwave it to boil the water.  The heat of the boiling water combined with the steam in the microwave should help the label come right off.  I let the water cool a bit, since I was not interested in burning myself, and the label did come off with a little coaxing.  However, there was tons of residue.  In fact, there was not one part of the jar without it!

I wanted to get all that glue off!

I wanted to get all that glue off!

I tried rubbing it with nail polish remover.  That did not work at all.  I had thought that was going to be a sure thing, so I was losing hope that I would be able to save this jar. Enter the olive oil.  I poured a bit onto a paper towel and started rubbing the jar.  It took only a few minutes to leave the jar completely devoid of glue.  I washed the jar and we were good to go!

The olive oil worked!

The olive oil worked!

Next I had my daughter add the glitter glue and the glitter.  For the next jar we did, we just added clear craft/tacky glue and glitter.  Then I (an adult) added very hot water, capped the jar, and shook it to dissolve the glue.  I kind of eyeballed the amount of glue and glitter added.  It was a generous amount.  I had taken the caps off and let her squeeze it in that way, and there were a few serious glugs of glue that went in.

Adding the glitter glue.  All we could find at the store was pink.

Adding the glitter glue. All we could find at the store was pink.

Once it was dissolved, we tested it a few times to see if we needed to add more glitter.  The 5 year-old decided that we DEFINITELY needed more glitter.   We also decided to add food coloring to the one with pink glue.  The clear one we left clear with iridescent white and blue glitter.  The next step was to add the decorations.   We decided to add some holiday-ish leaves and flowers to float around.  You could get all sorts of fancy here and hot glue or super glue some decorations to the inside of the lid.  This will make it look more like a snow globe.  Let your creativity shine!   If you decide to do that, make sure the lid is completely dry AND that you let it all set/dry completely before adding the liquid.  

The finished "snowglobe" with ribbon glued to the jar lid.

The finished “snowglobe” with ribbon glued to the jar lid.

Once you are certain that you have everything how you want it, with enough glue, water, and glitter, dry off the lid and the rim and glue it shut.  I didn’t glue them shut yet, because I am still fussing with them a bit.  But you should definitely glue them before giving as gifts.  You can also hot glue some ribbon to the edge of the lid to make it more decorative.   You can see in the picture that the I glittered the top of the lid of the clear snow globe.  That jar/lid was a little wobbly when placed upside down on the lid, so I covered up the brand and this way it will look pretty as is.

The clear glue with iridescent and blue glitter.

The clear glue with iridescent and blue glitter.

I think these would make lovely gifts for teachers, grandparents, or anyone who would appreciate a handmade gift.

Here is what you need for this project:

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • clean jar with a tight fitting lid
  • glitter glue and/or clear craft glue (like Aleene’s)
  • glitter
  • food coloring (optional)
  • decorations (optional)
  • ribbon (optional)
  • super glue or glue gun
  • hot water
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