Building Self-Esteem and Confidence at Camp

One of the most important gifts a child can be given is a sense of confidence in himself or herself; the knowledge that he or she will be able to meet a new challenge.  Camp is a key place for children to succeed and acquire this fundamental skill!

While we don’t provide academic instruction at Camp Riverbend, our campers are learning and growing every day.  Of course children learn a lot at school, but in school children are increasingly graded and evaluated in so many ways.  At camp, however, children can try a host of new things, without having to worry if they “make the grade.”  This freedom, to experiment in a safe environment, is a major building block of confidence.

With a range of activities available at camp, kids have many opportunities to explore.  Campers are taught the skills to meet physical challenges, like climbing to the top of the high ropes tower or being able to pass our Deep Water Test.  They are given opportunities to explore their creativity while decorating a clay pot or playing rhythm games in performance.  Campers can cook an unfamiliar dish and learn to appreciate new tastes and flavors.  And even when changing for swim, campers are learning how to take care of their possessions and clean up after themselves–surely a very useful skill, as parents will agree!

One of the most important ways to build confidence is by meeting new peers and making new friends. Camp is a great place for children to expand their social circles in a relaxed way, as they spend days together swimming, playing and having fun.

Our counselors are great mentors and a crucial force in helping campers succeed.  Counselors can directly teach campers new skills (like how to make a bounce pass in basketball) but there are other important skills that they are teaching indirectly through their encouragement and support.  As counselors encourage campers to keep trying, children learn persistence.  As counselors cheer on a camper’s achievements, children learn to trust themselves.  What an amazing gift!

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Soundtrack to Summer

Songs are a major part of the Riverbend summer soundtrack! That’s why every morning at assembly you can hear Assistant Director Paul and Brian from Spirit leading the camp in “Found a Peanut” or “Threw it Out the Window” – two classics well-loved by campers and staff alike. Even when moving from one activity to the next, campers are belting out “The Cat Came Back” and “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” for all to hear. Songs at Camp Riverbend are used to welcome and unite campers. They’re an important tradition and pastime at Riverbend, which is evident in the enthusiasm on campers’ faces when someone says, “It’s time for a song!”

At the beginning of each week, new campers are welcomed with “We Welcome You to Riverbend.” Campers and counselors join together as they sing the lyrics in unison, welcoming the new kids to Riverbend. Campers also sing around a campfire during overnights and Late Nights.  You may recognize these classic lyrics: “Day is done, gone the sun, from the lakes, from the hills, from the sky….All is well, safely rest, God is nigh,” from the well-known “Taps.” Our campers and counselors are always humming or singing their favorites, making this tradition such a rich and important aspect of Riverbend.

Harold Breene, the founder of Camp Riverbend, says that songs have always been a part of Camp and that perhaps the tradition could be attributed to the “Eagle Scout in [him].” If you hear your child humming a camp tune, head on over to the Camp Riverbend song book ( or ask us to send you a CD filled with all of these classic songs so you can sing along too!

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Classic Moments at Camp—Big and Small

What’s camp without those special events that create life-long memories?  Some involve the excitement of a camp-wide event, with everyone cheering, hooting and hollering together. Others are quiet moments shared between a few friends.

Here are some big and small events that we celebrated this week:

  • Many of our bus campers and counselors have created a cheer or song for their bus, which they practice while driving to and from camp. This week some of them took to the stage to share their pride at morning assemblies!
  • Friday is chock-full of camp classics—dancing at the pool, Robin’s cartwheels and our new “clap out” tradition.  As each departing camper walks across the stage and past two rows of our counselors, who salute them and wish them well for the rest of the summer.
  • When our campers eat lunch, it’s a quiet time in the middle of a busy day. There’s general chit chat about camp and a million other topics.  And why is it that lunch eaten at camp tastes better than anything?
  • The Rocket Club, after several weeks of hard work assembling their craft, got to see them launched into the firmament! The club members gave each one an official countdown before ignition!

We take seriously our goal of letting kids be kids at camp.  We hope these events, and many others like them,  will create life-long memories for our campers!

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What to ask your child when they return home each day

Camp Riverbend provides a variety of activities and facilities for campers – from canoeing on the Passaic River to zip-lining at high ropes. Along with these features, Camp Riverbend offers kids opportunities to start new friendships and make memories that last a lifetime. Camp is a place where your kids will have fun, make friends, and try new things. With all these great events happening at Riverbend, your child should have plenty of exciting news to share upon arriving home!

Just a warning: if you ask your child “what did you do at camp?” they will most likely respond “nothing.” Campers are tired at the end of the day, so this is understandable. However, a way to get around this dead-end answer is asking a specific question. Don’t ask a “yes or no” question; ask them about something they have to elaborate on. If you know what your child did that day, perhaps through the daily schedules available on the website, inquire about a certain activity. If you see that your child had lanyard, ask them if they could show you some of the different stitches they’ve learned or ask them what type of strokes they’ve been learning at the pool.

Other great sources of information about what your child is doing at Camp are the photos and videos posted on the website and sent to the parents. These can also be ideal for bonding with your child; viewing the photos and videos of your child’s group as a weekly ritual can be a perfect way to start a conversation with them about what they’ve been doing at Camp. Campers, depending on their age and mood, can be reluctant to tell you about their day. But with these tips, hopefully your child will be more willing to talk about the wonderful fun they’ve been having at Camp Riverbend!

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What’s going on in Performing Arts?

Performing Arts for campers at Riverbend is all about expressing themselves
– whether it’s through singing, dancing, or acting. Ann, the Performance
specialist, uses rhythm sticks and various instruments for the music aspect
of Performance. Along with working on rhythm with the kids, Ann incorporates
drama and improvisation.
So far, groups at Performance have acted out several skits such as the
“Invisible Bench”, “Making Soup”, and “Movie Theatre” sketches. Campers in
the group are usually given a prompt by Ann and then they creatively
elaborate. Younger kids in the Clubhouse Division have had a blast with the
“Big Marching Band Parade.” The kids are given instruments and they parade
around camp in marching band formation, shaking maracas and banging on drums
for all to hear!
“Tracking” is an opportunity for kids in E Division with an interest in
performing arts to express themselves even further. Just last week campers
performed an original play called “Thriller” along with a dance to said song
by Michael Jackson. This week’s tracking campers are currently working on
another original work called “Wizards Club” which incorporates magic into
Campers who visit Performing Arts with Ann are given the chance to be
creative and have fun. The campers enjoy acting out skits with their friends
and learning to play instruments – such as the glockenspiel which will be
featured in during the weeks to come! Ann will also be incorporating magic
into her activities in the upcoming weeks at Camp. Ask your kids what they
enjoy most about Performance.

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Week 3 is off to a great start!

We began our 3rd week at Riverbend today and everything was running smoothly. First we welcomed the campers starting today (we promised to “stuff their ears with sauerkraut” in the long-lived camp tradition).

At stix, campers are playing lacrosse (capture the flag is scheduled for next week).  At chef’s kitchen, campers are making their own vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce for a sweet treat.  Campers visiting high ropes have the opportunity to have their “passports” stamped as they complete each element.

Campers are canoeing along the Passaic River.  At nature, while younger kids learn how to identify trees by their leaves, the older ones are role playing deer, foxes and wolves in our eco-game.

The pool is busy with lessons in the morning and general splashing around in the afternoon.  In honor of Champions Week, all our specialists have created physical and mental challenges for the groups that visit them from holding a plank position in Yoga to memorizing and reciting lines in Performance to making bullseyes in Archery.  When groups meet those challenges, they earn a special badge to add to their group lanyard.

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A beautiful fall day at Riverbend for Family Camp Day

This past Saturday was our annual Family Camp Day; the day when parents AND kids could come and play at Riverbend.  Over 250 moms, dads, campers, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles came to try to shoot a bulls eye with an arrow, climb up the high ropes tower and zip down, decorate a pumpkin, learn lanyard stitches, bake green “Franken-muffins,” play gaga and jump into an enormous pile of leaves!  We served a BBQ lunch of burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers and the beloved chicken patties, topped off with fresh s’mores for dessert.  Yum!

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Family Camp Day! Octobver 25


Last year at Family Camp Day

Why should KIDS have all the fun at Camp Riverbend?

Each year parents tell us that they would like to spend a day playing at

Family Camp Day is that day!  It’s a day for parents (and kids too) to enjoy
many fun Riverbend activities, including high ropes, archery, canoeing,
cooking, lanyard, gaga, a barbecue lunch and more!

Saturday October 25, 10 am -1 pm, rain or shine

This event is free but only open to families who register for the 2015
season by October 25.  That’s also the last day to take advantage of our
early registration discounts.

RSVP:  required.

Hope you can join the fun!

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The Camp Riverbend Chef’s Corner Recipes

My name is Melanie, and I have had the privilege of working with the children of Camp Riverbend in Chef’s Corner, previously known as Passport, for the past 3 years. I know that the recipes go home at the end of the week in the Riverbender and I hope that you have all been enjoying them. I have to tell you, your children are amazing…tasting things they never thought they would, and really wanting to learn how to cook. They have asked interesting and thoughtful questions about food, cooking, and well, every topic that I could imagine, and some I could not have!  

I want to share with you the recipes that I made this past summer and I will include some pictures and some of the things I learned from making each recipe 25+ times a week! I did share the recipes last summer, as well, on this blog, but you were getting them at the same time in the Riverbender newsletter.  I thought that maybe you can read this with your children, and they will be reminded, visually, of what they tried this past summer.  Hopefully then you can try them together!  As a mom, and now as the Chef’s Corner counselor, I have really seen that children are more likely to try something new when they have a vested interest in it.  When they help plan for it, shop for the ingredients, and prepare it, you might be surprised at what your child is willing to try.  I know I was!

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2014 Season – Week 1 & Week 2 recap

Can you believe we have already finished 2 weeks of the Camp Riverbend 2014 season? We know that you get the newsletters each week, but wanted to give a little recap of the past two weeks here, as well.

Our 2014 season started off with great summer weather. There was a definite sigh of relief from those who were there for the unusual weather we had during Opening Day last year. The rain threatened a few days during week 1, but we managed to make it through the whole first week without resorting to rainy day locations and activities.

As we do every Monday, we greeted our new campers with the Camp Riverbend song. A change this year is that we also have our Spirit Leader, Brian, joining the Camp directors on stage at the benches both in the morning and the afternoon to help rev up that camp spirit.

Brian led the cheers for USA soccer!

Brian led the cheers for USA soccer!

Week 1 Wacky Wednesday was Stars & Stripes Day.  It was great to see all the campers and staff members in their most patriotic gear. It definitely helped that the USA was playing in the World Cup later that afternoon and that our week was ending with Independence Day!  Our week ended on Thursday with shouts of, “Robin, Robin” for which she gave us one cartwheel!

Week 2 was a hot one!  Or maybe it was the humidity?  Either way, we all made sure the campers stay hydrated and cool, with extra pool time some days and chances to cool off in the spray park.  Tracking and Super Choice began for the older campers, as well as after lunch clubs.  Wacky Wednesday during week 2 was a fun one…Mustache Day!  We saw some great ones, as well as some funny ones.  The puns about mustaches being bantered about were great, too.  Overheard: I mustache you a question.  Oh, shave it for later.  It was also Give-A-Get-A week at Camp Riverbend.  When Group Heads caught counselors, groups, and campers doing kind deeds, they gave them tokens.  The tokens were handed in at the end of the week for prizes. The B Division ended up having the most tokens because they pooled them all together. Good team work B Division!

We can’t forget that the Fuzzy Fanugies made a showing this week.  Did your camper get to show our camp mascots around this past week? If you missed it, we re-posted the Legend of the Fuzzy Fanugie.

Robin did 2 cartwheels at the end of Week 2!

Robin did 2 cartwheels at the end of Week 2!

Week 2 ended with 2 cartwheels from Robin.  It was a great week, indeed!



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