As the weather gets cooler, we put away all our summer gear EXCEPT our Riverbend T-shirts to wear today on CampTShirtDay!  We’re helping get 25,000 photos posted from our own Riverbend family of campers, staff and parents, along with other camps around the world.  Although the 2015 camp season is over, today is a great time to remind everyone of the many benefits of camp–making friends, becoming more responsible for ourselves and others, learning new skills, and of course, having fun!

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Final Memories from Camp

As we move through the last week of camp, it’s the perfect time to look back on the highlights of the summer and hear about the campers’ favorite memories! Campers enjoyed many special events throughout the summer. They displayed their group pride at the Banner Parade, splashed and slid down the slippery slides at the Water Carnival, watched in awe as the Cirque-tacular acrobats flipped and flew, and chowed down during the Pancake Breakfast. With all these great happenings, it must be hard for campers to choose just one favorite moment.

Nevertheless, we sat down with some campers and asked them about one special memory from camp and what they will miss the most.

  • Anya from the Yellow group said that the best part of camp is swimming and playing “Mermaids” with her friends. She said that she will miss “tracking” where she really enjoyed painting.
  • Hunter G. from B-2 enthusiastically stated that his favorite camp moment was soaring down the water slides at the Water Carnival and that he will miss ceramics, where he made a bowl and a turtle.
  • Gabrielle from C-11 said that she loved the mini-golf, frisbee, and gaga clubs and that she will miss gaga the most.
  • Jordy from D-16 recalled how much fun it was eating s’mores during his Late Night and said that he’s going to miss canoeing and seeing his friends.
  • Nate from E-28, who’s finishing his 6th summer at Camp Riverbend, predicted that his favorite memory from summer 2016 will be the last day of camp because how special it is and that he will miss seeing all of his camp friends every day.
  • Clare from F-29 said that she really liked the Cirque-tacular performers and will miss her camp friends the most.

As we wrap up the last few days and bid farewell to the campers, ask your child what he or she enjoyed most about their summer at Camp Riverbend.  We hope that your camper leaves Riverbend with memories and friends that last a lifetime. Enjoy the rest of your summer and hopefully we will see you next year!

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Dive Deep into Swimming at Riverbend

On any given day at Riverbend, you can find campers splashing, diving, and practicing new swim strokes at the pool. Playing and cooling off in the pool is a camp favorite for the kids, but Camp Riverbend’s swim program offers more than just a refreshing break from the heat. Riverbend campers swim twice each day – instructional swim (or I-Swim) in the morning and free swim in the afternoon. Our trained swim instructors teach campers skills ranging from holding their breath under water to perfecting the butterfly stroke. This combination of instruction and free time is ideal for campers and also for parents who love to see their children making progress in the pool!

At the beginning of a camper’s stay at Riverbend, our swim staff makes an evaluation, to make sure that he or she receives the most appropriate and suitable instruction according to their current swim abilities. Campers are categorized into one of eleven categories: minnow, dolphin, bass, goldfish, sunfish, stingray, starfish, swordfish, shark, whale, and barracuda. Once they are placed in a specific swim level, their assigned swim instructor teaches them important new skills to master, whether it’s something like the freestyle stroke or how to dive. Our swim instructors break down the techniques campers need to learn into various exercises and drills, to help campers learn master these skills. Often times, campers first learn how to swim at Camp Riverbend!

In addition to the I-Swim that campers attend in the morning, everyone loves free swim! Campers have a blast playing with their friends, soaring down the slides, and jumping off the diving board. Pool time is essential at Camp Riverbend, especially on hot summer days! Ask your child what they’ve learned during I-Swim this summer, and hopefully they can show you as well!

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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 (http://www.campriverbend.com/content/Members/Music/CampSongBookWordsforCD.pdf) 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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