Happy Father’s Day

Our orientation weekend for campers and staff usually falls on Father’s Day weekend. So this post will be made in honor of our father, Harold Breene, who along with our mother, Marianne, started Camp Riverbend 49 years ago in 1962.    

Harold Breene, who still works full time at camp alongside the rest of us, was destined to become a camp director.  As a child he helped his mother run a small camp for children in the Free Acres community in Berkeley Heights.  Harold is an Eagle Scout and worked at many other camps as a young man.  He was a non-commissioned officer during World War II even though he was only 17 when he enlisted.  He was the Athletic Director of the Wardlaw School and is still involved in school sports as a swimming and diving official during the winter season. 

Here are some important life lessons we learned from Harold:

1.  Know the natural world.  Harold is a life-long bird watcher. He can identify any tree by its leaves and any animal by its tracks.  In our wired age, its easy to forget that we are still dependent on our physical enviroment.  Learn as much as you can about it and take care of it!

2.  Cultivate creativity in your life.  Harold has always enjoyed painting pictures, taking photographs and working with clay.  Creativity is not a masculine or feminine attribute–all of us benefit from getting in touch with our inner artist.

3.    Teach your children basic skills that will give them confidence and help them take care of themselves.  As kids, Harold insisted that we do lots of the chores and basic repairs around Camp.  Sure we complained alot, but you know what?  When we were grown up with houses of our own, we were glad we knew how to fix a toilet and paint a wall.

4. When you sing, sing loud! Make sure the folks in the back row can hear you!   Don’t be afraid to be silly when working with children.  Lose your sense of dignity if you want to make kids enjoy themselves. 

5.  Play fair!  Harold taught us the best way to choose teams for a pick-up game of football or baseball:  line the kids up and count off 1’s and 2’s.  Then everyone, both the star athlete and the benchwarmer, feels valued and respected and no one is left behind. 

What have you learned from your father?

Camp is right around the corner.  Get ready!!

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