Fair with Ferris wheel and roller coaster

As I stated in my previous post, this movie is amazing and I am thankful for the people in my life who convinced me to see it when I probably would have chosen to do something much less serious with my Saturday night! If you missed it- CLICK HERE FOR PART 1. Besides a heartwarming story about Auggie and how he overcomes adversity due to a facial deformity, there is also a very important side story about Auggie’s sister Via, and how his deformity and the attention it requires affects her.

Via is older and went from being an only child to an afterthought, because she didn’t need the attention and medical care that her little brother did. While putting on a good show, she is truly struggling to make and keep friends and is in dire need of her parents’ attention but doesn’t want to take them away from Auggie’s needs. She has a wonderful grandmother who sees that Via has needs that aren’t being addressed by her parents, but unfortunately grandmothers aren’t around forever and at some point their love needs to be replaced. We see how Via handles her very difficult adolescent years without prying away her parents from Auggie’s needs. She has a lot going on and it clearly affects her daily interactions with people as she navigates through these difficult and awkward years of life. She hides her true feelings from mostly everyone and yurns for an outlet for these emotions.

The lesson here for those who work with children (and ANYONE who works with people- that’s EVERYONE!) is that we don’t know what anyone’s life is like when they are not in our presence. We are more likely to be informed and confided in by children, colleagues, clients, etc. when we take the time to make personal connections with them. In turn, we gain trust and encourage more honest and meaningful conversations. We can more easily understand why someone is acting a certain way and more effectively respond and provide support when we have this information. We teach our staff during orientation- you must CONNECT to earn RESPECT. We create intentional programs for campers and staff to encourage diversity and kindness and to intervene appropriately in situations where children are not treating each other respectfully.

As you can see I believe it is important for everyone to see this movie and talk about it with their friends and family. Thank you again to R.J. Palacio, who wrote the book that this movie was based on for giving me inspiration for my first posts. I would love to discuss the movie and these ideas with anyone who wants to talk!


What’s Happening at Shibley?

Health Office sign

Shibley Day Camp is a magical place…20 acres of wooded property that is located in the middle of Roslyn. When you drive into camp, you are surrounded by beautiful trees and a playground of fun for children. Over the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with an amazing facility team to update existing areas and create new experiences for our campers to enjoy in the summer. Each month, I will share photos and provide specific details about the work our team is doing at Shibley.

The first big project for Summer 2018 was the complete makeover of our Health Center. As you can see from the pictures, our team pine paneled the walls, laid new floor and is in the process of completing the new restroom. Even though we hope that most campers and staff don’t need to visit the health center, it was important to create a warm, comfortable place… just in case.

Please join me in thanking our incredible team – Billy, Mario and Carlos. Their hard work and dedication is evident. Stay tuned to hear about our Cooking Program and brand new cooking kitchen, Zip Line, Junior Camp Adventure Park and so much more…

I always love to hear from families and staff. You can always reach me at rachel@shibleydaycamp.com.

Happy Winter!

Cheese Please!

Randi with family at graduation

My family and I recently visited a Farmer’s Market and upon arrival noticed a cheese stand with a large crowd around it. Why was this stand so popular…free samples of course! We began to compare and choose our favorites and noticed that everyone had their own opinion! My son had a favorite different than my daughter’s, whose favorite was different than my husband’s, whose favorite was different than mine. My other son, who isn’t a fan of cheese had to be coaxed to take part in the fun. While he disliked 4 of the 5 cheeses he tasted, he ended up liking one he had never tried before and bought a piece to take home.

By this point, you might be asking, ‘what in the world does a cheese tasting have to do with day camp?’ Let me try to explain…my family’s cheese tasting reminded me that everyone’s likes, dislikes, interests, and perspectives are uniquely their own. We all might be eating that same exact piece of cheese, but what I might love, another might like, and another might dislike.

Shibley’s campers have these unique likes, dislikes, interests, and perspectives. They come from different backgrounds, have had different levels of exposure to our various activities, and have different interests. Some campers are interested in team sports, others in theatre…and many enjoy crafts…you get the idea. To make things more complicated, two campers might want to spend time at the same activity, but have completely different levels of interest based on previous experiences. Two campers might like team sports, but one might want to dedicate a half hour a day to them, while another never wants to put down the basketball.

Our staff at Shibley Day Camp is made up of mostly educators and parents who understand that every child is unique. We celebrate and encourage this by providing a wide range of activities for them to participate in. At the beginning of each Summer, our group leaders make phone calls to each family. Aside from getting general family info and asking what they want their children to get out of the Shibley experience, a main priority during these calls is to understand the campers’ interest levels in the various activities we offer at camp. Throughout the summer, we encourage them to take part in those activities they expressed interest in…that’s the easy part! We also intentionally encourage them to try new activities with new friends so that they have the opportunity to discover new interests…in the same way that my son discovered a new cheese he likes with just a little encouragement.

We are still 6 months away from another magical Shibley summer but we are already hard at work creating intentional programs that develop life-long skills, create strong friendships, and build self-confidence. We can’t wait to see these programs in action and watch your children develop interests they didn’t know they had. It’s just around the corner, and it cannot come soon enough!


Shibley Leads The Way

Old newspaper featuring Shibley articles

Way back in the 1960’s my father Harvey Kulchin and Shibley Camp did something unique and revolutionary for youth athletics. We lowered the baskets on the basketball courts and reduced the size of the sports fields. Why should little children be playing on the same height baskets as professional basketball players who average around 6 foot 7 inches in height? So my father, an experienced physical education teacher and school principal, lowered many baskets around camp to 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 feet to accommodate the wide age range of our campers. In an article published in Newsday on August 1, 1982 John C. Bell, co-owner and husband of Jeanne Shibley Bell, felt that “When you are dealing with children, you should consider what children are capable of doing.” It sounds like common sense, but it was not common practice.

Dad said, “Sports are fun when success is attainable.” It was evident that he was right, as more children were drawn to the camp’s basketball courts immediately after they were lowered. Besides allowing for more success and fun, children were now learning proper technique for shooting rather than heaving the ball towards regulation sized baskets. He knew the same would be true for all sports! What is better than a child hitting an actual home run out of the park!? We also developed a junior tennis program with smaller courts, racquets AND user friendly balls specifically designed for beginners.

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Shibley developed “a cornucopia of custom-tailored athletic facilities for children from 3 to 13 years old,” as described by the author of the Newsday article, Mike Candel. The results were tremendous and it was clear that children were enjoying sports and developing athletic skills at an early age. These concepts which were new 50 years ago are common place today.

I’ve been at camp my whole life and love to talk history. Always feel free to email me at Robert@shibleydaycamp.com if you have any stories from the past that you want to share.


Wonder movie poster

I would not have gone to see this movie. Star Wars. Yes (GO SEE IT IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY!!!). New Pixar movie. Sure. Movie I never heard of and sounds serious and depressing. No thanks. So I want to start by thanking the other dad (and my wife) who insisted we should go see this with a couple of 10 year olds. Thank you. A lot.

Little Auggie has a major facial deformity and has hidden it all his life, including being home schooled by his mom (played by Julia Roberts) and having his dad (played by Owen Wilson) as his best (and only) friend. It is now time for him to go to public school and as you can imagine, not everyone (in fact basically no one) is kind. It is a heartwarming story of several attempts by students and faculty to make Auggie feel normal (whatever that is) and it’s incredible to watch. I don’t want to give too many details…I want you and your children to experience it yourselves.

Seeing the movie is only the first step, more importantly I want you to talk about the movie with your children! Which characters do they want to be like and WHY? Maybe they want to be like Mr. Tushman or Mr. Browne (played by two of my favorites- Mandy Patankin and Daveed Diggs!), two great adult role models in the movie. Or maybe they want to be like one of the students who finally decides to do something when Auggie is lonely and being tormented by other children. Ask them if they can think of a situation when they wish they had acted differently. What will they do next time? These are the conversations that will lead to more positive actions by our children and give them the confidence to know that what they feel inside is right and to follow those instincts!

At camp you will sometimes see campers and staff comforting each other in times of need and you will often see diverse groups of people celebrating each other’s accomplishments. Camp is a place where children who need more love get more love. Directors take a personal interest and get to know every family at camp. Dedicated staff members make sure all campers enjoy camp and give extra support to those who need it to share each and every magical experience.

Look out for a second part to this blog in a few weeks which will discuss Auggie’s sister Via, another interesting character worth discussing in the context of camp.

Thank you to R.J. Palacio, who wrote the book that this movie was based on for giving me inspiration for my first blog. Please tell me what you thought! And don’t forget to #choosekind!