How (and Why) to Unplug Your Family

The other day I went to get something to make for dinner for my family. I walked into a local store we like, sighed at the long line, found the end of the long line on the other side of the store, and started staring at my phone to pass the time. Is there a Mets lineup posted yet? Who are the Jets going to draft? Which entertainers and politicians are arguing on Twitter? This is really important stuff that I had to know at that moment. After what felt like 10 minutes standing and barely moving, I looked up and noticed the gentleman next to me doing the same thing. He was also 100% focused on his phone, and I’m sure also reading equally important information!

Then I realized it was one of my good friends. We stood there for 10 minutes, less than one foot away from each other and didn’t even notice each other. We laughed out loud but it also scared me when I thought about it later. We (me included!) are all so wrapped up in the information available on our devices, we don’t see (and enjoy) what is right in front of us. We should have spent that time catching up, sharing stories about our children, talking about work, etc.

I see families and friends out to dinner, sitting, waiting for a movie to start and/or driving in a car together and too many times each person (sometimes even the driver!) is more focused on their phone then the people around them. My family is often guilty of this as well. And sometimes when we do talk, we are focused on everything that’s happening in the world and everything we have to remember to do tomorrow, next week or next month. We miss out on the really important moments when we are together with loved ones because we are not present in the moment. As one of my favorite characters likes to say, “Live in the Now!” (Bonus points if you know who I am referring to). If we don’t have a good handle on what’s happening at the present moment, it doesn’t really matter what you have planned for tomorrow, next week or next month.

What can we do? Make rules for your family! Here are some rules that work (most of the time) for mine:

Have a no device at meals policy when you are all sitting together. We also like to (my 6 year old insists on it!) go around the table and discuss POSITIVE things that happened during the day. Of course we also discuss any negatives and how to resolve them, but we try to steer our conversations towards the great things happening in our lives each day.

Do not allow the children to use devices in the car unless the ride is more than an hour.

Make Saturday or Sunday morning a music only time. We listen to the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Weird Al, They Might Be Giants, Broadway shows and mixes of all of our favorite tunes. The children color, talk, play board games, build legos, etc. We (my wife and I- not the children!) drink coffee, eat breakfast together and enjoy each other in the moment. If it’s nice out we do this all outside and even take a walk around the block together!

Do not allow children to use devices at play dates. Break out the markers, glue and scissors, let them build forts with couch cushions or get them outside if it’s not freezing. Children can play outside if it’s a little cold and even if it’s a little wet! They will be ok.

At camp we place a high priority on personal interactions. Campers are intentionally placed in situations where they are forced to have these interactions with peers and adults. Our Shibley community is guided by our GREEN Values: Generosity, Respect, Empathy, Endurance and Nurture. We celebrate these values as we guide the positive social development of children and young adults. This development does not take place when children (and adults) are staring at devices all day.

What rules do you have in place for your family that work well? Please share them with us-

Memories at Shibley Day Camp

Historical photo of Shibley campers and staff

It all started for me at Shibley in 1960 as a 4 year old in the Nursery Division. I actually have a distant memory of getting hold of a running water hose and getting all the counselors wet. The most special thing about camp was the friends you made. You wouldn’t see these children all year and then the summer would come and you were all reunited. In those days you had your school friends and your camp friends. My two best friends in my 9 years as a camper at Shibley were Scott Harris and Steven Robbins. I can still remember their names today even though I haven’t seen them since summer 1968 (50 years ago). Every summer on the first day I was so excited to find out that we all had the same counselor and would be together again in the same squad.

My favorite things at camp were basketball, baseball and swimming. I learned to swim at Shibley and have memories of swimming in the Jr. Pool at age 5. I remember at the start of the morning in instructional swim everyone would hold on to the wall and practice kicking. The pools weren’t heated back then like they are today, so the water for the morning swim was pretty cold. As the years progressed I kept moving up through all the swimming levels and eventually earned my junior lifesaving card. I can still remember taking and passing the hardest part which was swimming for 10 minutes without stopping. Moe was the name of the head lifeguard at the Sr. Pool who gave me the test. I remember he used to introduce himself the first day and say “My name is Moe!” and that “Larry & Curly were not here!” It was a reference to the show “The Three Stooges”, which was a very popular TV show back then. All the children would laugh.

I also remember the Shibley baseball league. It was called the Watermelon League because the winning team at the end of the season received a whole watermelon to split amongst their teammates. I remember how excited we were when we won the final game of the season to win the watermelon. Everyone in camp actually had watermelon for dessert that day. However, we had ours in a separate room, it was cut right in front of us and the pieces seemed extra large. It was a very special experience for me as a child.

Fast forward to 1975 when I started working at Shibley, first as a counselor and then as a lifeguard. I finished college and law school in 1982 and had to go out in the real world and get a non-camp job. In those days there really weren’t year round jobs in camping. Then in 1995 a full time job became available at Shibley and I have been here ever since. All my friends are jealous that while they go to work each day, I get to go to camp instead. Thanks for reading!

The 2018 Mets

Randi at Mets game

A few weeks ago (to my delight) I took the day off and went on my annual pilgrimage to Citi Field for opening day. I joined my brother, nephew and son. We call ourselves ‘The Faithful Four.” Opening Day is very special as it is the only day of the season where every fan in America is an optimist. For me, opening day is the official welcome to Spring and it’s a stone’s throw away from my favorite time of the year – summer and camp!

So what can we expect from the Mets in 2018? The answer lies with how healthy the team can stay this season. Once again, we’re going into the season with two of the premier pitchers in the game – Noah Syndergaard and Jacob DeGrom. I have faith that without injury these two guys can carry the team far. However, to bring us to the promised land (playoffs), we need Matt Harvey to recapture his form and confidence from yesteryear. Steven Matz needs to remain off the DL. We also need a big comeback year from closer Jeurys Familia.

We have a brand new manager at the helm, Mickey Callaway, who appears to be the polar opposite of Terry Collins. New school versus old school…analytics versus tradition. I loved Terry and I’m beginning to really like Mickey. His new unconventional lineup card and modern approach on how to play the game will keep me intrigued all season.

I predict Yoenis Cespedes will have a career year and Michael Conforto will emerge as one of the best hitters in the game. I am very excited to watch two new young dynamic players, Amed Rosario and Brandon Nimmo.

My concerns are how long Adrian Gonzalez can keep up in this young man’s game. Will Todd Frazier hit for a respectable average? Can the catching duo of Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud provide more offense then in previous years? Do they have the arms to gun down opposing base stealers? And finally-can the bullpen with Blevins, Lugo, and company keep us in the game once our star pitchers hand the ball over.

All in all I think the Mets have a great chance at securing a wild-card spot. And with a little bit of luck, battle the Washington Nationals for the top of the NL East.

I can talk baseball all day long. As a matter of fact, I have a great idea! Please join Shibley on Sunday, May 6th as we descend upon Citi Field to root for our beloved Metsies so we can continue this conversation in person!!

Please email me at and tell me your thoughts on this year’s baseball season. I promise to respond… even to the Yankee fans!

April Facility Updates

For summer 2017, we upgraded our junior camp bunks with beautiful pine paneling. This year, we did the same to a number of our senior camp bunks. The team pine paneled the walls, built individual changing areas and upgraded the lighting. The only thing we need now are smiling camper faces in the bunks!


Our team also built these security booths for each of our three camp entrances. They are places for our security guards to spend their day whether it’s beautiful and sunny or rainy and cloudy! We will be moving them to the entrances in the next few weeks, so be on the lookout when you visit camp. ​


Please join me, once again, in thanking our incredible team – Billy, Mario and Carlos.

I always love to hear from families and staff. Please reach out with any feedback or thoughts. You can always reach me at

Counting down until Summer 2018…