Family Events All Year Long at Shibley

At Shibley we pride ourselves on creating a nurturing, down to earth environment that is welcoming to new campers of all ages. However, the process of making our youngest campers feel at home (and not miss their mommies and daddies) begins when we first meet the child and continues throughout the year and right up to the first day of camp.

A tour at Shibley has two purposes. One is of course to show a new family our beautiful grounds while discussing our top-notch program. The more important purpose of the tour is for us to get to know the new family and to make connections with the children. We encourage the camper to ask questions and to “make the tour guide work hard!” We know that we have to get both the parent and child to feel great about joining the Shibley family before they will make the decision to do so.

As a prospective family continues to consider Shibley, and especially after they have enrolled, we expect to see them 3-5 times before camp begins. We want a child to simply smile, give their parents a kiss goodbye and say, “Let’s go!” when the bus arrives on the first day of camp. They are able to do this because they already have been to Shibley multiple times and they know exactly where they are going and what it’s going to look like when they get there.

Our off-season events include:

  • Fall Festival around Halloween
  • Family Fun Days on weekends in January, February & March
  • Popup Winter Holiday camps in NYC
  • Spring Break Open House/Open Play
  • Pre-camp outing to Citi Field for a Mets game
  • Spring Festival in May
  • Special nights at camp for Super Seniors and CITs
  • Junior Camp Swim Party & Bus Rides in JUNE
  • Camper/Staff Meet & Greet in June

We also offer our families the opportunity to come and play on our grounds any weekend during the spring while we are on site…which is most of the time. Just call and let us know when you want to come!

After attending some or all of these events the child now knows multiple Shibley staff members that he/she will see when they get off the bus on the first day. This makes for a great conversation that parents can have with children who still seem nervous.

“When you get off the bus, Stefanie will be waiting for you.”

“Remember we were playing in the playground last weekend? That is where the bus is going to let you out at camp today.”

This really eases the child’s nerves and allows for a smooth transition into camp from the comfortable school atmosphere they have been in for 10 months. The parents are usually still the nervous ones and are welcome to check in with the camp office to see how their child is doing on their first day. Hundreds of pictures are posted each night so that parents can see the happiness oozing out of the smiles on their children’s faces and realize that the children are SAFE and having the time of their life!

Tri-State, Nature & Springtime Thoughts

Hello Shibley Nation! Springtime is approaching, the temperature outside is rising, Opening Day baseball is 2 weeks away, March Madness begins this week, and the excitement of another Summer camp season at Shibley is bubbling inside all of us!

The Shibley Team recently spent 4 days in Atlantic City where the largest national camping conference is held.  Vendors from all over the country set up shop in the convention center and show off the latest and greatest in the camping industry.  At the same time, industry leaders are chosen to lead valuable seminars on camp life today!

What I really enjoy is getting together with my community of camp professionals, and sharing our knowledge and experience to ensure the high quality of summer camp and its value.  We are competitors, no doubt.  But we all agree that the powerful lessons our children learn in our camping community can be found no where else.

Here at Shibley, our grounds are blessed with beautiful natural surroundings.  The last seminar I attended talked about the connection children have with nature. Research shows that first-hand experiences with nature, like those at Shibley, reduce stress in children and help them better handle stress in the future. In addition to teaching children how to be good stewards of the environment, we are teaching children how to enjoy the world around them and take a minute to breathe deep and feel nature, which ultimately teaches them how to de-stress the natural way.

Right now, as I look out my office window and see the beautiful Shibley grounds, I see the very beginnings of Spring…….I take a deep breath…….and realize how lucky I am!

Things That Matter

What are the things that really matter when reflecting back upon your life?  For me one of the answers is my family and the memories I have growing up with them.  I just spent a week in Florida visiting my Mom and Dad who are both over 80 years old and super active. In fact, they actually have more energy than me and I am over 20 years younger.

Bob, his brother Mike and father Harvey at Shibley in Summer 1962

My dad retired as Director of Shibley at age 79 and one of his hobbies became family photography.  On the garage walls and in the house he has so many family photos dating back to the generation before him and right up to the present day with captions that he writes.  He has this priceless photo of his parents with the dog he grew up with named Pinky.  Next to it he has a picture of my sister’s dog Sammy, with the caption “Pinky’s nephew”. There are so many photos of my brother, sister and me at different stages of childhood and into adulthood.

My father was the director of Shibley for over 50 years so he has old photos from camp picture days going back to 1960.  I can remember that on each camp picture day Dad would get us from our groups and have a picture taken of me, my brother, my sister and him. Also on the walls are photos of all the grandchildren as they were born and grew up as well as pictures of the nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Those early childhood years are so precious to me and are definitely etched into my mind. When I look at the old family photos, it stirs up so many happy memories. A picture has the ability to bring you back in time to relive those wonderful experiences. It may only be for a few minutes, but very special none the less. I personally like to go back to my old neighborhood where I lived from age 2 through 13.  I sit in my car in front of my old house for a little while and I feel like I am back in that time period. It always puts a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart.

I can visualize playing baseball with my friends as well as the many other activities we did.  In those days there was no such thing as play dates or computer games. You just played outside all day until your parents told you it was time to come in. If it is not feasible for you to go back to your old neighborhood, you always have the power of the old photograph to bring you there.  Looking ahead, it’s almost spring… so warm weather and summer camp cannot be far behind.