Holiday Time with Randi – Great Suggestions for Family Outings

Greetings Shibley Nation!  I hope everyone is getting into the holiday spirit and making exciting family plans that will be fun and memorable.

I recently had the opportunity to attend The Big Apple Circus in NYC with my family.  I haven’t been to a circus in quite a while and this performance did not disappoint. The circus’s theme “Extraordinary New Yorkers” had all the makings of a traditional circus with a bit of a twist. The big top at Lincoln Center was filled with children of all ages.  We witnessed an ariel act that displayed visual beauty from performers who  were lifted into the air with ribbon ropes who spun and swirled through the crowd.  Jugglers were on hand and a clown in the form of a NYC pigeon played to the crowd.  Acrobatics, high wire performers, and a very different looking trapeze act that didn’t use a trapeze but rather a bouncy balance beam were all on display. The food and beverage offerings at the concession stands were circus inspired sweet treats from old New York.  What’s a circus without cotton candy?  The circus will be in town until February 2nd 2020.  Check it out!

Here are some other family friendly NYC Winter break activities that may be of interest to you and your family.

  • Visit Rockefellar Center’s dazzling Christmas tree decorations, and then take a spin on the most famous ice rink in the world.
  • Macy’s window display in Herald Square just unveiled this year’s theme-“Believe In The Wonder.” This is about how a little girl dreams of becoming Santa Claus.
  • Museum outings are always a great way to combine learning and fun. Many museums allow for children to create art projects or have interactive play spaces. My favorites include the New York Hall of Science, Museum of the Moving Image, Brooklyn’s Children Museum, Children’s Museum of the Arts, and The American Museum of Natural History.
  • Slime Lovers-this one’s for you. Visit Sloomoo Institute- a new Soho pop up experience.  Kids will love squishing vats of different types of ooey gooey slime.
  • Zoos and Aquariums- Every borough boasts its own unique zoo experience and the Coney Island Aquarium is also quite special.
  • Broadway is simply magical, but the cost of Broadway tickets is incredibly high. Here are some ways to buy inexpensive tickets in NYC:
    1. Kids Night on Broadway-An annual event that the Broadway League hosts where children under 18 can accompany an adult for free. It’s a 2 for 1 opportunity.
    2. Enter a daily ticket lottery.
    3. Join or follow discount Ticket Sites and Apps-Playbill, Goldstar, Broadway Box, Stub Hub, Theater Mania, and Groupon may have ticket options.
    4. TKTS Discount Booths in NYC-There are 4 locations in NYC and you must visit them in person.
    5. Be Open to Off Broadway shows

Many of our camper families live in Manhattan and I am sure you have some amazing recommendations as well.  Send us some of your favorite spots and we will happily post them for all to see.

From my family to yours, have a healthy happy holiday season and take advantage of the wonderful opportunities our fair city has to offer at this time of year.

Family Time of Year

As we approach the end of the year holidays, thoughts of family always come to mind. During November and December, it seems that we take an extra break from the day to day and spend quality time with our families. Usually there will be multiple gatherings at various homes where families get together for elaborate meals and lots of conversation of the year that passed. There always seems to be happy things like new babies born and new marriages during the year which increases the size of the family. You also get to find out the achievements of family members that you may not have heard about during the year. So, it’s a good time to catch up on those kinds of things.

As I get older it seems like each year passes faster and faster. Back when you were a child in school, the year used to seem like a very long time. I always looked forward to the time when studying and school tests were over, and summer was upon me. From age 3 to 12 I actually went to Shibley Day Camp so many years ago. I cherished those 8 weeks of summer camp before it was time to start school again. My favorite activities in camp back then were basketball, softball, swimming and lunch. When I was in the older groups, we had tournaments in basketball and leagues in softball. That’s where I learned what it was like to win and to lose and how to handle either properly, definitely a good life lesson since life is a series of ups and downs and those sports activities as a child helped me to deal with adult life situations.

Those sports also taught me how to work together as a team for a common goal, another skill needed when you get out in the world and become part of an organization. While swimming at camp I progressed through the various Red Cross levels and became a great swimmer. These swimming lessons taught me how to challenge myself by learning new skills, many of which were difficult. The life lesson learned here was to persevere even when things were not easy… yet another life skill needed for adulthood. Years later I worked as a lifeguard at Shibley teaching children to swim.

Back when I grew up in the 1960’s from age 4 to 13 it seemed like a much more innocent time than today. I think it’s much harder to go through the growing up process for the kids nowadays. So much has changed from the 1960’s up to the present time. Children today have to be able to deal with so much more stuff than we did back in the day. At least camp has remained similar. To me it is still about making friends, learning how to be part of a group and doing a lot of fun activities. For the last 25 years I have worked at camp year-round. I consider myself very lucky that for me camp never ends whatever the time of the year. The best and most special time though is during the summer when everyone is here. Only 7 months until they all come back. Stay warm in the meantime and have an enjoyable holiday season.

A to Z List of What Stefanie is Looking Forward to for Summer 2020

A to Z list of what I’m already looking forward to in summer 2020…

Animal ShowBoat Races

Carnival Day

Daily Swim Instruction

Eggless Brownie Batter Dip

Friends that Become Family

Green Fridays

Halloween Day

Individual and Team Sports

Junior Camp Talent Show

King Size Car Wash

Learning New Skills

My Style Camp

Nonstop Excitement


Pizza Thursdays

Quest for Towels

Reconnecting with Camp Friends

Solid Gold Shows

Tie Dye Sneakers

Undeniable Energy

Values to be Proud of

Water World Day

X Letter Blocks for Nursery Campers

Yawning Children as they Board the Buses to go home at the End of the Day

Zip Line

The Other Ten Months

“What do you do all year?”

“So, you only work in the summer?”

“Isn’t it boring in the winter?”

These are typical questions that full-time camp professionals hear throughout the year, especially in the dead of winter. What could there possibly be to do for the other ten months of the year?

The truth is that our work here at camp never ends. As soon as the buses roll out of camp (actually even before that) we are looking ahead to the next summer. When camp ends, we set into motion repairs, upgrades and new projects that we have been working behind the scenes to plan, sometimes for months or years. The facility team has already done so much and will continue to work throughout the winter & spring. More information about the facility work being completed this off-season will be coming soon from Billy & Danny.

Another big part of the first month after camp is reading surveys and evaluations from parents and staff to see where we hit a home run and what we can improve on next summer. Of course, the range of items we read about in these surveys is large as everyone has their own ideas about how to improve camp and what is important for the campers. We take it all in and put plans together to improve those items deemed most important, based on YOUR feedback.

We meet often to learn from and share our experiences with camp professionals around the tri-state area. We are members of the Long Island Camps and Private School Association (LICAPS), the New York State Camp Directors Association (NYSCDA), the American Camp Association (ACA) and other relevant organizations. These collaborations among industry professionals allow us all to provide safer and higher quality programming.

The two biggest things we do in the off-season are to recruit new campers and hire new & returning staff. We are so lucky that so many of our staff return from year to year, but even those returners need new contracts, forms and additional employment paperwork. We reach out and tour new families all throughout the year in addition to running our off-season festivals, fun days, holiday camps and more for current and prospective families. And we Blog!

So….that’s what we do all year long, in addition to all of the activity programming, special event planning, ordering of equipment and supplies, training, acquiring permits, working on accreditation and a whole lot more that I can’t think of at the moment.  Camp may be 39 days, but we work 12 months a year to make those the greatest 39 days ever!