Turning Vacation Lemons to Staycation Lemonade

I was really excited to visit my family out in California this past week. My father has been out west since 2000 and my brother and his family are in northern California as well. In addition, my uncle has lived in southern California since I was little, and he was going to come meet us in San Francisco for a fun day. The children were extremely excited to see family and we booked a trip to Alcatraz, something they had been asking about for a few years. It was going to be a great week….

And then it wasn’t…

We woke up early Saturday morning and saw notifications that our flight had been canceled. Doh! We knew this was a possibility and we knew the children would be devastated but that didn’t make it any easier. JetBlue tried to put us on a flight later that day out of Newark, but we were concerned about getting stuck at the airport in New Jersey if that flight was delayed or canceled. Luckily, we did not take that flight because it took off late and was diverted in-flight to Wisconsin. Whew.

We were able to book a flight the next morning (Sunday) which would have only shortened our vacation by one day. We even had a chance to make it to Alcatraz on time if the stars aligned and we moved quickly upon arrival. But before we even went to bed on Saturday, we received notice that this flight had also been canceled. Double Doh!

As they say…it was time to make lemons into lemonade.

We immediately hopped online and found tickets for Wicked on Broadway for Sunday afternoon. The girls were dying to see it and we hadn’t seen it ourselves in years. Of course, we had to warn the girls as we were buying these tickets that this too could be canceled. It wasn’t… hooray …and it was spectacular! I had been lucky enough to see it with Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith when it opened on Broadway. At this performance both leads were played by understudies, and both were phenomenal. We finished the day with a dinner in NYC with friends and headed home to plan more fun for the week.

On Monday we saw Spider-Man No Way Home. It was my third time, each of my daughters’ second time and my wife’s first time. It really is an AMAZING movie, and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone so go see it!!!! On Tuesday we watched the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett, a new Star Wars series on Disney+. This is also worth watching, especially if you love the original Star Wars movies. We had some nice meals together as a family and spent some quality time together in the house.

We hadn’t been to an Islander game at the new UBS arena yet, so I purchased tickets for Islanders vs. Red Wings on Wednesday night. About three hours after I purchased them the game was postponed…of course. Thankfully, we were able to attend Saturday’s overtime win against the Oilers instead. The new arena is beautiful, and parking wasn’t quite as bad as people made it out to be.

On Thursday we went to Area 53 in Brooklyn to do some indoor adventure and climbing activities. This place was very cool. The adventure park was good for all ages and had a cool zip line type feature that went around the whole facility. They have interesting and unique rock-climbing elements, roller skating, arcade games and more. Parking is tough so leave yourself time if you decide to check it out one day.

We were always supposed to be home in time for New Year’s Eve on Friday. The children each had their own plans, and we were supposed to see a concert…but that was also postponed. We had a relaxing day and dinner together as a family before the girls went their own ways. We watched some live music on YouTube to ring in the new year. Like everything over the past year and a half, it was weird, but we made the best out of it.

We spent the rest of the weekend doing some cleaning around the house, relaxing, and getting ready to jump back into the real world for 2022. It wasn’t the week we had planned but we made it fun for all. We still miss our family, but we know we will reschedule for another visit soon. The kids were great this morning when it came time to return to school and I’m back at camp sitting at my desk and preparing for summer.

I wish you all a Happy and Safe New Year! 2022 is going to be GREAT!

Jokes & Riddles for Family Time During the Holidays

Bob loves jokes and riddles. Here are some funny ones you can tell your children over the holidays:

Where does a bee wait for a ride?  At the buzz stop.

Why are elephants so wrinkled?  Because they are too big to iron.

Why is England such a wet country?   It has a queen who’s reigning.

What has one head, one foot and 4 legs?  A bed.

What do you call an alligator in a vest?  An investigator.

How did King Arthur finish his education?   He went to knight school.

What goes up but never goes down?  Your age.

What side of a turkey has the most feathers?   The outside.

What has a head, a tail and no legs?  A penny.

What kind of dogs do they let into the library?   Hush puppies.

Why can’t the pony sing a song?  She was a little hoarse.

What kind of dog is never late to school?   A watch-dog.

What time is it when the clock strikes 13?  Time to get a new clock.

What did one toilet say to the other?   You look a bit flushed.

Where do baby cows eat their lunch at school?   In the calf-eteria.

Why can’t Elsa from frozen have a balloon?  She will “let it go, let it go”.

What do science teachers eat after dinner?   Experi-mints.

What do rabbits play at recess?   Hop-scotch.

Why did the lobster get a time-out at school?   He was being shellfish.

What can you hear but never touch or see?   Your voice.

Why did the chicken run onto the soccer field?  The ref kept calling fowl.

How are bus drivers like trees?  They both have routes / roots.

What is the center of gravity?    V.

How many letters in  THE ALPHABET?   11.

It’s a Good Thing We Have Camp!

Greetings Shibley Nation!

Here we all are again facing the start of the new year, hoping 2022 brings us health, prosperity and a bit more normalcy.  Not too many of us are sorry to say goodbye to 2021. For so many, this was another very difficult year, to say the least.

That being said, there were plenty of joyous times as well. For me, Shibley being open this past summer to welcome our campers back on the grounds alongside their counselors was a true blessing. The benefits of camp for children are immeasurable. Socializing and friendship building are some of the greatest benefits we can offer and foster (and one of the most rewarding for us as well!).

Eliminating screen time, getting exercise, and being close to nature adds so much to a child’s personal growth and development.  We offer the children opportunities to do the things they love. Maybe more importantly, they are encouraged to try new things they never thought they could do. Seeing the light bulb go on in the child’s head when they realize they CAN is amazing to witness. It is our hope to create countless wonderful memories that our campers can look back upon, so they can one day share their love for these activities discovered at camp (and for camp itself) with their own children.

There are various ingredients needed to make a great camp and I spend a lot of my time during the off-season searching for THE key ingredient-STAFF!!!!!  Without great people taking care of our campers, well it’s like eating a brownie without chocolate. I am in the midst of interviewing dozens of candidates as the year comes to a close.  I am always very impressed with these candidates as they think ahead of the curve and hope to find a job for the summer earlier than others.  They avoid the potential stress and angst of finding a last minute position when opportunities are few.

I am also in the midst of reconnecting with old staff to discuss a return to Shibley in 2022.  I love connecting with this population.  It’s especially exciting to hear from staff who are in the midst of their freshman year of college, and see how they are doing and how much they have grown. I recently reached out to a family who sent multiple children to Shibley as campers.  One of the children returned last year as a first year counselor.

My initial call was about a younger sibling returning to camp, not the staff member.  However, mom and I found ourselves talking about the tremendous growth she saw in her son during this experience.  She saw her son grow in ways she never thought possible.  Mom went on and on about the benefits of camp for young adults who take on the role of counselor.  This counselor struggled at first, privately sharing with me he was not sure he would make it through the summer. “Working with kids and taking care of them is really hard work,” he shared with me as we passed each other on the grounds.  But every day I noticed slight changes in this counselor’s demeanor.

At first, he followed the group and took complete direction from his supervisor.  As the days went on, I saw him talking with his campers, then truly engaging with them in an animated manner. Towards the end of camp, this counselor took initiative and gave direction to his campers, encouraged positive behaviors and created great friendships with his boys. He truly became a rock star and a fabulous role model.  I am happy to report that this counselor is returning in 2022!

I end many of my interviews with an idea I believe to be true-I can have a camp that has all the bells and whistles but ultimately if this child’s counselor is lackluster, then all the bells and whistles in the world can’t make the camp experience extraordinary.  A counselor who is exciting, funny, creative and engaging can make a pile of dirt fun and use it to create memorable experiences that foster lifelong relationships.

As I said before, I am interviewing now and plan to assemble and hire the greatest staff ever.  We can always do better!  If you have any candidates in mind, please encourage them to fill out a staff application on our website and I will happily reach back out and invite them for a great conversation and a tour of the grounds. I always like to make new friends!!!

Wishing you all happy holidays and an amazing year ahead filled with love, joy, health and happiness.

Look What I Found!

Do you ever go into your parent’s attic and look for old family memorabilia? Do you ever find boxes of old photos of the way that things used to look? Vintage clothing that was worn by your great grandmother? Or maybe you discover a piece of furniture that you would like to take and use for your own home. These are the types of things that I am finding in the winter office at Shibley.

As most of you know we move from our summer office down in junior camp to our winter office in the Manor house when the weather turns cold. This house has lots of rooms and nooks and crannies. Over the years, the rooms and house itself has been used for different purposes. It’s been used as a summer residence for staff and mainly as a storage space for t-shirts, activity equipment, sample arts and crafts projects, signs from previous summers’ productions and lots of old camp photos.

These items have accumulated over many years and it appears that very little was ever thrown away. Some people might look at this and think nothing of it (or run the other way)… but not me…. I investigate these rooms and see history, inspiration and supplies!!  There is a treasure trove of things to use at camp, show off to alumni and hang around the manor house.  I love taking a walk down memory lane to discover items that tell stories of Shibley’s past.

The old camp photos are the best. By the look of the clothing, lots of these pictures were taken in the 1970’s and 80’s. The pictures show bunks that are red and white. The campers’ t-shirts are blue and white and staff didn’t even wear a staff shirt! There are pictures of activities like the hay jump (where kids literally jump in a pile of hay) and the “golden gate bridge” which was an original playground for junior campers where the junior adventure course now sits. There are signs for a nature trail that started up in senior camp and winded its way down into junior camp. I even found pictures of staff that are still here!!

So many things were different. So much has changed over the 91 summers that Shibley has been around. And while the bunks and logo might look different than they did in the 1930’s and some of the activities may have changed, there is one thing that will always remain. Shibley is a magical place where everlasting friendships are made.

39 Pictures from Summer 2021 with Captions

There are 39 days of camp each summer so here are 39 great pictures with captions from Summer 2021. If you have a better caption…let us know!

The sunshine is included in the cost of camp.

It’s important to say hi to the tortoises each morning on your way up to senior camp.

Streeeeeeeeeeeetching out before we begin is always a good idea.

And don’t mess with us after a good taekwondo class with Master Ryan!

Fingertip catch for the save!

Camp twins!

Whoa, do you have any beads for us or just for him?

Crazy hair up there in the air.

Tree Hugger

The ball goes round and round…even senior boys enjoy the simplest of games.

Bubbles! Really big ones!!!!

Serious faces while we wait to see which car is fastest. Everyone ready?

I see you!

Lip sync win…about to (inflatable) mic drop.

Call me maybe?

Sometimes it’s the campers helping the staff instead of vice versa.

We LOVE this activity!!! Don’t make us leave!

You guys go on the junior adventure park, we are going to stay here and dig for treasure.

Where’s Devin?

Ready, set, swim!

Please wake us up for the next activity, we can sleep later!

Let us show you how serious we can be:)

Why is she literally twice as tall as I am?

These are not sharks…they are lifeguards.

Mmmmmmm we love making yummy snacks at Cooking!

How long does it take those yummy treats to bake? We have to eat before our swim!


Piggy back fun time! When do we switch?

Nice pajamas! Wake up!

Just hangin’ around in the Green Giant.

Doesn’t that look like so much fun up there? Yes. Ready to go? No. 🙂

We love tie dying our own shirts for Carnival Day!

Congratulations on displaying the GREEN values!

We are robot visitors and we love your art program.

Olympic relay race skills!

Why didn’t you just crawl through like me?

Stand in the big ring. Throw the little ring. Good luck!


Camp friends don’t shake hands…

Living Ten for Two: I Just Want To Be At Shibley Day Camp!

Shibley is not just a place that you go to for two months over the summer and forget about for the next ten months of the year. One of my favorite things about Shibley is that the fun does not end just because the summer does. Sure, we are not at camp every day, but like an evergreen tree, Shibley is here all year long. We have events in the Fall to bring us all together to enjoy the facilities and the beautiful Fall foliage.  In the Fall and the Spring there are birthday parties and family events occurring on our grounds virtually every weekend.  We might pop up at a Fall Festival at your elementary school or spend some time in a city park making beaded bracelets with campers and catching up. We also host zooms (story time, show and tell, scavenger hunt, zumba, etc.) over the winter so we can see familiar faces on our screens when it’s too cold to gather at camp.

I’m sure that you have all heard the saying “living ten for two”. It’s a phrase that you might hear a camper or former camper saying. When you are a true camper, you think about summer every single day. You are pushing through the school year so that you can get to the prize at the end…a summer at Shibley!! All that you think about is being at camp, seeing your old friends, making new friends, and participating in every fun activity. The minute that camp ends you are immediately talking about the next summer. Every summer, my kids cry on the last day of camp. They miss their counselors, their friends, the green giant, etc!! For the next month all I hear from my three little campers is “why do we have to go to school? I just want to be at camp!!”
This is why I love Shibley so much.

Your Shibley Family is always thinking of you. We love to see you at our off-season events, and we love bumping into campers around town and hearing what your family is up to. I hope that everyone is off to a great school year, and I would love to hear from you!! I can be reached all year long at hayley@shibleydaycamp.com

Read my previous blog about using children’s books to promote our GREEN values all year long…turn your children into everGREENs!