Photos by Rich Corozine
Last week, kids from the Gardiner Summer Recreation Camp huddled under the pavilion in Majestic Park with devious plans. Surrounded by counselors, friends and family, they were ready to entertain and be entertained at the annual talent show.
Some campers got up to sing cover songs — Taylor Swift and Katy Perry songs seemed a popular choice — while others played out skits involving zombie attacks or threw water balloon at each other. Pretty much guaranteed though — no matter who took center stage — was a good laugh.
Decked out in a suit and tie, a boy grabbed the mic and told his audience his name was “Timmy the Weatherman.” Despite the fact that Friday, Aug. 9, was meant to be the big final day of camp — a trip to SplashDown Beach in Fishkill — the weatherman called for storms.
Unfortunately, Timmy’s prediction was spot on. Torrential downpours and flash flooding in Ulster and Dutchess counties put the kibosh on that plan.
Instead, kids ended their summer camp by heading to The Castle Fun Center in Chester. According to Frank LaRonca, Gardiner Summer Recreation Camp’s director, the last-minute change of venue didn’t seem to bother the kids at all.
“Actually, I think they might have been more excited,” the camp director said. “It’s over the top in terms of the activities they have … It’s the place we’re probably going to go every year from now on.”
For the most part, LaRonca and his wife Amanda Paul — with whom he co-directs camp — haven’t changed much of what makes them a beloved summertime tradition for local kids. However, in 2013 they did make one change — Majestic Park’s pole barn as a recreation center for ping-pong, foosball and movies.
Weather was a big challenge for camp in 2013. Humidity hung thick over the campers during their fortnight of summer fun. Rain the final day threatened to turn things gloomy too. However, the year went off rather well.
“It was great. We had a really great staff. We had a really positive group of campers,” LaRonca said. “There are a lot of people who come year after year. So it’s like a family. Really, it’s a community.”
Enrollment in the camp didn’t change too drastically. Last year, there were about 220 campers. This year had 225.
Paul and LaRonca have a vision for the camp where they keep fostering that tightknit group they’ve developed. “The main thing is just to keep the good, tight community feeling.”
Camp is over for this year. However, people interested in getting their children signed up for next year can log onto www.townofgardiner.org or call Town Hall at 255-9675.