For 17 years the YMCA’s Camp Wiltmeet, the local summer camp for kids from kindergarten through sixth-grade, was directed by Lee Ann Albritton, who this year turned over the reins to one-time camp counselor Kayleigh Buboltz. The transition couldn’t have gone smoother, especially with head counselor Elise “Flash” Cimino returning to run the day-to-day operation at Lenape Elementary School in New Paltz.
“Flash” was a first-time camper 18 years ago when Albritton noticed that the youngster could come up with solutions to problems “quick as a flash”…and thusly a legend was born. The Rondout math teacher just has a knack for problem-solving. “What can I say?” laughed the diminutive Cimino, who then launched into the programs offered at Wiltmeet. It was pretty comprehensive, with arts and crafts — headed by Annie Internicola, and sports — headed by Matt VanVoorhees, plus drama club, field trips to the Ulster County Fair and to local farms, swimming at Moriello Pool and spirit days. Last week the camp hosted outer space day — where the campers came as an astronaut, planet, star or anything extra-terrestrial. This past week campers wore their favorite sport uniform during sports day and upcoming events include a scavenger hunt and a talent show.
“Every two weeks there’s a new session,” says Cimino, “so we change up the activities, but a third to half of our campers are here the entire summer (June 30 through August 22). The day is broken into a morning assembly at 9 a.m., “Where the whole camp comes together and we read things to do, tell jokes, sing songs, just a nice way to start the day,” says Cimino. Then the campers break into small groups and/or skill development sessions. Then there is village time, where the campers spend time with all the campers and counselors in their age group. Lunch time follows. And then to special group time, where the campers go to a lead specialty activity, this year being arts and crafts and sports and games. Field trips and swimming, plus guest activity — where an outside specialist comes into the camp to lead the campers in special programming, such as yoga, zumba or swing dancing.
“But most important is our turnover from camper to counselor,” says Cimino. “Half the staff we have now were previous campers,” as I notice John Schmitt and Jessica Bartalsky, two superb ex-New Paltz athletes who were once campers and are now counselors, working and having fun with the kids. “They both came up through our CIT (counselor in training) program for ninth and tenth graders, who are paired with an established counselor,” says Cimino, who also mentions the first-year leader in training (LIT) program, where eighth-graders are paired with one of the directors, so as to learn the ropes. “Those programs keep the tradition going, so they understand how to do this,” adds Cimino, who then tells me that the 200-plus campers for each of the four sessions are in a one-to-ten ratio with a counselor, “and the youngest are one-to-seven.”
For more information about Camp Wiltmeet, call 845-338-3810, ext. 115 or visit www.ymcaulster.org.
While over in Highland, the 2014 Summer Fun at Berean Park and at Tony Williams Park is winding up its final week. Arts and crafts director Lou Ann Judge, who has run the program at Berean for the past five years and been involved in the Summer Camp for close to 20 as a counselor and assistant director, has seen some 80+ kids per week go through the six-week camp.
“There are a lot of kids who repeat weeks, kind of rotating a week here and a week there, but we seem to be holding steady at that 80-per week number,” says Judge. And over at Tony Williams, sports director Alyssa Morano, who has been the director for the past five years and before that a camper and counselor for the previous 12, sees a core group of campers that “come every week plus a lot of the same kids come back year-after-year.” This summer has seen Sports Camp with 25-50 campers every week.
Arts and Crafts Camp is for kids kindergarten through fourth grade and like with Sports Camp has designated days for specific activities. “Wednesday is painting day, Tuesday is odds-and-ends fabric day. Other days are set aside for mosaics, fuse art, sand art, sculpture…we try to hit all the arts and crafts forms throughout the summer,” says Judge.
Long-time Highland coach Carl Relyea has also run a swimming program at Berean for the past 30 years. Sports Camp, for kids going into third grade through seventh grade, is set up relatively the same way, only weekly instead of daily, with “one week football, week two soccer, week three softball and baseball, week four basketball and week five all-sports,” says Morano. The final week was a combination handball/kickball/dodgeball.
On Fridays both camps have field trips together at places like the county pool, bowling, SplashDown, Wood-n-Wheels, the county fair and a movie day at the local cinema.
To get involved in next year’s Summer Fun get in touch with the Town of Lloyd Recreation Department, Director Frank Alfonso, 12 Church Street, Highland, NY 12528. Registration deadline is mid-June every year.