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Making the Most of Camp Parents' Weekends

June 17, 2013 By:
Gail Snyder, This Summer Feature
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Bushkill Falls isn’t far away when you visit your child at Camp Nah-Jee-Wah. Photo by Suandsoe

For the past two summers, Holland, Pa., resident Sue Weiner and her boyfriend have turned parents’ visiting day at Nah-Jee-Wah, a New Jersey Y overnight camp in Milford, Pa., attended by Weiner’s 11-year-old daughter Lara, into a midsummer weekend getaway. The first time they did so, they traveled to the Poconos the Saturday before visiting day, hiking the trails and enjoying the waterfalls at Bushkill Falls (Bushkill Falls Rd., Bushkill). Later, they visited the shopping outlets in Tannersville. On visiting day they took Lara to Port Jervis, N.Y., for lunch and to a Wal-Mart to pick up some items she needed.

Last summer, Weiner and her boyfriend booked a room at the Tom Quick Inn (411 Broad St.), a small hotel in Milford, and spent Saturday at nearby Malibu Dude Ranch (351 Foster Hill Rd.), where Weiner watched her first rodeo and they had dinner. Weiner could also have stayed at the dude ranch, gone horseback riding there and tried her hand at skeet shooting. On visiting day, Weiner and her boyfriend ate breakfast at the Milford Diner (301 S. Broad St.), along with many other camp families, before heading off to meet Lara and once again take her for lunch in Port Jervis.

“I like making a weekend of it,” Weiner, a former camp director herself, says.

Parents who have children in Jewish overnight camps might want to follow Weiner’s lead or, if they don’t have a weekend to devote in mid-July, to build in a side trip or two. Here is a camp-by-camp look at visiting day plans and nearby attractions.

Galil

Parents’ visiting day at Camp Galil, located in Ottsville, Pa., will be on a Sunday in July from noon to 4 p.m. Parents will eat a picnic lunch with their campers, use the sports fields, take a dip in the pool and perhaps take part in the parents vs. kids soccer game. Camp director Sharon Waimberg says some families will likely ride their bikes to camp that day or bring their bikes in order to enjoy Bucks County’s picturesque country roads.

The camp is situated not far from New Hope, Frenchtown and Doylestown, so there is a plethora of museums, restaurants and outdoor activities to consider for satisfying side trips. For unusual ice cream flavors like jalapeño-chocolate and honey-lavender, a stop at OwowCow Creamery (4105 Durham Rd., Ottsville) will hit the spot.

Midsummer is also a terrific time to explore Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve (1635 River Rd., New Hope), with more than 800 species of native plants in habitats that attract butterflies, dragonflies and grasshoppers. The preserve has a new pond with tadpoles, frogs and turtles, and there are self-guided and guided tours available; admission is $5 for adults.

Railroad buffs can take a 45-minute, nine-mile roundtrip ride on the steam-powered New Hope and Ivyland Railroad (32 W. Bridge St., New Hope). Riders can choose between air-conditioned and open-air cars. A basic adult ticket is $19.95.

Speaking of adults, what could be more fun than a tour of Bucks County wineries? Nine family-owned wineries in the area conduct tours and allow you to sample their wares. A partial list includes Peace Valley Winery (Old Limekiln Rd., Chalfont), New Hope Winery (612 Lower York Rd., Rte. 202, New Hope) and Buckingham Valley Vineyards (1521 Rt. 413, Buckingham). Visit www.buckscountywinetrail.com for more information.

Lee Mar

Camp Lee Mar in Hawley, Pa., will hold its parents’ visiting day on a Saturday in mid-July from about 1 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., according to executive director Ari Segal. During visiting day at the 60-year-old special needs camp, parents will take part in academic and speech conferences and cheer the kids on in swimming competitions. Segal says many parents will find it hard to believe that their child who once disliked going into the water has learned to swim. After visiting day is over, parents can take their children out to dinner or spend the night with them at a hotel.

A popular option for ice cream, miniature golf, bumper boats, and laser tag is Costa’s Family Fun Park, (2111 U.S. 6 in Hawley), located about 15 minutes from camp. Want more than ice cream? Apple Valley (104 Rte. 6 in Milford) has a family-friendly menu that includes wings, nachos, salads, quesadillas, sandwiches, barbecue and steaks. For a delicious dinner with a view of nearby Lake Wallenpaupack, a trip to Ehrhardt’s Waterfront Resort (205 Rte. 507, Hawley) is in order. Dine outdoors if you like, perhaps while sipping a Paupack Punch, a combination of rum, raspberry schnapps, orange, pineapple and cranberry juice.

Families who have at least two nights to spend can check out the all-inclusive Woodloch Pines Resort (731 Welcome Lake Rd., Hawley), which, in addition to three meals a day, offers golf, a zip line, climbing wall, go-carts, horseback riding and other activities.

If shopping is on your mind, you might want to adopt the outlet shopping tradition favored by Sally Salon and her husband, Rydal residents whose daughter, Brooke, will be spending her fourth summer at Lee Mar. After dropping Brooke off at camp, the Salons visit The Crossings Premium Outlets (1000 Premium Outlets Dr., Tannersville) for great bargains on Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic and other top brands.

New Jersey Y Camps

During parents’ visiting day at Nah-Jee-Wah, Cedar Lake, Teen Camp and Round Lake in Milford, moms and dads can expect to make use of the camps’ athletic fields, lakes and swimming pools, meet a few sports celebrities and lunch on barbecue, according to Y Camps director Janet Fliegelman.

Outdoor enthusiasts may want to spend some time at Milford Beach (Rte. 6, Milford), a sand beach on the Delaware River; High Point State Park (1480 Rte. 23) in Sussex, N.J., for boating, swimming, fishing, hiking and great views of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania; or Raymondskill Falls (Visitors Center, 224 Dingmans Falls Rd., Dingmans Ferry), the highest waterfall in Pennsylvania.

Lovers of history might like the Pike County Historical Society Columns Museum (608 Broad St., Milford). The museum is home to an American flag that was placed under Abraham Lincoln’s head immediately after his assassination, a 19th-century stagecoach and a reconstructed one-room schoolhouse, among other treasures.

Meanwhile, about a half-hour away from the camp is the Galleria Mall (1 Galleria Dr., Middletown, N.Y.), a 1.1 million-square-foot complex of stores and restaurants that contains an AMC Cineplex.

Pinemere

Toby Ayash, executive director of Pinemere in Stroudsburg, says parents can choose to spend time with their kids at camp on visiting day, which usually lasts from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., or take them off the camp grounds. Ayash says kids love to leave the camp for a chance to enjoy air conditioning, shop at the nearby Tannersville outlets and sample some non-camp food. On the other hand, parents like to spend time at the camp, where a picnic lunch is provided and they can swim and boat, play tennis, and try out the zip line and ropes courses.

If the weather is fine, everyone is likely to agree on a trip to Camelbeach Mountain Water Park (One Camelback Rd., Tannersville). In addition to water fun for small children, there are water slides with such dare-you-to-try-it names as Triple Venom, Vortex, Spin Cycle and Titan. General admission is $37.99 for those over 48 inches tall. Indoor water slide fun can be had at Great Wolf Lodge’s Waterpark, provided you are guests of the hotel (1 Great Wolf Dr., Scotrum). There, you will discover what happens when a water slide meets a roller coaster.

After you have worked up an appetite, you’ll want to visit the Snydersville Diner (U.S. 209, Stroudsburg), a Pinemere tradition. A meal of the diner’s reasonably priced homemade food deserves to be capped off with a slice of one of 30 kinds of pie made on the premises. Reservations are a good idea at the Sarah Street Grill (550 Quaker Alley, Stroudsburg), whose children’s menu includes such items as Linguine Treasure Chest and Triangle Soldier Surprises; adults may be tempted by steaks, pasta, fish and a sushi bar. In the fine dining category, Smuggler’s Cove (Rte. 611, Tannersville) offers a selection of seafood, steaks and prime rib.

Ramah

Located in Lakewood, Pa., Camp Ramah makes its 17-room guesthouse available to parents who want to visit on selected weekends, including the one on which parents’ visiting day falls. Reservations have to be made in advance, and the rooms are already sold out for upcoming visiting day, according to assistant camp director Michelle Sugarman. Parents are discouraged from taking their campers off the grounds during visiting day.

Families who want to explore the area without their campers can escape the heat by taking the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour (1 Bald Mountain Rd., Scranton), a one-of-a-kind experience in which you board a vehicle that takes you down a 300-foot shaft and into a former anthracite coal mine. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7.50 for kids 12 and under. Families with elementary school-age children might get a kick out of Claws ’n’ Paws Wild Animal Park (1475 Ledgedale Rd., Lake Ariel, Pa.), and its animal shows, petting zoo and giraffe feeding opportunities. Admission is $16 for ages 12 and up, $12 for younger kids.

Gail Snyder is a freelance writer based in Chalfont. This article was originally printed in This Summer, a Jewish Exponent magazine.

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