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Why camp? Exploring the local options

HAMBURG — The purpose of day camps is no longer babysitting, or keeping kids out of the house and with other little ones while parents are at work. The camps provided by the town and village of Hamburg create a balance of structure and freedom.

This is crucial to the psychological well-being of today’s youth, according to child psychologists.

Dr. Michael Popkin, family therapist and founder of Active Parenting, said, “The building blocks of self-esteem are belonging, learning and contributing. Camps offer unique opportunities for children to succeed in these three vital areas and even beyond home and school.”

The village of Hamburg’s Kidsplay Weekend has the standard camp activities – sports, arts and crafts, playgrounds and field trips to places such as Lasertron, a Bisons’ Game, the Buffalo Zoo and Chestnut Ridge.

But according to Recreation Leader Nicholas Gallardo, the camp’s uniqueness lies in its combination of flexibility and dependability.

“We are unique in that we are structured to a point, but we also allow for some freedom among our staff and with the kids,” Gallardo said. “It’s a safe, fun place.”

The kids are given options of activities and the staff members are allowed to get creative with their own ideas, as well. Gallardo said the schedule leaves room for the staff to suggest activities and events. At any given time, a staff member can plan and execute a tournament or activity.

The town of Hamburg’s Woodlawn Adventure Camp maintains order, while allowing inventiveness as well, by combining kids’ favorite day camp activities with opportunities to learn.

That camp mixes science activities with arts and crafts, sports days and field trips. These science activities are run by New York state-certified science teachers, so kids can have fun and learn at the same time.

Last year, the camp partnered with Destination Imagination. This organization’s stated mission is to encourage teams of learners to have fun while incorporating science, technology, engineering and mathematics principles, as well as service.

Destination Imagination provided the camp with group activities that included science and taught kids how to work within a team. According to Camp Director Tom Betrus, they are attempting to work with this organization again this summer.

“From my own personal perspective, being an educator, we strive to do that which would set us apart. We try to let the kids have fun, but also keep the kids engaged,” said Betrus.

Also included on the camp staff are at least seven NYS-certified teachers. Betrus said he believes that this unique staff also helps the camp maintain a fun yet educational environment.

The town of Hamburg is also hosting Day Camp at the Nike Base. Emphasizing different sports each week, this camp combines the joy of playing the game with the necessary feelings of responsibility and leadership.

The Day Camp Supervisor Steve Otremba said, “We want them to be involved and we stress participation in activities. Although kids are supervised at all times, campers have time to initiate activities and show leadership.”

The camp setting also allows for a flexible schedule. With the arena at the Nike Base, the kids have options if the weather is too hot or if it is not nice enough to play outside.

The Hamburg Day Camp at the Nike Base also includes camp standards such as sports activities, arts and crafts, nature activities, weekly trips to the Hamburg Town Beach and field trips.

With a staff including an emergency medical technician on-site, a lifeguard, teachers and college-aged students looking to get involved in education, Otremba emphasized that the camp is fully prepared to take care of its campers.

The village of Hamburg’s Kidsplay Weekend is being offered June 30-Aug. 15, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Those interested can contact the village of Hamburg Recreation Department at 649-6170.

The town of Hamburg’s Woodlawn Adventure Camp is running for nine weeks, starting June 30 from 9- 4 p.m.

The Hamburg Day Camp at Nike Base begins June 30 and runs through Aug.15, from 9-3:40 p.m.

Those interested in either of the two can contact the Ttown of Hamburg Recreation Department at 646-5145.


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