For many parents of school-aged youngsters, spring means only one thing: time to find a summer camp. That’s why North Branford Parks and Recreation Program Supervisor Shawn Keogh wants to shine a spotlight now on the department’s very fun–and very affordable–summer Kidz Kamp 2017.
Beginning June 12, Kidz Kamp operates 10 weekly sessions with optional extras, at a base cost of $95 per week, per camper.
“It’s definitely a great value,” says Shawn who joined North Branford Parks and Rec in January, 2017.
It’s also a seamless transition from school to camp for the town’s residents, he adds.
“We go by the town’s school calendar. So when school ends on Friday, we pick up on Monday [June 12] and go until Friday, August 18.”
And, compared to what it costs for “...five days of child care while you go to work; it’s less than $20 a day for five days, six hours a day,” Shawn points out. Regular Kidz Kamp hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The camp offers a $10 per week discount for siblings. Non-residents are also welcome, for an additional $20 fee per week.
Even with its very affordable pricing, the department recognizes some families simply can’t afford camp for their kids. NB Parks and Rec invites any interested resident, organization or business who might want to get involved as an anonymous donor to sponsor a child to attend Kidz Kamp. All youth entering first through sixth grades who are qualified to receive free lunch in the North Branford school system are eligible to become sponsored (one sponsorship per year, per child; first come, first served). For more information, call 203-484-6017.
Based inside and outside at Stanley T. Williams Community Center in Northford, Kidz Kamp camp is overseen by Shawn and run by three experienced directors with a staff of up to four seasoned camp counselors (based on weekly attendance). Additional hands-on help arrives from the always energetic and enthusiastic counselors-in-training. The staff works diligently to provide weeks filled with safe, fun and engaging summer days for campers.
Offered to campers entering first through sixth grades, Kidz Kamp 2017 will have several different daily selections of sports, arts and crafts, activities and entertainment. Each week follows its own theme: Animal Planet, Mad Scientists, Color Week, Water Week, Let the Games Begin, Sports Galore, Challenge Week, Anything Goes, Party Time, and Last Fling.
In other words, the Kidz Kamp experience is much more than “baby-sitting,” says Shawn.
Families can also add in some a la carte extras. There is before care ($15 weekly) and after care ($20 per week) an optional weekly trip each Wednesday (price determined based on trip), and optional hot lunch service ($20 per week). Camp can be attended by week, so parents can choose as few as one or all 10 weeks to give their kids a fun, safe place to engage in sports, activities.
“We also bring in some extra entertainment, like ‘Fun with Tom’–everybody always loves him, and he’ll be coming back most of the weeks,” says Shawn. “And we’re going to have a TV-style game show where they set up their own podiums and ask age-appropriate trivia questions that I think is going to be a lot of fun, so I’d like to see how everyone responds to that.”
Shawn also highly recommends campers take part in the weekly trip (camp remains open to those who elect not to travel). Trips are set for two area trampoline parks, Beardsley Zoo, CT Science Center, Quassy Amusement Park, a Hartford Yardgoats Baseball game, Nomads Adventure Quest, Roller Magic, and “...we also go to Dave & Buster’s in Manchester, which the kids love–they have a blast,” says Shawn.
He speaks from experience. Prior to arriving at his new post in North Branford, Shawn helped manage summer camp programs with Wallingford Parks and Recreation, where he also completed an internship; followed by interning with Guilford Parks and Recreation, then joining Guilford part-time and going on to be hired, in 2016, as one of two Program Coordinators. A Wallingford native, Shawn graduated with a Sports Management Degree from Southern Connecticut State University in 2015.
Coming from two other local recreation programs, Shawn brings ideas, enthusiasm, and an interest in helping North Branford Parks and Rec programming grow. Some of the most popular programs the department currently offers include the STW DiLungo Fitness Center, many interesting and entertaining day excursions, as well as the schedule of bus trips to Broadway shows, pro baseball games, and destination locations like Boston and New York City. While several adult through senior programs and many youth sports programs at STW Community Center are highly attended, Shawn says there are definitely opportunities to engage more of the town’s younger residents.
“I don’t know if we have enough opportunities, other than dance, for three- to seven-year-olds; so that’s something we’d like to get going.”
He’s also thinking of feathering in offers like a paint night class for kids as well as a kids’ cooking program. Instructors are being sought for the cooking program. Other instructors who may have a great idea for a program are always welcome to contact him, Shawn notes.
“Finding instructors is a part of it, so anytime a program idea comes up, we’re definitely open to hearing about it,” he says.
One of the most important elements to consider when adding a program is whether it will catch on, he adds.
“I think there are a couple of great ideas that were tried in past that, for whatever reason, didn’t work out. Like I’m big into playing cornhole, and I know they tried that here a few years ago and it didn’t catch on,” says Shawn, who has set a goal of working to reinstate the program.
“They still have the sets of boards and I’d really like to try to get a cornhole league going over the summer and do tournaments,” says Shawn. “It’s a popular backyard summer game and something everyone can do. You can have it at summer camp or senior programs.”
Look for Shawn running NB Park and Rec’s cornhole games at this year’s Potato and Corn Festival (POCO) coming this year Friday August 4 through Sunday Aug. 6, 2017.
Shawn says he’s excited to be a part of the family at STW Community Center, working under Parks, Recreation and Senior Director Lauren MacKay and with the staff of Parks and Recreation and the Senior Center.
“We’re always bouncing ideas off of each other, and everyone works together,” says Shawn. “Right now, we’re working on Pizza Wars which is coming here [Tuesday] April 25 – that’s always a great time with great pizza from local restaurants. We’ve also got Touch-a-Truck coming up on Sunday, June 4; with all the big, giant, weird trucks kids love; and we’re bringing in a deluxe meatball food truck for food.”
But with the end of school just around the corner, right now Shawn is concentrating on getting the word out about Kidz Kamp.
“I think it’s just a matter of marketing and getting the word out that we have a really affordable, excellent camp opportunity that’s right here,” says Shawn.
Kidz Kamp 2017 registration is open now online at www.nbparkrec.com and also available using the printed NB Parks & Recreation Spring/Summer 2017 program guide sent to North Branford residents (and available at STW Community Center, 1332 Middletown Ave.).