Maplewood Rec is ready for camp season 2020 vintage-style

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Kids Camp Maplewood is ready to keep children active and engaged, while remaining safe and socially distanced this summer. Kids Camp is available for youth entering kindergarten through fifth grade. Home base, as usual, will be DeHart Community Center and Park, but to complete the vintage vibe, campers will also enjoy Maplecrest Park similar to years past. 

While following state guidelines, Kids Camp Maplewood will offer a lot of outdoor play time, arts and crafts, and innovative ways to keep socially distanced while having as much fun as possible. 

“Program development has been a challenge this summer, as we had to remove field trips and pool visits from our schedule along with many typical camp activities,” Director of Community Services Melissa Mancuso said. “After carefully reviewing the state guidelines and consulting with our health officer, Candice Davenport, I was confident we can do a smaller version of camp very safely. We usually have around 135 campers and decided this year to limit the size to 50. Activities may be a little bit different, but getting our youth outside and giving them the ability to socialize with peers will be a game changer in my opinion. Kids crave comradery and we are excited to make memories!”

Claire Sinclair, herself a day camp counselor for the Maplewood Recreation Department between the ages of 16 and 18, is the new camp director. Sinclair was born and raised in Maplewood; after meeting her husband at Columbia High School, she is still living in Maplewood with her family. Sinclair has been a teacher for 23 years — 13 at Tuscan Elementary School.

“Kids Camp was different in those days,” Sinclair said. “Kids would show up at one of the town parks with a few dollars in hand. Among the many projects they could create, they would make lanyards, friendship bracelets or sand art. Nok Hockey and Carrom were played on the patios. There would be games of kickball and backyard games on the fields. Back then, there was no registration, kids came and went as they pleased. Two counselors were assigned to each park. In my three years, I was at DeHart, Orchard and Memorial parks. Counselors would spend the entire day there and kids would come and go freely.

“Things have come full circle this year, as I become the director of Kids Camp,” she continued. “While registration may be different than it was 30-plus years ago, this year, with restrictions of COVID, we are bringing our campers a blast from the past.”

Kids Camp Maplewood begins this year on July 6 and runs until Aug. 21. Half and full days with before and after care are currently offered. To register for Kids Camp Maplewood, call the Recreation Department at 973-762-8120.

Additionally, Funky Fun Art Camp is gearing up for its best summer yet, offering a creative outlet for children in grades one through six. Differing from last year, camp will be spread out to utilize all three floors of The Woodland, to allow social distancing. The newly adapted procedures still embrace the unique format that Funky Fun Art cultivates for allowing children to explore their creativity at their own pace when inspiration strikes. Smaller groups will allow for more individualized attention. Although there are wait lists for some weeks, there are some spots still available. To register, visit https://maplewood.recdesk.com/Community/Home or call the Recreation Department.

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