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Top Nature Activities to Get Through the Pandemic as a Family

activities to do as a family during pandemic While the school year starts back up the same as it does every year, things aren’t quite back to normal. Sending your kids back to school while COVID-19 continues to spread requires a shift in the way things are done. One thing that makes getting through the pandemic easier is the extra time spent with family and getting outside to enjoy the great outdoors. Nature has a calming effect on adults and children, and few things are more fun than exploring all that nature has to offer together as a family. An increasing number of studies have pointed to the considerable benefits that a good dose of Vitamin-N (for nature) has on the body. Lower stress levels, better focus, a more positive attitude, and more. Below, we lay out some of our top favorite nature activities to help you and your family get through the pandemic—all while social distancing—to help make the best of a difficult situation.

5 Nature Activities to Enjoy as a Family While Social Distancing

1.   Find a Favorite “Sit Spot”

Like it sounds, a sit spot is a place to sit, be still, and observe nature. Leading nature educator, Jon Young, recommends that adults and children discover a special place outside, whether it’s under your favorite tree in the backyard, in your garden, or a nearby creek. You can get all the benefits that nature has to offer without spending a dime. All you need is some time to reap the benefits of connecting with nature and reducing that sense of isolation. A sit spot could mean building a den, fort, treehouse, or any place that could help boost creativity and provide an outdoor comfort zone for kids.

2.   Camp Out in the Backyard

You can still get the sense of adventure from sleeping under the stars or in a tent without leaving home! If you don’t have a tent, try getting extra imaginative by having the kids make their own tent with poles, sticks, and blankets. Urge them to stay outside as much as possible for the night and only go inside when necessary. Break out some binoculars or a telescope to turn the backyard into an observatory—watch birds and bats as the sun goes down, or see if you can spot your favorite constellations. Don’t have a backyard? Try pitching a hammock or blowing up an air mattress on your porch to provide the same change of scenery close to the outdoors that your kids will surely love.

3.   Plant or Adopt a Family or Friendship Tree

Whether you live in a densely populated city or a quiet, rural neighborhood, you can plant a tree or adopt one on a special occasion and watch it grow together. Planting trees is not only good for the environment, but nurturing nature sends a positive message to kids. Watch how much growth can come with a little time and care, and keep track of the changes through notes and pictures every week. It can be something special to share as both the tree and your kids grow over the years.

4.   Go on a Hike or Exercise Outside

While national parks may not be the best option to maintain safe social distancing, there are plenty of scenic, less-crowded trails to hike in New Jersey that the whole family will enjoy. Nature parks closer to home will have fewer visitors and still offer the excitement of getting out of the house along with a healthy Vitamin-D dose. Adding games to your family hikes is an excellent way to help younger kids get excited about hitting the trail. For example, you can try playing “Walk this Way” by imitating different animals along your hike or bring walkie talkies to pretend you’re on a jungle exploration. Encourage leadership skills by having your children take turns leading the hike, walking in front, and setting the pace.

5.   Watch Wildlife Up Close Through a Lens

On the days when you can’t get outside to enjoy the great outdoors, you can still have a taste online. The National Conservation Training Center and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have an eagle cam to watch live footage of a bald eagle’s nest up close and personal that’s truly remarkable. You can find various online nature cams to watch birds, dolphins, panda bears, and many other animals through different aquariums, zoos, and wildlife refuges throughout the country. Even though it’s through a lens, watching live animals in their habitat can spark your and your kids’ creativity and imagination!

86 Acres of the Great Outdoors at Central New Jersey’s Frogbridge Day Camp

At Frogbridge Day Camp, there are countless outdoor activities for every child’s interests across our 86-acre facility. We are proud to offer activities not commonly found elsewhere, from traditional sports to adventure sports, arts, crafts, and aquatics. If you’ve never experienced the wonders of Frogbridge Day Camp, we invite you to book a private tour for you and your family to explore our facility. Tours are private for one family at a time to keep safe social distances, and all safety protocols are followed. We would love the opportunity to welcome your family to ours! Call our office to schedule your tour today at 609-208-9050 or complete our contact form online.

Best Hikes to Go on with Kids in Central New JerseyBest Hikes to Go on with Kids in Central New Jersey

As autumn fast approaches, there’s no better time to get the family out in the great outdoors for an easy hike or nature walk. Hiking with kids can be an exciting experience and a great way to exercise and breathe fresh air. With a little research, a picnic of kid-friendly snacks, and allotted breaks to rest those little legs, you might be surprised at how much fun both you and your kids have as you explore the best flora and fauna the Garden State has to offer!   At Frogbridge Day Camp, our favorite areas to explore, especially with beginner hikers, are nature centers, trails, and parks throughout Central New Jersey. These trails are a great introduction with a variety of manageable parks that are less rocky than the northern parts. This time of year, hikes in Central New Jersey boast forests awash with fall colors, rolling hills, farmlands, and boardwalks across salt ponds and marshes. In this blog, we share some of our favorite hiking trails to go on with kids to have an outdoor adventure right here in Central New Jersey.

best hikes in central new jerseyClayton Park, Monmouth County 

Practically in Frogbridge Day Camp’s backyard lies the 450-acre site of Clayton Park. Perfect for enjoying the fall foliage, this park is known for majestic red and white oak, ash, beech, and birch trees that create a beautiful backdrop throughout your hike. This rustic area is nestled in the rolling wooded hills surrounding the best of New Jersey farmlands. You’ll find six miles of hiking trails along Doctor’s Creek that’s not just perfect for a hike but also a favorite for family bike rides.

Cattus Island, Toms River

Smooth boardwalks and seven miles of trails near Barnegat Bay are perfect for families with wildlife and birdwatching on their hiking wishlist. Cattus Island is home to 530 acres of wetlands and woodlands that feature a trail to the beach and plenty of opportunities for spotting aquatic animals and reptiles. Don’t forget to stop at the Cooper Environmental Center, recently renovated with a butterfly garden, birdwatching area, and a live osprey camera!  

Cheesequake State Park, Matawan

This state park in Middlesex County features a variety of enjoyable hikes through hardwood forests, freshwater swamps, and saltwater marshes with the support of boardwalks that make the trails easy for little legs. You’ll find five types of marked trails ranging from easy to moderate.  Look for the beginner’s yellow trail that circles through shaded paths with boardwalks and stunning views of Hooks Creek Lake that your kids will undoubtedly enjoy. With a variety of trails, playgrounds, biking, and camping areas, Cheesequake State Park is an excellent option for groups with varying tastes of what makes the ideal outdoor adventure.

Duke Farms, Hillsborough

You’ll find 18 miles of scenic trails, both paved and gravel, on 1,000 acres of land open to the public for outdoor activities, self-discovery, and education. The trails of Duke Farms wind around lakes and lagoons, across woodlots and manicured gardens, alongside picturesque sculptures, fountains, and a waterfall. Once owned by heiress Doris Duke, this park is a family favorite with scavenger hunts, an orchid greenhouse, and an organic café.

Wharton State Forest, Hammonton

With a reputation as the largest forest in the Garden State, you’ll find an abundance of wildlife while hiking through these trails, including bald eagles, swans, river otters, deer, and countless birds. The Batsto Lake trail takes you through the historical site of Batsto Village, built in the 1600s, that makes you feel like you’ve time-traveled and left modern civilization behind. Wharton State Forest features three trails for beginners, each less than five miles long through the wondrous forest that you and your kids will equally enjoy. The best part about Wharton State Forest is that you can easily spend a whole day filled with various activities like canoeing, horseback riding, and some of New Jersey’s best hiking.

Discover the Great Outdoors with Frogbridge Day Camp in Monmouth County, NJ

At Frogbridge Day Camp, we understand how important discovering the wonders of the great outdoors can be for kids of all ages. Across our 86 acres, our campers enjoy various outdoor activities ranging from fishing, archery, swimming, zip-lining, and rock climbing. We invite you to discover the wonders of Frogbridge Day Camp with a personal tour, now underway for families interested in enrollment for Summer Camp 2021. All tours are private with one family at a time, following all recommended protocols, including social distancing and masks. To schedule a personal tour at Frogbridge Day Camp, call our office at 609-208-9050 or complete a contact form today.

How Mentoring Youth Helps Them in the Long Run

When you hear stories of successful people sharing how a caring mentor in their childhood helped get them to where they are today – you understand why mentoring is so beneficial to young people. These stories can be found everywhere, and if you think about it, there was probably someone in your childhood who made a significant impact on your life. Maybe it was an extended family member, teacher, counselor, coach, or neighbor who helped mentor you when you were young. Whoever it was, a mentor offers a young person support, guidance, hope, and encouragement. Award-winning actor Denzel Washington once said, “Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had a real positive influence in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living – if you do it well, I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing you the way. A mentor.” Studies have shown for years the long-term benefits that quality mentoring can have on young people. At Frogbridge Day Camp, we’ve seen first-hand the benefits that mentors have on campers. That’s why, ever since 1999, we are so careful to ensure that our day camp mentors and teachers are the best fit for our Frogbridge campers. Here, we share some of the key benefits of how mentoring youth can help them in the long run:

Enhanced Self-Esteem Benefits    

The enhanced self-esteem that kids find when they have a quality mentor helps them stay strong when tempted by peer pressure. With self-confidence, kids aren’t so easily persuaded to do something they know is wrong just to fit in. In a five-year study done by Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada, children with mentors were found to have fewer behavior problems and exhibited more confidence in themselves.  In one study done by Psychology Today, youth with a supportive mentor other than their parents blossomed in their interpersonal skills and emotional maturity. No matter the demographic, almost all the youth in the study reported better planning and problem-solving skills. These skills combined help kids grow, and develop self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-awareness.

Kids Are Less Likely to Be Involved in Bullying

At Frogbridge Day Camp, we know that mentoring matters to positive youth maturation. Psychology Today reported on a study demonstrating the link between mentoring youth and a reduction in bullying behaviors. At least 1 in 4 students in the U.S. report being bullied while at school, according to the U.S. Department of Education From middle school to high school, a quarter of all kids have reportedly been bullied at some point. When a caring adult mentors youth, they’re almost being made bully-proof by the self-esteem they build as a result. In the study done by Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada, girls were four times less likely to become bullies than those without a mentor, while boys were less likely by twice the rate.

Kids Demonstrate Improved Behavior 

When youth grow up with meaningful and caring mentors in their lives, they exhibit improved behavior and positive attitudes. Both at home and school, kids know how to behave and talk to older people, like teachers and coaches, as their interpersonal skills develop.  When teachers in the BELONG mentoring program worked with students, they reported that students were more engaged in the classroom and were more concerned in their learning than other students without mentors. Youth who have an influential mentor figure in their lives are also less likely to get involved in drug use and criminal behaviors. One study found that kids without a strong mentor are twice as likely to initiate drug use than those with a mentor. The life skills that mentees gained from their mentor helped them stay away from drugs and criminal behavior.

Experience the Difference at Frogbridge Day Camp in Central New Jersey

Having a caring mentor can impact the life of a child in a meaningful way. At Frogbridge Day Camp, our mission statement has remained the same since 1999: “Children First.” Our number one priority is making a difference in the lives of children, both young and old. From engaging with our camp mentors and teachers to playing with kids their age, the experience that campers have at Frogbridge plays an indispensable role in their social development and maturation.  We are careful to employ the most mature, experienced, and caring teachers and mentors at our summer day camp. We stress the importance of independence, learning new skills, and appreciating the importance of camaraderie and friendship. We stand by this promise to offer your children the most exceptional camping experience possible at rates comparable to all others in Central Jersey. Come see the difference at Frogbridge for yourself by scheduling a personal tour! Complete an online contact form today or call our office at (609) 438-8275.

Qualities of Successful Day Camp Mentors

Qualities of Successful Day Camp Mentors

Mentors play a significant role in campers at summer day camp. They’re the ones who spend most of their time helping campers, making sure they put on sunscreen, getting to their scheduled activities, and offering support and encouragement when they’re nervous about trying something new. One thing we pride ourselves on here at Frogbridge Day Camp is having the most mature and experienced team of mentors and teachers in the country available for our campers. 

A question that we often hear from both parents and prospective mentors is what qualities we look for when we hire our Frogbridge mentors. Some people might think that all camp mentors have to be loud and bubbly with lots of energy. While these personality traits can be charming in some, they don’t describe all of the amazing people who serve in the Mentor role.

Each day camp mentor is unique with their own set of personality traits that make them perfect for our team. However, over the years, there have been specific quality traits that stand out when we hire our Frogbridge day camp mentors.

1. Mentors are positive role models

As a day camp mentor, all eyes are on you. Campers young and old are watching how you handle other campers, camp teachers, and even when you think they’re not paying attention. Kids are incredibly observant. Day camp mentors must be aware of this fact and take this responsibility of being a role model seriously. When they get upset, do they get angry? When they’re happy, do they celebrate? However mentors act, many young campers will mimic that behavior. Being a positive role model is key to being a successful mentor.

2. Mentors have grit

Day camp can be a lot of fun for campers and mentors alike. But it can also be stressful for those in charge. To be a promising day camp mentor, you have to have grit and roll with the punches. A thunderstorm might interfere with the big plans for the Color War “Break,” or an activity or special event may not go off as planned, and you have to alter plans for everyone. Mentors with grit work through any setbacks, keeping a positive attitude and figuring out how to make the best of any situation. They might not be thrilled about having to reschedule activities and assignments, but they make the best of the situation and do it with a smile on their face.

3. Mentors are focused on the campers

We all know that summer day camp is fun – for kids and kids-at-heart. The most successful day camp mentors, however, don’t come to Frogbridge thinking about all the fun that they’ll have. Instead, they’re thinking about the difference that they’ll make in so many kids’ experiences at day camp. Everyone wants to try Toadally Tubing and our 500-foot zip line! But if that’s the main reason for becoming a mentor, then we have to dig deeper. We want our mentors at Frogbridge to provide a fun experience and invest in the lives of the kids who come. Everything else is a bonus.

4. Mentors are hard-working

Being a day camp mentor can undoubtedly be fun, but mentors can work hard too. You can’t be a successful day camp mentor and be lazy. When you’re a day camp mentor, you’re staying active from early morning to early evening – sometimes later. When mentors slack off, campers don’t get the experience they deserve. The best day camp mentors give it their all to each activity and assignment, to provide the best experience for the campers.

5. Most of all, mentors are responsible

This should go without saying – but being responsible is essential for any successful day camp mentor. Frogbridge mentors have a huge responsibility. They have to be sure campers stay safe throughout daily programs and activities, eat a healthy lunch, stay hydrated, and have a good time throughout the entire experience. When mentors act carelessly, the outcomes can be dangerous. That’s one risk we aren’t willing to take.

Mentors Make a Difference at Frogbridge Day Camp

There are many extraordinary qualities that successful day camp mentors possess. They’re creative, compassionate, silly, flexible, and kind. Most of all, they care about making a difference in the lives of children. If you’re considering sending your child to summer camp, you can rest assured in knowing that Frogbridge Day Camp hires wonderful people as mentors and teachers for our campers. We are proud to offer Frogbridge day campers the most mature and experienced team of mentors and teachers in the country with the highest staff to camper ratio in the industry. It’s all part of what makes us stand out, something that we call the Frogbridge Difference.

If you think you have what it takes to be a successful Frogbridge Day Camp mentor, please check out our Work at Frogbridge page to learn more. Or, if you’re a parent and want to visit Frogbridge Day Camp and take a personal tour before the upcoming day camp season, please complete an online contact form to schedule your tour, or call us today at (609) 438-8275.

What Your Child Can Learn at Frogbridge Day Camp

What Your Child Can Learn at Frogbridge Day Camp

With the end of the school year quickly approaching, many parents are considering the option of sending their children to summer day camp for the months between classes. If you have the means and opportunity to do so, studies show that sending your child to day camp comes with many added benefits. The American Camp Association describes day camp as an enrichment to children’s lives, which aligns with the history and purpose of summer day camps in America. What began as a fad in the early 1900s for boys to spend time in the outdoors quickly evolved into a stage in childhood that girls and boys both look forward to.

There’s no denying that summer day camp is packed full of benefits for children. At Frogbridge Day Camp, we pride ourselves in offering the safest environment with the most diverse range of activities – all of which are tailor-made for the growing camper. From Pre-K to 10th grade, when you send your children to Frogbridge, you’ll be astonished at what they’ll learn.

Frogbridge Features a Variety of Special Interest Activities for Campers

During the school year, schedules are packed with little opportunity for children to discover new interests between homework, family time, and extracurricular activities. When they go to summer camp, the possibilities are endless for finding new talents and interests.

Campers at Frogbridge Day Camp get to try new activities, return to those they already love or discover new interests and find where their natural talents lie, with a variety of activities for campers to choose from. We call these options “Clubs” or “electives”.

Some of the most favorite elective activities at Frogbridge Day Camp include:

  • Drama Center
  • Arts n’ Crafts
  • Computers
  • Sports such as Archery, Soccer and Laser Tag
  • Cooking

We’ve seen first-hand at Frogbridge how developing these interests results in higher self-esteem for children as they figure out what they enjoy and what they’re good at. That knowledge can give high-schoolers the advantage of being better prepared for graduation with a sharper understanding of what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

Children Learn How to Better Communicate at Summer Camp

Campers at Frogbridge Day Camp learn to exercise and work on their communication and social skills while they interact with other children during team activities. Team activities require campers to think strategically and work together to win games and challenges. There’s usually much more time at summer camp to work on these social and communication skills than what the time allowed during the school year. At day camp, campers start learning while they’re young how to unplug and socialize with each other the old-fashioned way – by playing games and having fun!

For example, the annual Color War is the pinnacle of the summer season at Frogbridge Day Camp. Campers team up in two groups – Green and Gold – and compete in games and contests for the ultimate title as winners of the Battle at the Bridge. For three days, campers face off in more than 50 activities throughout our 86-acre resort and compete while focusing on and gaining much needed points by showing fair play and teamwork.

Campers Show Increased Independence When They Go to Frogbridge Day Camp

While at Frogbridge Day Camp, campers learn how to care for themselves and manage their interests in multiple activities happening throughout the day without their parents reminding them. That helps kids grow by learning how to make new friends, get their meals during lunch hour, and take care of the personal belongings that they bring with them to camp. With the added safety benefit of teachers and camp counselors available whenever they might be needed, this gives children the chance to spread their wings while feeling supported by others.

Frogbridge Campers Learn About the Importance of Community Service

Throughout childhood, kids learn that it’s good to help others and to do good deeds. When children come to Frogbridge, they see the difference that their good deeds provide to local communities by participating in our “Campers Helping Kids” program. Some of the organizations that our campers have helped through this program include: 

  • Pediatric Cancer Foundation 
  • Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JFRF)
  • Lymphoma & Leukemia Society

Children can also participate in our annual Halloween event, called the Frogtoberfest. This not-so-spooky event is focused on donating toys to families in need for the upcoming holiday season. These interactions are all part of the Frogbridge philosophy of making a difference in a child’s life. When you send your children to Frogbridge Day Camp, they get to become an integral part of positive change. 

Discover All That Your Child Can Learn at Frogbridge Day Camp! 

As you weigh whether you want to send your children to day camp, we invite you to come and check out Frogbridge for yourself! Bring your child and see for yourself what sets Frogbridge Day Camp apart from all the rest. We offer daily personal tours throughout the year. 

Complete a contact form online or give our main office a call today to schedule your visit at (609) 438-8275.

Top 4 Reasons Why Teens Love Summer Day Camp

Top 4 Reasons Why Teens Love Summer Day Camp

Teens across the country are counting down the days until the last day of school. Summer means freedom and fun, and the memories that teens make during those few months tend to be some of the best they’ll make all year long. Years ago, teens didn’t have many options on how to pass the days when school was out. Outside of traditional day camp, teens could choose to visit their local pool or nearby beach to pass the long summer days; some might even get a summer job. 

These days, however, between travel opportunities, immersion classes, sports camps, and internships – teens have a plethora of options on how they want to spend their sweet summertime. Something that we find year after year, however, is that, despite so many options, teens still choose to spend their summer days with us at Frogbridge Day Camp.

We’re always listening to our campers at Frogbridge Day Camp. What we’ve learned is there are some common reasons why teens love summer day camp.

1. Teens Make New Friends at Summer Day Camp

Hundreds of families across New Jersey continue to send their teens to summer day camp at Frogbridge. Teens get to interact and spend time with others their age who they might not have ever met while attending their local school. Teens are engrossed in new sports, games, and activities that only happen at summer camp, like Rock Climbing and Zip lining and exciting games of laser tag. Teens lean on each other to learn and grow, which builds the foundation for strong friendships – many of which will last a lifetime.

2. Camp Allows Teens to Develop New Skills  

Teens who spend four weeks or more at summer day camp are immersed in a world of electives and activities that they might not get to experience any other time of year. Frogbridge allows teens to pick which electives and activities they want to spend time on. That way, teens are in control of how they spend their days at summer camp, and they can select what piques their interests most. Having so much time to dive into new skills that they learn through these activities and electives allows teens to acquire new skills. Some of the skills that campers learn at Frogbridge include driving a motorized go kart, creative arts, working on computers or painting, and thinking/improvising on their feet during improv with Performing Arts. 

3. The Combined Freedom and Structure of Camp Helps Teens Grow

The teenage years are ones where kids are becoming more independent and learning to trust their instincts. When teens go to summer day camp, it’s a test of their self-sufficiency and allows them to make decisions based on their own best judgment. Mom or dad isn’t telling them what to choose to eat for lunch, when to clean up after themselves, and how to manage their free time. When teens are at summer camp, they learn to make decisions independently, which allows them to grow. Teens come to understand the thought process for making a good decision and learn more about themselves in the process.

4. Fun Field Trips for Teens Only

Summer camps have travel options and field trips that are for teens only. For campers who have spent years in summer camp as they’re growing, they look forward to finally becoming a teenager so they can participate in these excursions. At Frogbridge Day Camp, for example, we offer a travel program for 8th graders, called S.C.O.R.E., and a more extended Teen Travel Program that’s only open to 9th and 10th-grade campers (14-15 years old). Throughout the summer, campers can participate in as many as 32 travel days and six travel overnights. Some of the trips that teens have traveled to in the past include the following:

  • Hershey Park
  • Busch Gardens, Va.
  • Boston, Mass.
  • Baltimore, Md.

This travel time helps teens continue to feel more confident as they grow in their independence. When the school year begins again, they can return feeling refreshed from a fun summer and ready to tackle their classes.

Discover All the Fun That Your Teens Can Have at Frogbridge Day Camp

If you’re still unsure about how your teenagers will feel about summer day camp, bring them for a visit and find out first-hand all the fun to be had! Located on 86 acres in Central New Jersey, we encourage you to visit and see for yourself! We offer personal tours daily throughout the year at Frogbridge Day Camp, and our Open House events take place on select Saturdays throughout the winter. To schedule an appointment, fill out our online contact form, or call our main office at 609-438-8275.