Camp Mason

Camp Mason

Meet Shani, Our Camp Registrar

By Anna Bilton, Senior Camp Director

Each time you call Camp Mason you are most likely greeted by our friendly, hard working Camp Registrar, Shani. We realized that while you may talk or email with Shani many times as your family prepares for camp you may not know much about her!

Shani has been working at Camp Mason for almost nine years and before that she worked in an Emergency Room making sure things ran smoothly. Shani lives locally to camp and has three daughters who all attended and worked at camp over the years. She likes animals, watching her daughter’s high school sports games and cosy wood fires! Shani really does love her work and genuinely enjoys getting to know all our of summer camp families. 

Shani is always happy to help you with registration, making payments and preparing for camp. You can reach by her on 908 362 8217 or by emailing shani@campmason.org. Shani will also be ready at the front desk for our Open Houses and check in days if you’d like to stop by and say hi!

The Dirt on Dirt!

By Sara Davis, Outdoor Center Program Director – Schools

At the Camp Mason Outdoor Center, we have several opportunities to get up close and personal with dirt. Why would you want to? Dirt is beneficial to people, in many different ways. Not as just a substance used to educate, but as a substance that can be therapeutic, and bring joy to the hearts of young and old.  

Our Wetlands class involves hands on, down and dirty activities in order to learn about the characteristics of a wetland.  One special characteristic of a wetland is the soil. The students get to dig in the soil to get a sample, and then use their senses to gather information. They learn how to use color palettes and read flow charts to learn more about wetland soil.  

Now Archaeology is a class anyone could dig. Participants get to learn about the history of this area and unearthen hidden artifacts by digging in the sand pit.

Compost isn’t just for the worms! In our dining hall we encourage students to create as little food waste as possible and to separate their food waste from things that can be composted. Such things include apple cores, banana peels, brown napkins, and any fruit or vegetable matter that will be used in our compost bins to break down into healthy, fertile soil. In our Sustainability class, students learn about the compost itself and the insects, microbes, and plants that benefit from it.

Which brings me to our garden. Whether it is planting, weeding, or harvesting, there is always fun to be had done in the garden. Working in this dirt proves to leave one with tangible, and edible results.

The benefits to people are great indeed. Education about our natural world through hands on experiences will help to ensure future generations caring about the health of our soil and our planet. Exposure to various bacteria in the soil has much needed immune boosting benefits in an ever increasingly sterile world. There are also mental health benefits. Certain bacteria in the soil can increase serotonin levels in people. This is the chemical in the brain that elevates mood.  

So whether it is exploring the wetlands, the archaeology dig site, the compost or the garden at Camp Mason or getting dirty in your yard or local park, take opportunities to get dirty and you will see and feel the benefits. The joy of playing in the dirt isn’t just for kids!

 

Why I come to Alumni Weekends

Colleen on the far right

Colleen on the right

By Colleen Murray-Seig, Alumni Committee Chair

It’s no secret that camp is one of my favorite places to be. There’s a magic there, a feeling of coming home that envelopes me as soon as I turn in the driveway that’s more than nostalgia. It keeps me coming back whenever I can, especially to work and Alumni weekends.

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Alumni Friends Reunited

I realize some people think “you can never go home again” and that things always change. This of course is true, but at camp the changes are purely cosmetic, and I get even more out of these weekends then when I was a kid. Now that I’m older, I appreciate more the gift of just being. Feeling time slow down to a pace where I can enjoy it, instead of racing so fast that I’m constantly playing catch up. Taking time out for a hike or doing something creative gets lost in my day to day world. Whether it’s going for a walk in the woods, painting or singing I realize I need to do this for me and that I’m a better wife, mother and person because of it.

Alumni weekend also allows me to make new friends of all ages. When I was a camper, I hung out with a lot of the same kids who were mostly my age. Now when we hang out at night around the village fire ring I meet people from different generations and can hear from their tales how much has and has not changed. I’ve made friends with several people who weren’t even here when I went to camp which I wouldn’t have been able to do were it not for these weekends. We all have one thing in common, a special place in our heart for camp.

So if you’re not doing anything the weekend of September 28- 30 why not come and join us? You can take a canoe out on the lake, sing old camp songs around the council fire or reconnect with your inner camper. Come on I’ll race you down Sioux hill and meet you at the flagpole! Find out more about the weekend here: https://campmason.org/alumni/reunion-information/.

 

Camp Mason Family Camps

 

By Sally Wright, Outdoor Center Program Director 

Family Camps are one of Camp Mason’s most popular weekend programs. They are wonderful weekends full of family bonding, meeting new people, exciting activities, and so much more! There is something for every member of the family.

All of our family camp weekends begin on Friday night with a snack and board games in the Dining Hall. Families arrive, settle into their cabins, and prepare for the weekend ahead.

Saturday and Sunday mornings start with breakfast and then activities begin. One family may choose to start the day by exploring a local trail through an off-site hike to Van Campen’s Glen or the Catfish Fire Tower, while another family might decide to get creative with our arts & crafts or candle making activities. We also offer more traditional camp activities such as riflery, archery, canoeing, and survival skills. Everyone will gather in the Dining Hall for lunch, and then it’s back to activities for the rest of the afternoon. Sometimes families break into groups to enjoy a few of their personal favorite activities like tie dye, outdoor cooking, or the zip line. Families are also able to cool off in the swimming pool or spend some time relaxing beside the lake.

The afternoon activities end and everyone heads to the Dining Hall for dinner, but the fun continues with our evening activity. The evening activities vary from year to year, but past activities have included water balloon volley ball, night hikes, pumpkin carving, a pool party, life size board games, and much more. We also have a traditional campfire complete with songs, skits, and s’mores.

The weekend officially ends on Monday morning with a continental breakfast, and an opportunity to visit the Trading Post. Families are welcome to hang out on camp and enjoy the property before heading home after a fantastic weekend.

Our Family Camps are offered on the following holiday weekends: Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, and President’

s Day. To find out more about our Family Camps visit the “year round” tab on our website here.

Disney Day!

By Kelly Koster, Summer Camp Program Director

Get excited for Session 4, because we are going on a Mason Vacation! At Camp Mason, we build strong community bonds and take pride in our strong family values. What better way to experience this than a family vacation!

We hope you are ready for a trip with your camp family, to enjoy of day filled with laughs and fun activities.

Last year, we went to Antarctica, and before that we went to Fiji and Hawaii. This year, get your Mickey ears ready because we are going to Disney! We’ll be finding Nemo and Dory in the pool, search for your favorite characters, explore the Mermaid Lagoon with Peter Pan and singing along to all the classic songs. Then at night, we will be stopping by Epcot and experiencing the different countries and cultures.

Join us Session 4 for our Mason Vacation theme day from August 5-August 18 by clicking here to register.

Nintendo is Back!

By Kelly Koster, Summer Camp Program Director

This year in Summer Camp Session 3 we leave 2018 behind. Our Session 3 Theme Day is Time Machine and this year Camp Mason is getting sucked into the 80’s video games for Nintendo Day (plus many more games). This day will have a variety of activities and games fit for campers of all ages, abilities and interests.

In previous years we’ve gone back in time to the medieval period, explored the ancient coliseums, and protested in 1969. This year, we will be battling Bowser to save Princess Peach. With the help of your team leaders, Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, and the gang, you’ll be completing tasks, earning coins, and beating levels to help save the Princess. We’ll be playing the classics, like Duck Hunt, Pong, Tetris, and more throughout the day. If Princess Peach is saved, she might treat you to a Neon Ball, so be sure to pack your favorite neon gear.

Come join us for our annual Time Machine theme day. Session 3 runs from July 22-August 4th. There is still time to register for Summer Camp at Camp Mason – just click here.

Mason Olympics 2018!

By Kelly Koster, Summer Camp Program Director 

The Mason Olympics are here for Session 2 Theme Day. It is an event that divides camp into ten different countries, led by coaches and an ambassador, where they experience culture sharing, team work and activities which will challenge the mind, body and spirit.

On the first day, teams (countries) will create cheers, design banners, learning about their country and creating an act which will happen at the Opening Ceremony of the Mason Olympics. Each team member gets a custom country t-shirt to wear during Day 2. Day 2 of the Mason Olympics involves battling other countries in events like, tug of war, competing in country trivia, and competing in a variety of games around camp. The day will wrap up with the closing ceremonies, where we find out which country wins the coveted awards, the Hercules Award or the Spirit Award. To earn the Hercules award, a country must win as many events are possible, while keeping good sportsmanship and teamwork in mind. The Spirit Award goes to the country that demonstrates positivity, originality, and keeps up an enthusiastic energy throughout the day.

Join us for the Mason Olympics for an amazing 2 day event, filled with energy, spirit, and fun! Session 2 runs from July 8th-July 21st, 2018. You can register for this Session 2 at Camp Mason here.

Are you ready for the Amazing Race?

By Kelly Koster, Summer Camp Program Director

Our first session Theme Day is all about the American Life. We’ve gone to Hollywood, the State Fair, celebrated our Independence and held camp elections in the past. This year, we are going to explore American culture, history, and exciting places across the country in The Amazing Race; American Edition.

We are going to start off our day by making team pride, starting with a team song, flag and name. The afternoon will include traveling across the country, answering trivia, completing tasks, and getting to see all the exciting and unique places America has. You need to watch out for detours, which may put you behind, as well as those airport delays and flat tires you may have to endure, but don’t worry, our Pit Stop’s will be a relaxing time for your team to rest up, refuel, and get ready for what lies ahead. Our last stop is the Wrap Party, where we find out the winners of The Amazing Race. There will be a ceremony with food, music, and dancing!

Join us for ‘This American Life: Amazing Race across America’ for a day filled with teamwork, laughing, and fun as we race across America during Session 1. Feel free to bring all your Red, White and Blue clothes to dress the part during the day. Session 1 runs from June 24-July 7, 2018. You can find more about how to register here.

Teacher In-Service Day Training Programs

By Sally Wright, Outdoor Center Program Director – Groups and Retreats

Gather the faculty and staff at your school and come to Camp Mason for a teacher in-service day. Spend the day outdoors participating in a variety of activities that promote group collaboration and hands on learning. The group will leave at the end of the day with new teaching techniques and activities, as well as a better understanding of one another.

If you choose a teambuilding session your group will be lead through a number of teambuilding exercises by our professional staff. The exercises are designed to highlight the various aspects of teambuilding such as communication, leadership, and trust. After each exercise the group will have a chance to reflect on how they worked as a team, and discuss how they might improve upon any weaknesses. The group can also relate the discussion to how they work with one another throughout the school year. The teambuilding experience can continue by choosing to add a session of high ropes to the schedule.

To build upon the teambuilding experience, groups can participate in a session where they learn how to run teambuilding exercises with their students. The exercises require few to no props, and can be done within the space of a classroom. The group will also learn how to facilitate a debrief session to promote teamwork among the students.

We also offer academic focused sessions, in which our professional staff share interactive techniques to teach information in the content areas. Sessions may include questioning techniques, development of student’s observations skills, games that get students thinking about specific topics, and much more. The information in these sessions is best suited for teachers who teach 4th – 7th grade.

Scheduling is flexible and can be created based on the interest of the group. We are able to offer both full and half day sessions. If you have any questions or would like to book a teacher in-service day please call us on 908-362-8217.

 

Winter Happenings at Camp

By Anna Bilton, Senior Camp Director

It might be cold outside, the trees are bare and summer seems like it is a long way away but the winter is not all doom and gloom here at camp. We are able to take time to reflect on the work we do and make plans to make the camp experience better than ever this spring, summer and fall. In case you were wondering what’s on the agenda for 2018 here’s a preview of what’s in store!

1. Summer Camp staff from 10 different countries!

We have been busy interviewing and selecting an all-star summer staff team to run amazing programs this summer. They are all raring to go and are going to be incredible role models this summer for our campers!

2. New and improved candle making area

We’ve offered candle making at Camp Mason for years and it is a huge hit with our weekend Outdoor Center guests but its never had a home of its own. This year we are planning to convert an old cabin into a candle making workshop to be able to offer the activity to all of our visitors including our summer campers. Prepare to get creative and make a candle of your own. 

3. Preparing our new covered space for action

You may have heard on the grapevine that there is a large, new covered space in our main entrance way as of the end of last year. We are thrilled to have a large covered space for rainy day activities, meeting spaces and evening programs. Before we can fill the space with people there are a few things we need to do first – we need to decide on lights, a screen, chairs and tables as well as anything else we can think to make the space as useful as possible. It’s an exciting project and should be fully functional and ready to go for the spring season. We know this space is going to make rainy days and evening programs much better.

4. Planning training for our Outdoor Center team

Each season we welcome over 11,000 people to camp with their schools and other groups to visit our year round Outdoor Center. The training we do with our team is crucial to prepare them to lead activities, learn skills to work with people of all ages and learn all things Mason. It takes a long time to plan the sessions and seminars we teach each season and we put a lot of thought into how we do things. It’s exciting to prepare for our new team!

5. Continuing our team’s education

Did you know that our staff attend numerous training events and conferences throughout the year continually working to improve ourselves and the work we do? We want our team to be as prepared as possible to work with children, young people and their families. This year our year round team have attend 4 different conference between us and have come back with lots of ideas to make sure 2018 at camp is better than ever!

We would love to hear your ideas and suggestions on the things we are working on at camp. Call us on 908-362-8217 or email us at information@campmason.org to share your thoughts.

908-362-8217
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YMCA Camp Ralph S. Mason
23 Birch Ridge Road
Hardwick, NJ 07825
Phone: 908-362-8217
Fax: 908-362-5767
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