Adults and Children in Trust
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March 2015

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March 31st

March 31

New sports games keep our minds working as hard as our bodies!

The ACA Camp Conference gave us a chance for fresh ACTion: Spike Ball. This new challenge is a team-builder similar to Volleyball but with a lower net. The ACA Conference has kept ACT in the know about new activities for decades. In 2014, we captured the rules for “9 Square in the Air,” a sport that energizes both Summer Camp and Afterschool ACTors with a wide open set-up that can be indoors or out. And in earlier years, the Conference brought us GaGa Ball – now a sports sensation – and we like to brag that we have our own dedicated GaGa Ball Pit.

Was Spike Ball your child’s favorite part of March Vacation Camp? We are sending out a survey tomorrow to our families to get a feel for the most popular moments. Shout out to us by checking boxes for the activities your child enjoyed. If you don’t receive the survey, check your spam folders and then give the office a call or shoot over an email so we can make sure our records have your email address right. Your smiles make our day!

March 26th


March 26

Throwback Thursday: Bert Rosenblatt

Bert Rosenblatt was very candid when he described his childhood at ACT. Because he battled dyslexia, academics could be a challenge. However, his summers at ACT were a place where his strengths were noticed and he was never judged on his shortcomings. He loved to get in front of a group, so his counselor, Jose Torres, now Executive Director, encouraged him to perform his comedy to the campers. He expressed that it was so empowering to have someone recognize his talents.

His most memorable story was when their tents flooded on a Camping Trip when he was eleven years old. The counselors thought fast and rented motel rooms. What could have been a crisis ended up being more of an adventure and an experience in Team-Building that he looks back on fondly.

When he became old enough, he was offered a Counselor-In-Training position. Bert admits that at first he thought like a camper more than a staff member. When he wanted to return the next summer, ACT told him it just wasn’t working out. That year he worked as a busboy and deliveryman and hated it. He missed being a part of ACT Summer Camp. The next summer, he came back to ACT and asked for another chance. This time, he said, he took the critique to heart: he matured, he stopped acting out and he was more responsible.

From 5 to 23 years old, from ghost stories to hiking trips, from sports to drama, from camper to counselor, Bert always found excitement and growth at ACT. Now Bert Rosenblatt is a partner at the Real Estate firm Vicus Partners and has two children of his own which he hopes to introduce to the same ACTion he cherished.

March 24th


March 24

Four guinea pigs and a rabbit call ACT home, but they have some fun get-aways as well.

Last week, the Get-A-Way Vacation Campers met our furry residents and fell in love. Spike, one member of the ACT guinea pig family, loves Vacation Campers, welcoming the new ACTors in the morning with joyful squeaks or inquisitive sniffing. The campers were extremely caring, taking notice if they needed food, water or love. They soon noticed a sign next to their new friends that suggested, "You can take me home." Three campers received parental permission and had a unique sleepover last weekend. Joe took Oliver; Havana entertained the guinea pig brothers, Little Bear and Ro; and Kasia brought home Spike, along with a colorful tie-quilt.

Marie Del Tejo, Director of Programs, passes her cell number on to families in case there are concerns during the guinea pigs’ trips away. She notes that parents usually react in two ways: grateful for a chance to see how their young nurturers will care for an animal before they make a commitment, or satisfied that their child can score a weekend with a temporary pet since they cannot have one full-time.

Today, the four guinea pigs are together again, and, judging from the squeaks, probably gleefully swapping stories.

March 19th


March 19

Throwback Thursday: 20 years of ACA

"I can’t believe I am now sitting at the table with the big boys!"
-- Shaughn Lopes, ACT Summer Camp Staff

Some ACT staff just came back from Atlantic City today to share that quote from Shaughn Lopes, made during a dinner wind-down at the annual American Camp Association Conference this week. Shaughn has been a camper since 6 years old, was offered a position as a Counselor-In-Training, then became a Swim Specialist. This year he was extended the honor of an invitation to the ACA Conference along with José V Torres, Nancy Torres, Orissa Woods and Marie Del Tejo.

This tradition of attending the ACA Camp Conference to drum up program ideas and energize senior staff has been active at ACT for over 20 years. We've generated concepts such as weekly themes and organized staff orientation workshops from them. Michael Brandwein’s books on training camp staff have been particularly inspirational, and they are the motivation for calling counselors "SUPER STAFF!" So we are very excited to see the pic of Marie Del Tejo, our Director of Programs and Preps Division leader, showing off her SUPER STAFF T-shirt with Michael Brandwein at the conference.

Get your registration in while there is still space, because we will be presenting NEW games, NEW equipment, NEW ideas in the 2015 ACT Summer Camp. Our family-based programming may be traditional, but it is never conventional!

March 17th


March 17

We were lucky enough to catch some snapshots of the ‎Afterschool ‎Kindergarteners in Dress Rehearsal for their ‎Pirate Show, "Ahoy Matey!"

They were phenomenal in the practice performance of "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" last Wednesday. The first graders have been working on their ‎pirate growls for "Peggy and the Pint-sized Pirate." The second graders are preparing a special piece of "Peter Pan and Captain Hook." Third grade and up will be singing and swaggering to "I won’t grow up!" from ‎PeterPan. All ‎ACT Afterschool Program children have been eagerly rolling up their sleeves the last couple weeks, too, to decorate props and costumes for the event.

"Ahoy Matey!" is sailing in on April 2nd from 4:30-5pm for Afterschool parents, guardians and their friends. Enter if you dare!

March 12th


March 12

Throwback Thursday: Rani Arbo

Sibling discounts are one of the ways that ACT stays sensitive to your family’s needs. Siblings enrolled in Summer Camp receive both tuition reductions and generous extended day discounts.

Speaking of siblings, after the warm reception of John Arbo’s Throwback interview last week, we thought we would make it a family affair with some of his sister Rani’s memories of her participation at the Saint John the Divine Cathedral School and then ACT Programs:

"Going to the Barnard pool, walking those city blocks in the summer heat, sticky and muggy, just waiting to get into that water. We were never there long enough. I remember having crushes on everyone, so this must have been 6th or 7th grade.

"ACT was never chaotic, but there was just enough mayhem to make the Cathedral feel fun and unpredictable. For a regular student, it was a big change — no homework, no uniforms, no teachers, no choir practice, dirtier hands, messier art projects, wackier skits, more teenagers, lunch on the grass instead of at long tables indoors. I already loved Cathedral, but my short time at ACT as a camper gave me a new lens on the place and on myself. Summer camp is great that way — it gives kids an experience outside of family and school with a new set of expectations and possibilities, new ways to learn, and fail, and shine. And Jose [V. Torres, now Executive Director,] — also my 4th grade teacher — has serious superpowers: charisma, humor, terrifying authority, and a palpable expectation that you will do your best!"

We love the stories. And Rani is great at telling them. She puts that skill to use now as a successful folk singer, this year releasing her 6th album with Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem. We couldn't be more excited to see her thrive!

March 10th


March 10


We think it's lovely that PlayStation has developed a place in your hearts, lately receiving the attention of local meetup groups and even a Japanese blog!

As the weather gets warmer, we encourage you to take the play and socializing back outside to enjoy breeze and sunshine on our majestic grounds. Our indoor gym will be closing up until next winter.

We hope you can join our event this Thursday as we wind up the season by inviting back some friends that really wowed us in Vacation Camp: the traveling Green Meadows Farm!

March 5th


March 5

Throwback Thursday: John E Arbo, MD

"Kids are incredibly adept at reading people," says John Arbo. "They know if you are trustworthy or not, and they won’t have fun unless they trust you." That explains the genuineness that you feel when talking to John. Compassion, empathy and humility radiate.

From entering MiniACT as a camper at 4 years old to a 22-year-old Camp Coordinator in charge of managing other Counselors, John Arbo says he really grew up at ACT. It was a safe and supportive training ground where a boy who would amuse his fellow campers with antics too colorful to post could grow up into a responsible, ambitious and resilient man that would find his calling as published medical doctor boarded in both emergency medicine and critical care.

John has an admiration we hear often: gratitude to ACT for providing that first real paycheck. We are grateful that his still-strong appreciation allows him to fit connecting with us into a schedule so busy. John Arbo’s own words are better than anything to express his experience as a Summer Camp Counselor:

"Somewhere along the way… between taking my kids on mystery crypt walks, sending them on treasure hunts around the Close, or perhaps just giving piggyback rides to the bus on those predictably rainy camping trips, I learned a few other things. I learned how to recognize the needs and manage the expectations of a group of individuals (my kids as well all those art specialists), how to conflict resolve, how to provide comfort and reassurance, and how to ensure the safety and well-being of 10 very fast moving objects with endless energy and no awareness of moving cars, stinging bees, collapsing tents, or colliding canoes. In short, I learned how to manage every sort of chaos while having a great time doing it"

Speaking of calm under pressure, just last year John finished an authoritative medical guide entitled "Decision Making in Emergency Critical Care: An Evidence-Based Handbook." Only with these glances back to our history, do we really get to see how perfect ACT’s preparation was for each of our talented campers and counselors.

March 3rd


March 3

Expert counselors + fresh ideas = solid ACTivities

Counselors, coordinators and directors are invited to special Camp Brainstorming Sessions in February, a tradition that ACT has been valuing for decades. Some make it into the office to bounce their ideas off others, and some suggestions are sent in, all to perfect the innovative plans for the upcoming season.

With last season’s schedule of events before them, the discussion began with an assessment of what worked, what didn’t work and how it can be made better. These sessions give bright minds the chance to express their suggestions and refine the fun and learning that hundreds of kids will enjoy in the summer. This year, Aaron Azrieli, a young man that grew up in summer ACT Programs and now is a CIT (Counselor in Training) Captain, made some great contributions. He still remembers the most enjoyable activities and shared just what made the summer so great for him and others. Mountain Creek and Tomahawk Lake were a few suggestions that were most supported and will be making it back into the schedule for the 2015 season.

Planning trips is not all that must be arranged. Names of themes need to scream "FUN!" so that campers can get excited about it. Even the greatest theme ever could fall flat with a hum-drum title.

A summary of the meeting will be passed around to returning staff for more fine-tuning. We are looking forward to more inspiration from the workshops that senior staff will be attending during the Tri-State American Camping Association Conference. Look out for a final calendar of themes and events in May.

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