The Day Camp that Feels like Sleepaway
- Neighborhood News
- Published on Wednesday, 08 March 2017 11:36
- Stacie M. Waldman
Day camps in Westchester can really serve up a dose of sticker shock. As a stay-at-home mom with two kids, it was enough to send me off to employment interviews at local camps. I ended up working as a head counselor at a full-service day camp for three years. My kids learned to swim well but other than that, I realized that the camp was severely lacking in other activity areas as well as facilities.
Last year, as a writer for this site, I was putting together the camp guide and reached out to Breezemont Day Camp in Armonk. The Community Relations Director, Matt Pritikin described Breezemont as a day camp that feels more like sleepaway and he was certain that if I came up and toured it, even in the middle of winter with close to a foot of snow blanketing the grounds, I'd be convinced to enroll my kids. I had toured most of the other full-service camps in the area, but not Breezemont.
Needless to say, he was right. From the moment I pulled into Breezemont, it felt camp-like and kid-friendly. Even the trees felt camp-y with the challenge course high in the canopy and the zip line running across the lake. A camp with a lake in Westchester? Check! I was impressed by the camp layout, the swim complex (which has been renovated for this upcoming summer,) the comprehensive art center, the tennis and basketball facilities, and the athletic field space. Many of the facilities have been recently renovated and blend with the camp environment well. I loved the idea that each camp group had their own changing area for swim instead of hordes of girls being stuffed together in one loud, wet, smelly, dirty cubby room.
I enrolled my daughter for summer 2016. (Unfortunately, the boys group was filled up so I couldn't enroll my son.) Even before the summer started I was impressed with camp communications. They had a weekend "open house" where the kids were all invited to camp to meet the staff and their counselors and explore the grounds/activities. They did a "dry run" for the round-trip transportation included in the tuition and delivered my daughter a Breezemont backpack filled with a t-shirt, a water bottle, and lots of other goodies. The ride wasn't too long from Scarsdale (about 20-25 minutes) and she came home every day with high-quality art projects and stories about new things she had learned.
I was impressed with camp security when I went to visit my daughter at camp one day. There was a guard at the gate to direct me where to park and then he directed me straight to the office to be signed in. (You cannot leave camp grounds until you are signed out.) I received a visitor tag and was brought to my daughter's group. They were at art and I was invited to participate. (I made a necklace I actually wear on occasion!) Several of the kids had swimmer's ear, including my daughter, and I was happy to see that they didn't just have to sit at the pool and watch the other kids swim. We went to the library and the non-swimming girls worked with a staff member on the weekly camp newsletter, created and published by campers. Luckily that day also included my daughter's favorite part of camp: zip-lining over the lake! The swim program was excellent and her other favorite activities included "imagination playground," gaga, yoga, theater, music and she enjoyed all of the sports even though she told me at the start of the summer that she wouldn't. She loved the special events and shows at the camp as well.
There are no extra fees at Breezemont but there are plenty of "extras." Picture day at camp came and went and I never received any information about how I could purchase some wildly overpriced camp photos; that's because camp pictures are included and even framed for each camper and family. Each camper gets a Breezemont t-shirt. (I don't know about you but if I'm paying sleepaway price for a day camp, I hate having to shell out another $20 for a t-shirt.) During the year, there are camp reunions such as a Westchester Knicks games for Breezemont families and a fall festival on the grounds of camp. There is an early drop off option at 7:30 AM (no extra charge) and they will even feed your kids breakfast. There's also a 6:30 PM late stay option (again, no extra charge) and the kids continue to be entertained and fed after normal camp hours. One of the highlights of the summer for our family was the Thursday night campfires and barbeques. Families are invited back to camp for a light dinner and many of the camp activities are open including the pools, fishing, the ropes course, tennis, basketball, soccer, beach volleyball and more. The night concludes with songs around the campfire and, of course, s'mores. Friends and family are invited and my daughter always brought a friend from school for the festivities. (Our guests always enjoyed catching fish in the lake!)
Breezemont Day Camp is not a budget option but you truly get what you pay for (if not more). The owners/directors come from a sleepaway camp background and they're totally on-point when they say that Breezemont is the closest thing to sleepaway you'll find in a day camp.
Breezemont Day Camp
62 Cox Ave, Armonk, NY 10504