In this innovative Mill Basin day camp, counselors design activities largely around kids’ requests
by Bob Warburton
There’s no shortage of time-tested and kid-approved facilities and activities at Mill Basin Day Camp. It’s a varied list that includes an outdoor pool with four water slides, soccer, computer labs, two dance studios, a video arcade, arts and crafts, gymnastics, two giant-screen theaters, a room for Nintendo and Wii games, and a karaoke studio. In short, this is decidedly not the moldy tent and raw hotdog experience inflicted upon a great many of us.
As considerable a roster as Mill Basin boasts, however, all of the aforementioned items were available last summer, and moving forward in the City’s competitive summer day camp market requires new ideas. So, when the doors open on July 5, a Claymation studio and imagination playground will be ready for unveiling, along with a Lego robotics lab.
How does owner Jack Grosbard know which innovations will fly? Luckily, hundreds of specialists, ages 3 to 14, are around to provide foolproof market research.
“The kids tell us, absolutely,” Grosbard said with a smile. “But you have to listen to them. The parents think they know what the kids want. In truth, of course, it’s the kids who know what they want.”
In the Claymation studio, for example, youngsters will create characters and figures and bring them to life through video. The imagination playground, meanwhile, allows campers to design their own play space using foam building blocks of assorted shapes and sizes.
This “diversity of activities,” Grosbard said, helps Mill Basin keep its young ones challenged and engaged. Swimming is the only activity offered daily (sometimes twice a day), but campers get a chance to try just about everything else.
Located in the tony Mill Basin section (across the water from Kings Plaza shopping mall), the camp has been in operation since 1998, its sessions starting on July 5 and running through August 26. It is the largest day camp in both Brooklyn and Queens, with a campus spread over approximately 100,000 square feet, Grosbard said, and its outdoor pool is Brooklyn’s largest.
Kids can enroll in sessions ranging from four to eight weeks (and anywhere from three to five days per week), sorted into five programs: Pre-School (ages 3-5), Adventurers (entering grades 1 and
2), Stars (starting grades 3-5), Explorers (entering grades 5-7), and Teen Quest (starting grades 8 and 9). Prices range from $2,000 to $2,900 for the summer, depending on age and number of days and weeks attending. Bus transportation is available at an additional cost.
To facilitate communication with parents, the camp uses a messaging program of its own design. Schedule changes or other news can be transmitted quickly via smartphone, and the system helps parents quickly relay their own messages to staffers, as well as provide information about counselor training, safety and security measures, and on-site medical facilities. Mill Basin boasts more than 400 staff members, including teachers, camp directors, counselors, assistant counselors, and counselors in training. Many of them, Grosbard said, started off as campers themselves.
“That lineage and legacy are aspects I’m particularly proud of,” he explained.
Mill Basin Day Camp
5945 Strickland Avenue / 718.251.6200