Long Island summer camps

Campers put on a musical at Great South

(Credit: Great South Bay YMCA)

If you think it's too early to start planning for summer camp, think again. This is the time of year to research, attend open houses and enroll your children into day or sleepaway camps. And we've made it easy for you! Here, a guide to some of the best summer camps on Long Island in both Nassau and Suffolk.

Compiled by Jennifer Berger and Beth Whitehouse

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    Visitors to the Nassau County Museum of Art

    Nassau County Museum of Art Summer Camp Museum, Art, Children's, Kids 1 Museum Dr. off Northern Blvd. Roslyn Harbor Ages: 5-13. Call for rates.

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    Beth Sholom Day Camp in Roslyn Heights. (May

    Beth Sholom Day Camp Kids 401 Roslyn Rd. Roslyn Heights Ages: 3 to 15. Call for rates and a tour.

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    Friends, from left, Mason Adelman, Miles Adelman, Matthew

    Buckley Country Day Camp Kids 2 IU Willets Rd. Roslyn Ages: 18 months to 15. Call for rates. Open house: By appointment seven days a week.

  • Camp Friedberg Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds Colonial Springs Rd. Wheatley Heights Camp location: Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds. Ages: 2 to 16; grades K to 4 at campgrounds. Open houses: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., April 27 (rain date May 4), May 18 (rain date June 1).

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    Justin Vishnik enjoys ziplining at Camp Jacobson at

    Camp Jacobson at Robin Hood 340 Wheatley Rd. Old Westbury Ages: 3-16. Call for rates. Open houses: 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 2; call for additional dates and tours.

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    Destination Science Camps Kids Cradle of Aviation Museum 1 Davis Ave. Garden City Locations: Garden City, Jericho, Manhasset, Merrick and Wantagh. Ages: K-6 grade. Open house: Call for dates

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    Campers having fun at Discovery Summer, Center for

    Discovery Summer, Center for Science Teaching and Learning Preserve 1450 Tanglewood Rd. Rockville Centre Ages: 4 to 12. Check website for fees. Open house: 10 a.m. to noon March 15.

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    Friends Academy in Locust Valley.

    Friends Academy Summer Camps Kids, Summer camp, Community Duck Pond Rd. Locust Valley Ages: 2 to 15. Check website for fees. Open house: Saturdays, call for tour

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    Campers playing lacrosse at the Future Stars Day

    Future Stars Day Camp - Farmingdale State College Kids Farmingdale State College 2350 Broadhollow Rd. Farmingdale Ages: 6 to 16. Fees starting at $355 a week. Open house: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 25 and March 8.

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    Campers enjoying gymnastics at the Future Stars Day

    Future Stars Day Camp - Old Westbury Kids SUNY College at Old Westbury 223 Store Hill Rd. Old Westbury Ages: 6 to 16. Fees starting at $355 a week. Open house: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 25 and March 8.

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New programs at Long Island summer camps

Birds are the topic of a new camp

Birds are the topic of a new camp called Bird Quest at The Stony Brook Summer Programs. (Credit: Handout)

Have a Steven Spielberg wannabe growing up in your house? He might be interested in a summer film camp being launched in July by the Long Island Motion Picture Arts Center & Museum at Molloy College in Rockville Centre.

The day camp program will give students a chance to experience and explore filmmaking, says Michelle Ciardulli, museum co-chair. "This gives them the opportunity to work with the professional film equipment, including lighting and grips and HD cameras, that professional filmmakers use to shoot a feature," she says.

Here are the details about Film Camp and some other novel programs being offered at camps across Long Island during the summer of 2014:

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Film Camp

Long Island Motion Picture Arts Center & Museum at Molloy College, 1000 Hempstead Ave., Rockville Centre, 516-507-9570, madisontheatreny.org

NEW FOR SUMMER A children's group, grades 3 to 7, will learn line and stop-motion animation and special effects and produce a film. An advanced group, grades 8 through high school, explores script writing, story boards, film production and editing and sound mixing. Advanced campers will write, produce and edit film projects. Camp provides professional motion picture equipment.

CAMP RATES Children's group $895 for three weeks beginning July 14; advanced group $1,795 for six weeks beginning July 7. Campers provide own transportation.

FOR MORE Driftwood Day Camp in Melville is starting an Animation Program during which campers will create clay pieces, then bring them to life on video (631-692-6990); Future Stars Summer Camps at the College at Old Westbury is adding a stop-motion animation program (516-876-3490).

Bird Quest

The Stony Brook Summer Programs, 1 Chapman Pkwy., Stony Brook, 631-751-1800 ext. 595; stonybrookschool.org

NEW FOR SUMMER Kids ages 10 to 15 who love birds will explore, observe, identify and learn about avian life. At least two days will be all-day field trips to Jamaica Bay and eastern Long Island beaches to study migrating shore birds. Workshops will cover bird anatomy, vocalization and behavior.

CAMP RATES $750 for two weeks, beginning July 28, transportation to camp not included. Open house 1 to 5 p.m. March 15.

Science Academy

Park Shore Day Camp, 450 Deer Park Rd., Deer Park, 631-499-8580, parkshoredaycamp.com

NEW FOR SUMMER In an expansion of a program launched last summer, kids from grades 2 to 6 will spend three hours each morning in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities led by a certified science teacher. Children will build robots, bridges, roller coasters and DNA models.

CAMP RATES Each two-week Science Academy 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. session is $1,150; if child stays for full day of camp, it's $2,280. Morning program includes pickup only; full-day program includes all transportation. Call camp for four-, six- and eight-week session prices. Open house noon to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, beginning this weekend.

FOR MORE Mid Island Flight School in Ronkonkoma offers Aero Camp (631-588-5400), which teaches kids about airplane flight controls, airport traffic patterns and even takes them on flights. Other area camps also have added academic enrichment programs.

'Pitch Perfect' A Capella Singing Camp

Friends Academy Summer Camps, Duck Pond Road, Locust Valley, 516-393-4207, fasummercamp.org

NEW FOR SUMMER Kids ages 8 to 14 who loved the movie "Pitch Perfect" will enjoy using their voices and bodies to replicate musical arrangements and songs in different genres. They'll learn to sing, harmonize, create percussion sounds and more.

CAMP RATES $950 for one-week program beginning Aug. 4; price reduced when campers attend multiple other weeklong sessions. Includes transportation, lunch, swim and towel service. Sign up by Saturday for early-bird discount. Open house noon to 2 p.m. Feb. 9.

FOR MORE Crestwood Day Camp in Melville is starting an "iRock Academy" music program (631-649-6101), and Driftwood Day Camp in Melville is starting a School of Rock program (631-692-6990).

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Camps offer brand-new summer programs

LuHi Summer Programs in Brookville's new "sampler" includes

LuHi Summer Programs in Brookville's new "sampler" includes fishing. Here, LuHi instructor Brendan McGowan and Chris Henning, 12, of Westbury helps Lawrence Narotsky, 11, of Roslyn show off his catch. (2012) (Credit: Handout)

With so many specialized summer camps available, how is a family to choose? In a new option through LuHi Summer Programs called "The LuHi Sampler," for example, a child doesn't have to focus on just one interest. The two-week sampler session lets kids experience two days at each of five different LuHi programs -- fencing, fishing, computers, adventures and GIFT, which stands for Great Ideas For Tomorrow and includes electives from the sciences, arts and crafts or sports.

"The kids can get a taste of a few different programs," says Jennifer Magerle, program specialist.

Here are details about the new offering at LuHi and some other brand-new programs being offered at camps across Long Island during the summer of 2013:

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The LuHi Sampler

LuHi Summer Programs, 131 Brookville Rd., Brookville, 516-626-1100, LuHi.com

NEW FOR SUMMER During the session from June 24 to July 5, kids grades 4 to 6 can experience the sampler.

CAMP RATES $1,250 for the two-week session; enroll by March 1 for $25 discount. Optional lunch program is $60. Includes transportation. Open house noon to 3 p.m. March 10

Astronaut Training Camp

Destination Science Camp, 13 locations in Nassau and Suffolk, 888-909-2822, destinationscience.org

NEW FOR SUMMER Destination Science, which runs camps in five states, changes programs annually. This year, it's featuring a weeklong Astronaut Training Camp that will teach kids how NASA is handing some space travel over to entrepreneurs and what it's like in an outer space capsule, says program director Kathy Heraghty. Other new topics include the Ultimate Survival Zone, focusing on how organisms have survived over the years, and Wacky Robot Camp. Camps are for ages 5 to 11.

CAMP RATES $359 a week; enroll by March 1 for $90 discount. Transportation not included. No open houses

End-of-summer week

Girl Scouts of Suffolk County's all-girl Camp Edey, 1500 Lakeview Ave., Bayport, and co-ed Camp Sobaco, German Boulevard, Yaphank, 631-472-1625, gssc.us

NEW FOR SUMMER Does your camp end in mid-August, leaving you with few options for entertaining the kids? Problem solved: Girl Scouts of Suffolk County is adding a ninth week to its season for the first time, from Aug. 19 to 23 at both its day camps. "We try to serve our working families as best we can. Due to popular demand, we decided to add a ninth week of summer camp," says Christine Terzella, director of public relations for Girl Scouts of Suffolk County. Camp Edey is grades 1 to 9 and Camp Sobaco is grades 1 through 6.

CAMP RATES About $255 a week. Optional transportation throughout Suffolk County for $30 a week per child. Open houses 12:30 to 2 p.m. March 10, 2 to 3:30 p.m. April 14, and 6 to 7:30p.m. May 8 and 16 at Camp Edey; 2to 3:30 p.m. March 10, 12:30 to 2 p.m. April 14, and 6 to 7:30 p.m. May 6 and 21 at Camp Sobaco

Technical Theater Program

USDAN Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, 185 Colonial Springs Rd., Wheatley Heights, 631-643-7900, usdan.com

NEW FOR SUMMER This new major for kids entering grades 10 to 12 concentrates on the other side of theater -- backstage. This is an advanced course for experienced theater tech students involving project organization and participation in hands-on activities in Usdan's theaters, including sets, costumes and lighting.

CAMP RATES $3,925 for seven weeks; transportation additional $725 to $1,125, depending on location; register by tomorrow and save $100. Open houses 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 24, March 17, April 21 and May19

Grossology Camp

Cradle of Aviation Museum, 1 Davis Ave., Garden City, 516-572-4028, cradleofaviation.org

NEW FOR SUMMER From July 8 to 12, campers ages 9 to 12 will study "the science behind ewww" -- exploring ear wax, flying bugs and more. "We're trying to promote STEM in a fun way. Any way we can incorporate science is our priority," says Catherine Bingham, education coordinator at the museum. The camp is led by museum educators from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Other weeks this summer include Toys "R" Discovery and Space Adventures.

CAMP RATES $340 a week, transportation not included. No open houses

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Choosing a Long Island summer camp

West Hills Day Camp in Huntington encourages full

West Hills Day Camp in Huntington encourages full participation in a wide variety of activities from swimming, boating, arts and crafts, ceramics, volleyball, yoga, tennis and ziplining among others. (Credit: Handout)

Remember when you went off to camp and everything was the same as the summer before -- and that was good? No more. This summer, some camps on Long Island have pulled out all the stops, offering everything from circus, theater and tap dancing programs to a giant treehouse, a Ferris wheel and bumper cars.

"Camps really need to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak," says Arlene Streisand, owner-director of campspecialists.com, a free sleepaway camp referral service. Day camps need to compete with the allure of sleepaway camps, and when one local camp unveils a program with bells and whistles, the others follow suit, she says.

"Parents are looking for more variety in camping today," says Ron Kuznetz, owner-director of Miss Sue's Summer Fun in Plainview and Driftwood Day Camp in Melville. "In addition to the traditional programs, they're looking for skills and more activities that are meant to keep the kids from sitting at a computer."

Here are some of the latest programs premiering this summer.

Red Robin Country Day School & Camp

878 Jericho Tpke., Westbury, 516-334-1144, redrobincamp.com

NEW FOR SUMMER 2012 A treehouse made from a real oak tree stump will be more than just an observation point for campers ages 2 to those entering seventh grade. "It's a very whimsical tree house, with a platform, a slide and monkey bars," says owner-director Michael Cohn. The camp will also introduce a Super Senior Adventure Program for kids from fifth through seventh grades that will have campers taking three day trips a week to museums, theaters and amusement parks on Long Island. "We're always looking to give campers the opportunity for new experiences," Cohn says.

CAMP RATES $2,400 to $4,495, depending on number of weeks and camper's age

OPEN HOUSES 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 11, Mar. 11, Apr. 21, and May 12; 1-4 p.m June 2., and anytime by appointment

Crestwood Country Day School

313 Round Swamp Rd., Melville, 631-692-6361, crestwoodcountryday.com

NEW FOR SUMMER 2012 Those who remember the Ferris wheel and carousel from the Fun Zone can revisit it this summer at Crestwood, says owner Mark Transport, who bought the rides from the defunct business and moved them to camp grounds. But what are carnival rides without a circus? Campers ages 6 to 16 will be able to learn circus arts, including the flying trapeze (25 feet up in the air but, yes, with a safety net below). Their teachers will be circus instructors from Canada and Argentina, Transport says. Younger campers can learn to juggle, work on the apparatus bars and also try out a new "jumping pillow," a huge blowup blanket.

CAMP RATES $3,000 to $7,000, depending on number of weeks and camper's age

OPEN HOUSES 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays starting Feb. 4

Hofstra University Summer Camps

Hempstead, 516-463-2267, hofstra.edu/camp

NEW FOR SUMMER 2012 Here's what's on tap for campers grades 2 through 9: ecology and science programs; flag football; tap dancing; training and fitness; volleyball, web publishing, and Write-O-Rama (writing and journalism). The REACH program for teens will expand to have an inclusion program for teens with special needs. New programs were added based on the needs of the community, says Bradley Kaye, assistant director Lifelong Learning division at Hofstra.

CAMP RATES $1,000 to $5,000, depending on number of weeks and camper's age

OPEN HOUSES Noon to 2 p.m. Feb. 5 and March 31

Camp Karole

44 Woods Lane, East Hampton, 631-324-3510, jcoh.org

NEW FOR SUMMER 2012 The camp is offering add-on courses for campers ages 7 to 12: Italian cooking, food and nutrition and photography and nature. New York City chef Hillary Sterling will give Italian cooking classes in July and cooking teacher Deborah Clemence will teach children how to make nutritious foods that they can bring home daily in August. Campers will also be able to go on beach walks and trail hikes to photograph nature and participate in a scavenger hunt for two sessions in July and August. Each class runs an hour a day for four consecutive days.

CAMP RATES $770 to $900 per week. The cooking classes cost an additional $50 and the photography program costs an additional $75.

OPEN HOUSE will be announced online soon.

Lawrence Woodmere Academy Summer Day

Woodmere, 516-374-5559, 336 Woodmere Ave., Woodmere, lawrencewoodmere.org

NEW FOR SUMMER 2012 The camp's new Center for Creative Arts will let kids from second through seventh grades choose a "major" in studio art or theater and dramatic arts that they will do two hours each morning. Lynbrook's Plaza Theatrical Productions will run the drama program, says Barbara Feldman, director of the day camp academy. Campers will also be able to choose from about 15 "minors," including cartooning, animation, pottery and dance. Also new this summer will be one-week horseback riding and sailing programs, a new program for 2-year-olds, and a travel program, including overnight stays, for kids in sixth through 10th grades.

CAMP RATES $2,200 to $5,300 for the summer, depending on number of weeks and camper's age

OPEN HOUSES 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday until camp starts

Hampton Sports and Arts

P.O. Box 5089, East Hampton, 516-953-5171, hamptonsportsandarts.com

NEW FOR SUMMER 2012 Hampton Country Day Camp is launching Hampton Sports and Arts, located about a mile away from the main camp on the grounds of East Hampton Indoor Tennis, says Dave Skolnick, director. The new program will let campers ages 11 to 15 customize their schedules daily, with choices such as tennis with semiprivate instruction, photography, videography, rock band, fabric and fashion design, cooking, golfing, soccer, basketball, baseball and area day trips.

CAMP RATES $900 to $1,250 per week

OPEN HOUSES Memorial Day weekend, with hours to be finalized

Park Shore Day Camp

450 Deer Park Road, Dix Hills, 631-499-8580, parkshoredaycamp.com

NEW FOR SUMMER 2012 Campers ages 3 to 12 will be able to cool off on hot days and challenge themselves on a new 50-by-50-foot action maze, says owner-director Bob Budah. The maze is a blowup (but not bouncy) contraption with archways and paths for kids to navigate. The camp is also installing a Confidence Boot Camp Challenge Course that will be run by a physical trainer and gym owner. "It's similar to what the military would do, with kids going under cargo nets, swinging over ropes and some water," Budah says. "But it's not as strenuous." The idea is to have campers ages 5 through 12 build confidence and self-esteem. Park Shore will also introduce one-week extender sessions this summer.

CAMP RATES About $625 per week

OPEN HOUSES Noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays starting Feb. 4

Miss Sue's Summer Fun

1191 Old Country Road, Plainview, 516-938-0894, misssues.com

NEW FOR SUMMER 2012 The campers may be tots (ages 2 1/2 to 5), but the new additions are big, says owner-director Ron Kuznetz. This summer will see the addition of a 12-horse merry-go-round, a caterpillar train and a Smart Board that will help campers make movies in which they will act, Kuznetz says. In addition, Miss Sue's is adding to its zip line, expanding the current one by adding six stations that let harness- and helmet-wearing campers zoom from platform to platform around trees.

CAMP RATES $2,300 to $4,500, depending on number of weeks and camper's age

OPEN HOUSES 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays starting Feb. 4

Driftwood Day Camp

331 Mount Misery Rd., Melville, 631-692-6990, driftwooddaycamp.com

NEW FOR SUMMER 2012 There are quite a few new tricks up Driftwood's sleeve for this summer, including Legoland with tables and oodles of Legos and a recording studio for campers, who range from kindergarten to sixth grade, says owner-director Ron Kuznetz. The camp is also expanding the unicycle program it added last year, with the addition of 12 more unicycles (with training wheels for beginners) designed by unicycle aficionado Adam Cohen, Kuznetz says. Driftwood is also installing bumper cars, an inflatable water park and paintball.

CAMP RATES $3,100 to $5,300, depending on number of weeks and camper's age

OPEN HOUSES 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays starting in February; also Sundays starting in March

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Want your kids in summer camp? Plan now

The Rolling River Day Camp in East Rockaway

The Rolling River Day Camp in East Rockaway will hold an open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from Feb. 5 to June 11. (Credit: Handout)

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Snow on the ground, freezing temperatures, gray skies. The perfect time to plan for . . . summer camp?

That's right - if your child will be heading to a day or sleepaway camp for the first time this summer, you should be taking action now.

Day and sleepaway camps will be having open houses and participating in group camp information fairs during the coming weeks. Here's step-by-step strategic advice on how to proceed:


Decide on parameters

Do you want your child to attend camp for one week? A month? Seven weeks? Some camps allow registration for a certain number of weeks; others require committing to the entire program. If you are considering sleepaway, how far away do you want your child to be? Here on Long Island? Pennsylvania? Vermont?

Some camps concentrate on athletics; others focus on the arts; others cater to children with special needs. Niche camps offer immersion into robotics, chess, tennis, magic, fishing and more. Do you want siblings to be at the same camp? Or do you want to address each child's personality separately?

How much do you want to spend? Camps range from about $300 a week to more than $1,000 a week, says Adam Weinstein, executive director of the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey, a nonprofit group that accredits 2,400 summer camps.

Starting early gives you a better chance at your first choice; sometimes age groups fill up fast. "We have definitely turned people away," says Paula Rothman, director of North Shore Day Camp in Glen Cove, with 600 campers ages 3 to 14.


Narrow choices to five or six

Camp fairs usually offer information on 30 to 50 day camps and shorter-term sleepaway programs, Weinstein says. A number of businesses and agencies help match families to camps for free. The American Camp Association has a website at campwizard.org; staff members guide parents by phone. Camp Specialists is a Jericho-based matchmaker service (campspecialists .com); the camps pay the company for matches. Modern technology also has offered parents a window into camps through their websites. Many have prepared complimentary videos. Request these and watch them.


Bring your child into the process

Watch camp videos together. Attend open houses. Camps usually offer activities for the kids and tours by supervisors and staff. Sleepaway camps also offer open houses and tours. The best option is to see camp while it's in session, which is a possibility if camp isn't on your family's agenda until summer 2012. Consider a trial: Some camps offer weekend or weeklong sessions meant for prospective campers. Camp Weequahic (rhymes with mosaic) in Wayne County, Pa., offers "rookie camp" the last week in July for potential campers in grades 1 to 5; it lasts six days and five nights, says director Cole Kelly.


Grill the camp director

The camp director sets the tone, values and philosophy of the camp and is the person whom parents communicate with throughout the summer, Weinstein says.

Camp Weequahic's Kelly visits each prospective camper's house to sit at the kitchen table or on the couch with parents; one recent weekend, he was scheduled to see 12 families in Washington, D.C., and New York. "Parents need to look me in the eye and feel comfortable with me," he said. Other camp directors do the same.

The American Camp Association suggests parents ask how staff are interviewed, hired and trained, the ratio of campers to counselors, and whether the camp is accredited. Ask about medical personnel on site and health-care procedures. For sleepaway camp, also ask about pick up, visiting days, color wars and camp policy on electronics such as cell phones. Ask about how you would communicate with your child.


Check references

Ask the camp if you can speak with families who have been going there for years, but keep in mind the camp is going to provide references of people who are loyal, Kelly says. In the end, he says, "You've got to go with your gut feeling."


Summer camps in Nassau | Summer camps in Suffolk


Long Island Parent Camp Fun Fest

-Feb. 13, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Broadway Mall, Hicksville
-Feb. 27, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Suffolk County Community College, Riverhead, 631-673-4082

Suffolk Parent Camp Fair

-March 12, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Smith Haven Mall, Lake Grove, 631-472-5437; suffolkcampfair.com

About 30 camps and summer activities participate, says Susan Fine, director of marketing for New York Metro Parents.

New York Family and American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey Camp Fair

-Saturday, 12 to 3 p.m., Friends Seminary School, 222 E. 16th St.
-Feb. 5, 12 to 3 p.m., Columbia Heights, Bank Street School, 610 W. 112 St.
-March 5, 12 to 3 p.m., St. Jean Baptise, 173 E. 75th St. between Lexington and Third Avenue
-March 6, 12 to 3 p.m., Congregation Rodeph Sholom, 7 W. 83rd St.
-March 12, 12 to 3 p.m., Friends Seminary School, 222 E. 16th St.; 212-391-5208; aca-ny.org 

Resources for Children with Special Needs Camp Fair

-Saturday, Jan. 29, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Church of the St. Paul Apostle, Columbus Avenue and West 60th Street, 212-677-4650, ext. 20; gshulman@resourcesnyc.org

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From bunk to trunk: Where to shop for camp gear

It's high camp-shopping season every year from about March 1 to mid-April. Some camp stores on Long Island offer one-on-one service, helping select everything from clothing to bedding to stationery. Most stores include complimentary name-taping on every article of clothing you buy, including each sock. Some stores will even pack up junior's trunk for you.

"It's become a phenomenon," Jo Licker, Denny's camp accessories buyer, says of the camp shopping. When her kids, now in their 30s, went to sleepaway camp, they brought old towels and sheets. Not so with today's kids, she says. "They have millions of choices," she says. "Now, you have to have everything coordinated, make a statement."

ExploreLI went shopping with a few campers who booked a personal shopper:


Where: 8285 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury, 516-367-6014

A camp appointment lasts from 90 minutes to three hours, and includes free pizza, soda and cupcakes from Crumbs. Jenna Chase, 11, a fifth-grader from Jericho, recently shopped for the seven weeks she'll spend at Tyler Hill in Pennsylvania. She tried on outfit after outfit. "This is so me," Jenna says about one shirt. "Too glittery," she says, rejecting another with a pink sequin peace sign.

"The great part about this is it's not torture. It's fun," mother Debbie says. "I don't even have to stay. I can just leave my credit card and go."

Items purchased remain at the store. Owner Jackie Pezza will send each article out to be name-taped, then she will pack Jenna's trunk. Patrons get a 20 percent discount if they spend at least $400.


350 Rte. 110, Huntington Station (631-299-2222); 90 Northern Blvd., Greenvale (516-626-1161), lestersnyc.com

Manager Jenn Pesci meets campers with a red clipboard that has a printed list of the items camps recommend. Seven bathing suits, 10 pairs of shorts, 24 pairs of socks. "You just need a whistle around your neck," jokes mom Rebecca Matura of Sy Syosset, whose daughters, Logan, 14, and Blake, 10, shopped at the Huntington Station store for their eight weeks at Camp Timber Lake in New York.

Campers carry a laundry basket, popping in clothes to try on. Logan wanted to buy cropped T's, which are hot this year, she says. "There are 94 days until camp," she says. "It's the highlight of my year."

Customers who book a one-on-one appointment get 10 percent off purchases of $200 or more; for every $500 spent, they get a $25 gift certificate. Spending averages $1,000 a child, Pesci says.


343 S. Oyster Bay Rd., Plainview (516-681-4490); 7954 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury (516-682-8215). Other locations in Bellmore, Cedarhurst, Commack and Oceanside, dennyschildrenswear.com

Asher Dauer, 9, knew exactly what he wanted to customize his bunk bed for his first year at Seneca Lake in Pennsylvania: University of Michigan bedding, because that's where his mom, Risa, went to school. He found it at Denny's in Plainview, where he and his older brother, Jacob, 12, spent hours shopping with saleswoman Anne Dellatto for clothing, bathing suits and more. Across the store, Halle Zelin, 8, was trying on shorts with mom, Melissa, during her appointment; in her pile of goods was a pair of shorts and a tank top Denny's had airbrushed with "Camp Lokanda," where Halle will go for the first time for seven weeks.

Through April 11, people who spend $350 at a camp appointment get an additional 10 percent off already reduced prices, Licker says.


8025 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury (516-364-3942); 1063 Willis Ave., Albertson (516-294-4425), neilscornerspot.com

Neil's specializes in camp items for boys, carrying Nike, adidas and Reebok - plus jerseys and team gear. The store sells mats for next to the bed and banners that can be put up in the room. "We literally do from bunk to trunk, everything they need for camp," says Michael Tucciarone, manager at the Albertson store. "We sew their name in every piece; they get it back folded, and they're literally ready to pop it in the trunk and go to camp."

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Where to buy gear for sleepaway camp

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Going to sleepaway camp is not what it used to be -- no more packing T-shirts and bathing suits in a foot locker and calling it a day. Now children bring coordinated bedding in collapsible trunks, equipment for color war competitions and lockboxes to protect their valuables.

Then there are entertainment necessities from jacks to fans to headlamps. This year, peace signs and the tie-dyed look are the rage with girls; boys still go for their sports teams, the sales clerks say. Here are some places that cater to the sleepaway-camp crowd's needs.

LESTER'S : 350 Rte. 110, Huntington Station, 631-299-2222; 90 Northern Blvd., Greenvale, 516-626-1161; lestersnyc.com

Basics and paraphernalia, including autograph pillows and pillowcases for all the camper's BFFs to sign, hoodies with your camp's name airbrushed on, and foam egg-crate padding the size of a bunk cot. "It's like decorating a little room," says Jennifer Sperber, manager. "They get comforters, sheets, lots of pillows, a rug goes on the floor." Buy 100 name labels for $8.50, and the store will sew them onto everything you buy, gratis (including every sock).

NEIL'S CORNER SPOT : 8025 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury, 516-364-3942; 1063 Willis Ave., Albertson, 516-294-4425; neilscornerspot.com

Camp gear primarily for boys. Floor mats with New York sports team logos, autograph pillows shaped like soccer balls, basketballs or baseballs, environmentally correct water bottles. This year's hot seller: a fan that can throw off psychedelic lights as it spins. Neil's also sews on purchased name labels for free.

INFINITY : Woodbury Commons Shopping Center, 8285 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury, 516-367-6014

Owner Lori Bland specializes in customizing items with the name of your child's camp. Jacks, shoelaces, socks, decks of cards -- they all can say Blue Ridge or Timber Lake or Trail's End. She sells customized stationery with your child's name -- for instance, "Bunk Notes from Jenna." Her camp-colors nail polish is flying off the shelves at $7 a bottle, she says. She sells prepackaged candy for the bus ride to camp --"You can't cry while you're chewing," she says -- and popcorn colored in the camp's colors.

DENNY'S : Plainview Centre, 343B S. Oyster Bay Rd., Plainview, 516-681-4490, dennyschildrenswear.com . Denny's has other stores in Bellmore, Cedarhurst, Commack, Oceanside and Woodbury

Color-war gear such as signs and wristbands, camp stationery that makes it easy for kids to write home, miniature trunks that look like the footlockers of old. "The sales help know how the machines at the camp handle clothing better than I do," says Annie Hirsch of Jericho, who adds that's one reason she comes to Denny's to shop for camp clothing for sons Daniel, 11, and Adam, 13, who go to Iroquois Springs in upstate Rock Hill.

THE ANNEX SHOPPES : 330 Wheatley Plaza, Glen Cove, 516-621-1840, annexshoppe.com

Camp stadium seat chairs, Charles River lined-windbreakers and a tye-dyed sheet set. Color war T-shirts says "Go Blue" or "Go Gold." A blanket with the camp's name on it, such as "Camp Blue Ridge," is $49. The camp section is downstairs.

INMOTION : 1640 Merrick Rd., Merrick, 516-377-5845, inmotionclothing.com

Co-owners Harry and Renee Arje have been in business for 14 years, so they've gotten to know kids' names and their camps. "We know what camps need cot sheeets, we know which camps need twin sheets," Renee says. The store has fans, color war gear and autograph pillows. It also offers camp teddy bears -- bears wearing a hoodie sweatshirt with the camp's name on it.

Reader's pick THE WILD TULIP : 1 Glen Cove Rd., Greenvale, 516-484-1455

Owner Bonnie Katz specializes in gifts to mail to campers or to bring up to camp on visiting day, such as the Camp Bunk box of questions to ask bunkmates or a big chocolate-chip cookie for the bunk to share. She also carries a towel-wrap in tween sizes, with a peace-sign emblem, for $25 to $40.

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