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ROLLING RIVER DAY CAMP Located along the shores of Mill River in Long Island, N.Y., you will find an exquisite example of a genuine camp, with a familylike environment. Rolling River Day School & Camp, is a place that focuses not only on entertaining children, but educating and shaping them into inspired, well-adjusted individuals.

EDUCATION LEADERS TODAY

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FEATURE | ROLLING RIVER DAY CAMP

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ROLLING RIVER DAY CAMP | FEATURE

Rolling River Daycamp PROVIDING A HEALTHY, FUN ENVIRONMENT FOR THE CHILDREN OF TODAY AND LEADERS OF TOMORROW. by Amelia Doenlen

In the southwest corner of Nassau County in Long Island, N.Y., you will find an exquisite example of a genuine camp, with a familylike environment. It is a place that focuses not only entertaining children, but educating them and shaping them into inspired, well adjusted individuals. At Rolling River Day School & Camp, a family business preparing for its 19th year, owners/founders Rhonda and Mark Goodman believe camping is an essential extension of a child’s education. After a 37-year career in education, Mark retired in 2009 to focus on camp and yearround programs full time. “Twenty years ago we learned life skills in school,” Mark said. “As education has taken a big turn in this country over the years to focus on testing, camps have become one of the few places where kids are learning the life skills we used to learn in school.” Rolling River began in 1992 as a nursery school. The property was previously a day camp and school facility that had closed in 1991 after 30 years in the business. In June of 1993, Rolling River opened its doors to its first round of campers, welcoming almost 300 kids, which included Mark and Rhonda’s three young children. By 1995, there were over 600 campers on the grounds. Today, Rolling River Day Camp continues to run exciting summer camp programs for children ages three to15 and has established the reputation as one of the premier private summer camps in Nassau County. With all the quintessential camp activities like sports, theater, and a large variety of art programs, kids flock to Rolling River each summer to be active, make new friends, and of course, have fun. Located on over five acres along the shores of Mill River, Rolling River’s unique location incorporates a sleepaway camp style boating program into the daily schedule. Unlike most other day camps on Long Island, campers enjoy their fleet of rowboats, kayaks, and bicycle boats, as well as fun-filled rides on their inflatable tube and banana boat. In Education Leaders Today 3


FEATURE | ROLLING RIVER DAY CAMP

addition to the river, the camp also has three heated pools (the newest pool opening in 2011) that accommodate all swim levels. Since swimming is a lifetime skill that increases a child’s self-esteem and enhances their cardiorespiratory fitness, all campers swim twice a day and learn essential techniques from Red-Cross certified lifeguards. In addition to traditional summer camp activities, Rolling River constantly strives to take the camp experience to a new and innovative level, improving their curriculum each year. “We recently added a Fitness Fun program that focused around Nintendo Wii,” said Marissa Goodman, Mark’s daughter and Rolling River’s Business & Community Development Supervisor. “We kept in mind that the kids really liked computers, but we didn’t want them to just sit all day. We set up a room of interactive Wii sports games and Dance Dance Revolution. That way, we can use technology that the kids enjoy but are still incorporating that health and fitness aspect which is essential to camp.” Marissa recently joined Rolling River full-time after pursuing a career in corporate advertising and marketing. Mark credits her creative and out-of-the-box ideas as a huge reason why Rolling River has been able to stay successful throughout the tough economic downturn. “We are very lucky,” Mark said. “We are all doing something that we love to do and are all very passionate about what we do. However, we are worried about today’s economic climate. We see the writing on the wall. There used to be 20 private day camps and nursery schools similar to ours in the immediate area. In the last 15 to 20 years, every private camp in our area is gone except ours.” In order to continually keep the camp experience available yearround, Mark, Marissa and the Rolling River administrative team have put much effort into developing supplemental and community-focused programs. The camp runs winter reunions, festivals, free monthly activities, holiday camps, and hosts unique events like “The Great Date Night,” where the camp opens to provide games and activities for kids while parents enjoy a night off. They also work closely with many local businesses to encourage special discounts for camp families and sponsor camp scholarships for local children in need of financial assistance. In 2010 alone, Rolling River’s financial scholarship program called “Campmates” received enough support from businesses to send 8 children from Peninsula Counseling Center, Nassau County’s largest licensed mental health center, to camp free-of-charge. Since Rolling River offers such an abundant amount of programming options both during the summer and throughout the year, they have learned to be creative when it comes to pricing. “We have to be conscious about balancing program and price,” Marissa said. “Competitors have slashed their prices and that generally affects programming and staffing negatively. We have to develop ways to get kids into camp under these conditions without hurting our brand and impacting our program.” Efforts seem to be working. Mark believes that it stems from the atmosphere that they have created. “We have many kids who have come back for 15, 16, 18 years and are now starting as counselors for our younger campers.” Mark, once a scholarship camper himself, is now spreading

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ROLLING RIVER DAY CAMP | FEATURE

awareness and gaining political support for all types of recreational programs. As an active member of the American Camp Association, he is deeply concerned about decreased funding allocated for children. “When you slash funding for community centers and supervised programs, the kids have more time on their hands, less productive things to do, and consequently, they have more chances to get in trouble,” he said. “You have to find a way to get them involved under the supervision of positive role models and mentors. If you put them on the field, in the gym, on the stage or in the art room with someone who cares about them, it can be a life changing experience. It’s not just about how to keep these programs going but how to support them and make them grow. If we don’t start doing more things for kids in this country we are going to have a whole lost generation.” In looking towards the future, Mark and Marissa agree that continuing to be a center of the community is crucial. “We want to create a space where we can work together with families and businesses and develop programs and partnerships for kids year round. This will only enhance and compliment what they are experiencing in school and in their after-school programs,” Marissa said. “We are always striving to convey to families that we are not just camp that takes care of your child during the summer; we are so much more than that.” ELT

Rolling River Day Camp’s Partner in Success:

PENINSULA COUNSELING CENTER Peninsula Counseling Center (PCC) provides premier mental health and chemical dependency treatment in Nassau County and Queens. Through individual, group and family counseling services, PCC provides help for children, adolescents and teens with substance abuse, high levels of anxiety, chronic sadness, hurting or cutting behaviors, learning disorders, eating disorders, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. PCC’s professionals also consult to schools and other community organizations, as well as assist youth and their families through specialized support programs. PCC works closely with area hospitals to assist in discharge planning and community re-integration for children, adolescents and adults who require more intensive services. For more information on Peninsula Counseling Center, please visit www.pccli.org

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Rolling River Day School & Camp  

Located along the shores of Mill River in Long Island, N.Y., you will find an exquisite example of a genuine camp, with a family-like enviro...

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