Tariq Summers, 15, left, with coach Devon McMillan as he...

Tariq Summers, 15, left, with coach Devon McMillan as he works on his dribbling at the 2018 School of Business Basketball camp in Westbury. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca

When searching for a summer camp program on Long Island, parents may want to check out their town’s offerings — municipalities offer traditional day camps as well as niche experiences including, for instance, a stop-motion animation camp in the town of Riverhead, a Fire Island beach camp in the town of Islip, and a camp featuring NBA player Tobias Harris hosted by the town of North Hempstead.

Jennie Belmont Bartolo of Riverhead sent her son, Jack, 9, to the Incrediflix Action Movie & Imagination Flix Camp at Riverhead’s George Young Community Center in Jamesport last summer, for instance, in part because she says she wanted him to be with his local friends while school was out. “The Riverhead Town camps are great for keeping the kids connected,” Bartolo says.

And Jack was thrilled with the option. “I was like, ‘Sign me up,’” he says. He and his friends chose a space theme for their film called “Stranded on Neptune,” which they made by taking a series of photographs of subjects and props they created from clay, moving the characters a bit for each photo and stringing the images together. “The story was about people who were trying to go to Mars, but their ship hit a meteor and it crashed onto a different planet,” Jack says.

Less expensive options

Town camp offerings meet at community centers, town parks or beaches and other town facilities. They are typically less expensive than private day camp options that can run upward of $700 to more than $1,000 per week and require a multiple-week commitment. The Town of Islip's full-day, one-week Action Movie & Imagination Flix Camp, for instance, which ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., cost $350 in 2018 for town residents and $10 additional for nonresidents, says Colleen Eastwood, recreation supervisor for the town of Riverhead. This year’s prices have yet to be determined, she says. Town camps may offer fewer services than private camps, however, such as transportation, lunch, or optional before and after care, Eastwood says.

The most popular town camp programs can be competitive and fill up quickly, and they may require a trip to a town office to register. Parents should check with their towns to determine how their system works and note important dates. For the Town of Islip’s Patricia Ann Mooney Memorial Beach Camp at Fire Island’s Atlantique Beach, for instance, campers vie for their spots via a lottery. Parents had to mail in a request postmarked between Feb. 11 and 21 to potentially secure a slot during one of the weeklong sessions that run from July 8 to Aug. 16. The $360 per week fee includes lunch, a camp T-shirt and all Fire Island Ferry transportation from the Bay Shore Marina to Atlantique and back each day. 

Campers pass the days swimming in the surf, relaxing under beach umbrellas, playing beach Newcomb and volleyball and doing arts and crafts. “I decided to go because I love the beach,” says 2018 camper Taylor Essex, 12, of West Islip. “It was really fun playing all the volleyball games, and I liked getting ice cream every day right before we got on the boat.” Her mother, Ann Marie, has already sent in her request for summer 2019.

One-of-a-kind opportunities

Some towns are able to offer residents unique camp options. The Town of North Hempstead, for instance, has for years offered a free, one-week basketball camp for kids ages 11 to 18 with Long Island native Tobias Harris, who was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Philadelphia 76ers in February.

Gerry Caramore, 9, of Aquebogue, center, directs Jack Bartolo, 9, of...

Gerry Caramore, 9, of Aquebogue, center, directs Jack Bartolo, 9, of Riverhead, during the filming of "Stranded on Neptune," a Claymation stop-motion movie, at the George Young Community Center in Jamesport in 2018. Credit: Heather Walsh

Harris’ parents, Torrel and Lisa, still live in Dix Hills and help run the program at the North Hempstead Town’s Yes We Can Community Center in Westbury. It combines basketball training and drills with visits from business professionals such as lawyers and financial experts.

Harris wants to show kids that there are other ambitious goals they can set aside from dreaming of getting into the NBA, says Harris’ father, Torrel. “He brings the kids in for the basketball and then he has different speakers speak to them about other different careers and setting your goals high and going to college.” Tobias wasn’t available for comment because of his schedule, the elder Harris says.

“I liked it a lot,” Tavion Young, 16, of Hempstead, says of the camp, which he attended last summer. “I liked how there were doing different drills with us. I liked the scrimmages, too. I learned better moves, and I learned how to do yoga, too.” He liked the business workshops, he says. “They were talking about life, what do we want to be.”

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months