130+ years is a long time to perfect the art of youth development. Formal metrics confirm what anecdotal reports have always shown us; building strong social and emotional foundations sets children up for true long-term success.
Every Trail Blazers program is designed with the same five building blocks – research-backed strategies, seamlessly woven into each day’s plan:
- GOAL SETTING: deciding upon daily, aspirational group and individual goals and planning paths towards them
- TEAM BUILDING and CHALLENGE: working together to solve problems and encouraging each other to persist when things get tough
- FREE PLAY and EXPLORATION: letting wonder and imagination guide the program experience
- SCIENCE and SKILL BUILDING: honing in on specific interests and developing a methodical approach to learning
- REFLECTION: reflecting on one’s performance, focusing on the day’s highs and lows, and getting excited about what tomorrow will bring
This approach – which looks different every day, within every program, and for every group – delivers a uniquely powerful youth development experience.
Our Day Camp at Brooklyn Bridge Park offers:
- Exciting weekly skills mastery
- TWO environmental education classes each week lead by Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy Educators
- Boat building, STEM, and sailing activities with Brooklyn Boatworks (select weeks only, see the ‘Waterfront Adventure & Trips’ tab for more details)
- OUTDOOR program – we spend our days outside connecting with nature! Indoor locations are only used for severe weather. We opt outside so long as conditions are safe to do so!
- Program hours from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm, early drop off available starting at 8 am and extended hours from 4:00 – 6:00 pm
- Healthy habits incorporated into each day
Trail Blazer Camps are American Camp Association accredited. All leadership staff are trained professionals in their area of expertise.
Each staff member undergoes an intensive interview and reference check process. We run criminal and sex offender background checks on every person employed by our organization. Before children arrive, our staff completes a thorough training, covering all aspects of the Trail Blazers program, to prepare for the important job of looking after your child’s physical and emotional safety. This training has been expanded to meet all New York State, CDC, and ACA guidelines surrounding COVID-19.
We are also a partner and worksite for NYC’s Summer Youth Employment Program. This summer, our SYEP participants will be receiving all necessary training to work as junior group leaders
Meet the Brooklyn Day Camp Team
Each day at our Brooklyn Bridge Park Day Camp is spent in ‘small camp’, a consistent group of up to 12 campers with 2 dedicated group leaders. Because each child’s group remains small and consistent throughout the summer, our campers and staff form very strong bonds!
Each day includes the same mix of components, which your child’s group leaders will customize in real-time response to the group’s needs, likes and dislikes. These building blocks include:
- SUNRISE CIRCLE – the day always begins with a morning check in, we’ll set goals and discuss our plans for the day
- SKILL BUILDING – each week features a skill campers will spend some time focusing on each day, so at the end of the week your camper can say: I learned that at camp!
- EDUCATION – each week includes two classes with Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy educators – campers will learn about ecology, estuary habitats, marine life and more through hands-on activity and instruction
- ART/SCIENCE/GARDEN ACTIVITIES – each day includes an art project and/or a science experiment, all done right outside
- HIKING/ORIENTEERING – campers read maps and go on treasure hunts, getting to know all corners of the park
- TEAM BUILDING – specific games are used to bring the group together, teach group skills, and help groups overcome challenges
- MUSIC/SINGING – we sing all the time, both during specific song sessions as well as while we move from place to place!
- PLAYGROUND VISITS – Brooklyn Bridge Park has many great playgrounds, and we want to try them all (including the awesome splash pads)
- RUNNING/ACTIVE GAMES – when you’ve got a lot of energy to burn, nothing is better than learning a new game to play with your friends!
- LUNCH/SOLO – we value taking some time for ourselves each day – after lunch, campers spend some time napping, reading a book, or laying back and watching the clouds
- UNSTRUCTURED FREE PLAY – campers spend time each day playing by their own rules in a pre-defined area where they learn how to negotiate rules, engage in creative play, and have fun with friends
- SUNSET CIRCLE – the day always ends around the imaginary fire, singing songs, processing the day’s highlights and transitioning to the day end
Summer 2023 will feature an exciting Skills Mastery built into the theme of each week, as well as a brand new climate lens that will help shape the way we think about our camp experience. Campers will be given opportunities to learn and develop a wonderful variety of hands-on skills that they may never have tried before:
Week 1 (July 10 – July 14):
You’ve Arrived at Your Destination
Skill of the week: Orienteering
You are here and you belong here! An introduction to all things Trail Blazers. Let’s explore our park as a team and learn about the different ways we can navigate towards adventure. There’s 526 acres to discover, so let’s do it together!
Week 2 (July 17 – July 21):
Skill of the week: Plant ID, Plant life cycle, Gardening
We’re rooting for you, there’s so mulch to learn about plants. As true Trail Blazers we need little encourage-mint to play in the dirt, but thistle be one exciting week as campers spend a little extra thyme in the garden, learning hands on how plants grow.
Week 3 (July 24 – July 28):
Skill of the week: Animal Identification, Adaptations, Migrations
‘What’s that sound? Whose tracks are these?’ Bird calls, track identification and more! The investigation is on as we learn about all the wildlife that shares our world. The fauna of the park await!
Week 4 (July 31 – August 4):
How Knot to Slack on Survival Skills
Skill of the week: Knot-tying, Survival Skills
A welcoming introduction to wilderness arts, including simple survival knots, how to raise a shelter, filter clean water and craft the perfect marshmallow roasting fire. It will be easy to get tied up in how much fun we’ll have with this extremely useful skill week.
Week 5 (August 7 – August 11):
Skill of the week: Water Ecology, Marine Life Identification
Shell yeah, whalecome to our water ecology week! It’d be cray-sea naut to seas the opport-tuna-ty to explore this awesome estuary habitat. We’ll be happy as clams as we dive deep to learn all aboat the organisms in the East River and how they interact with one another. It’s o-fish-ial, we’ll be shore to make a splash with fin-tastic theme.
Week 6 (August 14 – August 18):
Harness the Power
Skill of the week: Weather & Climate Change
Prepare to be blown away by our weather and energy themed week. Campers will be on cloud 9 as we learn all about weather and striking ways in which we can harness its natural power for renewable energy.
Week 7 (August 21 – August 25):
It’s EASY Being GREEN
Skill of the week: Composting, Recycling
At Trail Blazers we LOVE to take care of this wonderful planet. This week campers will learn hands on how to compost and best take care of our environment. We’ll work together to create amazing Reduce, Reuse and Recycle projects.
Week 8 (August 28 – September 1):
Skill of the week: Community Service, Stewardship
As our summer comes to a close, we’ll take a closer look at one of our core values, care & respect for our community – what does this really mean and what this might look like in action? Groups will engage in service projects throughout our local communities. Putting to use the skills we’ve developed this season, campers will work together to brainstorm, plan and execute community projects of their own!
We’ve teamed up with the folks at Brooklyn Boatworks to include exciting waterfront adventures in our program this summer.
During select weeks, campers will explore the different types of boats we see along the East River, before designing their very own model boats. While ashore, we’ll learn about nautical flags and how mariners use them to communicate messages. We’ll also practice tying nautical knots, a helpful skill both on and off the water. Finally campers will put their new skills to the test as we climb aboard a wooden sailboat, built by NYC students, to explore Brooklyn Bridge Park from the water! We’ll learn how to safely board a small sailboat and how sailors harness the power of the wind to control the boat’s speed and direction.
This waterfront adventure program is offered during select weeks only:
Week 2 (7/17-7/21): Sunfish (4-5 years) and Puffers (4-5 years)
Week 3 (7/24-7/28): Barnacles (5-6 years) and Periwinkles (7-8 years) at Pier 1
Week 4 (7/31-78/4): Flounder (5-6 years) and Goldenrods (7-8 years) at Pier 5
Week 5 & 6 (8/7-8/11 & 8/14-8/18): Terrapins (9-10 years) and Scarlet Oaks (9-10 years)
An additional fee is applied to all tuitions that include a waterfront adventure. This additional fee is discounted by tiered coupons, see ‘Fees‘ tab for more details. Brooklyn Boatworks dates can be viewed here.
During previous seasons, we were able to include a series of field trips. This summer, we will continue to offer at least one special event or field trip each week. Transportation varies by trip, either via ferry or subway.
Campers in small camps aged 7-8 and older will also attend trips to our overnight campgrounds located in Sussex County, NJ. Trips to our overnight location are day trips, where campers will participate in boating, swimming, archery, and outdoor cooking. Campers may even embrace challenges head on by visiting our ropes adventure elements. Trips to our overnight location generally return for pick up at 6 pm.
Small camp specific scheduling will be shared later this spring and are subject to change.