Where is Trail Blazers Overnight Camp?
Trail Blazers is located in Montague, New Jersey. This is in Sussex County in Northern New Jersey and is about 2 hours from Brooklyn.
What is a “smallcamp”?
Smallcamp refers to the place where campers live, and also refers to the name of their group in general. Smallcamp groups do almost everything together, including eating, showering, swimming, hiking, crafts, games, and activities around camp.
Small camps are comprised between 8 and 10 campers, two or three dedicated group leaders, plus additional group leaders and support staff members who may not spend the entirety of the day with the small camp group, but are there to join in and support as needed.
Where will my child sleep?
Everyone at Trail Blazers lives in canvas-covered shelters: hogans, teepees, covered wagons, or platform tents – NO CABINS! Your child will sleep in a slightly-smaller-than-twin-sized bed with sheets, blankets, and a pillow in a shelter that they share with 2 or 3 other campers. Each night, their counselors will make sure that their mosquito net is securely tucked in.
What about bathrooms and showers?
Every small camp has a non-flushing latrine toilet as well as running water from washing hands/faces, drinking, and brushing teeth. Campers have hot showers daily in one of our two shower houses.
My child wants to attend camp with their friend – is this possible?
As long as they are both eligible for the same program, yes! Make sure that during registration, both your child and your child’s friend sign up for the same session and the same section of camp. For example, if your child signs up for “Session 3: Girls (7 – 9)” and her friend does too, they will be in that smallcamp group together. There is also a space on the registration form for you to write in your buddy request.
We strongly recommend signing up with a maximum of one friend. Because our groups are so small, a band of children who already know each other outside of camp can have a big effect on the group dynamic. A big part of our program is creating a diverse community, and learning how to work with people who you’ve never worked with before.
What activities are offered?
The beauty of Trail Blazers is that each smallcamp has a tremendous say in designing their own program. Campers are able to try out a number of different activities, and then work together to determine which ones they’d like to focus on.
Daily elements of the program include morning meetings (time for goal setting and getting excited about the day), meals (of course!), capers (individual or group chores) swimming, showers, solo (restful down time spent on your own or checking in with your group leader), unstructured play, and pow wow (our closing campfire, that serves as a time to play games, sing songs, reflect on the day, and plan the days ahead).
Each group will also plan a number of cookouts, hikes of varying distances, and outdoor skill building sessions – such as orienteering, fire building, and lashing – in preparation for vagabond.
Other activities include hiking, biking, boating, archery, low ropes, arts and crafts (both pre-selected activities as well as free-creation time), nature exploration, gardening, caring for the chickens and goats at our farm,. Groups also play tons of active games, sing lots of songs, participate in community service projects, perform in skits and plays, take on building projects, write poetry…it’s really up to your child! Our campers come with ideas of their own too, and we are always excited to see what unique plans each group will come up with.
Do you have a sports program?
No, we do not offer competitive sports at Trail Blazers. While we definitely appreciate the value of team competitions, the focus of our program is on collaborative activities and unified group challenges.
What is the food like?
Trail Blazers serves healthy, home cooked meals each day. We do not order pre-prepared or frozen meals, and do not have a deep fryer on property. As a New Jersey Summer Food Service Program, we follow – and exceed – federal guidelines for components of each meal.
We have a menu that strives to be kid friendly, while honoring the diversity of our camp by offering foods through the session that will always be familiar to somebody and always be brand new to somebody else. Many of our meals are vegetarian – we typically serve meat only once per day. We do not serve candy, juice, or soda. Everyone is expected to try everything that is served, so we have what we call our “Three Bite Rule”. If we’re serving something you don’t like, or are unsure of, you can ask for three bites, which is a small taste. If you like it, you can get more; if not, that’s ok!
Typical breakfasts may include pancakes, eggs, waffles, bagels toast, fruit (such as peaches, oranges, apples, or bananas), yogurt, and cereal. Lunches are typically packed out and may include hummus, cold cut wraps or sandwiches, bean salads, fruit, vegetables (such as carrots, celery, or salad), or soy butter and jelly. Dinner might include ginger sesame chicken, three bean chili, baked potatoes, tacos, always two vegetables, and on the last full day of each session, a full blown Thanksgiving-style feast! Snacks items such as pretzels, granola bars, or fruit are available throughout the day. Milk is served at every meal.
We are a peanut free camp, and can be inclusive of a variety of dietary restrictions whether they are due to food allergy, religious requirement, or personal preference.
Can you accommodate my child’s special needs?
Though we are not a special needs camp, our excellent staff-to-child ratios and small group program approach make us able to accommodate a wide range of needs. Please call us to discuss your particular needs or concerns!
Though our high staff to camper ratio allows for an extensive amount of caring, individual attention, our terrain and staff structure do not allow for individualized programming or one-on-one supervision required by a child with pronounced physical or emotional limitations.If your child cannot hike or swim due to physical limitations, needs special medication and constant medical attention, or for any other reason cannot fully participate in our very active outdoor program, we urge you to discuss this matter with the camp director prior to camp in order to determine whether or not your child can be served at Trail Blazers.
What kinds of wildlife is there at camp?
Due to our location in the woods of New Jersey, we are surrounded by a wonderful, diverse population of animals, ranging from chipmunks to deer to black bears as well as deer ticks. While we peacefully share the woods with them, there are strict safety precautions we take. For example, tick checks are performed regularly, and absolutely no food is allowed in living areas. Every staff member is extensively trained on how to deal with wildlife encounters by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.
What is Vagabond?
Vagabond is a 1-4 night trip that provides the perfect chance for campers to use their newly-developed wilderness and survival skills as well as test the bonds they have formed with their group members. Vagabond duration and location varies based on the age, skill level, and program of the group.
- Trail Blazers: Our youngest camper groups typically embark on a 1-night Vagabond excursion to a camping site on Trail Blazers property.
- Appalachian Trail: Most of our smallcamp groups head to the Appalachian Trail for Vagabonds of 2-4 nights, carrying their personal and group gear along with them, and sleeping in the designated camping areas along the trail.
- Delaware River: Campers in our canoeing intensive program take off on 2-4 night excursions down the Delaware, bringing their boats to shore every evening and camping at designated sites along the river.
- Stokes State Forest: Campers in our biking intensive program take a 2-4 night tour of Stokes State Forest via mountain bike, breaking each evening at pre-selected camp sites.
- Allamuchy State Park: Campers in our rock climbing program embark on a 2-4 night trip hiking trip that involves two days of climbing on the natural rock walls of Allamuchy Mountain State Park.
- Stony Creek Farmstead: Campers in our Farmstead program embark on a 4-5 night trip to Stony Creek Farmstead, incorporating hiking and farm exploration adventures into their time living, working and playing on the farm.
Where do you find your amazing staff?
Trail Blazers hires staff from all over the country and the world who have a passion for working with youth in the outdoors. Each staff member must demonstrate a strong desire to take on a role with us over the summer, undergo a face to face interview, have great personal and professional references, and pass a thorough background check before arriving at camp.
Once arriving at camp, staff undergo 1.5 to 3 weeks of pre-camp 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.
Our lifeguards are American Red Cross certified, and their skills are extensively checked on site. All staff are trained in basic first aid, and every group has staff members who are CPR and First Aid certified.
Our camp wellness team works under the guidance of a licensed physician. Typically our wellness team consists of our supervising physician, an RN, an EMT in the role of health center manager, staff certified in Wilderness First Aid, and group leader in the role of wellness liaison, who floats between all of groups. Medical staff are on site 24/7 to ensure the health and wellness of our camp community, and to respond to any medical issues that may arise.
We will set up a staff page where you can meet the 2020 Overnight Team soon!
How will I be able to communicate with my child?
You will not have the opportunity to speak to your child over the phone during their session.
During the first couple days of camp, each child will send a letter or postcard home.
To aid your child in getting mail to you, consider sending them with pre-stamped, pre-addressed postcards or envelopes. If not, we supply group leaders with a list of parent contacts and home addresses for their campers, taken directly from your camp registration – please make sure this information is correct!
The amount of time it may take for mail to get from our outgoing mailbox at camp to your home can be wildly slow, especially in this day and age when we are accustomed to instant communication.
We will send emails out to you on a regular basis, featuring your child’s group and the activities that they have done and that they are looking forward to doing. These emails will introduce you to their group leaders and feature photo highlights from their session. Photos are uploaded onto our google photos page each evening.
Please send encouraging letters to your child often! You can send letters in advance of your child’s arrival so they are there on day one. You can send a package of numbered letters for us to give out throughout the week. You can send care packages with items such as socks and stickers, mad libs and magazines – no food or candy! (Each package is opened on the porch of the lodge so we can ensure no food sneaks into small camp).
You can also email our camper inbox to have a letter printed out and delivered with the mail that day.
If you have questions about how the session is going or any concerns at all, you can also call our camp office and speak to a member of our leadership team. We are a small program and our directors cross paths with groups daily, and our group leaders write daily reports that are turned in each evening – so we typically have very up to date information about how your child is doing at our fingertips. If not, we will be happy to find the answer to your question and call you back.
…you mean I really can’t call my child and speak to them over the phone?
That is correct.
…and you really don’t have cabins?
Also correct – hogans and teepees all the way!