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To the beat of drums and hand-clapping, campers twisted in a conga line around the cafeteria of Grace Lutheran Church in River Edge. For one hour, children enjoyed the music of drum band African Horizons – all after a trip to the movies and right before snack and a game of kickball.

Each summer Family Promise’s Camp Lots-of-Fun allows up to 30 kids ages 5 to 12 to participate in sports, swimming, arts and crafts, nature study and field trips the last two weeks of August. This year, Camp Lots-of-Fun hosted 24 kids with 24 counselors, providing a unique one-to-one counselor-to-camper ratio. Directed by Cindy, Camp Lots-of-Fun is also staffed with two assistant directors, Blake Visconti and Donna Montenigro.

“Having the counselors connect with these kids and give them the attention they crave is what it’s all about,” said Cindy, now on her 14th year as director. “I get a sense of accomplishment knowing every year it’s a success.”

Activities included trips to the Liberty Science Center and to Outragehiss Pets in Spring Valley, NY; swimming at Graydon Pool in Ridgewood, Oradell Swim Club and Park Ridge Pool; and visits from the River Edge Fire Department and the acclaimed Mad Science program. Campers aged 10 to 12 took a trip to Mystic Seaport, where they visited the aquarium and stayed overnight at the Denison Nature Center there.
Visconti said Camp Lots-of-Fun not only gives kids a break from their routines, but also “levels the playing field” with their fellow classmates at school.

“Everyone goes back to school with stories of their summer vacations,” said Visconti, a special education teacher in West Milford. “Camp Lots-of-Fun gives these kids something to talk about, too.”
For 12-year-old Quiyan, going on these trips – particularly to the movies and bowling – is the highlight of camp every summer.

And for Lakaiy, 9, making new friends is what she enjoys most.

“And going to Keansburg Amusement Park,” she said.

Adriana Politis, 16, a senior at Glen Rock High School and member of Family Promise’s Youth Council, has been a counselor for two summers and will “definitely be back.”

“We show them there’s still good – and fun – in the world by making camp a comfortable and happy environment,” she said. “The best time I have with them is my free time with them.”