Thursday, July 26, 2012

Talking With Your Kids About Bad Stuff

In case you didn't know, Liberty Lake Day Camp employs a dynamic resource counselor named Cathi Fischer, LCSW. Cathi works during the school year as a social worker in the New Brunswick Public Schools, has her own clinical practice, and drives into NYC to do grief counseling at Sloan Kettering Medical Center. Our Insurance Company also employs her as part of their consulting team which works with the finest camps across all of America.

Speaking from personal experience, I have trouble finding the right way to frame shocking and disturbing situations like what happened in Connecticut last week, Colorado this summer, etc- for my own kids. So when Cathi offered to write up some tips and tools for our Camp Families to help mitigate the emotional effects on our childen, I took her up on it- I hope you learn something from the below, as I did!

Traumatic events can have profound effects not only on those who have been injured, but also on loved ones, survivors and witnesses. Extensive media coverage of tragedies means that the circle of witnesses has expanded to include those who were not present at the event. These incidents can be extremely disturbing to children, who thrive on predictability and security.
  • Ways to talk to your children after a traumatic event. Children frequently feel more vulnerable than adults because of their limited physical and emotional resources. Do not minimize your child’s concerns, even if they seem trivial to you. You can ask your children “What do you think kids will worry about the most?” Let them know it is normal to feel worried or upset.  They may ask the same questions repeatedly, they need the continued reassurance that they are safe.
  •  Limit the amount of TV watching: There is a great deal of mass media attention to this issue with sad, dramatic, and frightening images that are continually showing on the television. Watching these scenes may create feeling of vulnerability in your children. Please monitor what they are watching, limit their accessibility and talk to them about what they are viewing. If you feel it is appropriate to view media coverage, watch together.
  • Ask your children what they hearing and where they are hearing it. Make sure you give them accurate information without going into great detail. You should clarify terms they may have heard that they do not know the meaning of. For example, “homicide” is when someone killed another person, it is not an accident.
  • Deal with questions in a simple factual manner, without giving graphic details. For example “What happens when you get shot?” Possible Response: “When you get shot you might be injured in the part of the body that got hit. Sometimes the injury can be serious enough that the person’s heart will stop and they will die. Sometimes a person is not injured as badly and they will go to the hospital and the will be taken care of by the nurses and doctors.
  • “Why did this happen to these people?” Explain to your children that we may not know the exact reason why this horrible thing happened, but we assume that this person was troubled and did not know how to talk clearly about their thoughts and feelings. The result is they were not able to control their impulse to hurt others. They kept things to themselves. It is important for people to seek help when they have thoughts and feelings that make them feel angry, hurt, confused or scared. Everyone needs someone to talk to who can help them solve problems and feel better. Ask your child “Who would you talk to if you were feeling scared, hurt or confused inside?" Be available for them to talk. They may ask the same questions repeatedly, they need the continued reassurance.
  • Keep their routine normal. This gives your child a sense of security.
  • What if my child does not talk? You can ask your child to draw a picture of what they understand happened if they are young, or write about it if they are older.
  • Monitor your child’s behavior and seek help if your child displays any of the following:
    • Stomach aches, headaches or muscle pains that may not be medically based
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
    • Inability to stop thinking about the event
    • Changes in behavior (aggression, anger, more clingy or fearful of irritable)
    • Withdrawal from friends and family
    • Nightmares
    • Excessive worrying about something bad happening to them or a loved one.
Our generation has now gone through 9/11, the Space Shuttle accident, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now this horrible situation in Newtown CT- These events can effect kids a lot more than adults. Being aware of it is the first step, and then having some tools int he toolbox is the second.  

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call Cathi Fischer, LCSW at camp, or Email her at

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Justinsantiy Blood Drive – This Thursday from 2 to 7 pm

Article By Christian Chang, Matt Cohen & Peyton Zelinsky (Liberty Lake Leaders in Training) 

Earlier this year, Justin Pritikin, son of Liberty Lake’s Owners/Directors Andy & Jill, was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the blood. Thankfully his illness was discovered early and he is responding positively to treatment, but Justin still has a long road of recovery ahead of him. 

Leukemia patients like Justin are in need of blood every day. In support of Justin and other leukemia patients, please take part in our American Red Cross Blood Drive on Thursday July 26 from 2 pm to 7 pm. The blood drive will be hosted at the Homestead Clubhouse ~ 25 Homestead Drive, Columbus, NJ, 08022. 

To schedule an appointment, please contact Linda Basim at 609-298-4846 or sign up at, sponsor code: 0229930. If you are unable to schedule appointment, walk-ins are welcome.

Donating blood is a very important service to our community. Here are some facts about donating blood – 
  • Nearly 4.5 million Americans would die every year without life saving blood transfusions 
  • Every 3 seconds, someone needs blood 
  • 32,000 pints of donated blood are used daily in the United States
To learn more about Justin Pritikin and his battle with leukemia, please visit 


Friday, July 20, 2012

It Ain't Easy Bein' Green!

Ever since I owned my own Camp, I wanted it to be as environmentally sensitive as possible.

 I quickly found out though, that it wasn't so easy- if I wanted to stay in business!

The cost of paper plates vs. styrofoam plates is STAGGERING.  We're talking 10:1.  So you could spend $5000 on plates, or $50,000 on plates.  Repeat: $50,000 on paper plates (the good ones that don't fall apart when they get some sauce on them). So sadly, Liberty Lake, for the first 10 years used styrofoam plates with our plastic cups- much to my dismay.

Every year I re-examined it.  Every year, the same answer.  Every year, we sighed and kept doing it- Until this winter...

This winter, we went to every paper goods supplier we could find, seeking out CLOSE-OUTS. I told them that I didn't care what was on the plates- Birthdays, Bar Mitzvahs, Superheroes, etc. Turns out that you can get closeout paper products at only 2-3 times the price of styrofoam- That pill, I can swallow!

So this summer, every Monday morning, Chef John runs to open up the next big cardboard box in our shed- This week... BIRTHDAY PRINCESS plates!  So not only are we GREENER than ever before, but now the kids get a big chuckle every day at lunch, depending on what's on the plates!  I think it has been hilarious- worth the extra money just for that!

Besides the plates, we are using paper cone cups at all the water coolers, we bought a composter, we expanded our garden and bought a greenhouse- and we are using our vegetables at lunch in the salad bar and in our pasta salad!

The Green Team elective, under the supervision of Chris Van Sciver and Tara Rambo (and overseen by Brandi Carnivale) look for ways for us to recycle, and be smart about the environment- I'm so proud of them, and all the Liberty Lakers for buying into our vision of being Green at Liberty Lake- If you have any ideas, please send them our way!!! 

Andy Pritikin
Liberty Lake- Owner, Director

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Liberty Lake 2012!!!
Dear 2012 Liberty Lake Families-
We are 30% through our Summer Season, but have LOTS of new campers starting on Monday. Thus, I figured that it was time for an all-encompassing update to remind everyone about some important protocol that can maximize your Liberty Lake experience.
Just click the link at the top of the page.  The bus routes have been running very smoothly for the past two weeks, but as always, we ask for your patience on Mondays.  Also, our 5:15pm LATE BUS SOUTH has been a huge hit, with 30+ campers riding it each day. This off-season we will contemplate running one to the north.
  • Also, and this is a little confusing, we post the next-next weeks electives each weekend- Let met explain. This past week (Week 2), we finalized the scheduling for next week (Week 3), and right now you can check out the Week 4 elective sheet, and then log into your CampMinder account, go to “Forms & Documents,” choose “Top 10 List” and update your selections for Week 4. The elective sheet currently taking selections is always posted on the Freedom of Choice pate of our website:
One of the hazards of running a 60+ activity elective program, is that sometimes some AWESOME new electives have a tough time getting rolling, as campers make choices of things they are confident with, and are averse to try new things- So parents, I implore you to encourage your children to Try New Things!  They can always change their electives on Tuesdays- Frosh, through their division leaders, Sophs+ through the change system we have set up.
Cool Electives you should sign up for:

  • Fitness & Nutrition
  • - Pro Trainer Anna combines Cardio Kickboxing, Water Aerobics and more
  • Balloon Art, Cartooning, Drawing/Painting, Multi-Medium, Sculpture-
  •  At LLLDC we have a great little Art Department that is generally underappreciated by the campers- Have them give it a try!
  • Rock Out-
  •  The Renaissance Man himself, John Williams runs an elective in which kids throw rocks at a target range, skip rocks, paint rocks etc. Now available for Freshmen
  • Videography
  • - We are lucky to have a professional filmmaker on staff, with a great new indoor facility.
  • Liberty Spa is alternating weeks with Face Painting
  • Twilight/Hunger Games is alternating weeks with Movie Magic (stage make-up)
  • Green Team
  • - We have a world-class garden and greenhouse, a composter, and a crack staff dedicated to the environment- Kids get their hands dirty, and love it.
  • Liberty News
  • - The 1st edition of the Newsletter came out on Friday (will be posted shortly), and it was amazing. The talented Jarrett  and campers will be creating a “Rolling Stone” magazine for distribution week 4.
  • Drums, Guitar, Jam Session, Ra
  • p- The Liberty Lake Music Department is simply amazing. Ray, Big Chris, and Mike & Mike from the School of Rock have kids drumming, strumming, rapping and performing like you wouldn’t believe- Try new things!
  • Into the Woods
  • - Next week is the last chance to be a part of the big musical production this summer. April has a great team, including Tara-Anne, a professional talent agent!

CampMinder online Photo Album- Besides logging in to change your electives, we encourage you to log in to view the many, many pictures we are taking each day of your beautiful children- compiled in our online, password protected photo album.

TEXTCASTER: Two weeks ago, our afternoon Homecoming Parade and Friday Assembly ran about 20 minutes late, making all of our buses 20-30 minutes late. Those parents who had signed their cell phones up through our “TextCaster”  emergency notification system were extremely grateful- Thus I encourage you all to take ONE MINUTE and sign up your cell phone for it. ***IMPORTANT*** It turns out that you have to do this EVERY SUMMER- So even if you did it in prior seasons, please do it again- We will NOT use this service for anything besides an important notification that has to do with your kids:

The above link, and many others are located in the “Parent Portal” in the SummerZone section of our website.  Also there are the links for the WebCam- Just choose “single” after clicking the link.- plus the INTERACTIVE SPIRIT CALENDAR (tells you what the special events actually are, and how to prepare) and INTERACTIVE MENU (including carb counts and ingredients).

While we have had a few campers end their summer season with us already, hundreds of campers have already extended their stays with us. Couple that with the biggest/latest registration in the history of Liberty Lake (over 100 campers in June), and a majority of our groups are now filled up for many of the remaining weeks. So, IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING EXTENDING YOUR STAY, CALL THE LLDC OFFICE, OR EMAIL US ASAP- AND WE WILL LET YOU KNOW WHAT IS AVAILABLE!

Due to our attention being focused on the late registrations, we had to cancel our “Sunday Camp” idea for this Summer- We will do it in 2013. 

Save the Date for Family Night- Thursday, August 2, 5:30pm – “Into the Woods (5pm),” 5-Year Jackets, 10-Year Plaques, Zip Line for Parents, Boating, Fishing, Mini-Golf, Ga-Ga, Hulla and the big Barbecue spread.

Communication Contacts: Our main catch-all is, but we also have bus@, nurse@, swim@, and every director and division leader’s first name@. BUT- For things like early pick-ups from Camp, cancellations, etc- PLEASE CALL THE OFFICE, as Emails are great, but not perfect.

Lastly, below are the addresses in which parents/campers can can write letters if you wish to join our fight to get the DEP and local township to address our stormwater issues related to the proposed warehouse project.  We have a few days (July 11) to submit comments related to the 6/26 hearing.

Comments should be submitted to:
WQM Program Docket
Watershed Management Program
Division of Coastal and Land Use Planning   Mail Code 401-07C
P O Box 420
Trenton, NJ  08625-0420

A copy of the comments should be sent to:
Mr. Timothy Staszewski
Project Manager
Remington and Vernick Engineers
232 Kings Highway East
Haddonfield, NJ  08033-3899

A quick not on my Justin’s progress in his fight against leukemia- His chemo treatments have intensified, and the next 8 week will continue with a week in the hospital, and a week recovering at home. While he’s hoping to make it to camp for a limited time, we have to proceed with caution, as his immune system is pretty weak. Updates at
As always, if you have any 

questions, please either reply to this Email, or give us a call.

Andy Pritikin, Owner/Director
Liberty Lake Day Camp