Hudson Valley Summer Camps
Warmer weather may not arrive until a few months from now, but sign-up for summer camp is well underway. Before you pack up the kids, check out these noteworthy Valley camps
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Photographs courtesy of Tivoli Sailing Company
Adventure Sailing School
Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few years, you’ve surely noticed that pirates are all the rage with kids big and small.
So what child wouldn’t be psyched to hoist a flag and set sail across the open water during summer vacation? The Tivoli Sailing Company’s Adventure Sailing School gives them a chance to do that, and much more.
The company was founded five years ago by Capt. Jerome Crandall-Hollick, who says that sailing saved him from the pain of a childhood learning disability. Although he came from a long line of sailors and had been on boats since he was an infant, initially, Crandall-Hollick thought sailing was a “fuddy-duddy, grandpa thing.” Only after being diagnosed with dyslexia at age seven did he have the opportunity to really fall in love with the sport. At a special school for language-based learning disabilities he was encouraged to participate in a sport that would build his gross motor skills, as well as his confidence. Sailing was the natural choice. “My dad started to try to get me into it through my imagination, with Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series,” says Crandall-Hollick. “Then my grandfather got me a Sunfish, and after that I never stopped.” Eventually Crandall-Hollick was phased back into a mainstream school, but he continued to sail as a teenager, racing at Hyannisport on Cape Cod and even sailing with the Kennedys. “Every summer I sailed all day, every day. It was my escape.”
After graduating from Bard College in 1997, Crandall-Hollick returned to Boston, where he worked as a sailing instructor. He found himself traveling to the Hudson Valley nearly every weekend to sail, and by 2007 he moved back to the area full-time. He received his captain’s license and saved enough money to buy a 24-foot sailboat, which he used for charters and lessons. “The sailing part is one thing,” he states. “Running a business is another.” Between the fickle weather and an even more fickle economy, Crandall-Hollick found his new business venture struggling to stay afloat. Then a friend asked him to take her daughter out sailing for a day. “I asked her if she could find some more kids to go, too, to make it more worth the trip.” He ended up with eight kids, and the Adventure Sailing School was conceived. “It was a lot of fun — I got to teach the kids something real and useful, and share something I love. I thought, ‘This could be the basis for my business.’ ”
At first, Crandall-Hollick admits, he had no idea what he was doing: “I had no curriculum, no rain plans — I just took the kids out to places on the boat.” But through trial and error, and the acquisition of some enthusiastic staff, the Adventure Sailing School’s curriculum tightened up. Today, the camp is the company’s main focus. While Crandall-Hollick still offers charters and lessons on the weekends, the bulk of his prime season is dedicated to the kids; the 10-week program starts the first Monday after school lets out in June and runs through the end of August. The recent acquisition of a second boat this year (and another licensed captain on staff) allows the camp to accept up to 22 kids per week (an increase from last year’s eight).
“Hudson River conditions aren’t the best — you can only sail 60 to 70 percent of the time — so we have to have a diverse curriculum, and an indoor curriculum for rainy days,” Crandall-Hollick explains. (During inclement weather, the camp takes place at the American Legion in Tivoli.) As you would expect, the camp features a thorough and somewhat rigorous syllabus of sailing skills, where the techniques learned one week are expounded upon the next. Kids learn to navigate and sail the boat themselves (under supervision), and are given lessons in science and ecology, knot tying, river safety, teamwork, and boat mechanics. In an attempt to emphasize history and social studies education along with the sciences, each week of the 2011 season will be dedicated to a different pirate. Crandall-Hollick plans to focus not only on the buccaneer and his misadventures, but also on the social and political times in which he lived and the history of naval warfare. Kids can make their own pirate flags, and each week culminates with a staged naval battle — i.e., a water balloon fight — on the Hudson (using biodegradable balloons).
“My mother always said: ‘Be proactive, not reactive.’ So that’s my motto,” Crandall-Hollick states. This plays out at Adventure Sailing School: Each member of the crew is lifeguard-certified, though that precaution is not mandated anywhere. The campers all wear life jackets in and on the water. And to ensure that the kids stay present and engaged, Captain Jerome collects all cell phones at the start of the day, locking them away in a waterproof bag below deck. After disclosing this rule, he is quick to add that iPods — for shared listening purposes — are okay. Pirates need tunes, right?
Schedule: Mon.-Fri., June through August (10 weeks)
Session length: One week; educational curriculum organized in two four-week modules
Pick-up/drop-off: Saugerties, 8:30 a.m.-4:40 p.m.; Tivoli, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Ages: 6-16 (average age 8-12)
Staff-to-camper ratio: 1:3
Cost: $320 per week; discounts offered to campers registering for four or more sessions
Web site: www.tivolisailing.com
Contact: 845-901-2697 or email@example.com