Our Picks: Camp for Preschoolers

A friend with little ones recently asked me where I sent my kids to camp when they were preschool age. My daughter, who is in 2nd grade, loved the camps at West Side Nursery School–she still begs to go there but sadly, she has aged out. I know she’d lie about her age and try to sneak in if she could.

Why I loved their camps:
1. She learned without knowing it.

Their camps are all so much fun and she learned so much at their Arts Camp…without really realizing that she was. Suddenly, Picasso and Kandinsky were household names. She even made a video showing me how she could draw a face like Picasso.

2. Their space.
West Side is lucky enough to have a gorgeous shaded, outdoor playground on a half-acre of landscaped, fenced-in grounds! They also have a full indoor, air-conditioned gym and a children’s library where we’d often sit together and read after camp was finished.

3. Their staff and ratio.
The staff to camper ratio is 8:1. Besides the fact that their teachers have years of experience, they are all so kind, sweet and fun! My son, who is almost 11, still wishes he could go back! During a time when I felt frenzied, stretched too thin and probably yelled the entire way to camp, their teachers made my kids feel so loved and cherished. Thank god!

4. Me-time.
I love summer and being free, but a few days into summer vacation, my kids start complaining that they’re bored. I needed a few hours to myself and this was the same I would pay for a babysitter—maybe less–and the fun and mess were not in my house! Sophia was happy to go and honestly, it gave me time to get what I needed to do done. She’d come home fed and ready for an afternoon at the pool.

5. And of course, FUN!
While the teachers do create lessons plans corresponding to each theme, the main goal of the camps is to fill the children’s mornings with silliness and good old-fashioned fun! Every time I picked up my daughter, I could hear the giggles and laughter coming from their room. She always asked to stay longer! The worst part about the camp was trying to get her into the car to leave to go home.

They offer 3 programs:

• Explore the Arts Weekly July 9 – July 27
Ages: 3 – 6 years • Monday – Friday • 9am – 12:30pm
Children have a chance to combine art, drama, music, movement and act (role play). At the end of the week, the kids invite their parents or friends to a lovely art exhibit that they are very proud of and an adorable performance. Includes lunch time.

• Summer Fun Camp Weekly June 18 – July 27
Ages: 2½ – 5 years • Monday – Friday • 9am – 12:30 pm
Each of these camps has a different theme where kids are learning something about the world around them…without really realizing it because they’re having fun. A few of our favorite themes are “Learning about the Wonders of the Rain Forest,” “Be a Junior Architect” or  “The Incredible Edible Cooking School.”  Includes lunch time.

• Summer Skool
Ages: 4 – 5 years (Pre-K) 
Weekly June 18 – June 29
This camp is great for getting some energy out. The camp includes lots of outdoor activities and play and is geared towards older kids who are completing Pre-K or Transitional Kindergarten. Each week, teachers create lesson plans based on different themes for children to explore like “Creating Outside Art Installations” or “It’s the West Side Olympics!”

The camps are $ 250.00 per week.
For more information, email Cindy Hardt or go to West Side Nursery School Camp.
You can also call 201.447.3501

West Side Nursery School Camps
6 South Monroe Street, Ridgewood, NJ 07450


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Author: Heather Zachariah

Former Art Director for Home Magazine, Heather Leahy Zachariah, left her career in publishing after baby number number one. She now works from home as a freelance graphic designer and a chauffeur to her 3 busy kids. "Working on TipsFromTown has been a wonderful outlet for me. It renewed my love of publishing where I can design colorful, enticing pages online and allows me to share the things I love about being a mom." Heather grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a place that still is near and dear to her. " After living in Brooklyn for 18 years and studying Graphic Design at Pratt Institute, she now lives in the Jersey burbs. "I love living so close to NYC, but in my heart, I'm an Ohio girl."


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