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>BECOME YOUR BEST SELF

Outdoor adventure, environmental stewardship, and leadership development at Trail Blazers – an exciting way to engage, connect, and grow.

Trail Blazers has leadership development opportunities available for high school-aged youth in our day camp, overnight camp, and after school programs. We partner with SYEP to offer work experience for youth in our Day Camp. Our Overnight Camp has 4-week Leaders in Training programming as well as a full-summer internship for prior LITs (by invitation). During the academic year, we offer paid internships to students at the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism in Brooklyn in our UOS After School program.

why choose us?

>Each of our leadership programs is designed with participants’ futures in mind.  Participants develop real-world skills while having an unforgettable experience. 

Our four-week Leaders in Training (LIT) camp program is crafted to develop teens into well-rounded, productive adults. Using the resources of our 1000 acre estate in Northern New Jersey, LITs live together in a rustic smallcamp, with a multi-night Vagabond as a highlight of the experience.

Participants of the LIT and Internship programs are invited to further enhance the skills they have acquired during our specialized year-round summit opportunities.

 

One of our core values is care and respect for others. In the LIT, SYEP, and Internship programs, this value comes to light in the way we lead others. Training opportunities, professional development, coaching sessions, and workshops are modeled after our staff training program, deepened through leadership and work experience.

 

“This is going to be tough… and you can do it”

“With practice, you will get better”

 

These are a couple of our main messages at Trail Blazers and we mean what we say. Another one of our core values is care and respect for self. In our leadership programs, this entails looking ahead, setting goals, and making plans to get where we want to be this year, next year, and down the road.

 

As a Trail Blazers intern, we are going to expect a lot from you! At Trail Blazers, we collaborate, we ask, we try, and we persevere through challenges. We believe that we learn best when we try new things and challenge ourselves.

We value care for the environment. Our summer LIT and SYEP programs are immersive experiences in the outdoors that provide opportunities to reflect on the world around us, and to discover our role in protecting and shaping it. In our after school internship, we use environmental science activities and outdoor exploration to understand that even in an urban environment, all living and non-living things are connected.

We value care for community. Our leadership program brings this value into action –through discussions and needs assessments, our young leaders plan and implement projects to benefit their communities.

The Overnight Leaders in Training experience is grounded in our classic camp program. Young leaders will participate in a wide variety of camp activities while preparing for an exciting hiking trip. They will try everything camp has to offer while sharpening their hiking and backpacking skills for the ultimate Vagabond. This 4 night, 5 day adventure will take them through our 1000-acre camp property, down the Appalachian Trail, around the bike trails of Stokes State Forest, and canoeing downstream on the Delaware river!

Four Week Leadership ProgramLeaders-in-Training 1: June 28 – July 24
Leaders-in-Training 2: July 26 – August 21

Trail Blazers programs are offered on a tier basis, loosely linked to family income. Your tier is self-selected during the application process. If the price of the program remains out of reach for your family, even with your tier discount, please feel free to select the next tier level down. Additional scholarship funding is available to families for whom the Tier 1 price remains out of reach. Our aim is to make summer camp possible for all kids who are excited about Trail Blazers. We look forward to working with you to make this happen!

 

TIER 1 (Family Income up to $30,000 annually)

Leadership Program Tuition: $800

 

TIER 2 (Family Income $30,000-$60,000 annually)

Leadership Program Tuition: $800

 

TIER 3 (Family Income $60,000-$90,000 annually)

Leadership Program Tuition: $800

 

TIER 4 (Family Income over $90,000 annually)

Leadership Program Tuition: $800

 

FULL PRICE

Leadership Program Tuition: $800

 

Transportation is provided from Brooklyn NY and Newark, Elizabeth, and Paterson, NJ. A one-time annual fee of $50 per child will be added to each account during registration (not included above). If you are currently registered for a different Trail Blazers program, this fee may have already been paid.

 

Enrolling and Payment

You can sign your child up for camp with no payment required up front. We ask that payment is made within two weeks of registering in order to secure our child’s spot. Additional scholarship requests should be made by that time. Payment in full is due May 1.

 

During registration, you can set up an automatic payment plan or choose to make payments manually. Please email us at registration@trailblazers.org if you have questions or would like to discuss payment arrangements. If no payment is received within two weeks and we don’t receive communication from you within this time, we may move your child to the wait list. We’ll send you email reminders leading up to this point!

Program cancellation must be done 28 days prior to the first day of the program in order for a full refund to be considered. Program tuition may be refundable on a pro-rated basis, after the 28-day cancellation notice. During the busy summer months, please allow up to 3 months for refunds to be processed.

 

Please communicate with us if you have any needs or if extenuating circumstances arise. Whenever possible, we want to find a way to make things work as best we can for you.

Download your copy of the Trail Blazers Parent Handbook here.

Where is Trail Blazers?

 

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.

 

Check out the “A Typical Day” tab on this page for more information!

 

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. Our Vagabond locations are as follows:

 

Trail Blazer Camps


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 small camp 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!

Pack old clothing for your child, and label everything. Please do not bring anything valuable, or that you do not want to risk getting lost or dirty. Laundry is done for campers once per 2-week session.

 

If you are having trouble finding items on this list, please reach out to us – we are happy to help.

 

(Please note: this packing list is suggested for 2- and 4-week programs. Mini Campers will receive a modified packing list in their confirmation email upon registering!)

 

Required Clothing

12 pairs of underwear

12 pairs of socks

3 pairs of pajamas

8 t-shirts

2 long sleeve shirts

3 sweaters or sweatshirts

4-5 pairs of shorts

3-4 pairs of long pants

2 bathing suits

2 pairs boots/sturdy shoes

1 high quality rain jacket

1 hat or cap

 

 

 

 

 

Required Items

Day pack (small backpack)

Water bottle

Flashlight

Flip flops, crocs, or shower shoes

1 laundry bag

2 towels

Toothbrush and toothpaste

Soap and shampoo

Sanitary supplies

Comb or brush

Stationary and stamps

Suggested

Photos of family

Book to read

 

 

 

 

 

Do NOT pack:

Food
Phones, tablets or electronic games
Anything requiring a plug
Knives
Jewelry, money or valuables

Please note that in-person open houses are will not take place for the 2020 season. Information about virtual sessions is coming soon.

Join us at camp to get a taste of summer! After a welcome introduction and some drinks and snacks, you’ll be invited to join our staff and leadership campers for a full tour of camp. See what a small camp looks like, visit our program areas, and discover how much beauty the forest has to offer.

 

 

After tours we’ll enjoy a lunch buffet in the Great Hall, where you will get a chance to sample some typical meal offerings. After lunch, our staff and leadership campers will lead games and activities on the Great Lawn while parents can settle in for an extensive Q&A session with the directing team. Our aim is to provide an enjoyable day for you and your family where you are able to get all of your questions answered.

 

 

The program runs from 10am – 3pm at camp. You are welcome to drive up to camp on your own, or we will have a school bus leaving from our Brooklyn office that departs at 8am and returns by 6pm.

 

 

2020 Open House Dates:

 

Sunday, May 17 or Saturday, June 13

 

There is no cost to attend, and no limit to the number of family members who can come along. (We do charge $5 per person if you would like to travel up to camp with us by school bus.)

 

Please note – Camp is a rustic, outdoor environment. Getting around the trails and walkways of camp can be challenging for anyone who may be using crutches, a cane, a wheelchair, etc. If this is the case, let us know in advance and we will do our best to accommodate your camp visit.

New York City has suspended the Summer Youth Employment Program for 2020. We will not be accepting any SYEP participants this summer.

The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is the nation’s largest youth employment program, connecting NYC youth between the ages of 14 and 24 with career exploration opportunities and paid work experience each summer.

 

Participants have the opportunity to explore their interests and career pathways, develop workplace skills and engage in learning experiences that help in developing their social, civic and leadership skills.

 

By participating in structured project and work-based opportunities, NYC youth are better prepared for careers of the future.

 

At Trail Blazers, SYEP participants gain work experience in a day camp setting. Every day, they learn environmental science and outdoor skill basics and learn how to engage elementary school-age children through play-based, experiential approaches that are definitive of Trail Blazers, and learn to translate this knowledge and skills for future opportunities.

 

SYEP participants receive on the ground training and coaching from experienced Trail Blazers leaders every day, helping them to develop valuable professional skills they will utilize in any career pathway they may choose.

From the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development:

 

Thank you for your interest in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). Unfortunately, the uncertainty over how COVID-19 will continue to affect social distancing guidelines, worksite availability, and provider and site staffing as we head into late spring and summer makes it difficult to ensure that SYEP can be operated safely and efficiently. Effective immediately SYEP has been suspended for Summer 2020

Learn more here.

Through environmental science and professional development, high school teens develop essential skills and experience that help them to succeed. Run concurrently with our UOS After School program, UOS After School Interns learn environmental science basics, learn how to engage elementary school-age children through environmental science and as well as the play-based, experiential approaches that are definitive of Trail Blazers, and learn to translate this knowledge and skills for future opportunities.

The internship is a semester-long program, currently only offered in the spring. Interns participate in our Brooklyn-based after school program two afternoons per week, as well as participate in four workshops that focus on developing professional skills, communication, building a child-care tool kit, and the development of resume and interview skills.

 

 

The Under One Sky Internship is divided into two components:

 

Under One Sky Workshifts

 

This is the part where you will gain on the ground, real work experience. You will be assigned one of our Under One Sky (UOS) after school locations, to provide support and assistance to the staff and make sure our after school campers are safe and having fun. During your workshifts, you will also receive weekly coaching from your site supervisor. 

 

During these workshifts, your primary role is to support the program by:

  • Providing homework assistance to elementary aged campers
  • Playing games and singing songs with the campers
  • Supporting the Group Leaders with preparing materials
  • Being a kind and positive role model

 

You may be asked to help out by doing other tasks not on this list, such as making sure classrooms are tidy or helping with administrative tasks.

 

Professional Development Workshops 

 

During the course of the internship, you will be required to attend 4 professional development workshops at the Trail Blazers Main Office (394 Rogers Avenue). These workshops will be led by leaders from the organization and other community members. They are designed to help you learn professional skills and knowledge that will help you during your work shifts and beyond.

Currently, this program is only available to students at the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism in Brooklyn. If you are a student or parent at this school and want to learn more, contact Jennifer Bombardier at jbombardier@trailblazers.org

Where does the internship take place?

Interns will be placed at one our current Under One Sky After School locations for the workshifts. Training workshops will take place at the Trail Blazers office at 394 Rogers Avenue or at your high school.

 

Will interns be paid?

 

Yes! This is real work experience and interns will receive a daily stipend plus a completion bonus for their hard work.

 

Who is eligible to participate?

 

Currently, this internship is only available to students at the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism but we hope to expand it soon.

 

In addition to being an AOHT student, you must:

  • Be a current high school junior or senior in good academic standing.
  • Have a positive attitude, be deeply kind, and have a strong
    interest in working with young children.
  • Commit to 2 afternoons per week (Monday – Friday) for the
    duration of the program plus 4 Thursday afternoon workshops.
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