Beachland and Fernridge parks provide outdoor sites for campers at Camp Funtastic.
By Sophie Christensen
Camp Funtastic, founded almost 30 years ago, is a day camp offered by West Hartford Leisure Services. It provides weekday outdoor activities from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (or 5:30 p.m. as a later pickup option).
Even amidst the intermittent rainstorms last week, Camp Funtastic still provided exciting activities for campers. “It’s an outdoor camp, so we try to keep them outdoors as much as possible,” said co-director Rich Mabey.
Thursday afternoon’s drizzles didn’t stop the kids from playing their usual games of dodgeball and four square. In the case of heavy rain or thunderstorms, campers relocate to nearby town or school buildings for shelter and indoor activities.
Along with dodgeball and four square, Camp Funtastic designates time for swimming, arts and crafts, and a talent show. Other athletic activities include basketball, relay races, soccer, kickball, bowling, and camp-wide games of capture the flag.
Each day includes Red Cross swimming lessons first thing in the morning, a snack break mid-morning, and lunch at noon. Other activities rotate daily, but campers are active all throughout the day.
“We pride ourselves on being a pretty traditional day camp, the one [the parents] might remember” from their own summer camp experiences, explained Mabey.
Mabey co-directs the camp along with Alaina Torromeo. Both work as teachers, and Torromeo, who grew up in West Hartford, is a Conard graduate.
The counseling staff is largely made up of both former and current West Hartford high school students. Many of the staff return for three to five years, and eventually move into camp management positions. A large percentage of the staff hope to pursue careers in education.
In terms of counselors, “we have the best of the best,” said Mabey.
In its earliest incarnation, Camp Funtastic was a “drop-in” program, without a traditional registration process. Parks were staffed with two to four adults who brought a small assortment of sports equipment and art supplies. Kids would “drop in” to play games, swim, or do arts and crafts. After one summer of the drop-in program, Camp Funtastic became the more structured program that it is today.
Last summer many West Hartford camps were canceled due to COVID-19. However, Camp Funtastic was still able to provide a program that closely resembled their original “drop-in” format. Even so, Mabey revealed how it’s still been “tough getting back from losing out last year,” after people found other camp options.
This summer, Camp Funtastic offers eight one-week sessions. Registration takes place through the West Hartford Leisure Services website.
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