“We try to satisfy every child’s needs,” said Mayor Nicholas Sacco. He was speaking about the extensive summer programs North Bergen runs every year for residents, including sports camps, pool activities, movies, concerts, and more.
This summer will be no exception, with dozens of activities scheduled.
‘Summer Fun’ series
Once again North Bergen is hosting the Summer Fun series for kids ages 6 to 12. “It’s like a day care center for the summer,” said Hugo Cabrera, commissioner of parks and recreation. “It runs from June 30 to Aug. 1, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They do arts and crafts, they play games, we take them to the park, to the swimming pool, we take them bowling, we take them to museums. Every week they have some sort of a trip going on.”
The fee is $50 for the summer, including lunches and a t-shirt. Most of the supervisors are teachers, with kids aged 16 and over as counselors. “So it creates a lot of jobs for kids coming out of school over the summer,” said Cabrera.
Whether it’s sports, arts, entertainment, or just keeping cool, North Bergen’s got it covered this summer.
Summer Fun is run from numerous locations, including schools and Bruin Stadium. The number of participants is limited to 100 at each location. Check the town website at www.northbergen.org for more information.
“We have a separate program going on for children with special needs,” said Sacco. “It’s very similar to Summer Fun, except it’s contained. They go on trips, they use the pool, everything they do is appropriate to the group.”
Run by Jackie Elwood, the program caters to over 100 kids, who are mostly picked up by bus. Lunches are provided, similar to Summer Fun.
“For the Summer Fun program, at every site we put a sprinkler system for them,” said Cabrero. “So Franklin School has a sprinkler system, Horace Mann, and Fulton Schools.”
In addition, the town will run sprinklers from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, beginning June 30, at Kennedy School, and at 46th St. and 88th St.
The town pool opened over Memorial Day weekend and will be providing activities over the summer, including movies and swimming at night.
“There’s the pool, a slide, a lap pool where the swimming team works out but everybody else uses all day long, a kiddie pool and interactive spray park, basketball, volleyball courts,” said Sacco.
A pool luau is scheduled for August 15, and bands or DJs will entertain on Friday, July 4, Saturday, July 19, Friday, July 25, and Saturday, August 9.
“Movie nights are a big thing,” said Sacco. “We have about a 40 foot screen and people bring their kids and swim as they’re watching the show. That’s free for members.”
Residents can register at the Recreation Center. The cost is $220 for the season for an individual membership, with discounts for families, seniors, and children under age 13.
“We haven’t gone up for three years,” said Sacco. “The key to this is that the people using the pool pay for all the programs. The town doesn’t have to give any money to the pool to operate any longer. That’s why the fee is what it is. It’s in line with all the fees around. We checked it out against everybody else.”
Nonresidents can use the pool but at a higher fee. “As long as we have room,” said Sacco. “Last year a lot of people came up from Hoboken. It’s a popular pool. I don’t think there’s anything like it in the state. The whole area is 14 acres. The pool area is I think seven. And the other acreage is trees and rocks and things.”
“So you have no idea that you’re in the city,” said Cabrera of the remote and rural scenery.
The land was acquired years ago in the land swap with real estate developer Arthur Imperatore. The previous North Bergen pool was built on soil that turned out to be contaminated and was unusable for a pool. The town then traded the six acre property to Imperatore (who sold it as part of a package that became a mall) and in exchange obtained the much larger property where the pool is located today.
The pool will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends through June and then beginning June 30 will be open every day except Wednesday, movie night, when it will remain open until 10 p.m.
Among the many sports programs run by the town over the summer is a volleyball camp that was launched two years ago.
“That one’s a hit,” said Cabrera. “We started off with like 16 kids the first year. Last year we had over 60. It just grew. Tennis is always big too. We always have a lot of kids there.”
This year the town is starting a flag football program for kids aged 5 to 7. “We’re going to be doing it one night a week, Wednesdays in July and August,” said Sacco.
Also available are Pee Wee football, pom poms, and cheerleading. Registration will take place at the Pop Warner Building at 6302 Meadowview Ave., from Wednesday, June 4 through Friday, June 6 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and on Saturday, June 7 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Musically-inclined students can opt for Summer Music Camp. “It’s a mixed school-town project run by our High School Music Director, George Haviland,” said Sacco. “They practice up in the high school and they have beginners all the way to advanced bands. They have a lot of people volunteering to help, former students and teachers. And at the end of the season they have an evening concert.”
The concert will take place in late July or early August.
Other concerts continue to take place periodically at the library, including comedian Johnny Lambert, who will be appearing on June 18.
This summer should also see the opening of the new amphitheater down by the waterfront. Built and run in conjunction with Guttenberg, it is scheduled to be completed in late June or July.
“We’ll probably plan something with Guttenberg after the ribbon-cutting but we have to see the size,” said Sacco. “There’s a parking lot but it’s limited.”
Options are being explored for parking and transportation, including busing residents from other parts of North Bergen. “We’re just going to have to put on our thinking caps and figure out what we can do down there,” said Cabrera.
Art Schwartz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.