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Long Island’s Summer Camps

Reflecting on L.I.’s summer camps and kids, counselors and parents who love them


The bus is late. And Joshua is not a happy camper.

He’s standing on his tippy toes at the very edge of his driveway, peering down the road. Every so often, he loses his balance and steps into the street. Keren, his mother, knows he’s just really excited—he’s been going to West Hills Day Camp since he was 3, he’s 5 now, and he loves it, she says—but all the peering in the world won’t speed up that big yellow bus, wherever it may be.


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“Joshua, too close to the road!” she shouts. “Joshua! Back up! Back up now!”

Joshua backs up, just a little bit, and continues his lookout. His father, Jeff, is now on Joshua lookout.

It’s 8:05 a.m. on Friday morning and the Krinick family—Joshua, his mom Keren, 8-year-old sister Samantha and dad Jeff—is behind schedule. Samantha and Joshua are headed to West Hills, Jeff is off to work, and Keren has errands to run.

There is speculation and debate as to why the bus hasn’t arrived yet: Samantha says the normal bus counselor, Nicole, isn’t here today, and her replacement could be holding things up. Keren is on board with the theory, but Joshua isn’t buying it. “Nicole’s not the bus driver!” he points out. The waiting continues.

Samantha, like her brother, spent her first summer at West Hills when she was 3; this summer marks her fifth at the Huntington day camp. Her parents got word of it from a good friend who sent their kids there and after a tour of the 18-acre property, they too were sold.

“They have a good time; it’s nice,” Keren says. “They do all these activities and swim a lot. It’s fun.”

Samantha says one of the things she loves is arts and crafts, making keychain lanyards and painting ceramics. “Joshua, what’s your favorite part about camp?” Keren asks. “Friends on the bus?”

“Screaming on the bus!” Samantha interjects.

“Joshua, you have lots of good friends on the bus, right?” Keren asks again. “And you have a little party every day?”

“Yeah, I have a fiesta,” he replies.

Samantha and Joshua Krinick, who spend their summers at West Hills Day Camp in Huntington, wait anxiously for the bus to arrive.

Then, moments later, there is a rumbling down the street. “I think I hear the bus,” he adds hopefully. Clearly, Joshua is a fan of the bus.

While we wait, Samantha spills the beans on some other parts of West Hills: Her favorite thing in the entire camp? Taking a run down Big Blue, a large, twisting water slide. The annual costume, song and dance show? Her group, the B Cherokees, is considering dressing up like Minnie Mouse, but still has to learn the song and routine, and it’s only two weeks away. And the Crazy Hat Contest a few weeks ago? Not only was hers best in show (according to her), she also designed her brother’s first-place winning accessory, consisting of a hat and tutu, worn together on his head.

It’s now quarter after 8 and the bus should have shown up 20 minutes ago. Joshua is completely focused on seeing as far down the road as humanly possible. Even Samantha, who has shown enormous restraint despite a Friday schedule that kicks off with swimming and Big Blue, is getting anxious.

Keren suggests Samantha talk about the time a few weeks back when she caught a goldfish and brought it home. Campers are allowed to keep one goldfish every summer. Samantha caught hers, but two days later it died. She says Joshua can still bring a fish home if he manages to catch one, but doesn’t think he will.

“Well, he caught one already, right?” Keren asks, “but it was too big, so you weren’t allowed to bring it home?”

“How long does it take for the bus to get here?” Samantha replies. It’s 8:17, and the troops are growing restless.

Moments later, Joshua is on the brink of rebellion. “Where’s the bus?!” he shouts. Samantha is beginning to expect the worst. “We must have missed the bus,” she fears.

The subject of late night—the twice-a-summer event where Samantha stays at camp a few extra hours—comes up. Joshua is too young to participate in late night just yet, plus he’s far too engrossed in manning the edge of the driveway to join the conversation. Late night, in essence, is the icing on the cake made of icing: an extra serving of the day’s activities.

“We play games and do more arts and crafts, and then at the end of those we have dinner and then we have ice pops later,” Samantha explains. “Actually, we play a game, we go to…”

“THE BUS IS COMING!” Joshua yells. It’s 8:18, and in the distance, something yellow with four wheels is approaching.

“…late swim,” Samantha continues. “We have our dinner and then we play another game and…”

“THHHHEEEE BUUUUS IS COOOMING!”

“…then we leave. And I have late night again next Tuesday, when I have Big Blue. And last time I had late night we went in four different pools.”

Samantha is polite enough to finish her thought, but it’s clear her mind is now elsewhere. It’s on that bus, occupying a seat where her body will soon join her. Joshua is on Cloud Nine, completely elated that at 8:19, the bus, finally, is here.

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