Tag Archive | "kids"

Summer Camp @Ross Empowers Kids With Quacks

Tags: , , , , , ,


Summer Camp @Ross Director Christopher Engel, right, and counselors greet campers on their way into camp Tuesday, July 1. Photo by Kristen Hyland.

Summer Camp @Ross Director Christopher Engel, right, and counselors greet campers on their way into camp Tuesday, July 1. Photo by Kristen Hyland.

By Tessa Raebeck

“Pablo Picasso says,” Christopher Engel shouts, before aggressively flapping his arms and quacking like a duck. The crowd of some 250 kids gathered around him begins quacking too, perhaps to the dismay of the late Pablo Picasso.

For Mr. Engel, director of Community Programs at the Ross School in East Hampton, which includes the Summer Camp @Ross, now in its seventh year, doing ridiculous things is a means to set the stage for children to feel comfortable in their own skin.

“We try to make it imaginative and fun,” Mr. Engel said Tuesday, July 1, adding that the goal is to “make everyone feel good about who they are [and to] empower them to try and do things.”

Campers start their day by walking underneath a giant rainbow canopy, held by their counselors outside the entrance to the Wellness Center at Ross’s Upper Campus. Music blasts and the counselors dance with an energy you don’t often see among those under 25 at 8:30 a.m.

Ross Campers hang out before morning meeting Tuesday, July 1. Photo by Kristen Hyland.

Ross Campers hang out before morning meeting Tuesday, July 1. Photo by Kristen Hyland.

After dancing their way through the rainbow, campers go inside to check in with their counselors and hang out. Most of them chat excitedly, a little girl shows off her magic tricks to tennis program director Peggy Stankevich and another girl can’t seem to stop doing cartwheels.

One particularly tall counselor, Gari Blackett,  a basketball coach at the camp who is associated with the New York Knicks organization, holds a basketball up while some 10 boys jump at him.

At the campwide meeting each morning, assistant camp director Nick Behrens shoots a basketball backward over his head, aiming for the hoop at the other end of the gym. According to campers, he makes the difficult trick shot a lot, but today is not his day.

Backward basketball, although fun and somewhat ridiculous, has a serious intent behind it, Mr. Engel said. It is about empowering kids to try and do things and to feel comfortable being a little silly.

Campers can personalize their experience to pursue their own interests in sports, science, the outdoors and the arts. There are over 25 camp majors, including Junior Crime Investigators, Fashion Design, Filmmaking, Photography and Gymnastics. During the eight-week program, campers choose minors and majors. They go to their majors for the bulk of the day in the morning then regroup at lunch and do minors in the afternoon.

On Tuesday, Mr. Engel asks campers whether they think Jon Mulhern teaches tap dancing—as Mr. Mulhern does a little jig—or culinary—Mr. Mulhern pats his belly—or if he leads the Inventor’s Workshop. The tap dancing jig gives him away as the Inventor’s Workshop director.

Mr. Mulhern and counselors fashion a bridge made entirely of Popsicle sticks, hot glue and string in between two tables. A weight is hanging from the makeshift bridge. A volunteer from the mass of campers comes forward to hang on the weight and, somehow, it holds him, then another camper, a junior counselor and eventually counselor Lily-Anne Merat.

Inventor’s Workshop is one of the programs offered at the Innovation Lab, Ross’s science, math, engineering, media and technology academy. Jr. Crime Investigators, a new major in which campers are challenged to become detectives for the summer, learning forensics analysis skills like fingerprinting and ink chromatography, as well as collecting crime scene evidence and interviewing and interrogating suspects, is also offered at the lab, as are Stop-Motion Animation, Naturalist Explorers and Robotics.


Photo by Kristen Hyland.

Inside the lab Tuesday, Summer Term students are trying to replicate the pieces of a Mr. Potato Head on a 3D printer. The three boys work with instructor Creighton Wirick and Dr. Dave Morgan, dean of science at the Ross School and director of the Innovation Lab. One of them has refashioned Rio de Janeiro’s famed statue “Christ the Redeemer” from his home country Brazil.

Campers can supplement time in the lab with outdoor activities like basketball, golf and rugby. On Tuesday, the multisport and dodge ball majors combined on the fields, with kids aged 6 to 14 competing. One would think the advantage went to the preteens, but counselor Bailey Arens insists the 6-year-olds are a threat, as they are prone to “sneak up on you,” he said.

From horseback riding to sneaking up on bigger kids to pelt them with dodge balls, the intent at Summer Camp @Ross is to help campers do what feels best. Or, as Mr. Engel said, “If you’re smart, make the sound of a dog—Pablo Picasso says woof.”

CMEE Unveils Bridgehampton’s First Miniature Golf Course

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

An aerial view of the new miniature golf course at CMEE in Bridgehampton, which will open this Saturday, May 24. Photo courtesy CMEE.

An aerial view of the new miniature golf course at CMEE in Bridgehampton, which will open this Saturday, May 24. Photo courtesy CMEE.

By Tessa Raebeck

Children must be accompanied by adults—and adults must be accompanied by children.

This is the principle at the new miniature golf course at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton, where a collection of nine bright and colorful holes opens Saturday in the museum’s backyard on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.

Bridgehampton’s first miniature golf course is a far, but welcome, cry from the traditional theme park courses of pirates, dinosaurs and waterfalls. The holes are laid out in designs that are best described as wacky, with blue, orange and red adornments complementing the putting greens.

Players move through the nine holes in a clockwise motion, starting with an optional practice green. One hole has a loop de loop, another dots that chime with music when struck. Each has a distinct look—and a distinct lesson.


Photo courtesy CMEE.

“Each hole teaches something different about math and physics,” said Paul Johnson, marketing assistant at the museum.

Keeping with the mission of CMEE, an organization at the forefront of combining play with learning on the East End, the mini golf course incorporates interactive play with the basic principles of physics.

Rather than studying a flash card, kids can learn Newton’s Law of Inertia (an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force) by hitting a ball. Newton’s Second Law (force equals mass times acceleration) can be understood by catapulting that ball through the loop de loop.

In planning the course, CMEE surveyed 7-to-10-year-olds to find out what their favorite mini golf holes were. Once the most popular designs were established, they worked with science teachers at the Ross School’s Innovation Lab and other local schools to figure out how to incorporate learning.

At every hole, a descriptive panel explains how to make the shot and what to learn while doing it.

The first hole, “What’s Your Angle?” teaches players how various degrees will affect their putt.  In the corner of the L-shaped hole, a blue fan attached to a pole directs, “Move Me!” It can be positioned at different angles to reflect a player’s putt toward the hole—or away from it as the case may be.

The sign marking the hole asks several questions, such as whether the angle is acute, right or obtuse, for children to figure out as they play.

Rather than your standard score card, each player gets a folder complete with both the scoring reports and further explanation of the respective lessons and challenges of each obstacle.

After the first hole, players wrap their way around the “whimsical” course, playing through a green with ridged hills, another with parallel loops of different sizes, and various slopes, angles, rocks and other obstacles, learning as they go.

The miniature golf course is the first exhibit realized by the museum’s capital campaign, now in its second year. CMEE is more than halfway toward a fundraising goal of $2 million, which it hopes to reach by the end of the summer.


Photo courtesy CMEE.

“This is kind of the first fruit of that labor,” Mr. Johnson said.

In addition to paying down the existing mortgage, establishing an endowment and helping to cover costs of the museum’s day-to-day operations, the campaign will also fund the expansion of museum exhibits and several new additions, including a room dedicated to energy and electricity, a redesigned ship exhibit and a new pizza oven for the play kitchen.

“Energy: Wind, Water & Solar” will allow children to experiment with the forces of nature while learning about conservation and the environment.

In the four-level pirate ship, children will be able to navigate the seas with climbing tubes and ladders, hoist the sales and clamber up ropes to a 25-foot-high crow’s nest. Six simple machines at the ship will teach the foundations of engineering.

All the projects, like the miniature golf course, will include bilingual signs for Spanish and English-speaking visitors. The mini golf course is entirely wheelchair accessible.

CMEE’s course will be unveiled in an invite-only ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 24. Executive Director Stephen Long and Board President Amy Tarr, as well as elected officials and museum supporters, will be on hand to give remarks. Coffee from Java Nation and SweetTauk lemonade will be served. In addition to playing the course, guests can take golf clinics led by Kate Tempesta of Urban Golf Academy.

Following the event at noon, the course will officially open to the public, with games at just $5 a head for groups of up to five players.

In the future, CMEE hopes to use the course after hours for mixers and other private events.

Visitors will find the ninth and final hole is the most challenging, but also the most rewarding.

“It works almost like a pinball machine,” Mr. Johnson said, adding that although the course incorporates learning, it is designed, above all else, to be fun.

Struck into a corridor on the green’s right side, the ball hit the top of the green and ricocheted back towards the hole, knocking green, silver, blue, red and orange pin balls with a satisfying chime after every hit.

“Isn’t that fun?” asked Mr. Johnson. It was.

Finding Foundation

Tags: , , ,

Biz Pic Foundation

Local Chiropractor teaches famed method to develop the “new” core.

By Marissa Maier

I don’t consider myself to be particularly athletic. I do yoga and run occasionally, but other than this I do very little exercise. On a Monday morning when local chiropractor Glenn Goodman was about to give me a brief tutorial in the new Foundation technique I was obviously at first a little faint of heart. But as we flowed from one posture to the next the exercises became more enlightening than burdensome. With my hips pulled back, arms stretched towards the sky and knees slightly bent, I was noticing muscles deep in my back that I honestly hadn’t felt in years.

The Foundation program, developed by Goodman’s nephew Dr. Eric Goodman, focuses on strengthening the back, or as Goodman calls it “the new core.” While many other forms of exercise emphasize the abdominal muscles, Foundation pays equal if not more attention to the rear of the body, and with good reason. At his Sag Harbor-based chiropractic office, Goodman noted that most of his clients seek out his services to alleviate back pain.

“The largest number of cases that any chiropractor sees is back pain, usually in the lower back,” Goodman added. “The Foundation has become the most efficient and effective technique I have ever found to get people out of pain and increase their performance athletically.”

The program itself was created out of Eric’s back problems. As a water polo player, surfer and all around athletic guy, Eric has suffered from back pain due to his years of activity. As the pain wasn’t fully resolved through yoga, chiropractic or acupuncture, Eric started to developed his own method to strengthen this core area and laid the groundwork for the Foundation. He was also working as a professional trainer at the time and was able to test out this new technique on his clients. But his “big break,” as Goodman calls it, came when he was asked to be the chiropractor for the U.S. Water Polo team, who were soon to compete in the Olympics.

“They were bottom ranked and then they were silver medaled without injury,” Goodman remarked, highlighting the rarity of an Olympic team competing without a single injury.

After joining forces with Peter Palk, the official strength and conditioning coach for Lance Armstrong, the Foundation has slowly collected a cadre of well-known followers. From Los Angeles Lakers basketball players to 10-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater to celebrities like Matthew McConaughey, the Foundation is gaining both traction and fame in the world of professional sports and beyond. Eric and Palk are set to publish a book on the Foundation in May 2011 with a forward written by fan Lance Armstrong.

While the Foundation classes are continually taught privately and at a studio in Santa Barbara, Goodman is the only practitioner of the technique on the East Coast. He is just finishing a series of Foundation classes at One Ocean Yoga in Bridgehampton and will start another course, at a yet to be determined location in January.

Though athletes and movie stars are notable followers of the Foundation, Goodman pointed out that the technique is accessible to anyone, from the novice to the advanced. The movements themselves, while slightly challenging to hold, are simple and straightforward. As the Foundation method also draws from yoga and Pilates, Goodman likes to give his Foundation routines a flow which is similarly found in Vinyasa yoga, seamlessly moving from one position to the next. He also explains that the technique specifically concentrates on a group of muscles called the posterior chain — which extends from the hamstrings to the back. Toning these muscles strengthens the back to both alleviate pain and increase athletic ability.

For those on a time crunch, Goodman teaches a shortened 20-minute routine to make the practice workable for any hectic life. As one local Foundation devotee observed, Goodman is like a dentist who is simply teaching his clients how to keep their teeth clean.

“The key is daily dipping,” he noted. “They can create their own personal short routine that is just simple so they can do it on a regular basis.”

Attack of the J.F.s

Tags: , ,

Ahh, summer….the kids are out of school, the ocean’s warming up, time to hit the beach, right?

Oh, but wait. There’s a big tropical storm churning up the waters somewhere far south of here and on the ocean beaches of the South Fork the waves are knocking over even the biggest linebackers at the knees. So what to do with a seven year old itching to cool off? Head over to the bay, of course! So that’s what my husband I did over the weekend with my daughter, Sophie.

When we pulled up to Sammy’s Beach lot on Saturday, things were eerily quiet. No one’s around. Hmmmm. July? Saturday? What’s up here?

For one, the biting flies. Vicious creatures. Persistent too. They like returning to the same fleshy spots for second helpings. I haven’t danced that way since the ‘80s.

So we decided to head into the calm bay waters to escape the descending hordes (flies, not people). Knee deep. Chilly, but refreshing. No bone crushing waves. Ideal for a little one.

My husband ventured further out first. Got to his waist, but had that look on his face. Sophie, in the meantime, was clamoring to go out deep with mommy. But daddy shot me that look, shook his head and said softly, “J.F.”

“J.F.,” for all you parental code aficionados, means “Jelly Fish.” And there have been loads of them around lately. Sophie has, alas, gotten a bit bay-shy I’m afraid in recent weeks because of them.

It’s one of those things I knew would happen. I only wish I had been there when it did. Mommy energy often makes stings less potent, it seems. But I was working late that night — the night she had her first close encounter with the dreaded J.F.s. It was at Haven’s Beach in Sag Harbor and she was with my husband and some friends. She must have stumbled into a field of them while playing in the water and retreated in panic and pain.

Apparently, everyone on the beach knew something had happened to her. I’m surprised I didn’t hear the screaming from my desk at work. Quite loud, I was told (she takes after me. When I was five I cut my foot on an incredibly sharp rock and later, my sister’s friend said they heard me screaming four blocks away – my mom wasn’t there that day either. Just my dad. The scream traveled.). The J.F.s got Sophie right in the folds at the top of her legs. Doctors, vets, bystanders all came running.

It really wasn’t that serious. It didn’t take long for the pain to subside and there were no marks. Later, long after the sting was gone, I told Sophie that if she ever finds herself in the wild and gets stung by a jellyfish, she needs to pee on it. Or, if that’s not possible, have someone else pee on it.

That bit of information seemed to empower, comfort and amuse her. Maybe it’s because it came from her mom, and at this young, impressionable age, mom still does really know best. I know that will change one day, but I also know that peeing on J.F. stings is a piece of advice she’ll never forget and may even use one day while surfing off the coast of Australia, or South Africa (once she gets over her fear of water and develops a decent swimming stroke).

I’ve always liked real experiences. Sophie takes after me that way as well. She prefers “fresh air, not fake air” (that’s open windows vs. air conditioning) and when it comes to parmesan cheese, she’ll take the freshly grated imported Reggiano over the soapy tub stuff any day.

But on Saturday at the bay at Sammy’s Beach, I must confess, I didn’t really feel like putting into practice the urine test on J.F. stings. What if it didn’t work? Would mommy’s powers be diminished in her still so adoring eyes? So we quickly abandoned the real beach experience, packed up the car, called a friend and spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in the clear, p.H. tested, fresh water of a back yard pool.

And guess what?

No J.F.s