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Forty-Four Years at Summer Camp; Robert Jones ’60

Bob Jones
Photo courtesy of Bob Jones ‘60

In the hot liberating days of summer, more than six million children flock to summer camps across the country. Experiencing nature has always been a nice change of pace from the classroom or the couch.

But in recent years interest in the outdoors has diminished and children are becoming more and more“nature deprived” because of the rise in popularity of computers and video games, says Bob Jones ’60, owner of Winnewald Day Camp, Hunterdon County, N.J., for the past 44 years.

According to a 2005 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, American children spend an average of 5.5 hours a day on electronics such as TV, video games and computers. So it’s no wonder that the time they spend outside has dropped by 50 percent in the last 20 years. “We used to have to drag kids off the field, now we have to drag them onto it,” Jones says of the changing trends in children’s activities. Winnewald keeps up with the changing times and attracts both children and their parents. The camp includes computers and video games. But they are only a small part of the camp’s many summer activities—right alongside swimming, hiking, sports, and arts and crafts.

Winnewald Day Camp is located on 30 acres of green grass and shaded by tall trees. Children can play on the athletic fields, explore the running stream, take a dip in the pool, or roast marshmallows around the campfire—a timeless camp experience. With picnic tables, swing sets and a mini-golf course too, the outdoor activities are endless.

For 58 years, Winnewald Day Camp has been family-owned and operated. A former teacher and superintendent, Jones decided to combine his love of sports, the outdoors and children and took on the challenge of running the summer camp in 1965. Although he did not attend camp himself as a child, Jones spent a lot of time at the local playground. His experience with summer camps grew with his step-children, as they attended camp throughout their childhood and worked there into their college years. “The camp operation has kept me young, current and in touch with young people,” says Jones. “I am sure that camp has contributed to my health and longevity!”

Winnewald, one of 5,000 day camps across the country, serves about 300 children per week in the summer. Most stay for eight weeks, experiencing camp life before they head home every night. Jones influences not only young children but also the young staff: the camp gives scholarships to college-bound counselors to help with school expenses. Some of Jones’ proudest memories are when former campers return as counselors. He also finds great joy in seeing his former campers register their own children. For Jones it really is all about C.A.M.P.—Consideration, Attitude, Manners and Participation. It’s about providing children opportunities to make friends, gain confidence, appreciate the outdoors, relieve stress and return year after year, he says. Although there are many challenges running a summer day camp—legal requirements, insurance, inspections–— the rewards far outweigh the obstacles. Not to mention, Jones says, “being outdoors and playing games all day sure beats work!”

– Kathleen Peightel ‘09

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