Herald Neighbors

Becoming a family at Rolling River Day Camp in East Rockaway


At the center of Rolling River Day Camp, amid the clear swimming pools, green softball fields and sprawling playgrounds, is a single, small building called the auditorium. In the otherwise ordinary room, lining the walls in all directions, are hundreds of small, colorful, hand-painted plaques.

Each plaque depicts a different sea creature that represents the group that made it, and also has the year that the plaque was created. The small, old-fashioned room with the odd-looking plaques seems out of place in a camp that is otherwise orderly and pristine, but actually represents a testament to each group that has passed through the camp, a permanent reminder of their membership in the Rolling River family. And if there is one word that will pop up often in listening to descriptions of Rolling River, it’s family.

Coming across a staff member who hasn’t been at Rolling River for many years, either as a camper or an employee, is difficult. The head counselor of the group called the G7 Snappers, Michelle Perlmutter, has been working at the camp for 12 years. Two of the group’s assistant counselors, Brooke Geller and Rebecca Arendt, have been at the camp since pre-K, and the supervisor of the group’s division, Fran Oosterom, is on her 22nd summer.

“When we were campers, we saw the counselors interact with us, and we wanted to try it for ourselves,” Geller said of herself and Arendt. “We saw how our counselors treated us and it was amazing, so we wanted to try it out for ourselves.”

“I’m having a blast,” added Kristy Bica, a lifeguard who works on the camp’s dock on the Mill River. “Everyone here is so amazing, so friendly, so outgoing.”

Most of the G7 Snappers themselves, girls now in third grade, have been together at Rolling River for several years. While the campers’ favorite activities ranged from swimming in the pool to making lanyards, the one thing they had in common was that they cherished and admired their counselors.

“You get to give the kids a great summer,” Oosterom said. “There are terrific counselors, great assistants, and amazing campers.”

Rolling River is family owned and operated, and is operated like a family. Counselors dedicate their day to caring for the children, ensuring that they are always in a safe, friendly environment while facilitating and even participating in the various activities of the day. Like an ordinary family, the campers cheered their friends’ successes, and even laughed at their flops. When a few of the G7 Snappers went on the camp’s banana boat, nothing delighted their friends more than when they and their counselors were flipped into the water to chants of “flip them!”

The G7 Snappers followed their own personalized schedule, doing everything as a group, including eating lunch together. The counselors worked hard to ensure that every camper received a meal before sitting and eating themselves.

Before continuing with the day’s schedule, the G7 Snappers took a few minutes to practice their groups’ song. The group was to sing its song, coupled with a dance routine, the following day, dubbed Plaque Day by the camp. Upon performing the group song, the 2018 G7 Snappers revealed their personalized plaque, to be hung on the walls of the auditorium, permanently fixing the group as part of the history and tradition of Rolling River Day Camp.