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Destination for Summer Fun: Camp Nabby

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The Bertino family has been running Camp Nabby since 1970.

One of the most popular summer destinations for Yorktown’s youth is right in their backyard.

Camp Nabby has been a popular day camp destination for kids since it opened in 1940. The Bertino family has run the camp, which is a member of the American Camp Association, since 1970. Initially Bertino’s parents ran the camp, with Joe Bertino taking over in 1997.

Every summer, 420 kids from 3.5 to 13 heads to Camp Nabby for summer fun. Camp Nabby is situated on 17 acres, 14 acres for camp activity and 3 acres of nature trails.

Bertino has been educating kids his entire life, working as a physical education teacher. His father was an athletic director and an educator.

“We just love being with kids,” Bertino said. “We still enjoy coming to work every summer, it’s something that we do.”

Bertino said he enjoys seeing kids return year after year. Camp Nabby has been around for so long, that Bertino has kids whose parents were campers.

“It’s pretty cool,” Bertino said. “A lot of our counselors and CITs (counselors in training) are ex-campers.”

Camp begins every morning at 9:10 a.m. with a morning assembly, where counselors do things on stage to get campers excited for the day. Campers then go back to bunk areas, which are named after colleges, before going off into half hour periods that consist of sports and other activities like arts and crafts, music and nature.

“Our staff is tremendous,” Bertino said. “We have a lot of teachers and college kids studying to become teachers. We have a great facility and tremendous staff.”

Bertino said that kids are at Camp Nabby to have fun, and that they see kids’ confidence increase throughout the summer.

“We have kids who get to the top of a rock wall and we see big smiles,” Bertino said. “We see kids who excel in swimming, and in our music programs, they do shows and get on stage.”

Bertino said they see a lot of growth throughout the summer and it helps catapult kids and get them ready for the next school year.

“They are not sitting around and not doing much,” Bertino said. “All of a sudden they are ready to take on the next year and have a tremendous year.”

With their background in physical education, the Bertinos are aware of the issue of childhood obesity and are using Camp Nabby as a way to curb it through swimming.

“Joe brings a real understanding of knowing the importance of swimming,” Rita Bertino said. “He was a long-time swim coach. We have three swimming pools, including a pool that is perfect and safe for our youngest campers. It gives them a tremendous sense of comfort and confidence.”

Joe Bertino said it is important for things to be age appropriate at Camp Nabby, with mini-baseball fields, and mini-basketball courts.

“Everything we have is designed for them,” Bertino said. “When I talk about success, it’s set for that to happen here. We don’t have kids swimming above their heads or kids who can’t reach baskets.”

Camp Nabby runs for 8 weeks, from June 27 until August 18. Parents can do a minimum of four weeks up to the 8-week season. The Bertinos say they are not babysitters, but educators and instructors.

“We think of this as a place where children can learn living and life skills,” Rita Bertino said. “They work on socializing seven hours a day. A lot of kids are losing this today, they are all becoming more into video games and texting. Camp is more valuable today than it has ever been.”

The Bertinos work year-round, signing up campers as early as October, with parents visiting the grounds throughout the year. In the past year, they put in new bathrooms, and also have 11 covered areas in case it rains.

“We are here almost every weekend,” Rita Bertino said. “What makes Nabby different is the personal involvement we have. We really do have a good handle of what’s going on.”

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