Story & Photos by Tim Sohn
About 20 members of the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club Juniors and 20 children from the Boys & Girls Club of Newark came together on Monday, Aug. 6, to enjoy a day of swimming, boating, sailing and jet-skiing on Lake Hopatcong.
Several members of the Antique Boat Club also volunteered for the festivities, and the commodore spoke about the Yacht Club.
Michael Gruber, who is on the board of trustees of the Boys & Girls Club, said this is the fourth year this event is taking place. Children from the Boys & Girls Club who came to Lake Hopatcong range in age from 7 to 12.
Members of the Boys & Girl’s Club of Newark arrive at the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club
Michael Gruber, a member of the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club and on the board of trustees at the Boys & Girls club of Newark, explains to everyone what the plan is for the day.
“I’m looking forward to teaching them how to swim and how to do new things,” said Daria Sullivan, president of the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club Juniors. Adam Richards, vice president, explained that he’s “just looking forward to having fun with them.” The LHYC Juniors range in age from 13-19.
Khaliah Simpkins, 9, of the Boys & Girls Club, was really excited to see when she went down to the dock. “Look, there’s a duck on the lake,” she said.
Khaliah Simpkins, 9, of the Boys & Girls Club, of the Boys & Girls club of Newark is excited to see a duck on Lake Hopatcong.
Monica Lassiter and Najilh Redd, both 12 of the Boys & Girls Club, went out on a boat ride, but they said they were looking forward to jet-skiing the most.
Monica Lassiter and Najilah Redd, both 12, enjoy a boat ride on the lake.
Zakir Bluzher and Sabree Brown, both 8, were talking to Lake Hopatcong Antique Boat Club volunteer Tim Clancy in the front of the boat. Bluzher said he really enjoyed the boat ride, and Brown was excited about jet-skiing. This was Clancy’s first year volunteering for this event with the boat club.
Zakir Bluzher, 8, talks to Lake Hopatcong Antique Boat Club volunteer, Tim Clancy, during a boat ride.
Cynthia Banks, vice president of operations for the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, said children in the program range from ages 6 to 18, and there are about 170 to 180 kids a day during the school year.
Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Newark swimming in the lake.
The children who came to Lake Hopatcong are part of the summer enrichment program, which consists of English, technology, math, science, dance, swimming, games room activities, arts and crafts, and reading.
The Boys & Girls Club also has about 250 children who attend a life camp in Pottersville, N.J.
“We focus on developing the whole child. We work during the school year with the school system so when the kids come in at 3:30, they have snacks, then they do homework. After that, they’re involved with Triple Play, which is about the mind, body and soul; arts and crafts; games room; basketball leagues; technology – that’s the hot commodity everybody wants to get into; and dance,” she said.
LHYC Juniors and Boys & Girls club members line up to jump off a floating raft on Lake Hopatcong.
So, how did the partnership begin?
“I thought it would be a good idea to bring them here, and my kids were involved with the Juniors at the time. So, we decided it would be a great day to have them come down here and enjoy life that they have never experienced before,” said Gruber. “Actually, one of the kids came up and said, ‘Is this an ocean’?”
The youths also participated in a bike exchange. Volunteers renovate the bikes and sell them, and the proceeds go to the Boys & Girls Club.
“This is just a feel-good story about kids that are a little bit privileged that don’t know what kids from the inner cities really go through. I think it’s as rewarding for the kids of Lake Hopatcong as it is for the kids of Newark,” said Gruber, adding the Juniors enjoy this event more than any other throughout the year.
Zakir Bluzher and Sabree Brown, both 7, enjoy a day on the lake.