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Camp for adults: A family weekend getaway

For many, the idea of sending their children away to a summer camp, as wonderful as it is for the kids, presents two main issues that complicate the process. The first is cost and the second is the desire to spend some quality family time together on vacation.

So how can a working family solve the riddle of finding something together as a family that will appeal to both parents and kids alike? The answer seems to be about 85 miles from Queens at Club Getaway.

Two weeks ago, Club Getaway was jammed with families — many from Queens and Long Island — enjoying their days swimming and going on adventures and their nights dancing, singing and sitting around the fire.

“We’ve come here a couple of times, and my son Jon loves it,” Diane, a Bayside resident, disclosed across the dinner table in Club Getaway’s dining hall. Jon, a 12-year-old who spends his days off from school playing in the Bayside Little League, had met up with a few kids and had run off from the dining hall to play outside while his mother and father finished their dinner.

At the same table, Evan and Roni Ross of Forest Hills sat with their daughter, Annie, who was a week shy of her second birthday. When not sitting on her parents’ laps or in her own chair, Annie was able to wander through the dining hall to see the faces of the other toddlers who managed to sneak away from their parents for a moment. Though Annie was wrangled back to the table every time she made an escape, she always seemed to planning another breakout.

The feel of the place, which is a restored circa-1940s camp on a lake just outside Kent, Conn., is one of comfort and fun. Unlike the camps that many city kids were sent off to in their formative years, Club Getaway is tilted more toward the adult experience.

There are few rules, and those are based more on safety than managing a crowd of at-times-unruly campers. Beyond wearing lifejackets in the boats and personal water craft, harnesses on the zip line and trapeze and not being allowed to stand too close to the raging bonfire by the beach, the attitude is one of openness and ease.

Visitors to the camp have a range of activities they can choose from on any given day. Tennis, golf, mountain biking, volleyball, archery, soccer and hiking are a sampling of the land-based sports Club Getaway offers.

At the waterfront, campers can choose from water skiing, swimming, playing on the water slide or water trampoline, wind surfing or taking out one of the many kayaks, canoes, rowboats and sailboats.

As a restored camp, living quarters in Club Getaway are what one might expect — but perhaps a little better. The cabins are roomy, with plenty of room for families of any size. Each is outfitted with a closet, a private bathroom, fans and screens on the windows. The bugs stay out and the cool air stays in — far different from what many may remember from their own camp experiences.

And there is another glaring difference between your average sleepaway camp and Club Getaway — the entertainment.

During a family weekend in July, children were greeted by The Great Robertini, a clown on stilts who re-emerged in the evening juggling, making jokes and getting the kids ready for the big show, which was a dance party that went until midnight in the restored boathouse.

Evan Ross, who works with the Queens College Repertory Theatre, contracts with Club Getaway to bring up performers for the family weekends. On that particular July weekend, not only was there the clown, but gymnasts and trapeze artists dazzled the kids and parents alike.

Ross also is involved in providing entertainment for the singles weekends, which seem to be Club Getaway’s bread and butter.

From late spring to early fall, Club Getaway’s cabins are filled with young adults, 30-somethings and even Baby Boomers who are either looking to meet new people, to have summer flings or to enjoy good times with old friends.

With the beautiful lake, the wide open, starlit sky and the memories of pre-adolescent summer camp flirtation for years gone by, the singles weekends must be a blast.

“A lot of people are so full of energy during the day that they nap in the afternoon before going to a 7 p.m. cocktail hour,” Ross said. “Dinner isn’t until after 8 p.m., and then people are up all night.”

The food and drink at Club Getaway is well above camp fare. The food is plentiful, with many healthy choices, the wine flows freely at dinner and the boathouse has a full-service bar with everything from beer on tap to mudslides and daiquiris. The wine at dinner is free, but the booze is not. It is also not very expensive either. A pack of 11 bar coupons costs $10, and many of the drinks range between three and five coupons.

The all-included-except-for-the-liquor atmosphere of Club Getaway is somewhat reminiscent of Club Med, but without the parasailing, the white sand beaches and the hefty cost of airfare. For a family of three, a three-day stay at Club Med in the Bahamas — not counting airfare, taxes or gratuity — is $1,188 through a special deal for Aug. 15-17. The same weekend at Club Getaway, including tax and gratuity, is $899.

Club Getaway also has many hidden discounts, where it often bills reduced rates and give away free stays.

For parents in Queens looking to recapture their youthful zeal, for kids looking for friends and fun and for families looking to share some special time together, Club Getaway is an ideal choice. Remaining family weekends this season are Aug. 15-17 and Aug. 22-24, with a mid-week program offered Aug. 18-21.

For more information, call 1-800-6-GETAWAY or go to www.clubgetaway.com.

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