A New Look Into Evangelism

A personal essay by Daniel Ortiz, Admissions Counselor

When I was told that part of the International Leadership Summit would be street evangelism and outreach, I immediately felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. It was the first week of a terribly harsh Winter season. I was ecstatic to see an email from the Christian organization, Envision, who was hosting the International Leadership Summit in Paris. My mentor, Dr. Martin Sanders, told me about this summit and how beneficial it would be for me as I am looking for my next steps into ministry and seeking to refine my skills and talents for kingdom change. I was very excited to see this email, until I saw the dreaded words, “street evangelism.” Just the thought of stopping people from their rhythms of life to tell them how lost they are, how they need to do what I say and read a tract made me extremely anxious, but what could I do? I was already committed to this trip and I agreed to participate in all activities “being open minded”. Little did I know, my conception of sharing the gospel was about to be restored

I grew up in an era of evangelism filled with rambunctious claims of the second coming of Christ, the fiery judgment that is soon to come and illustrious tracks that would give a visual aid to all the hollering and yelling in the streets of the Bronx. This was how sharing the gospel was taught to me and many other young Christians and frankly, it made me feel quite uncomfortable. I didn’t feel right about telling people that they are “wrong” or “condemned” especially because I didn’t know them. I didn’t know their life stories; if they have ever heard the gospel or what problems they might be facing. I was just supposed to assume that because they weren’t doing what I was doing, they were lost and I needed to give them a 4×6 booklet that would give them the key to the pearly gates and some wicked pictures of what happens if you throw the tract away and don’t listen to what is taught.

CTA button for Blog UGThe first day in Paris was such a whirlwind. After our six hour flight and four hour amazing race around the city, we were finally able to sit down and enjoy some Parisian pizza in one of the conference rooms at the American Church of Paris. Ben Stewart, the director of Envision, took this time to brief us on part of the schedule for the week. He referenced the time of street evangelism and ministry with a quote by St. Francis of Assisi. “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” This quote shook my core. I have never heard such an approach for sharing the gospel but it made so much sense to me. We can talk until our faces turn blue, but actions will always speak louder than words. I thought deeply about this quote for a moment, and then I began to think how it’s not about remaining silent about our faith, but the quality of the words we use. We were taught to evangelize, not with tools of condemnation and forced persuasion, but with love and relationship. We were taught to live our lives, enjoy ourselves and simply enjoy the people and culture of Paris, and letting the spirit speak through our life and actions.

street evangelism ParisNow let me explain something. Just because the approach of evangelism may not include very direct questions and statements regarding one faith and spiritual life does not mean it cannot be intentional. Our time for ministry and street evangelism was extremely intentional, just with a different approach than we might be used to. We spent a lot of time prayer walking. We were told about some key locations, either local churches that Envision was affiliated with or just areas that were known to be darker and holding some spiritual bondages. We were instructed to pray over these places and keep eyes and ears open for what the spirit had to say. We were also told to be in community, talk to people, and enjoy their culture. Talking to people without an agenda will give the spirit freedom to become known in any part of the conversation. Talking to people in love, just to get to know them or share a joke or just a bit of life demonstrates the kind of relationship our father wants us to have with each other. For some, that can be the best form of evangelizing.

I experienced this through the outreach done at Genesis, which is an art gallery and open mic held by one of the local churches. The international workers in residence use this place to share common interests with the people of Paris, as they have an artsy and talented culture. As I simply listened to many people share their talents at the open mic, I struck a conversation with a local student who is originally from Venezuela. I heard him speak in Spanish and decided to just join in with some Spanish slang to bring some familiarity to a foreign setting. We spoke for about an hour, just about our backgrounds, sports and eventually why we were at that place at that time. We did not have a conversion experience, nor did I share bible verses on why he needs to become a Christian, rather I just became a friend to him. I know that God was able to use that conversation to plant a seed, a seed that I might never see grow with my own eyes but I have faith that the seed planted will lead to something; a thought or a moment of curiousity as to why these Americans were so happy? Why did they want to know who I was and just talk to me? We just plant the seed, the spirit is the true gardener.

Another example of the evangelism we experienced was through an ESL project that some of our Nyack college students participated in. I briefly interviewed Maria Verano and Kari Nehlson, two current students at Nyack who were able to go to a foster home right outside of Paris. Most of the children at the foster home have been removed from their families because of drug addiction and abuse in their homes. Our students were able to work with 5th and 6th graders who were practicing their musical talents to travel to Florida and perform with a group of American students. Our students played games with the children, and taught them basic conversation such as introductions and traveling terms. Their evangelism focused on the tangible needs of the people, learning basic English and just having some people to talk to and play games; a brief escape from their harsh situations. This was a little different than the other outreach that was done, however it was equally as effective and necessary. Why just pray for the needs of people if there are things we know can be done for them. Evangelism should not be passive, rather a very active experience; reaching people where they are and helping their needs. That was how we shared the gospel of Christ.

Our responsibility as followers of Christ is to emulate what Jesus did while he walked this earth. He would go to those in need and those needs, allowing the spirit to use every conversation and every moment. I not only had the opportunity to finally understand what this meant through scripture, but I was now able to put in into practice with other fellow Nyackers  the tools we learned in a completely different culture! It was one of the best experiences of our trip to Paris.


Nyack College goes to YoungLife Camp

Written by Jill Constantinou

Over this spring, 50 staff and students from Nyack College ascended on Lake Champion, a YoungLife serving at NyackCamp located about two hours from our Rockland campus. For each of the three weekends, Nyack students served on work crews as kitchen cooks, dish crew, or wait staff for the C&MA Metro Youth District Spring Retreats. Each weekend, over 500 high school and middle school students came to get away and meet with God. The purpose for our Nyack College students going was not prayer ministry or lead games but instead to work!

Young life campFor those of you who have never been on a YoungLife work crew, let me give you a run down of what that means.  Basically from the time you arrive (Friday 8pm) to the time you leave (Sunday 1pm), you are living in the kitchen except for 6 hours of sleep each night and a 2-hour break Saturday afternoon. Now this does sound like lots of standing and hard work, but we also had fun laughing and getting to know our fellow Nyack classmates. During free time, we utilized the ropes course, the three-person ‘Screamer’ swing (which I highly recommend) and mattress-surfed down stairs with multiple riders (which I don’t recommend).

work crew at campOne of the highlights of being able to work together was seeing everyone’s giftings and helping each other out. I really was able to see the Body of Christ in action!  When I got overwhelmed, I would look to Amanda who would be dancing or posing with food (within food safety regulations, see picture above). If I needed motivation, I would look to Ralf and Justin who might be pushing each other around in a garbage can or tossing boxes of cereal to each other- though, not at the same time.

image_8However, what spoke most to me was the care and concern that the Nyack College students had for those they were serving. It didn’t matter if we were carrying tray after tray of heavy spaghetti to a table of hungry middle school boys or washing dishes alongside the high school girl who is struggling in finding a place to belong at school.  Nyack students exemplified the love of Christ in Mathew 25:40 “Truly, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (NIV).

image_7At the end of each weekend, we walked away thoroughly exhausted but also with a sense of accomplishment and many new friendships. These weekends really allowed Nyack students to shine.  I saw students who were pushed out of the comfort zone and they didn’t complain! Instead, they exemplified servant leadership and the ability to love others. The campers probably did not realize all the work these weekends require, but if Nyack College students are able to make a difference in even one person’s life- the cost is absolutely worth it!

So next spring, #nyacktakeslakechampion2 – are you in?

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image_5 image work crew at camp image_2image_1

10 Tips for Surviving Freshman Year in College

It’s here: the moment many high school seniors wait for. The mail had come and the acceptance letters to those dream colleges have arrived.  Freshman year in college gets closer and now new students can plan for success.

As you piece together your fall schedule and organize your wardrobe, keep these tips for success in mind as you enter freshman year in college.

006Schedule your day: Work an eight hour shift that includes classes and classwork. If you start at 9, finish your day at 5. If you start at 10, go until 6pm. But keep a regular schedule of studying which excludes vegging on the couch between class.

Eat meals with different people: It’s best to stay social and really extend yourself to meet new people. By having meals with different groups, you can meet new friends and friends of friends.

Take a variety of classes: Get those pre-requisites out of the way. Register for a full class load that includes a balance between science and math with the liberal arts. Take a few challenge courses too, maybe graphic design, computer science or expository writing. Many students suffer later in their college careers because they need more credits or they need to transfer to another college because of prerequisites.  Long story short, keep your bases covered.

Ask for care packages from home: It’s best to stay in contact with home and in the first few weeks of college, you can get homesick fast. Ask friends and family to send little care packages through the mail. They could be as simple as a card and box of chocolate. The sentiment will keep you fueled through all the freshman change.

Make time for yourself: Get some down time to listen to music, hit the gym or take a yoga class. Reflection and prayer will boost you through the long weeks of study.

Ease Up on the Credit Card: Be responsible with your credit. Don’t rack up charges on new clothes, a new TV or smart phone. Weigh out each purchase and only buy what you can afford. Better yet, use cash. That way when you’re out of money, you are done.

Eat Salads at Lunch and Dinner: French fries and pizza are tempting but eating them at every meal is the fast track to the dreaded freshman-15. Make a habit of always putting salad on your cafeteria tray. Don’t think about it. Just do it and eat up the veggie goodness.

Stock Your Room with Water and Good Snacks: Late night munchies come on without warning. While you’re studying or watching TV, you might get thirsty or hungry at random hours past midnight. Make sure you’ve always something stashed away–preferably healthy choices like water, granola bars, and maybe some fruit you snagged from dinner.

Buy Used Books: Now that you’ve a full class load, it’s time to buy all the textbooks for them. Check the bookstore for used copies and then surf the internet. Amazon and other websites have used bookstores. Be careful to order books in time for class. When in doubt, get the first required reading in the bookstore and then order the rest online.

Visit Every Professor’s Office Hours at least Once: All your teachers are required to be in their offices during the week. On the syllabus, check out the times they’ll be available. Around week three, make an appointment and prepare a question related to the material. By using office hours, you’ll get some extra instruction on the coursework and also begin building a relationship with your professor.

The first year of college is a transitional moment for most young adults. They begin their studies so that one day they can become professionals in the workplace. But before any of that can happen, each freshman has to navigate through the months of hard work, socializing, self-discovery, and even weight gain. How would you advise a new student in their first year of college?


Survival Guide for New Transfer Students


A new student hanging with two upper classmen during campus games

A new student hanging with two upperclassmen during campus games


Welcome to campus!  You’ve made the move and switched schools. You’ve registered for classes and are counting down the days to start fresh at college.  Some students may have changed schools and moved to a different state.  Others may have gone just down the road.  Some still have found their way to our New York City campus.  But no matter how far or near you’ve gone, transferring programs is an exciting time and these tips will help you get settled fast.

Refocus on Academics

A new school means an entirely new roster of classes that are available to you.  Research classes that have been rated very well by the student body.  Look at the courses that weren’t offered at your former school and can now kick start your pursuit of the perfect bachelor’s degree.  Then register, register, register.

Get into clubs that focus on your interests. Or start one!

Get into clubs that focus on your interests. Or start one!

Visit Professors Office Hours

Once classes have started, it’s time for you to get to know the people behind the syllabi.  Getting to know your teachers means that you can learn the ins and outs of your new department and school.  Build a good working relationship with your instructors, come prepared with questions that are class specific, and don’t be afraid to talk about where you’ve come from and where you’d like to be post-graduation.

Join Clubs and Academic Societies

Nyack College has two campuses which offer great opportunities for people who love artsy, suburban living as well as metropolitan lifestyles.  Extracurricular clubs explore your interests outside of class such as hiking, prayer, and volunteerism.  Getting involved is not only good for your resume but also your social life.

Double Check Finances

Talk to financial aid and student accounts.  Make sure your accounts balance and your loans are in good standing.  Don’t be afraid to inquire about scholarships and grants.

Commuters! Stick around and enjoy campus

Commuters! Stick around and enjoy campus

Visit Your Program Director

Getting to know your professors is one thing. Meeting with your program director is great too.  As a small community focusing on student growth, Nyack has program directors that are completely accessible.  Look at the big picture of your academic and professional career.  Then talk about these goals with the director.  She might be able to give you tips about independent studies, paid internships, and professors that specialize in your concentrations.

Ask Questions

And we mean randomly.  Ask questions to your roommates, people walking to the cafeteria, and students working out in the gym.  The more you know the easier your transition will be.  Socially, it’s great to start feeling connected to your new home too.  At Nyack, our students are famous for being super helpful.

Settle into the Dorms

Time to decorate!  You’ve done this before so relax and enjoy the time to set up your bed and drawers as well as your clothes and secret stash of snacks

Commuting?  Spend Lots of Time on Campus

College is your job.  So if you’re commuting, get to work early.  Spending time on campus, even if it’s just to sit on Hillside with coffee, can help you get settled faster.  In Nyack and in Manhattan, coffee shops and pizza joints will tempt you to stick around just a little longer.  So sip and enjoy.

Talk to Your Admission’s Counselor

She may have been your first point of contact but your admission’s counselor can help you with questions about campus.  Our Nyack counselors continue to build relationships with their students.  So please feel free to contact us.

Strike Up a Conversation with a Classmate

It may seem simple and kinda of corny but chatting with your classmates is a great way not only to make sure you’re prepared for class but to meet new people.  Keep it simple and light.  After a few sessions, you’ll have at the very least a classmate you can email when you’ve forgotten if the paper is due this week or next.

To our transfer students that are new to Nyack, we’d like to extend a hearty welcome.  It’s going to be a blessed semester!

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Get Organized, Stay Organized.

The start of classes brings the collecting of shiny new folders and binders, and the notion that, “This year, I’ll be organized!!” However weeks, or even days, later, the folders still lie empty, and our backpacks explode with random half sheets of paper and empty mechanical pencils. As tempting as it is to throw up our hands exclaiming, “it’s no use”, resist the temptation to give up, oh fellow students. Following are a few helpful hints that keep me organized throughout the entire semester:

picstitch1) Don’t over-organize. If you start off the semester implementing a meticulous system of organization, you won’t be able to keep up. If it’s a hassle to put it in it’s rightful place, you’ll never put it there. Maybe instead of a million tabs in one giant binder, color coordinate a folder and notebook. You should have easy access to everything. Stack books, binders, and notebooks in such a way that you can remove one (no matter where in the stack it is) without any trouble.


2) Only bite off what you can chew. In my opinion, there’s no bigger mistake a student canpicstitch - Copy make than looking at all the assignments that are due for a given class. There is no better way to overwhelm yourself. The advice I give to everyone is to focus only on the assignments due that week. If there’s a giant project due in the near future, chances are the professor will remind you. I write out a post-it note with all the classes and homework for the week clearly written out alongside their due dates. Cross off things as you finish them, and start a new post-it whenever needed. When tackling a week’s worth of work, do everything in the order it’s due. It’s no use being done with the reading for Thursday on Monday night when you have a paper due Tuesday morning.

3) Schedule fun. Instead of telling yourself that you have to do X, Y, and Z at some point during the day, make up a schedule somewhat like the following:
10am-12pm: X
12-1: Lunch
1-1:30: Hangout with Roomie
1:30-3:30: Y
5:30-bedtime: FUN!
It’s helpful to do things in small chunks followed by fun or relaxing activities so that you have something to look forward to.

I hope these hints are indeed helpful as you seek to manage your workload and organize your time this semester!CTA button for Blog UG

God is Good

photo (6)Move-in day has come and gone for me and with the hustle and bustle of it all, God has been constantly revealing one thing to me: He is good. All the time. Period.

In Hebrews, the author talks about the consistency of God. In chapter 13 verse 8 God is described as, “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” So, the God who created the world is the God we serve today. The God who set the Israelites free from Egyptian captivity is the God we serve today. The God who struck the man dead after he had touched the Ark of the Covenant is the God we serve today. The God who came in the form of a man to take on the sin of the world is the God we serve today. Got that? God doesn’t change…ever.

Psalm 34 was written by David after he had experienced a very tense situation. Long story short, this Psalm is David’s reflection of God being with him. In verse 8, he says, “taste and see that the Lord is good.” In verse 10, he continues by saying, “The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” Not only is God good, but He desires to bestow his goodness upon his children. That is amazing evidence of his love and ultimately, additional evidence of his goodness.

“But Jenn,” the skeptical voice in your head says, “bad things keep happening to me! School is stressing me out, my roommate hates me, and I’m a broken person. No one seems to care about me, and nothing is working out how I planned!” I might respond by saying “Bad things happen to good people (Romans 8:28, “All things work together for those who love Him.”), dear reader, God is with you and desires to make you whole. He cares about you, and it’s not about your plans, it’s about His plans.” And all of this is true, but it could be said more simply– more directly– God is good. A midst all your human-ness, God is good.

When the voice in your head protests, “But…But…” Remind it of Hebrews 13:8 (God is consistent), Psalm 34:8, 10 (God is good). Consistency plus goodness is a combination that you will only ever find in God. Even the best Christians aren’t consistent because they grow and change depending on circumstances and surroundings. And though they may be good and wish good for others, they will undoubtedly fail at one time or another. But God is good no matter what, no matter where, no matter who, no matter when. Always. Forever. Get the idea?

God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.

Like Looking into a Mirror

Pierce with PrestonClasses start later at Nyack College than at most other schools, so I am usually home to see my friends off for their first day of college. This year my younger brother, Preston, was one of the people leaving in late August to begin his secondary schooling. He is going to the University at Albany and majoring in computer science. My parents and I drove him to the campus and helped him move in last week. Seeing Preston settle into his room made me remember what it was like when I did the same thing at Nyack  College two years ago. For more reasons than our similarities in appearance, watching Preston’s move-in day was like looking into a mirror for me.

Preston and I are only eighteen months apart in age, so he has always been more like my younger twin than my little brother. This had its positives and negatives while we were growing up. Having a brother close to me in age was a good things because we always had each other to play with and talk to. It became a hassle, though, because we were in each other’s presence too often, which caused us to get under each other’s skin. We went from laughing and playing to fighting and bickering in an instant; Preston could be my best friend and my worst enemy all in the same day. All of this changed when I left home for Nyack. Once he and I had some distance between us we were able to realize how pointless our arguing had been and how alike we are. Now, when I go home for a weekend or a vacation, he is one of my closest friends.

Since I have two years of college under my belt and Preston has yet to experience college, I am in a position to truly be a big brother to him. I have the opportunity to be an example to him in areas where I have succeeded and guide him in areas where I have failed. This summer we have had some great conversations about what to do and what not to do in college, and I feel that I have really been able to give him some good advice and positively influence his future. I have realized that part of my responsibility as an older sibling is to encourage my younger siblings to do things better than I was able to do. As the oldest child in my family I will usually experience things before my brothers do, so I am looking forward to mentoring and guiding them as they experience things that I have already gone through.

A Nugget of Wisdom: “You Have Not because You Ask Not”

This is my last blog before I return to school at Nyack College. I’ve spent time with  friends, family, and a hearty amount with my mom. She reminded me of a nugget of wisdom that she has told me my entire life; one that I would like to share with you. I’m not sure what we were talking about, or how we got to the subject, but she stopped mid conversation, looked at me, and said Erin “You have not because you ask not”. I’ve always overlooked this phrase because I thought being content with what I have was a virtue. Being greedy was something that I never wanted to have in my life. Yet, I am realizing now more than ever that my mother was definitely on to something.

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You cannot live life in bashful desire for the things you are too afraid to ask for. I’ve put her words into action and because of that I have been immensely blessed. (I even had bacon for breakfast this week) You see, parents are great in the sense that whenever you ask, they love to supply and sustain their children with every need. It is coded within the DNA of every parent to nurture, protect, serve, care, and above all love their children endlessly. When children don’t ask, when we don’t approach our parents with things that we need, there is no way they can provide, and both are excluded from part of their innate nature of the relationship.

erinsThe same goes for the body of Christ. As I look back on this year, I am overwhelmed with how the Lord has been trying to teach me this lesson. In one of my classes at Nyack College, we talked about the importance of the entire church in sending out one missionary into the field. Obviously, there is one who is going, but they cannot do much with out the prayer, financial support, or the supplies that the church can provide when they stick together. God ultimately provides all these things, but sometimes—I mean most of the time—it requires us to humble ourselves and ask for support from others.

The church is meant to be a community that works together to further the kingdom by spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. So whether in everyday life, or in your Christian walk, remember that sometimes it truly is just as simple as asking and God will provide. Just as Abraham trusted that the Lord would provide the sacrifice, God still wants us to trust and ask for his provisions.


photo (5)As a youth leader, I follow many of my students on social media such as twitter, instagram, or vine. Consequently, I regularly scroll down my news feed and see tons and tons of hash-tags. Thirteen-year-old girls have made “hash-tagging” into an art. They will post a picture and come up with at least fifty words to individually hash-tag in the caption of said picture. I have seen a lot of reoccurring hash-tags the past few weeks such as “#goodbye”, “#summer”, “#IMissYouSummer”, etc. There is one hash-tag in particular that I have seen a few times recently and that is “#EndOfAnEra”; this one hit home with me.

I have done a lot of things this summer that I have never done before. I worked as a youth leader, lived a summer at home without my brother, visited friends from college, worked several jobs, and did many more things that were new to me along with many things particular to summer. As I look back on all of that, it is sad to see those things come to an end. I’ll miss my youth group kids, I’ll miss living at home with my parents, and I’ll especially miss getting several pay-checks every week; but what happens when something ends? Something new always begins.

At first, I thought to myself, “Going to college isn’t new. I’m just headed back to the life I lived last September-May”. But, it is new. There will be new people to meet, new classes to go to, and more places to visit in Nyack. On top of all that, however, the day-to-day college life will be different because this summer transformed me into a more mature and godly person than I was last September, or even last May. I hope that the run-of-the-mill dorm life and interactions with other students are different for me this school year– not because anything around me has changed– but because I have.

So, as summer ends, remember that new things are beginning. Closure, departure, and separation make way for opening, coming, and re-uniting. God has plans bigger than you could ever imagine, and you get to be a part of it. Last week, I heard a pastor say, “God has His story written and He’s invited you to be a part of it”. As summer ends and fall semester begins, embrace God’s plan, get on your knees and thank Him for letting you be a part of it. And, while you’re at it, thank Him for beginnings.

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Christ’s Body

I’m sitting here in my home staring at a computer screen and thinking, “where in the world did my summer go”. If you have been following my journey at all you now that i have been away at Beulah Beach summer camp working there since May 20th. I spent three weeks at camp for staff training, and then headed out for seven weeks being a leader for Beulah on the road, followed by three more weeks doing different jobs back at camp once that ended. I have learned many new things, grown as a person, laughed a lot, cried a little, and made countless lasting friendships. All the while the Lord was with me and taught me more and more about his heart for the world this summer. The highlights of those lessons were about love, generosity, discipleship, and the body of Christ.
The thing that sticks out to me looking back at this summer is the body of Christ and how God uses each person to bring about his will. I had the opportunity to participate in many different roles this summer, some of these include: leadership, staff member, activity director, friend, counselor, crew member, nursery worker, and a ton of other jobs. I did everything from leading games, teaching devotions, praying with campers to receive Christ, and even raking seaweed. I realize that I does not matter which role I was in that God was still using me to further his kingdom. Our entire staff of over 100 people had an important job to do in order for the camp to run. We all did our part do fulfill our ultimate mission of furthering God’s Kingdom by leading campers to Christ.
In addition to all of this I also learned much about leadership this summer as I was pushed to new limits in my role of Program’s Director for Beulah on the Road. It was a slow start as I was figuring out what exactly my job entailed at the start of the summer. But, I had a great boss over me who lead me towards excellence and by the end of the summer I was totally in my groove and made the position my own. I learned about prayer, hard work, patience, and trusting God as he provides everything we will ever need. I feel blessed to have been able to serve at Beulah Beach again this summer, and I am now looking forward to how I can take what I’ve learned and apply it to this next semester at Nyack.


Pierce on the BoardwalkWhen my mother was nine years old, her father bought a pop-up camper. His wife thought that the idea of camping for fun was insane, but she and the rest of the family decided to give it a try. One of the places the family took the camper that summer was a campground in New Jersey near the ocean shore called Beachcomber. It was that summer which began a family tradition that has lasted decades. I have gone to Beachcomber every summer since the year I was born, and so has every member of my family. Last week we took our annual ride down to the southern tip of New Jersey to meet my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and spend a week enjoying ourselves and making memories.

Beachcomber has a number of attractions in and around the campground. The most popular place to be is the lake, which is surrounded by sand, giving it the feel of a beach. People can swim and fish in the lake or rent canoes and paddle-boats. Next to the lake is a pavilion in which dances, bingo, and other events are held. I go to the pavilion because it is the only place in the campground with free wifi. Situated in the sand are a playground, volleyball net, basketball court, and set of pegs for horseshoe games. My brother and I spend much of our time on the basketball court, and my entire family likes to gather and play a few rounds of volleyball. My uncle and I are the reigning champions of horseshoes; we went four and one this year. Near the arcade and campground store is a place to play shuffleboard, which is a surprisingly fun game. My nine-year-old brother is a shuffleboard prodigy. There are many days when no one leaves the campground because there are so many entertaining activities.

On days when we do venture out of the campground, we like to go to the beach and the boardwalk. The waves at the beach are just strong enough to be thrilling without being dangerous. We boogie-board and build sand-castles with the younger children to keep them entertained. Attractions on the boardwalk include a variety of stores, food vendors, games, and rides. Thankfully, neither the beach nor the boardwalk was damaged by hurricane Sandy. There is also a bike trail and a marina which we like to use. The bike trail is two-and-a-half miles long and makes for a smooth, flat, straight ride. At the marina we can rent a small boat and go crabbing. There are more than enough things to do around the campground to keep us entertained for the week.

More than anything, Beachcomber is the venue for a yearly family reunion. For some of us, that one week is the only time we get to see each other. A few family members even fly in so as not to miss the occasion. Now that I am older and have more responsibilities it has become more difficult to clear my schedule for a week at Beachcomber, but I find a way to get there every year. I hope to continue the streak and make the camping trip at Beachcomber for years to come.

5 Packing Essentials

My room at home.

My room at home.


My room freshman year.

My room freshman year.

While working as a youth leader this summer, I’ve gotten to know a lot of high school students who have recently graduated and are chomping at the bit, ready to go to college. A very common question I have been asked these past few months is, “What should I pack for college?!”. Even if you’ve been in college for several years, I hope these packing tips help you out as you get yourself ready for move-in day especially if you are an incoming college freshman. Without further ado, here are my top 5 must haves of packing for school:

1) If it stacks, it comes. This could be in the form of shoe boxes filled with school supplies, mini plastic drawers to hold makeup or writing implements, or (my personal favorite) plastic milk crates. Walmart and other stores are overflowing with these crates come back-to-school season. They are a great way to transport your stuff and store it once you get in the dorm.

2) Good food. I know when some of you read the word “good” you think of cookies, candy, and chips. Those junky food items are in good supply at the corner store and are easy to get your hands on if you have an unmanageable craving. The kind of “good” food I’m talking about, is stuff full of protein and vitamins that can keep you going and keep you from the freshmen…sophomore…or even senior 15. Eating well at snack time can keep your skin clear, energy level high, and immune system at it’s best.

CTA button for Blog UG3) You don’t need all your clothes at once. As a girl and renowned over-packer, I brought way too many clothes to college my freshman year. But, what I learned is that you only need enough clothing to last from move-in to fall break. This may seem obvious, but it’s crucial. You’re big, puffy winter coat can stay home until it’s absolutely needed (at Nyack, that time will come soon enough).

4) More than one way to stay organized. I began my freshman year with a big desk calendar under the assumption that it would be my choice tool of organization, only to find out that I never used it. throughout the year, hundreds of sticky notes came to my aid to help me remember what I had to do every week. I developed a system that kept me on top of all my work and free when most social activities were taking place. My point is, don’t count on one way of being organized because you never know what will end up working best for you.

5) Take a few pieces of home. At the end of my first year, it was a little bitter-sweet to leave my dorm room behind because it had come to feel like home. I encourage any new or returning student to bring posters, pictures, and knick-knacks from home to decorate the dorm with. At the end of a long day, it feels so refreshing to come back to a comfortable, homey place.

So, with that, let the school year begin!

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