Guilford Park and Recreation
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Questions about famous pigs and Hakuna Matata had campers going point-for-point against counselors, as they vied to buzz in first at “Are You Smarter than a Camp Counselor” at Camp Menunkatuck July 3. Here, camper Tyler Rogers (far right) anxiously waits to see if an answer from counselor Laura Just (left) will break their tie for the win.

Photo by Pam Johnson
By Pam Johnson, Courier Senior Staff Writer:

   Hey, kids: if you know what to call a group of jellyfish, you could be smarter than a camp counselor. Although seven year-old Ryan Rogers should have won points for his answer (“trouble”), the question stumped a panel of youthful contestants and one confounded counselor during “Are You Smarter than a Camp Counselor?” at Jacobs Beach on July 3. The kid-oriented take on a popular TV game show ended the first of four Camp Menunkatuck summer sessions.

    Everyone learned a thing or two from the night’s energetic host, corporate entertainer Christopher Hurlbert. Hurlbert didn’t leave the group on the hook too long with his jellyfish query (the answer is “smack”) but quickly threw another curve by asking what’s studied through ichthyology.

    Camp Sports Director Robert Lasko may not have known ichthyologists study fish, but the oldest guy on the panel finally got on the scoreboard when Hurlbert asked for the name of Harry Potter’s school. From there, Lasko tore up the competition, beating kids to the buzzer by coming up with Egypt as a place for pyramids and going for the win by fishing up the name of The Little Mermaid.

    Plenty of campers did answer Hurlbert’s questions correctly. There aren’t many self-respecting first- through sixth graders who don’t know which position Harry Potter played on his Quidditch team, the meaning of Hakuna Matata, or the name of a famous pig. Still, in the spirit of healthy competition, camp counselors continued to squeak out wins over their camper competition, as panels rotated through rounds pitting one counselor against seven kids.

    Counselor Kristen Ficorilli had a lot riding on her, as the first counselor selected at random to compete against the campers, but she pulled out a victory in the end.

    “I tried hard,” said Ficorilli, who was followed in the hot seat by counselor Laura Just.

    Just battled it out to win her round with 40 points, ending only one answer ahead of tenacious camper contestant Tyler Rogers.

    Camp Menunkatuck co-director Erin Collins said “everyone’s a winner” in this game and at Camp Menunkatuck. The popular summer day camp, which runs in four sessions, is experiencing its highest attendance ever with 170 campers per session, said co-director Rich Fazzuoli.

    This year’s counselor group includes 21 returning counselors and six new counselors. The low turnover shows they love their summer job, said Guilford Parks and Recreation Director Rick Maynard.

    “That says a lot. They like working here, and they’re a good staff.”

    The first session of Camp Menunkatuck blended a “Crazy Critters” theme into daily events and activities. Upcoming sessions will include pirate themes, “Around the World,” and Western-style themes.

    All sessions close with a special family/camper/counselor event. For families interested in having their child experience Camp Menunkatuck, some spaces are still available for the final session, Aug. 4 to 15. The camp is full for session two, which began this week. A waiting list is available for session three, which begins July 21.

    “We like not to turn people away,” said Maynard.

For more information on Camp Menunkatuck, visit or call 453-8068