Longer than you think.
If you’re like most people, you’ll be taking Interstate Highway 80 out to the Kinus site. Unfortunately, the Kinus is in the same general direction as the Delaware Watergap National Recreation Area and many other weekend trip sites. So, expect some traffic.
Our advice is to leave a bit early. Aim to get to the Kinus by 4pm, which means leaving your house before 2pm. This will give you enough time to unpack your car and set up your tent. Plus, it will give you some time to get acquainted with your surroundings and enjoy the scenery a bit. You are not going to make it if you leave your office at 5pm, rush back home, pack up the car, and race on down. Remember too, that many of us who run the Kinus are Shomer Shabbat and can’t help you set up your tent or help you unpack if you get there after Shabbat starts.
These are approximate driving times considering traffic in the mid-afternoon. If you leave after 3:30pm, you will run into rush hour traffic, and your driving times will increase.
- From the Highland Park/New Brunswick Area: About 2 hours 15 minutes
- From Teaneck Area: About 2 hours
- From the Elizabeth Area: About 2 hours and 30 minutes
- From Brooklyn: About 2 hours and 45 minutes.
This is not Disneyland. The water is truly wet, the rocks are very rocky, and you can poke your eye out with one of the many sticks that abound in this campsite. This is nature and not some set created by a bunch of imagineers.
But then again, we have been running this Kinus for years, and have had no serious injuries. There is a forest ranger who is extremely helpful. The people who run the Kinus have decades of experience with camping. We also have a whole flock of medics who can administer first aid. We follow all Boy Scout safety regulations.
What we do ask you to do is watch your young children and make sure they are supervised — much like you would do if you went to the grocery store or walked downtown. And make sure they obey some basic safety rules such as no throwing rocks, no running around with sticks, and no wandering off into the woods by themselves. The last one is a bit important because there is no fence and it is very easy for a young child to wander off into the woods and quickly get lost. Fortunately, we’ve quickly located any kids who did get lost, and they usually return a bit dirtier, a little wiser, but otherwise in one piece.
However, we have plenty of well supervised activities for the scouts, and we’ll be running youth minyans on Shabbat to help keep your kids busy while you’re davening.
So, yes, the Kinus is safe. We make sure we have plenty of good adult supervision at the activities, and there will be more than enough to do to keep your kids very busy. We want you and your family to enjoy the Kinus. As long as you follow your common sense, the Kinus is a safe place for you and your family to spend the weekend.
Okay, let me get this straight: You want me to drive to the middle of some bear-infested woods, go to some campsite where there’s no running water, sleep on some lumpy sleeping bag on the ground, and get bitten by a bunch of plague ridden insects. And, you expect me to call that fun?
Short Answer: Yes
Long Answer (written by a Kinus parent):
About 15 years ago, I took my oldest son who was then just an eight year old Bear Scout to my first Kinus. My wife stayed at home with our younger two kids. My first question upon arriving was “Where do you go to the bathroom?”. My second question was “You go to the bathroom where?”
I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how to setup the small tent I got just that week, and I was prepared for a miserable experience. I was just hoping my son would enjoy it, but not too much because there was no way I was going to do this again!
To my surprise, I really enjoyed myself. The camaraderie was great. The Shabbat meal was wonderful. The next day, I watched my son participate in all sorts of activities, and he had a blast. I met many of the other people who attended from all over the Northeast, and enjoyed the campfile that Saturday night.
The next year, I tried to convince my wife to come with the entire family (including our then 2 year old son). She was extremely hesitant about the whole idea, but I convinced her by buying a extra large tent and told her that if she didn’t come, I would have wasted our money on such a big tent.
She also loved it. She found the outdoors very relaxing, and enjoyed the adult shiurim. Our youngest two sons attended a few programs, but really just enjoyed the outdoors and discovering the chipmunks that ran around all over and newts who preferred to hide under the rocks. We went on a few short nature hikes with them that were part of the activities. Meanwhile, my oldest son (now a Webelos Scout) had a reunion with the various scouts he had met the previous year.
Now my oldest son is in college and my younger two are now Scout leaders. But, every year we still all go together to Kinus. We look forward to getting out into the woods and meeting all of our friends. We enjoy the company, the campfire skits, the walks, and simply relaxing around the camp in the great summer weather.
Of course, my family is now old hands at this and now help the other new parents setup their tents and introduce them to the Kinus.
The point is: Yes, believe it or not, you will have fun. Most of the people who attend the Kinus are not people who are well versed in the woodsy lore. They are accountants, computer programmers, lawyers, doctors, and other middle aged, squishy-around-the-middle, turn-up-the-air-conditioner, can’t-we-take-the-elevator, type parents. You don’t have to know how to use a compass. No one is expecting you to put on a 75 pound backpack and hike 20 miles. Heck, we will even help you set up your tent and tie any and all knots that need tying. After all, we are boy scouts! This is far from boot camp. The atmosphere is absolutely relaxing. It is unbelievably beautiful. It is inspiring.
Plus, the food is really good. No, really: Our chef is a well known New Jersey caterer. Believe it or not, we were so impressed with the food at the Kinus, we hired this guy to do all three of our kid’s B’nai Mitzvah.
So, yes. We want you to come. We want you to enjoy yourself. But most of all, we don’t want you to miss out on all the fun.
We’d love to have you on our staff! Contact the program chair of the Boy Scout, Cub Scout or Girl Scout programs, and we’ll be more than happy to let you help out. In addition to helping lead a program session, we need volunteers to help us cook, build our eruv, or help us plan activities. Please let us know what you’d like to do, and we’ll be more than happy to set you to work.
We’ll be happy to make sure your help will be counted towards your school’s, troop’s, or pack’s community service hours.