Holiday Hill of CT has been offering private getaways since 1954

PERSPECTIVE – With the start of the summer season, schools and businesses have begun planning their end-of-year trips and picnics, and a popular destination is tucked away in the central Connecticut countryside. Known as Holiday Hill, the resort has been offering residents a day of camping vacation since 1954.

The campground and resort aim to provide a private experience by allowing guests to rent the area entirely to themselves or share it among a few smaller groups. Both the resort and day camp opened at the same time in 1954 and have remained family-owned ever since, according to Holiday Hill Director Michael Youngman. In the years since its opening, the campground has specialized in group events such as company picnics, church picnics, school trips, family reunions and union picnics. Guests are generally given around seven hours in the camp, depending on their needs.

The camp has been a popular spot for middle and high schools for their senior outings and year-end outdoor school trips. Host different age groups on different days to ensure children only interact with others of a similar age, according to the website. Schools like Scofield Magnet Middle School and Trumbull Public Schools, among others, have used the resort for their travels for decades.

After being closed for releases in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the resort was able to reopen in 2021 and is gradually returning to full capacity. Grella says she is seeing large numbers of people who want to leave their homes and get some fresh air.

“Schools just want to get the kids out,” manager Jerry Grella said. “We are lucky in the aspect that we are an outdoor facility; none of our buildings are fenced except for the main office and the nurse.

One of the main goals of the day camp is to build lasting bonds between campers, who according to Youngman come from around 35 different cities. Youngman says he has seen many families who had not previously sent their children to the camp start doing so because they want their children to be socialized during the pandemic.

“My son is a camper and his best friend [who he met in camp] it’s in Westport, so now I’m going back and forth to Westport for play dates, ”Youngman said.

The facility, open from late April to late September or early October, has more than 200 acres of lawns, woods, lakes, and pools, according to the camp’s website. According to Grella, groups come to Holiday Hill from everywhere, but see most of the activity from southern Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York. Grella says he likes to keep it at around 1,000 guests a day so that everyone feels comfortable, even though the camp can accommodate up to 5,000.

“There is no one else in those areas who is like us because it is all a hectic city atmosphere,” Grella said.

Guests are served picnic-style food of their choice, including burgers, hot dogs, salads, pasta, clam chowder, tacos, assorted cheeses, donuts, and fruit, according to the menu. The cost of food is included as part of their package, but the cost of alcohol is not, it says in the FAQ. The food is cooked in-house by the staff chefs.

Burgers and hot dogs cooked on Holiday Hill.

Holiday Hill / contributed

Visitors can play games on site, such as mini-golf, bingo, basketball, soccer, baseball, volleyball, table tennis, horseshoes, petanque, shuffleboard, and badminton. All games are included in the cost of the guests’ stay. Camp staff sometimes facilitate tournaments between visitors.

A group that plays sports on Holiday Hill.

Holiday Hill / contributed

For those who love water, the site has a swimming pool, bathhouse, and lake that guests can explore with rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats.

The Holiday Hill swimming pool.

The Holiday Hill swimming pool.

Holiday Hill / contributed

Camp services have earned him numerous awards, including being voted “Best Summer Camp in New Haven County” by a New Haven Register reader poll in 2022 and “Best Day Camp in Central CT” by Reader’s. Choice Awards in 2021.

For an outing, it costs $ 65 (including tax) per guest for those 12 and older and $ 35 for the younger ones, according to Grella.

The location also offers a day camp on weekdays from June 27 to August 19, according to the camp’s website. Each day of the daily camp features a different theme, including “Bubble Day”, “Coin Hunt Day” and “Crazy Sock Day” according to the calendar of events. The day camp also offers courses such as cooking, swimming lessons, pony riding, archery, yoga, fishing and how to be a “Ninja Warrior”. Youngman said they look to add one or two new additions per year and that a 300-foot zip line is in the works to be added this year.

Each day camp week costs $ 550 for customers who sign up before March 31 and $ 575 for those who sign up after.