Meet Our Staff!
Patricia Falcone- Camp Director
Pat (Miss Pat) Falcone has been the owner/director of Summer Friends for over 20 years, and no, she is NOT an actual pirate. She and her family started the camp in 1992, and have cared for over 5000+ children in the community during that time. As Director of First Friends Child Care during the winter months, she has been able to watch children grow from infancy to being counselors in camp! First Friends, incorporated in 1986, has graduated over 7000 children! She is a member of the American Camping Association, as well as the NJ chapter of NAEYC. Her philosophy has always been “let kids be kids and do what they do best – learn through play!” Grandmother of four, one granddaughter is a counselor, and three are campers. She says “camp is a world where children can grow and feel safe. At our camp, we are like family – caring, sharing, and protecting each other. Camp is a great place to be, and here at Summer Friends, everybody knows your name.”
Heather Ginsburg - Assistant Camp Director
Heather has been the assistant director for over 7 years. She came over to the Summer Friends side after being assistant director for First Friends for more that 10 years. Heather has her degree in education from Rider University. She has two boys of her own, Ross and Paulie. When Paulie was diagnosed with Autism, Heather threw herself into fundraising and other Autism Awareness activities. During her teen years, Heather attended sleep away camps, and was anxious to bring her experience and ideas to our day camp. She works in the office where she answers the phones and greets the campers every morning. Stop in and say Hello!
Donna Martinez - Arts and Crafts Direcctor
"Miss Donna has been the arts and crafts director for over 6 years. But- she has been our Pre-K teacher in First Friends for over 14 years!!! She is, without a doubt, the best arts and crafts person that there is! She truly makes treasures out of trash! Miss Donna has 3 children, all of whom have worked in the camp. She also has 35 nieces and nephews! She was a co-leader for Girl Scouts of America for 11 years. She enjoys arts and crafts, posting her ideas on pinterest, and in her off time, her family likes recreational camping.
Taylor Falcone - Director of Special Activities
Taylor is entering her 17th year with us at Summer Friends. It's her fourth year as a counselor, and she is very excited to implement all of the ideas she has for this summer! She spends countless hours throughout the school year brainstorming new ideas to make the summer the best it can possibly be. Taylor also takes time to design the calendar every year! While camp takes up most of her time during the school year too, she is also a State and National Champion Varsity Cheerleader at St John Vianney. Taylor will be headed off to Florida State University to cheer on a college level and study Criminology! She plans on being an FBI agent. All of this camp training will come in very handy!
Mikayla Agresto- Director of Special Activities
Mikayla has been with Summer Friends for 12 years. It will be her fourth summer as a counselor. She looks forward to the 8 weeks of camp all year long! Mikayla will be studying to be a Physician's Assistant at West Virginia University. When camp is not in session, she is also a varsity cheerleader. Mikayla is known for her sparkling personality and riotous sense of humor. She always has a new way to help keep the campers entertained.
Mark Bookbinder - Director of Special Activities
Affectionately known to all campers as "Booky", Mark started at Summer Friends almost 16 years ago! Known for his energy and enthusiasm, Booky has always been a camp favorite. Attending William Paterson University and studying Business Management, Booky is, and has always been a fixture at camp. He is there from sunrise to sundown. This will be his 7th summer as a counselor. He has so many ideas for programming this summer that there aren't enough days of camp for them all!
Tom Rogan- Aquatics Director
Tom started camping right here at Summer Friends as a kindergartner! Attended every year until Varsity Soccer took him to the soccer fields. Now he attends Boston College in the winter, studying to be a pediatric surgeon. But with his busy schedule, he still finds time to write aquatic plans for our swim program! Wait until you see what he has planned for the summer- fun and swim instruction all rolled into one! He is a certified water safety instructor, and has passed courses in advanced life guarding. Tom was just here over winter break - wanting to change up our swim time and make it more challenging! Love this guy.
Duane Mitter- Dance & Drama, Head of Specialists and CIT's
Duane Mitter is the Dance and Drama instructor as well as the Head of Specialists and CIT's. This will be Duane's sixth summer here at Summer Friends. By putting on weekly performances, he gives the campers the ability to show off what they have to offer on the stage. Duane has been a dance teacher for seven years. He specializes in Hip Hop, Jazz, and contemporary. Along with teaching, Duane has also starred in numerous musicals and dramas throughout his career. Duane's goal is to teach every child something new in the arts. Through hard work and loads of fun, he gives each campers a chance to perform to their fullest ability. He is a master at giving them self confidence and poise, no matter what their age!