Seashore Alum Miss NJ Teen USA Shares Camp Memories At Day Of Fun
LONG BRANCH, February 6 – New and prospective families were told the list of talent at Seashore Day Camp’s 90th Anniversary Day Of Fun – Open House February 6 would be extensive. What they didn’t expect to see was stunning Gina Mellish, the reigning Miss New Jersey Teen USA, from Oceanport, walk through the door wearing her pageant crown and sash to wish her camp alma mater a Happy 90th Anniversary.
“I was a Seashore camper for many years and also the Outstanding Camper in 2012. I made so many memories and it was amazing to be back,” Mellish said.
The 5’9 beauty queen, who will compete in the Miss Teen USA competition this summer, signed autographs, took photos with former counselors including Renee Harrison Pincus and Megan Marsh, and talked at length about her days at the camp, granting an interview to fifth grader Helen Slacik, Monmouth Beach, a staffer on Seashore Student Views, The Seashore School’s newspaper.
“I loved Seashore. I met my best friend Payton (Toscano) at camp,” Mellish told Slacik.
Still close after all these years and on very different successful paths, she and Toscano, who was just accepted to Glion Institute of High Education in Montreux, Switzerland, echoed the same sentiment. “We met here and will be eternally grateful.”
As for Mellish’s best part of the summer, “Jell-O Tug of War was always my favorite,” she said.
“We always knew there was something special about Gina,” said Seashore Director John Villapiano, who taught her to swim. “She was a terrific camper with a great attitude.”
Mellish, a student leader/athlete/volunteer for many charities and model, who will graduate Red Bank Catholic and attend Marist College in the fall to study Fashion Marketing and Business, offered some advice for young girls and boys who want to follow their dreams. “Anything is possible with passion and a great work ethic.”
While Mellish was the surprise highlight of the 90th anniversary Day of Fun, new and returning campers also had a chance to meet local artist/philantropist Peter Nicolaou, from Ocean Township, who painted commemmorative surboards to mark the role Seashore has played for generations of families at the Jersey shore for nine decades, sand sculptor John Gruber, who taught children to build castles, professional ballerina Ellen Gunn, a registered instructor with the Royal Academy of Dance and Artistic Director of Monmouth Academy of Ballet in Red Bank, who introduced the camp’s new ballet class, Scott Keller, who taught wind surfing using a special simulator. DJ Craig Daniel, White Knight Balloons and an extensive staff of counselors.
“It is amazing how far we have come over the years,” Villapiano said. “I wish John Cittadino and my parents could have been here to share this moment.”
Seashore Day Camp, which opened in 1926, has the distinction of being the first day camp in New Jersey and the pioneer of an industry that has benefited hundreds of thousands of children. During the last 90 years, it has become as synonymous with summer as the beach and has grown into one of the largest day camps in the country, providing innovative recreational activities for 500 boys and girls each year, employing a summer staff of more than 100 counselors, setting the standard of what camping should be and being voted Best Camp in Monmouth County three times in a row and winning Asbury Park Press Readers Choice Awards the last five years.
Athough many things have changed since its inception, the camp’s commitment to providing programs that take fun to new heights remains the same. In addition to its unique water sports, recreation and special event schedule, Seashore is known for producing some of the strongest, most accomplished swimmers and athletes at the Jersey Shore.
For a tour or for more information, call 732-222-6464, visit www.seashorecampandschool.com or follow Seashore on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
CAPTION Seashore alum Gina Mellish, who was recently crowned Miss New Jersey Teen USA, made a surprise appearance at Seashore Day Camp’s 90th Anniversary Day of Fun – Open House Saturday, where she saw former counselors, signed autographs and told new and returning campers why she loved her five years there.