Camp – My Favorite Toy Store in Manhattan
If you’re a parent in the city or if you’re visiting with your kids, or even if you don’t have kids but love toys and having fun, there is something that you need to checkout. It’s called Camp, and it has only been open since mid December. This is the first Camp location to hit the map, standing proudly on 110 5th Ave. The name is kind of misleading, not giving you much information as to what it is. I heard from friends that it was a toy store / play area, but that it had a hidden twist to it. They describe themselves as a “Family Experience Store.” It sounded confusing but also intriguing, and I knew Jimmy and I had to see it for ourselves. I finally checked it out this week, and now it’s my new favorite family hangout place in Manhattan.
The Camp Store
The inside of Camp looks like nothing special. At first glance, it looks like a small toy store / souvenir shop full of summer related camp take-aways that you’d buy for your kid after he attended a memorable summer camp, away from the family. There were some toys too and fun things for kids to look at, as well as some clothing items. If you didn’t know there was more you’d be quite bored at this point and probably ready to leave. In fact, Jimmy disappointedly said while looking around, “Mama! THIS isn’t a play area!” I had told him we were going to go play and he was very confused.
The Secret Door
Knowing that there was more to this, Jimmy and I looked around for a bit. We didn’t see anything unusual. We finally approached one of the employees and asked about the “secret door.” She got out her megaphone and started making an announcement that a child was present that had never been to Camp before. She started asking Jimmy if he could find the secret door. She was super good with kids and acted out the part well for Jimmy’s entertainment and curiosity. Together they searched for the secret door. Then, after pushing on different walls, one moved slightly. Jimmy was amazed. One of the walls was a secret door and pushed open to expose the secret play area. It was a really nice touch and made it so exciting for Jimmy, and let’s be honest, for me too. I guess I’ll always be a kid at heart.
What’s Behind the Secret Door?
As you walk through the secret door, you don’t know what to expect. There is a small winding path that you follow as you walk under some light water misters spraying down on you. And then, you enter. The place seems big, especially for New York City standards. It feels like you’ve arrived at a summer camp.
This is exactly the feeling that Nikki and Ben Caufman, the owners and founders of Camp, were hoping you’d experience when you entered the Camp secret door. They both attended a summer camp as children. It was there that they met and became great friends. As the years went by, their relationship became more than friends and later, they decided to tie the knot. Camp is their creation that they made together to reminisce about and recreate that nostalgic summer camp experience for all NYC kids.
Constant Theme Change
What’s really fascinating about Camp is that they change the theme every 8 - 12 weeks. Right now the theme is “summer camp,” but starting on March 15th, that will change. They plan on redecorating and redoing the whole design to change it into different camp experiences. They might do, “space camp,” or, “snow camp.” It will always be changing, which is a great way to keep kids and parents excited about coming back for more and seeing what is new at Camp. I’m excited to see what they have up their sleeves in March!
Camp hosts many different fun events for kids and families throughout each week. They do arts and crafts like make your own paper bag puppets, duct tape wallets, Camp pennants, merit badges, etc. You can find fun things like Camp singalongs, saying on their website to come if you can sing, or “if you can sing like no one is listening.” Another thing that looks fun is the building and creating of animal sculptors out of marshmallows. They do a lot of STEAM focused activities, and as a former elementary school teacher, I think that is great that they are including educational activities into their toy store experience. Some activities are free and others are offered for a cost. Parents must accompany their child at all times. This isn’t a babysitting service. Check out their online schedule of activities here.
This was one of my favorite areas in all of Camp. “Camp Bunk,” is built to resemble a sleeping area for a young camper, with the bunkbeds, night stand, lamp, books- everything that you would need for a great camp experience. The best part is the slide entrance from the top bunk that leads into the dance room. You climb the ladder to get to the top bunk and then you slide down the fun yellow slide and end up in a new room- a room that’s filled with music, disco lights. and shiny decorations on the walls. The floor is see-through and lined with green lights, perfect for busting a move.
This little dock area leading into some “water” seems like nothing special at first- until you walk on it. Each board of the dock plays a different musical note when stood on. When you walk on it, it’s like you are walking on piano keys and playing music with your feet. It’s a great place to play a song and get your musical and creative juices flowing.
Another great thing about Camp is that it is absolutely free to get in. You read that right. It’s free! Unless you are participating in an event of some kind, there might be a charge, but if you’re just there to play independently, then it is free. How do they make money you ask? Well, the answer is, from the toys. Camp is a toy store. When you visit Camp, they hope that you will buy a toy or two while you are there. Camp sells so many fun and different toys that are bound to be your child’s favorite! Some of the toys that I saw I honestly had never seen before at any other toy store. One thing that Jimmy loved was the edible bubbles. He chased them around with his little tongue sticking out. They have a huge variety and something for all ages, from stuffed animals, to educational games, to dress-up clothes. Go check them out!
Camp Milk Bar
And, being the City Nibbler that I am, I love places that have good food options at them. Camp has one of my favorite treat shops in New York City inside of their store. Milk Bar is inside of Camp and I couldn’t be more excited. Have you tried their cereal milk, milk that has been infused with different kinds of sugared cereal? Have you tried their compost cookie or their birthday cake pop truffles? What about their soft serve ice cream in both cereal milk and birthday cake flavors? (Camp doesn’t offer the birthday cake flavor) Or their iconic and famous crack pie that really is as addicting as crack? If your answer to any of these questions is no, get yourself in there right now and try Milk Bar. They make very creative and delicious treats that are must tries when in the city.
This Milk Bar located inside of Camp serves some exclusive menu items that no other Milk Bar serves. They make a Camp exclusive sundae called the Camp S’mores Sundae, made with cereal milk soft serve, compost cookie crumbs, charred marshmallows, and hot fudge. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but don’t worry, I plan on it. It has my name written all over it, and I can’t wait. And parents, no fear. They also offer coffee products for you to sip on while your kids are playing at Camp. Grab a hot latte and a fresh compost cookie while the kids play, and you’re all set.
Have you been to Camp? If so, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!