All in the Family

Camp Playland in New Canaan welcomes its third generation of family management to the 18-acre summer camp.

In 1957, Camp Playland was founded by Walter and Pearl Bloom, who built the camp and its facilities from the ground up. Through the years Camp Playland remained within the Bloom family, and the tradition is continuing with 24-year-old Steve Bloom as he begins to learn the ropes this year. Like his father Gary (son of Walter and Pearl), Steve grew up on the camp.

"I remember my father purchasing the property and building the facilities," says Gary Bloom, the camp's owner and director. "My father was a schoolteacher and my mother was a bookkeeper; they worked three, four jobs to make [Camp Playland] happen. I grew up seeing that. It's rewarding to me that Steve has the same feeling for the business-it's a strong tradition in our family."

camp playland in new canaan
Three generations of the Bloom family (clockwise from top): Steve, Pearl, Barbara, and Gary Bloom

Claiming 18 acres in New Canaan, the camp provides a warm and nurturing environment where kids are encouraged to spend time outdoors to fully enjoy summer activities like swimming, fishing, and archery.

"We've always prided ourselves in a traditional day camp with athletics [and] cultural activities," says Gary, who has spent every summer of his life at the camp. "Every kid should enjoy the outdoors. The whole point of the summer is to have fun."

As a traditional summer camp, Camp Playland follows a six-period day for kids entering Pre-K through 6th grade, which allows campers to try a variety of activities. The camp also stays current and makes improvements each year to ensure kids who return (about 70 percent of campers) have something new to look forward to, including this year's additions: a 300-foot zip line and waterways on the playgrounds.

Also new this summer is Senior Camp designed for those entering 7th, 8th, and 9th grade. This
program allows kids the freedom to select their own activities from a list that includes baseball, soccer, basketball, music, and arts and crafts. These tween campers can also learn to be counselors.

Gary and his wife, both former schoolteachers, added a nursery school to the camp in 1976. The school is licensed by the state of Connecticut and accredited by The National Association for the Education of Young Children. This summer, the school will offer a new summer warm-up program that allows preschool-aged children to experience full-day camp while their older siblings are still in school. "We're very excited to offer this to the preschoolers," Gary says. "We'll have the best of everything."

The warm-up program will run from May 29 through June 15 and will be smaller in size than Camp Playland's regular programs, with 45 spots versus the 350 available throughout the rest of summer.

To learn more about Camp Playland, and its programs and locations, visit