CT’s Holiday Hill has been offering private getaways since 1954

OUTLOOK – With the start of the summer season, schools and businesses have started planning their year-end trips and picnics, and a popular destination is tucked away in rural Connecticut. Known as Holiday Hill, the resort has been offering camp getaways to its residents since 1954.

The camp and resort aims to offer a private experience, allowing guests to either rent the area entirely to themselves or share it between a few smaller groups. Both the resort and day camp opened at the same time in 1954 and have been family-owned ever since, according to Michael Youngman, Holiday Hill’s director. In the years since it opened, the campground has specialized in group events such as corporate picnics, church picnics, school trips, family reunions, and union picnics. Guests typically have around seven hours at camp, depending on needs.

The camp is a popular spot for middle and high schools for their senior trips and end-of-year school trips. It hosts different age groups on different days to ensure kids only interact with their peers, according to the website. Schools such as Scofield Magnet Middle School and Trumbull Public Schools have used the resort for their outings for decades.

After being closed for excursions in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the resort reopened in 2021 and is gradually returning to full capacity. Grella says he sees many people leaving their homes and wanting to get some fresh air.

“The schools just want to get the kids out,” said manager Jerry Grella. “We are fortunate that we are an outdoor facility, none of our buildings are gated except for the main office and nurse.


A key focus of the day camp is building lasting bonds between the campers, who Youngman says hail from about 35 different cities. Youngman says he’s seen many families not send their children to camp to do so before because they wanted their children to be socialized during the pandemic.

“My own son is a camper and his best friend [who he met in camp] is in Westport, so now I drive back and forth to Westport for game dates,” Youngman said.

The facility, which is open from late April to late September or early October, includes more than 500 acres of meadows, forests, lakes and pools, according to the camp’s website. Groups come to Holiday Hill from all over, Grella says, but they see most activity from Southern Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York. Grella says they like to keep it around 1,000 guests a day to keep everyone comfortable, although the camp can accommodate up to 5,000.

“There’s no other place in these areas quite like us because there’s just a busy city vibe here,” Grella said.

Guests are served their choice of picnic foods including burgers, hot dogs, salads, pasta, clam chowder, tacos, assorted cheeses, donuts and fruit depending on the menu. The cost of groceries is included in their package, but the cost of alcohol is not, the FAQ says. Food is prepared in-house by the staff chefs.

Burgers and hot dogs are cooked at Holiday Hill.

Holiday Hill / Contributed

Visitors can play games such as mini-golf, bingo, basketball, soccer, baseball, volleyball, ping-pong, horseshoes, bocce ball, shuffleboard, and badminton on the premises. All games are included in the guest’s subsistence cost. Camp staff sometimes facilitate tournaments between visitors.

A group that plays sports at Holiday Hill.

A group that plays sports at Holiday Hill.

Holiday Hill / Contributed

For those who enjoy the water, the site offers a pool, bathhouse, and lake that guests can explore by rowing boats, canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats.

The pool at Holiday Hill.

The pool at Holiday Hill.

Holiday Hill / Contributed

The camp’s facilities have earned it multiple awards, including being voted “New Haven County’s Best Summer Camp” by a 2022 New Haven Register reader poll and being voted “Best Day Camp in Central CT” by the Reader’s Choice Awards in 2021.

For an excursion, it costs $65 (taxes included) per guest for those ages 12 and older and $35 for younger people, according to Grella.

According to the camp’s website, the site also offers day camp on weekdays from June 27 to August 19. Each day of the day camp has a different theme, including Bubble Day, Coin Hunt Day, and Crazy Sock Day, according to the events calendar. The day camp also offers courses such as cooking, swimming lessons, pony trekking, archery, yoga, fishing and how to become a ‘ninja warrior’. Youngman said they aim to add a new addition or two each year and that a 300-foot zip line is in the works to be added this year.

Each week of day camp is $550 for customers who enroll before March 31st and $575 for those who enroll after.

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