As I am writing this article, it’s cold and blustery outside. It seems odd to be thinking about camp. Nonetheless, it’s time to plan for your kids’ summer.
We’ve been coordinating summer camp since August when last year’s camp ended. We wholeheartedly believe in camp – it is an important component of Jewish life. Statistics show that camp experiences are one of the top three indicators that our kids will remain engaged with Jewish life.
For many of us, summer camp is an irreplaceable memory of great friends and wonderful experiences. Like b’nai mitzvahs and graduations, it is a rite of passage.
If summer camp, and more specifically Jewish summer camp, is a more fleeting thought for you, then this article is for you. Yes, camp is certainly loud and raucous, filled with play and exploration. It certainly keeps our kids busy.
And it is so much more.
Building connection to community and making Jewish lifelong friends
Our contemporary lives are busy and everyday our kids are surrounded by American culture. A JCC camp experience allows us just a few weeks to enmesh our kids in Jewish experiences and Jewish friends. While our kids are running, playing, swimming, traveling, busy with arts and science and all the camp fun, they are doing it surrounded by Jewish friends and Jewish values and traditions.
It’s simple: Jewish day camps create Jewish friends. At a time when it is challenging to maintain strong connections to the Jewish community, Jewish camp builds a strong foundation of lifelong memories and friendships sustaining Jewish engagement. – Dan Bernstein, Merage JCC President & CEO.
Shlichim: Real Life Israelis at JCamp
Shlichim join us every year and are an important part of the Merage JCC camp experience. Shlichim are young adult, Israeli citizens and trained camp specialists joining the camp staff to forge connections with our children. They add Israeli culture to every day’s programming, including Hebrew, Israeli arts, music and dance. They genuinely deepen the Jewish atmosphere that inculcates camp.
Shlichim live with host families and integrate into our community. Generally, they have just completed their military service in Israel and share Israeli culture with our kids.
Jewish Traditions: Jewish Culture
Everyday at camp starts with a raucous rendition of Hatikvah, the Israeli anthem expressing “Hope”. Hebrew, music, dance are integrated into each day. Every session has an Israeli Day with the sights and sounds of our homeland. JCamp takes the opportunity to share what Shabbat and life looks like in Israeli homes.
Why is Jewish Camp Different from all others?
Culture, values, traditions are equally balanced with fun, friends, learning and exercise. Merage JCC camps fill a fundamental need for our community. We provide a positive Jewish environment and serve as a launch pad for engagement in Jewish life.
Learn more about JCamps at www.jccoc.org/jcamps
Audra Martin has worked with children in the JCC field for over 20 years, she is the Director of Children and Camp at the Merage JCC. Contact Audra at firstname.lastname@example.org.