Jewish Camp in an Era of Covid-19
Audra Martin, Director, Camp Haverim @ the Merage JCC
Everything seems like it is changing. In this era of the great quarantine, we shop, work, exercise, and eat (hello carbs!) differently.
It won’t be a surprise to you, that Camp has changed as well with rules and regulations governing every aspect of fun and care.
In addition to taking temperatures and conducting health questionnaires each morning, we are making huge efforts to reduce the number of people campers cross paths with. Cohort sizes are smaller and large group fun is a lot practically non-existent. Separate space has been created for campers along, including entrances, hallways, bathrooms, and outside areas. All snacks and lunches are individually wrapped – no sharing or trading. Field trips are out of the picture this year as well.
What won’t look different?
What we want you to know, is that with all the differences, the best parts of Camp will look the same.
Camp is a respite in the COVID craziness. Camp remains a beacon of memories, friends, independence, and problem-solving. Dress-up days, water fun, sports, singing and dance, science, and more create daily opportunities to learn, adventure and share.
We continue to prioritize play. Play allows kids to create, innovate, brainstorm, and to work outside of the structure, where they experiment and self-initiate, where deep social and emotional education takes place.
Camp allows kids to unplug. Kids take a break from television and digital play and learn to engage in the real world. Unplugged play is critical; it allows kids to practice socialization skills.
Moving is the name of the game. As quarantining has forced children to spend so much time inside, Camp provides wonderful opportunities to run, jump, swim, and dance.
No doubt, studies demonstrate the lifelong impact positive camp experiences have on our kids is immeasurable, and Jewish-based camps are uniquely positioned to provide kids an opportunity to develop their Jewish identity in a peer community not otherwise available to them at other times during the year.
Even in a COVID crazy era, our kids emerge from camp with enthusiasm, higher self-esteem, and a sense of belonging and inclusion.
While it seems like much of our day-to-day experiences have shut down. Camp is open and ready for fun!