By Janna Zuckerman,
On the first day of the school year, avid campers begin the countdown to their favorite season: camp season. Just ask any child, teen, counselor or camp professional who attends day or overnight camp and they will surely be able to tell you how many days until camp begins. Those who attend camp live for it – they spend 10 months of the year looking forward to their favorite two. Why? Simply put, summer camp is a blast!
I was fortunate to grow up in a family where Jewish camp was a tradition. My grandfather owned a Jewish day and overnight camp, and I attended JCC day camp from pre-k until third grade when I finally convinced my parents to send me to NJ-Y Sleep Away Camps.
I lived, breathed and dreamt about camp. I had a calendar posted above my bed and every night before shutting my eyes, I would cross out the date, bringing me one day closer to camp season. Lucky for me, as the Program Manager of The Associated’s Center for Jewish Camping, I am still able to count down the days until the upcoming camp season (less than 60 days to go!). My position affords me the privilege to help families make the life-changing decision to provide a transformative Jewish camping experience for their children. Jewish camp infuses values, culture, spirit, and traditions into the fabric of camp, helping campers explore their own Jewish identity and the larger Jewish community.
I work closely with local camps, and conduct on-site visits during the summer to see them in action. I am constantly keeping up with the most innovative programs and activities being launched. In addition, I work closely with the National Foundation for Jewish Camp office to keep abreast of the latest and cutting-edge camp opportunities in other regions.
Camp is magical – It’s a place removed from the pressure and stress of everyday life, where staff members and campers alike discover a new kind of independence and responsibility. Campers develop long-lasting friendships; embrace the incredible facilities situated on acres of beautiful campground and relish in the diverse array of activities.
It’s the friendships – At camp, you develop independence, social skills and self- confidence in a nurturing environment. Camp is a place of positive transformation – where you face challenges, build relationships. You learn to be a team player and care for each other. Camp is the best place to create deep-rooted friendships – building an enormous social network. The impact of camp is immediate. You return home feeling connected to a community and friends that will last forever.
It’s the facilities – Imagine being surrounded by acres of beautiful campground throughout the entire summer. At camp, you have the opportunity to spend hours in an outdoor, safe and comfortable environment. Swim in an Olympic-sized pool, toss a Frisbee in a game of Ultimate on the athletic fields, speed down ziplines on high ropes courses, and so much more!
It’s the activities – Campers discover new skills and interests through the high-quality activities at camp. For some, learning how to make their own choices and forge their own paths is an enormous step. Campers have the opportunity to try new activities that can turn a timid camper into one who loves to belt a tune in the camp play. Camp provides the opportunity for you to better understand yourself, identify your hobbies and passions and try something new.
So parents, sending your child to camp as campers, and supporting them as they return as staff members, gives them a gift that they’ll keep for the rest of their lives. Soon, they’ll tell you all about camp – the canoe trip, their new favorite sport, the rock wall they learned to climb, and their new best friends.
But along with all the good comes some uncertainty as well. Will my child get homesick? Are the counselors trained to look out for bullying? Does the camp have emergency procedures in place? What if my child gets sick?
For answers to these questions and much more, joinus at Beyond Swimsuits & Sunscreen: What you need to know BEFORE sending your child to camp! Whether you have a first time camper or a summer camp veteran, come learn the essential information that will make this the best summer for you and your child! Hear from a former camp director, a nurse, a social worker, a parent, an educator and a past camper on Tuesday, May 20th from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC.
Janna Zuckerman is the Program Manager at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore’s Center for Jewish Camp. Contact her to learn about the different Jewish camps. 410-369-9237 | firstname.lastname@example.org | livecamp.org