Registration for the 2014 season of JCC Summer Camp has begun! It’s hard to believe, but summer’s right around the corner and now is the time to sign your child up for a summer of daily swim lessons, new friendships, connecting with nature, and of course, your JCC family. In fact, this year our camp theme is Mishpacha, or “We are Family.” That’s because JCC camps are first and foremost, a family.
“Here at the JCC camps we wish to instill the values of togetherness, tradition, and heritage in all of our campers. It is through the lens of family that we view the past, live the present and have hope for the future. On behalf of the entire camp staff we are all so excited to have the opportunity to spend this summer with your children and to make your children’s summer a memorable experience,” said Halle Schwartz, JCC Director of Children, Youth, Teens, and Camping.
One way the JCC hopes to help grow its family atmosphere this year is through a new buddy system between the younger and older children—between Ora and Chaverim campers at the College Avenue location and between Chaverim and Hoover campers on Tuesdays when Chaverim campers in second and third grades visit Camp Hoover.
“This is so the children can see what they have to look forward to. Older campers can show the younger ones the skills they’ve learned and serve as role models. It starts the conversation of, ‘Look what I’m doing at another camp,’ and shows them things that they can also do one day. For the older kids, it will remind them of where they used to be to,” said Schwartz.
Another exciting aspect of the 2014 camp season is the addition of Columbus Children’s Theater Camp, an acting/performing camp in which campers will spend two weeks working with professional actors from Columbus Children’s Theater exploring all aspects of creating a first-rate performance including acting, singing, dancing, script writing, set and costume design, and directing. These skills will culminate in a world-premiere variety show performed for the JCC, campers, and the whole community to see. This unique opportunity to get hands-on with theater is offered for campers entering 1st-8th Grades.
Parents now will also have the option buy their child’s lunches at more camp locations: Ora, Chaverim, and Arye. And on Wednesdays at Camp Hoover, campers can look forward to learning a new skill—cooking over a camp fire! Campers will work with their counselors to learn the art of building their own camp fires and preparing meals.
Also new at Hoover this year will be the game, Battleship. “We’ve invested in a lot of new equipment for Hoover. We purchased more kayaks for a new game in which we bring the kayaks into the pool and see who can fill the kayak with water first to dump it over, sinking the opposing team’s ‘battleship,’” explained Camp Hoover Director Mark Moscardino.
After the success of last year’s overnight camp visits, the JCC will add Camp Wise to its mix of camp overnight visits, for three camp visits total, to Camp Livingston, Emma Kaufman Camp, and Camp Wise, respectively. “We’ve developed a great partnership with these camps. We share ideas with them; it’s very cooperative. After getting a taste of these camps last year through the JCC, some of our campers are now going to go spend a great four weeks of their summer at overnight camp. And who first gave them that opportunity? The JCC,” said Halle Schwartz.
In keeping with this year’s theme of Mishpacha, We are Family, each week campers will have a chance to participate in activities that bring home the notion that “our bunkmates are our family,” explained Schwartz. During the first week, campers will build their home by collecting leaves, branches, and other items during nature walks, and then build their own home in their bunk using these collected materials. Then, campers will make mezuzot during a Shabbat activity to cap off the week.
During Family History week, Chaverim campers will put on a Talent Show based on the history of the Jewish people. They will act out the stories behind Purim, Hanukkah, Tu B’Shvat and other Jewish holidays. And for “Community is Our Family” week, campers will get to meet some important members of the community-at-large, such as Battalion Chief Burnzweig from the Columbus Fire Department and Zach Rosen of the Columbus Police Department.
“Family is so important. And really, the JCC is everyone’s family. I’m most excited for the fact that our JCC Camp Staff are one, big family. We have a great team and everyone’s returning this year,” explained Schwartz.
Marie Wells is returning to direct Camp Arye after a year off. Mark Moscardino and Nancy Rosen will be back directing Camp Hoover. Kim Moore returns as Specialty Camp Director after a year at Camp Ora, and Shara Reiss returns as Camp Ora Director. Kaley Rosenthal also returns to direct Camp Chaverim. “It’s like the whole gang is back together, reuniting like a family, too,” Schwartz added.
For anyone who ever attended Camp Hoover, on the final day of camp, the JCC is hosting a Camp Hoover Family Reunion. All current and former Camp Hoover campers are invited to return to the beautiful, wooded setting of Camp Hoover to see all that’s changed and stayed the same at their home away from home.
Besides family, one big focus at JCC camp this year will be on nature. After the positive response to last year’s Nature Specialist at Camp Hoover, a Nature specialist will join campers at Camp Chaverim. “Nature’s a very big part of Judaism,” said Schwartz. “Caring for the environment and for nature is a Jewish value that goes into repairing the world and showing respect for others.”
Camp staff are looking for material to use this season for nature and art activities. Fabric, tins, bottles, bottle caps, and other materials are being collected now, so please contact the Camp Office at 614-559-6251 today if you have any items to donate.