In March, the Foundation for Jewish Camp released a “State of Jewish Camp” report showing that enrollment was close to pre-pandemic levels. Local camps were exceeding those numbers.
It was not even spring yet, but optimism was in the air. Going into the summer season, it still is. The question of what’s new at camp this summer brought many different answers. Here’s the rundown from some of the area Jewish camps.
Golden Slipper Camp
Golden Slipper is adding hatchet-throwing, BB guns, wrist rockets and more archery targets to its projectile range; 3-D printers, an engraver and an etcher to its maker space; inflatables, a trampoline, an iceberg float and single-passenger kayaks to its lake; and candle making and miniature painting to its arts and crafts area.
Camp Director Justin Guida said a big upgrade was not necessary, but that many small upgrades were.
“Our goal is to create an experience at camp. And that experience gets you out of your comfort zone,” he added.
Camp Ramah in the Poconos
For Ramah, the big change is reintroducing activities that were not available during the COVID summers, according to Executive Director Miryam Seid. Ramah’s day camp will be returning to indoor gatherings, including lunch in the dining hall.
“I think there’s a shift this summer where we’re hoping to go back to pre-COVID operations where it’s not driving everything we do,” Seid said.
Like Ramah, Nock-A-Mixon’s changes have to do with reopening post-COVID, according to Director Gary Glaser.
Counselors can take off for 30 hours again, instead of morning to night. Visiting Day is back in full. So is the out-of-camp trip schedule. In camp, more guest entertainers will come, and DJs will not have to stay behind cones at dances.
“The cool thing is, COVID doesn’t run everything we do,” Glaser said.
Southampton Summer Day Camp
Southampton is adding science, technology, engineering, art and math, or STEAM, experiments, projects and team-based games, according to Director Lindsay Blum Schlesinger.
“We’re going to try it,” Blum Schlesinger said. “It’s a big push in the educational curriculum.”
“Camp is a lot of recreational sports and running around. But we also have performing arts and arts and crafts,” she added. “We wanted to give kids an opportunity who may want to try something else.”
A new complex at Pinemere will include a recreational hall, an outdoor amphitheater and a chapel. All three should open “incredible opportunities” for campers, said Eytan Graubart, Pinemere’s executive director.
Pinemere’s theater program will be able to put on indoor shows with better lighting and sound. The air-conditioned, indoor portion of the complex will also allow for safe activities during heat waves.
The camp’s old rec hall was 100 years old, according to Graubart. An upgrade was needed.
“We pride ourselves on being a community camp where we could do stuff together,” Graubart said.
JCC Camps at Medford
Medford, New Jersey
The JCC Camps are unveiling a new facility in which all campers can gather. Ravi’s Bimah, named for Ravi Bloom, a former JCC camper and counselor who died in a car accident two years ago, is a huge, outdoor stage with open space and a flagpole, according to Director Sara Sideman.
This summer, Sideman and her team will gather kids and counselors twice a week before the day starts. Eventually, Sideman wants to start every day at Ravi’s Bimah.
“As I said to my team on a Zoom the other night, 20 years from now kids don’t remember the soccer period. They don’t remember what they made during arts and crafts. They remember being around other people and singing camp songs,” Sideman said. “Those are the memories I want to create.”
Galil’s big addition will emphasize “community care,” according to Executive Director David Weiss. Campers and counselors will get to use a “hammock lounge/wellness space” to “relax and unwind,” Weiss said.
The Kaiserman JCC’s day camp is adding a program for second and third graders in which they will create a weekly newspaper and news show for camp. It’s another creative outlet for kids, according to Jordan Bravato, Kef’s director.
Harlam is implementing a new program, called Avodah, which means work, worship and service in Hebrew, for people with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 28 to attend camp, learn life skills and work. They will live independently and help in the office, kitchen and other areas, according to Rachel Steinberg, the camp’s manager of community outreach.
Harlam is also reintroducing out-of-camp trips and adding two cabins, a fire pit and a garden.