CAMPS ARE NOTORIOUSLY loud and raucous… Jewish camps especially. From the moment your child steps out of your car at drop-off to the moment they step back in they are Israeli dancing and Shabbos shaking to the beats of Jewish camps’ drums. Our day camp is exploding with Jewish values and Israeli culture everywhere you turn. With directional, program and even the ubiquitous bathroom signs in both English and Hebrew, campers incorporate Hebrew into their everyday activities. Different areas and camp centers are commonly named after cities in Israel, creating a sense of connection with the Jewish state. Campers live and breathe Judaism in every interaction. Motzi serves as the first Hebrew prayer most campers learn with a camp rendition that lasts a lifetime.
At Camp Haverim, here at the Merage JCC, we take every program and ask ourselves “How can we incorporate Jewish values?” It is this daily thinking that leads to programs like snorkeling in the Dead Sea, (our pool filed with décor) hiking Masada, (our local Hamburger Hill) and playing Israeli shoots and ladders (on a giant map of Israel). At Camp JCC we sing, dance, eat, breath, laugh, play, and live Jewish culture and community.
Moreover, connecting kids to Israel is a critical piece of building Jewish identity, and an important part of the content in camp. To further surround our campers with Israeli experiences, shlichim join us every year to share their perspectives on Israeli life and to bring Israel lessons to life. These trained camp specialists come to us directly from Israel and add their home culture to programming, including, Israeli arts, music, food and dance.
At camp Jewish culture, values, and traditions are infused with fun, friends, learning and exercise. Jewish day camp fills a fundamental need in our community: providing a positive Jewish environment and serving as a launch pad for engagement in Jewish life. So when your child steps out of the car door they are not just stepping into a day full of ga-ga, high-energy Israeli ball games, ruach cheers, kehillah, and Israeli Day celebrations, they are opening the door to the start of a rich and meaningful Jewish life.
Top 10 Jewish components at Camp JCC
- Schlichim – interacting with and learning from Israelis
- Hebrew- practicing word of the day and Hebrew signs
- PJ Library Shabbat –sharing stories on the big screen
- Jewish values skits – performing fun concepts with counselors
- Hativkah – singing the Israeli national anthem
- Israeli culture – playing Israeli games
- Friday Shabbat- celebrating every week
- Jewish education sessions – instilling Jewish values
- Kellilah (“community”) – connecting to a global community of Jews
- Ruach spirit cheers- showing your Jewish spirit!
Audra Martin has worked with children in the JCC field for close to 20 years. She is the Director of Children and Camp at the Merage JCC. Contact Audra at firstname.lastname@example.org.