HomeFebruary 2012Summertime Dreams

Summertime Dreams

When asked what was the first major Jewish influence on their lives, many Jewish leaders have responded, “going to Jewish camp.”  In Southern California there are many options.  Here is a sampling.

The Spirit of Gilboa
A generous donation from an anonymous Orange County donor allowed Habonim Dror Camp Gilboa to enter into a process of purchasing a beautiful 40-acre campground in Big Bear.  Gilboa’s dreams of finding a home were realized just in time to hold summer 2011 sessions around the serenely beautiful Bluff Lake, and the camp is now getting prepared for a second season at its new home.  Another summer of kayaking, hiking, learning and forming friendships is just around the corner.
Camp Gilboa is part of Habonim Dror youth movement, and in a youth-led community, every camper has a say in camp decisions and shares responsibilities at camp.  This not only creates a sense of ownership and cultivates a strong sense of community, but also empowers the children and fosters the creation of strong leadership skills.
“Our counselors are all graduates of the youth movement, and the powerful experience they’ve had as campers inspires them to come back,” said Dalit Shlapobersky, Gilboa’s executive director.  “They formed their connection to Israel and a strong sense of Jewish identity here, and they want to make sure younger children experience the same sense of Jewish idealism.”

Habonim Dror Camp Gilboa
8339 West 3rd St.,
Los Angeles CA 90048
(323) 653-6772

Alonim Highlights
Camp Alonim is a non-denominational Jewish summer camp located just outside Simi Valley that provides staffed train transportation for Orange County families.  At Camp Alonim, the beauty of Judaism is experienced every day through music, Israeli dance, sports, arts and crafts, social action and nature.  Every activity is viewed as an opportunity to discover a spark that will ignite a lifelong love of Judaism.  Campers are able to safely experience new things, build skills, make lasting friendships and have pure fun.
In its nearly 60-year history, over 30,000 “Alonimers” have experienced the joys of Jewish living in what many call their “home away from home.”  Highlights of the Alonim program are horseback riding, an unparalleled Israeli dance tradition, electives such as mountain biking and radio broadcasting, unforgettable Shabbat experiences and opportunities to explore some of Alonim’s 3,000 acres of breathtaking nature.  Alonim’s newest program is an Israel trip for entering 12th graders that is open to veteran campers as well as those who have never before been to camp.
The camp is open to children entering grades 2 to 12: session 1, June 19 – July 1, $1,860; mini-camp, June 24 – July 1, $1,090; session 2, July 3-22, $2,675; session 3, July 24 – August 12, $2,575; counselor-in-training (entering 11th grade), June 18 – August 12, $3,830; Gesher Israel (entering 12th grade), July 2 – August 6.
Fees are $4,995 for the first 15 enrollees.  Financial aid is available.  Obtain online registration and scholarship information.

Camp Alonim
American Jewish University
15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90077
(877) 2ALONIM (877/225-6646)
JCamp Options
The Merage JCC’s JCamps offer families a wide variety of summer camp options with programs available for children of all ages, starting with preschoolers through grade school and including high school campers and leadership opportunities.  Each camp offers unique Jewish camping experiences.  Three sessions and two mini camps are available with JCamps open from June 18 through August 31.  Flexible scheduling options are available.
At Camp Yeladim preschoolers can enjoy the summer camp experience in the security of a nurturing early childhood center.  Directed by Peter Blair, credentialed and highly trained early childhood educators at Camp Yeladim guide young children through a summer of making new friends, learning, creativity, imagination and, of course, lots of fun!  Yeladim groups include Shemesh (sun) for two year olds, Keshet (rainbow) for three year olds and Kochavim (stars) for four year olds.  Camp activities include pool play, water play and group swim experiences taught by highly trained aquatics instructors.  Special guests join campers each Wednesday with exciting programs such as magic shows, marionettes, exotic animals, music concerts and dramatic performance.  Three and four year olds at Camp Yeladim delve into sports and gymnastics weekly in the JCC’s gym.  Summer camp sing-alongs, messy hands art activities, and Shabbat through the senses round out each week’s activities.
ACA accredited Camp Haverim, for campers in grades kindergarten through eleventh grade, is all about fun and friendships.  Under the leadership of camp director Audra Martin and assistant camp director Ariella Klein, Haverim campers can participate and excel in sports, swimming, science, arts and crafts, theatre and Judaic activities.  The JCC’s campus — with its pool, gymnasium, theatre and sports fields — provides a perfect setting for the wide variety of activities offered at Camp Haverim.  Campers get to choose their “chug” (activity) once a week for “chofesh” (free time) including face painting, drawing, hand ball, karate, hip hop, can jam, ladder, golf, parachutes, magic, chess, jewelry making, ceramics and more.  Each day brings campers a special activity such as tie-dye, chalk art, shaving cream, goop, pop rockets, broomball, tent pitching, parachute games and computer activities.  Specialty camps include Academics Camp, Science Adventure Camp, Theatre Camp and Camp Sporto.  Audra Martin said, “At Camp Haverim there is a strong focus on Jewish heritage and building Jewish identity.  It’s hands-on Judaism through art, music, dance and drama.  We emphasize Jewish values and ruach (spirit).”
Camp Yofi, the JCC’s resident camp for grades 2 to 11, is located at the ACA accredited YMCA’s Camp Edwards in Angelus Oaks in the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, just a short walk from Jenks Lake and only 26 miles from Big Bear Lake.  Camp Haverim senior staff member Eric Schwartz is the new Camp Yofi Director.  Yofi campers can explore endless possibilities with a long list of activities to choose from including canoeing, swimming, basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, Gaga, softball, Krav Maga, pottery, basket weaving, fishing, flag football, cooking, gymnastics, Karaoke, rock climbing, hiking, archery, zip line, mountain biking, camp fires and field trips to local attractions.
Schwartz said, “I am thrilled to be joining the Camp Yofi family for Summer 2012.  At Camp Yofi, we provide a safe, fun, caring environment where campers make new friends, learn new skills and create lifelong memories.”

Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County
1 Federation Way, Irvine, CA 92603
(949) 435-3400

Making a Jewish Camp Jewish:
Camp Haverim’s TAG Initiative
Torah Avodah Gemilut Chasadim is an initiative designed to enrich the Jewish components of summer camp.  By presenting different units such as Shabbat, Judaism and the environment, Shalom Bayit and Tikkun Olam, Camp Haverim explores new ways of integrating Jewish life, experiences and values into camp.  This year’s initiative theme is B’tzelem Elohim (In God’s Image).  The Torah teaches that humans are “created in God’s image” (Genesis 1:27)…Understood metaphorically, it provides a purpose in life: to act in a God-like manner.  This has obvious implications on how we treat ourselves and others, as well as the world around us.  Jews, therefore, have understood the concept of B’tzelem Elohim as a moral imperative and as a guide for living.  TAG: Jewish Values through JCC Camping is funded by a JCC Cares grant from the JCC Association.

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