Supplement to Jewish News February 17, 2014
Dear Readers, Simply stated, the opportunity to go to summer camp changes people’s lives. Although we could regale you for hours with tales of our own camp adventures,
skills that we swear we still have (archery, anyone?), and more songs than you
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would care to hear, you don’t have to take our word for it. Within the pages of this Jewish News special Summer Camp edition are personal memories of current and former campers from our community who— to a person—eagerly share with you
Terri Denison, Editor Germaine Clair, Art Director Laine Mednick Rutherford, Associate Editor Hal Sacks, Book Review Editor Sandy Goldberg, Account Executive Mark Hecht, Account Executive Marilyn Cerase, Subscription Manager Reba Karp, Editor Emeritus
how their summer experiences impacted them. Whether they went to camp in the mountains of Maryland seven years ago, or next to a river in North Carolina 40 years ago, or went to one of the great camps we have here in Tidewater last year, a shared sentiment emerges: “I wouldn’t be the same person I am now, had I never attended summer
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30 | Jewish News | February 17, 2014 | Camp | jewishnewsva.org
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camp,” writes Brenna Becker. We also bring you articles about new options and alternatives that several organizations have launched this year for
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Jewish summer camps. How about an Expedia.com-like 40 to 60 percent discount for first-time Jewish campers—with more than 1,000 openings in camps in our region? Or niche camps for unaffiliated teens where bonding can take place over s’mores and Israeli dancing?
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the offerings are diverse, and odds are
that attending any of them will have
your children echoing Alex Pomerantz’
statement (even when well past their
In addition, visit the websites and call the camps listed in this section to get more information about their programs;
summer camp days): “As with many young people, my life changed at camp, not just for a few weeks, but for a lifetime.” —Jewish News Staff
BunkConnect program offers bargains for first-time campers by Julie Wiener
NEW YORK (JTA)—Think Expedia or Hotels.com or countless other vacation discount finders online, but instead to connect kids to Jewish camps. The Foundation for Jewish Camp announced Monday, Feb. 10 that it is piloting a new program this summer offering firsttime campers from middle- and lower-income families camp sessions at prices that are 40 to 80 percent below the camps’ standard rates. Called Bunk-Connect, the program, in partnership with the Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy, will make available 1,100 discounted slots at 35 camps in the Northeast, New England and Mid-Atlantic regions. While only families from those regions are eligible to participate this summer, the FJC hopes to expand the program to Jewish families and camps throughout North America in future years. “This is an affordability initiative to help families who think camp might be out of reach,” says Jeremy Fingerman, CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Camp. “It gives them a chance to find a camp that’s right for them.” In recent years, Jewish overnight camps have gained considerable standing among Jewish communal leaders and philanthropists, who view them as one of the most powerful tools for Jewish education and identity-building. However, with tuition often exceeding $1,000 per week, they serve a disproportionately affluent clientele. In many ways, BunkConnect is more incentive program than scholarship, a marketing tool to recruit families who may not otherwise consider Jewish overnight
camp or who might be unaware of, or reluctant to apply for, financial aid. Only children who have not previously attended the camp are eligible. If they return in future years, they will have to pay the full price or apply for financial aid. Foundation officials say that the participating camps are all committed to offering BunkConnect families financial aid in future years. Meanwhile, participating camps are offering discounted slots for sessions or cohorts that might not fill otherwise. “Some camps are over capacity in the first sessions and might have available slots in the second session they’re offering through BunkConnect,” Fingerman explains. “This is modeled after the hospitality industry, but the difference is you’re not just buying a hotel room, you’re buying a whole experience.” Parents fill out an online questionnaire to determine their eligibility based on annual gross income, number of dependents, place of residence and if they have children enrolled in Jewish day school. The income ceiling is higher for day school families and those in pricier regions such as New York in order to account for higher household expenses. Once deemed eligible—a determination made instantly—parents key in the child’s age, gender and preferences. The website then displays options and urges parents to contact the camp directly for more information. Before registration is finalized, families must submit tax forms to prove their eligibility. While the Foundation for Jewish Camp says it could not disclose the names of the 35 camps participating in the program, a series of hypothetical online searches
initiative to help
families who think camp might be out of reach.
by JTA turned up discounted sessions at Camp JRF and B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp in Pennsylvania; Camp Louise, Camp Airy and Habonim Dror Camp Moshava in Maryland; Camp Avoda in Massachusetts; and JCC Camp Kingswood in Maine. Discounts offered, which ranged from 40 to 80 percent off the list price, varied depending on the session date. For example, it was cheaper to attend Camp Airy in August than in July. While the individual camps are absorbing any losses incurred by making slots available at a discount, many may come out ahead by filling beds that otherwise would have gone empty. In addition, after attending at the “introductory rate,” campers may return the following summer at the full rate.
Several funders, including the Avi Chai Foundation and the Leader Family Foundation, are covering the costs of the BunkConnect technology and marketing. BunkConnect is not the only effort to make Jewish camp more financially accessible, Fingerman says. The foundation also supports some scholarships and grants such as the One Happy Camper program for first-time campers regardless of financial need. BunkConnect is the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s first systemic initiative to address the affordability of Jewish camp. The foundation also has explored the possibility of helping launch lower-cost programs, Fingerman says, but “we’re not sure the economic model of that is sustainable and attractive.”
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jewishnewsva.org | Camp | February 17, 2014 | Jewish News | 31
Institutes attract unaffiliated teens
FTY, the Reform Youth Movement, has embarked on a series of new initia-
Camp Memories Carly Roesen Camp Louise I attended Camp Louise in the mountains of Maryland for seven summers. Going to camp during the summer
tives aimed at attracting teens who may not typically attend their traditional
was the highlight of my year and I start-
programs. NFTY Institutes offer teens specialized programming to enable them
ed counting the days right after camp
to explore niche areas of interest that are taught through a Jewish lens or in a Jewish
ended the previous year. I feel that what
environment. Teens select from a variety of programs in songleading, Israeli dance, Jewish learn-
I gained the most from camp are friends
ing, choral singing and social media. In each they have the opportunity to hone skills
and the memories I made there. I still
they can utilize in their home communities.
talk to my camp friends all the time and
“Our pilot programs have been highly rated at every level. Never before have we offered intensive weekends of learning to a North American teen audience with programs that combine Jewish living and modern day content,” says Beth Rodin, associate
see them multiple times throughout the year. I have made so many memories at
director of NFTY. “NFTY Institutes go beyond the surface to offer in-depth skill-build-
camp from color war to the Fourth of July to just the jokes I have with all my friends.
ing, training, and exposure to Jewish leaders in specialty fields.”
We’ll talk about things that happened five years ago and still laugh about it. Camp without a doubt changed my life and I wouldn’t be the same if I hadn’t gone.
Current NFTY Institutes include: Nashir: Songleading Institute gives teens the skills through hands-on small-group workshops, to return home and enable them to take advantage of songleading opportunities at their congregation, religious school, youth group and much more. Binah: Jewish Learning Institute brings teens together for a weekend of growing, learning and leadership development by engaging with the Reform Movement’s most dedicated scholars and teachers. Teens return home invigorated to explore the world through the text and teachings. Nirkod: Israeli Dance Institute teaches teens an extensive repertoire of dances and understanding of Israeli Folk Dance that empower them to teach and share these skills with their home communities. Other institutes will be added throughout the year to allow teens the chance to expand skills for those who might not be enticed by traditional Jewish teen programs. Plans are already underway for social media, health and wellness, and choral music institutes. “We intend to continue building this initiative into a series of programs that offers something to teens in every level of engagement,” says Rodin. Visit nfty.org/institutes for more information.
Camp Memories Brenna Becker Camp Louise BBYO summer leadership programs, CLTC and Kallah Since I was only eight years old, I have always attended an overnight summer camp. Having it as a part of my life for so long, I have gained the ability to be put into any situation with a whole new group of people and make
Hurrah Players Theatre Camp
able. I would say I can be a
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pretty shy person, but going to camp has really pushed me out of my comfort zone and I love it. I wouldn’t
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June 16 - 27 * July 7 - 18 July 21 - August 1 August 4 - 15 * Session is held at Norfolk Collegiate. All other sessions are at The Hurrah Players.
myself completely comfort-
be the same person I am now, had I never attended a BBYO’s 2013 Kallah summer program identifying Tidewater participants:
32 | Jewish News | February 17, 2014 | Camp | jewishnewsva.org
Back row: (left to right first through third campers) Melanie Patish, Shelly Smith, Blake Gershon; on the far right, Sara Feldman. Front row: (left to right first and second camper) Rose Goodman, Carly Roesen, and Brenna Becker (third from right).
Jaden Baum Brown Ledge Camp Colchester, Vermont
Camp Seagull Morehead City, N.C.
I have never had a sister. My parents had
Some of my best childhood memories are from summer
two children after me, but I’ve been stuck
camp at Camp Seagull in Morehead City, N.C. This is where
with the two decidedly male results ever
I met some of my best friends, and I can say that 35 years
later, most of us still remain very close friends.
I think one of the most appealing things Jaden Baum (on right in orange shirt) about Brown Ledge, the summer camp on
in the 4th of July egg toss
I remember spending the weeks prior to camp with Alex Pomerantz butterflies, excitement and anticipation. I still remember
Lake Champlain in Vermont that my mother also attended, is the fact that it is all girls.
the smell of camp – the hot dusty air from the sandy dirt roads leading us there, the
This has grown even more important to me as I progress into my teenage years, seek-
wind and the smell of the river where I would learn how to sail, drive a motor boat and
ing refuge for a month or two from the food-inhaling, rude joke-cracking, insensitive
waterski and every year on the first day of camp, I would try to figure out who the cool
comment-making boys that are my peers.
camp counselors were.
At Brown Ledge, campers gain the chance to explore their passions in-depth, be they
The tye-dye shirts, the friendships, the bug bites, the bug juice, the hot days and cold
in the theater, the barn, the tennis court, the rifle or archery range, or on the open bay.
nights, the jeep rides to get grape sodas from the corner store, dewy grass you had to
Girls stay in virtually unsupervised cabins of four or five peers, are in charge of keep-
walk across every morning to get to breakfast and who could forget the Fire Balls and
ing their rooms clean (if they feel so inclined), and are responsible for waking up to the bugle and hauling their sleepy selves to breakfast each morning. I guess the cabins without a counselor or junior counselor are supposed to provide some lesson about maturity, good decision making, or responsibility, but all I know is that sharing a cabin with girls my age each year is a huge part of my camp experience.
Sugar Daddy’s the camp director would throw out to us at almost every meal? As with many young people, my life changed at camp, not just for a few weeks, but for a lifetime. My memories of camp remind me that even routine things, if undertaken in a spirit of adventure and with good friends, can be fun.
Girls and their “bunkies” grow incredibly close over the summer, and I personally am in contact with many of my camp friends throughout the school year. A shared inside joke on a post, a birthday message gushing praises, the tagging of a multitude of photos from summers before; all of these gestures remind me that camp does indeed exist
URJ camps for young people with disabilities
circumstances is one of the best feelings in the world. I recently was in San Diego, and
a friend from camp was coincidentally also vacationing there. We spent a day together
Jewish community comes together to
and never stopped talking. The memories made that day (and the vast number of artsy
raise awareness and support efforts to
And now, during JDAM, the URJ’s
foster inclusion of people with disabilities
Camp Coleman in Cleveland, Ga., offers
and their families in Jewish communities
the Chadash program for young adults
ages 18 to 24 with intellectual and/or
outside of the Green Mountain State. And meeting up with camp friends in unexpected
pictures we took) will never fail to make me smile. What have I gained from camp? I could easily say a foolproof way to stuff clothes under your sleeping bag so the inspector doesn’t notice them. (Fold them, and if they’re too bulky, fluff up your pillow and hide them under there.) I could boast an extensive experience stripping a screw while using a screw gun to build a set. I could say many
ebruary is Jewish Disability Awareness
eighth grades whose social delays impair
Month, a time when the entire
their ability to function in a typical camp environment.
URJ Camps offer several specific pro-
developmental disabilities. Chadash will
grams for young people with disabilities.
provide vocational training in a supervised
URJ Kutz Camp in Warwick, N.Y., offers an
work setting along with an opportunity
things that I have learned, and in that way gained a practical education. But I have
inclusion-based Jewish summer-camping
for the participants to join in a wide range
gained the most wonderful gift: sisters. A rapidly growing, close-knit, intensely fierce
experience for teens ages 13 to 19 diag-
of recreational, social, and educational
family of vibrant, unique, and totally awesome girls. Girls who will always care about
nosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
components of camp life.
you. Girls who will pick up the phone if you call at 10 pm with boy problems. Girls who
Camp Chazak, located at Eisner and
For more information on URJ Camps for
always have your back, no matter what. So ask me if I have brothers and sisters. Since
Crane Lake Camps in Massachusetts, was
those with disabilities, visit: http://www.
2010, the answer has been, and will continue to be, a resounding yes.
developed for kids entering fifth through
jewishnewsva.org | Camp | February 17, 2014 | Jewish News | 33
Camp Memories Elena Barr Baum Brown Ledge Camp Colchester, Vermont When I ventured to Vermont at age 12, after a summer at a North Carolina camp, I knew one person, a 15-year-old neighbor who had been to Brown Ledge Camp the summer before. She told me that while it would be different from anything I had seen before, and might be tough at first, in two weeks I would never want to leave. It only took me a few days. And I still have not left, in my mind or in my heart. The unique thing about Brown Ledge, and I mean that in the true sense of the word, is the Freedom Plan. When devised by the forward-thinking Harry Brown in 1927, the concept that girls as young as 10 years old were responsible enough to live on their own among peers and decide how to best spend their time, was unlikely to resonate with society at the time. And yet 87 years later, campers still live with only other campers their own age, and must learn how to get along, choose their activities wisely, and succeed without constant adult supervision. Of course they interact with counselors,
Elena Barr Baum and Jaden Baum at Alumnae Camp.
who run the many activities all day, and at meals and before bedtime, but the spirit of
weekend gathering every two years after the campers leave) when we were dating. He
Brown Ledge comes from the independent thinking of its community of young women.
seemed to understand the love I had for the place and the people, and embraced it,
That spirit instills self-reliance and promotes satisfaction with the success that comes
rather than shy away from this powerful part of my life.
It’s hard to describe the place where I first felt a kind of communal love, directed at
The place has a historic feel, as many buildings are original, with some facilities bear-
ALL members of its community, based on the commonality of love for the place itself.
ing the signatures and marks of generations of girls from past summers. To an outsider,
An alum said to me “many of us feel close to our true selves when we are on Brown
it can seem like a bunch of rustic cabins nestled on difficult terrain, with few amenities
Ledge soil.” I served on the board of directors for six years, because I wanted to give
and a hike from the bathrooms and showers. The brochure has said, probably since
back to the camp and its future generations. Going back every two years for Alumnae
1927, “Girls who require hotel accommodations will not care for Brown Ledge.” It’s a
Camp, the last 15 with my family, has added another layer of connections, after sharing
good thing I flew there the first time, as when my parents first saw the place, picking
the place with other alumnae from different generations. When my daughter Jaden,
me up after my second summer, they declared that the Geneva Convention would not
who had been to five Alumnae Camps by the time she was old enough to be a camper
approve the conditions for prisoners of war!
herself, fell in love with it too, for entirely different reasons, I guess I should not have
Coming from an environment where I was pretty much sure what I was expected to
do, the level of independence and choice at camp was indeed different. Brown Ledge
When Jaden’s arrival was a few months away, my birth counselors told me I needed
provides an environment that encourages girls to try new things without fear of failure,
a focal point to try to “take me away” from the pain of labor, I knew exactly where I
ridicule or judgement. While BLC has a long history of amazing horseback riding and
would go in my mind: Brown Ledge Camp. In particular, an area known as “the Vista,”
theater programs, I spent summers swimming on the swim team, and becoming an
where you can sit in an Adirondack chair in the shade of hundred-year-old trees and look
expert markswoman, shooting on the riflery and archery teams. I did not pursue these
over the waterfront activities in a protected cove of Malletts Bay on Lake Champlain.
activities at home, because they were my camp life, and became part of my identity there. It was almost like a second life.
Does Brown Ledge make you strong or tough? I went through 26 hours of back labor with no drugs, gathering strength from thinking about camp, and the view from
The friends I made there have been lifelong, the kind of friends that even if you don’t
the Vista. And every time I think about Brown Ledge, I feel a sense of inner strength,
speak in years, you know will be there for you if and when you need them. My family
that I can do what I set my mind to, and that I will have the backing of the entire Brown
says that I knew Gary was the man for me after I took him to Alumnae Camp (a long
Ledge community for whatever I choose to do in life. It’s a wonderful feeling.
34 | Jewish News | February 17, 2014 | Camp | jewishnewsva.org
THERE ARE PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITIES TO MOVE AS FAST AS YOU WANT AT CAMP AIRY. A JEWISH CAMPING TRADITION
jewishnewsva.org | Camp | February 17, 2014 | Jewish News | 35
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36 | Jewish News | February 17, 2014 | Camp | jewishnewsva.org
Summer Camp Jewish News Feb 17 2014