Getting ready for summer camp
Supplement to Jewish News March 14, 2016
jewishnewsva.org | March 14, 2016 | Camp | Jewish News | 15
This Summer, Change Your Child’s Future.
Published 22 times a year by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
Experiencing these struggles? Focus • Academics • Making Friends • Impulsivity • Meltdowns
ith so much to say about, reminisce about and learn about summer
camp, there never seems to be a shortage of articles and topics for the Jewish News annual camp section. We begin this year with a fun piece about famous people and their Jewish overnight camp experiences. Yes, it’s fun to know that Sheryl Sandberg attended camp where my daughter worked last year!
Drug-Free • Whole-Child Approach • Lasting Results
Terri Denison, Editor Germaine Clair, Art Director Hal Sacks, Book Review Editor Sandy Goldberg, Account Executive Mark Hecht, Account Executive Marilyn Cerase, Subscription Manager Reba Karp, Editor Emeritus Sherri Wisoff, Proofreader
Keeping up with the “Campsteins,” today’s camps constantly strive to improve
Brain Balance addresses the root problem, not just symptoms. We do this by balancing brain activity between the two hemispheres, using sensory-motor and cognitive stimulations, along with nutrition. Hope is here. Call today.
Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 200 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462-4370 voice 757.965.6100 • fax 757.965.6102 email email@example.com
their offerings—from the programs and staff to the facilities. Climate-controlled cabins, culinary arts and extraordinary
Jay Klebanoff, President Alvin Wall, Treasurer Stephanie Calliott, Secretary Harry Graber, Executive Vice-President www.jewishVA.org
field trips are just a few examples of the enhancements being added. The article on page 20 mentions a few. Different from just a few decades ago, summer camp can be for everyone, including those with special needs. Our article on
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Camp JCC’s Shadow Program highlights its inclusivity and the importance of making camp memories possible for all children. Today’s camps come in so many options
Subscription: $18 year For subscription or change of address, call 757-965-6128 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
that there’s bound to be a place for every single child. For those who want to get away, there are overnight camps near and far. And for those who want to stay at home, there have never been more possibil-
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ities. From learning to sail to mastering the stage to improving study skills to exploring the outdoors—there absolutely is something that is bound to appeal to every child and to every budget. If you are in the market, we hope this section offers some tips. If not, we hope it
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suggests fond memories of your own camp days.
Terri Denison Editor
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Camp Nine famous Jews who attended a Jewish summer camp by Gabe Friedman
(JTA)—Overnight Jewish camp has been credited with doing a lot of good—from fostering Jewish identity to teaching young Jews how to dominate Color War. But is it a proving ground for future stardom? Perhaps. Below, we offer nine of the most famous Jews, cultivated from a long list, who spent their childhood summers at a Jewish camp. 3. Ralph Lauren Before he became a billionaire fashion designer, Ralph Lauren (nee Lifshitz) spent time at Camp Massad in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. His fellow Camp Massad alumni include Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz and political activist Noam Chomsky.
4. Seth Rogen Neil Diamond.
1. Neil Diamond Jewish camp was a formative experience for the legendary songwriter, who attended Surprise Lake Camp in Cold Spring, N.Y. “I fell in love with folk music at Surprise Lake Camp. It was the songs of Woody Guthrie and the Weavers. I learned them by taking guitar lessons at 15. I started taking piano at 16,” he told The Wall Street Journal last year. Other famous Jewish alumni of the same camp include Eddie Cantor, Larry King, Gene Simmons, Jerry Stiller, Joseph Heller, Neil Simon and Walter Matthau.
2. Sheryl Sandberg The Facebook COO and inf luential Lean In author spent summers at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Camp Coleman in Cleveland, Ga. She had a blast there, Sheryl Sandberg, at Facebook’s London HQ, she said in a video April 2013. last year. “Camp was really important for me in understanding what it meant to be Jewish, what Jewish values were, why it mattered to have a Jewish identity,” Sandberg said.
The comedic actor and noted m a r i j u a n a enthusiast, whose parents met on an Israeli kibbutz, enjoyed his time at the Habonim Dror Zionist youth movement’s Seth Rogen at the 2011 Toronto International Camp Miriam in Film Festival. Vancouver so much that he appeared in a promotional video for the Canadian camp in 2009. “Shalom. Go to Machane [Hebrew for ‘camp’] Miriam because I did,” Rogen said. “And for many other reasons.”
5. Sarah Silverman Silverman may have famously said that summer camp is “the second-worst camp for Jews”— but as the provocative comedian wrote in her memoir, The Bedwetter: Stories
of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, she did attend Jewish camps. However, she wet her bed until she was 15 and called sleepaway camp a “recipe for disaster” for her.
6. Matisyahu The formerly Hasidic reggae rapper went to Kutsher’s Camp Anawana in Monticello, N.Y., before it closed in the early 1990s. Since then, he has performed at Matisyahu performing at multiple Jewish red stage at Summerjam Festival 2013, Cologne, camps. Germany. “Jewish camp is a comfortable and accepting place for all children to explore their Jewish identity,” Matisyahu said in 2012.
“No,” replied one of the Coens. “It was a Zionist summer camp, and you sang Zionist songs in Hebrew.”
8. Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman at the premiere of Black Swan at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.
The Israeli-born Academy Award-winning actress once attended the Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts, which was formed by and now partially funded by UJAFederation of New York.
7. The Coen brothers
9. Ben Bernanke
The acclaimed film directors went to Herzl Camp in northwestern Wisconsin, which is noted for hosting several musicians, such as Bob Dylan, Debbie Friedman and the guy who wrote Funkytown (Steven Greenberg). In 2014, NPR’s Terry Ethan and Joel Coen at Gross asked the the Cannes film festival, May 2015. Coens about their camp experience and got a candid response. “Is this the kind of summer camp where you sing songs with lyrics about how great the camp is, and then there’s team songs with how great the team is?” Gross asked.
The former Federal Reserve chairman has said his summer at Camp Ramah in Glen Spey, N. Y.—which relocated over time and evolved Ben Bernanke. into today’s Camp Ramah in New England—gave him a chance to practice his Hebrew. “It was a good experience for me, as there were relatively few Jewish young people in the town (Dillon, S.C.) where I grew up, and the summer gave me a chance to be immersed in a Jewish, Hebrew-speaking environment (although my modern Hebrew wasn’t that good— I had learned biblical Hebrew from my grandfather),” he said in 2010.
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Camp UJFT donors strengthen Jewish identity 5,000 miles away
by Laine Mednick Rutherford
his year, nearly 15,000 children and adults will participate in the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s (JDC) camp programs. The most well known of JDC’s camps is Szarvas, in Hungary, which attracts 1,500 campers from 20 different countries. Not all Jews in Europe and the Former Soviet Union have the means, access to transportation, or desire to travel so far away from their homes, however. The ever-resourceful, consistently present JDC, a United Jewish Federation of Tidewater partner, realized this, and began establishing camps in other locations and regions of the continent. One of those camps is about 5,000 miles to the east, and slightly north, of Virginia Beach. Camp Cristian is located in a small village in Brasov County, Romania.
The JCC in Bucharest, Romania runs it with the JDC, and receives significant financial support from UJFT. This support is entirely contingent on the generosity of donors who make gifts to the UJFT’s Annual Campaign. Zoya Schvartzman, director of strategic partnerships, JDC-Europe, visited Tidewater at the end of February. Among other areas of impact she noted that can be directly attributed to Tidewater’s financial contributions, are the changes in people’s lives because they can attend camps, like Cristian. Speaking to a group over breakfast, Shvartzman showed a video and explained its significance: “As a result of summer camps, that have been very, very successful…many parents were coming to us and saying, ‘My kid is coming home and she’s learning all of these Jewish songs and Jewish prayers and customs, and I have no idea what they’re talking about. I have no idea what is Modeh Ani, I don’t know what is Oseh Shalom. I’ve never heard these songs, so can we do something about it?’ “We said, ‘Sure. Let’s create a camp for families, and we’ll bring the whole family and not just the children.’ Now we’re doing family camps in the summer, and throughout the year. “What we’re seeing as a result are more families are now bringing Judaism into their homes. And the shift we’re seeing,
is that in more and more families, their Jewish identities are becoming stronger.” Sandy Katz, JDC’s director of strategic relations, emphasizes the support from UJFT’s donors provides more than just a few days of fun for thousands. “The generosity of the Tidewater Jewish community continues to ensure the key position of the Jewish camp at Cristian as the center of Jewish renewal in Romania,” Katz says. “Multi-day programs at the camp enable Jews of all ages to experience the atmosphere of Jewish living, learning and togetherness that makes Jewish camping so special. “Throughout the year, week-long camps bring together children, teenagers, students, young families and adults of different ages, giving them a rare opportunity to socialize with their Jewish peers from locations across Romania and enjoy being part of a close community.” Community leader Karen Lombart visited the camp in Cristian with a small group of women in the summer of 2014,
and shared some of her insights in the Jewish News. (September 19, 2014) “Often times, as donors, we struggle with the concept of giving to the invisible. We feel like we are giving to a bottomless well,” Lombart wrote. “And yet, the seven of us saw, with our own eyes that the invisible is not invisible at all. It is very real to those who live in Romania. The series of 14 week-long camps [at Cristian] has become the lifeline for those who come year after year to explore their heritage; it is the starting point for many Christians who discover that their grandparents were once Jewish, and it is a place to “feel” the intimate connection with the Jewish people.” Watch a video featuring campers at a Cristian Mahane Mishpahot—family camp— with a special thank you to Tidewater, at www. JewishVa.org. To read Karen Lombart’s full article, visit www. JewishNewVa.org/a-dream-becomes-a-reality. To make a gift to the UJFT Annual Campaign, visit www.jewishva.org/donation, or call 757-965-6100.
hildren can spend an exciting week learning to sail on the Downtown Norfolk waterfront. These popular summer camps offer kids an exciting opportunity to get out on the water. Camps are geared to varying age groups and experience levels, providing a focused, educational, and fun week. These hands-camps include water-based activities with experienced instructors, and land-based activities using the abundant resources at Nauticus. Whether a child is a beginning sailor or has spent time on the water, they’re sure to have an amazing summer experience at Sail Nautilus. 757-823-4242 or sailnauticus.org.
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Camp New and improved Jewish camps for our Gilded Age by Victor Wishna
(JTA)—At the oldest Jewish summer camp in New England, you can hike, swim, sail—and now fly through the air with the greatest of ease. The Camp Modin “trapeze center” is the first of its kind in North America, a “revolutionary” design with a “state-of-the-art inflatable landing pad.” The center is just part of a $350,000 expansion the camp completed last year, which also added a 10,000-square-foot, multi-purpose outdoor sports arena. The upgrades are the latest in the $12 million or so Modin has spent on new infrastructure over the past 20 some years, according to Howard Salzberg, who owns and directs the 95-year-old camp in Belgrade, Maine, with his wife, Lisa W. Sulkan. “I don’t like to say ‘facilities’—it’s really about opportunities,” Salzberg tells JTA. “Kids want opportunities and parents want to know that you’re reinvesting in your camp.” Its unique trapeze aside, Modin is not an exception: Jewish summer camps across the country are soaring to new heights, outlaying huge sums for upgraded amenities, specialty programming and even big-name talent. The “luxification” of Jewish camps is not so much a trend as an accepted necessity that cuts across regions and movements. “The market has changed,” says Len Robinson, CEO of NJY Camps, which serves 6,000 kids each summer in seven camps at two Pennsylvania sites. “Today’s family doesn’t look at camp the same way they did even 10 years ago. What was luxury is now below par.” At many camps, “sports” doesn’t just mean kickball and soccer—it’s rock climbing, weight training and figure skating. In addition to archery and arts and crafts, electives now include culinary arts, ocean exploration, even robotics and high-tech entrepreneurship. Climate-controlled cabins are common; private baths have replaced shower houses; security, from cameras to armed guards, is a given. And whereas excursions used to mean backpacks and canoe paddles, campers now sometimes need passports.
“Any quality Jewish camp has to pay attention to improving its physical plant and its program constantly—otherwise, you fall behind,” says Jordan Dale, who has served three decades as executive director of Surprise Lake Camp, a nonprofit camp in Cold Spring, N. Y., that opened in 1902 as a summer escape for Lower East Side tenement kids. Surprise Lake has “rebuilt or renovated virtually every building on the site” during his tenure, says Dale, adding a million-dollar gymnasium and, in time for this summer, a million-dollar pool. “We work very hard to let people who have a historic impression of Surprise Lake understand that it’s light years ahead of where it was when they or their parents went to camp,” he says. The board of directors has already approved another $240,000 worth of improvements for the next two years. Irv Bader, owner/director of Camp Seneca Lake, the upscale modern Orthodox camp in Honesdale, Pa. he founded 42 years ago, says it’s always been his policy to upgrade every year, whether that means new bunks or basketball courts. “Everybody knows,” he says, “and they always ask, ‘What are you doing this year?’” “The bar is completely different,” says Jeremy Fingerman, CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, which provides guidance and grants to more than 150 nonprofit camps in the U.S. and Canada. Families, he says, are looking for excellence in three areas: facilities, programming and professional leadership. “Those camps that are investing in those are going to continue to win in the marketplace.” The “momentum” has been transformative—Modin’s Salzberg admitted people are surprised to learn his upscale oasis was the inspiration for the rowdy, ramshackle camp depicted in the cult film Wet Hot American Summer. “That is an absolutely true depiction of many summer camps in the ’80s, especially Jewish ones—Modin was the dumpiest camp in the world, and I loved every minute of it,” says Salzberg, who took over as director in 1991. “But the days of the
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frumpy, falling-apart camps were coming to an end. We knew that if we didn’t improve the quality, we would not survive.” Rather than shrink and die, the Jewish camps diversified and found their niche. Perhaps the most notable development, he says, is the rise in specialty programming. FJC’s Specialty Camp Incubator has helped launch nine new camps since 2010. Two more will open this summer: Ramah Northern California, with a focus on oceanography, performing arts and adventure sports, plus a Los Angeles branch of the popular URJ 6 Points Sports Academy in Greensboro, N. C. Longstanding institutions have also seized the specialty trend. NJY Camps launched its Total Specialty programming with some recognizable names: Israeli legend Shlomo Glickstein teaches tennis; former major leaguer Ron Blomberg heads the baseball program; Herb Brown, once coach of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, runs the basketball camp; Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg handles swimming. Robinson also runs science programs in partnership with Ben-Gurion University in Israel, recruited world-class artists from Israel’s Bezalel Institute to oversee the art program and is investing $100,000 to revamp the kitchens this year for a new culinary institute led by Kosher by Design cookbook author Susie Fishbein. Even overnights away from camp have become something more special, and some push the idea of an excursion to the max. Last year, the 10th-graders at Seneca Lake went to California and Hawaii. He hopes to renew another popular past trip—to China and Thailand. Some camps are starting to see long-developing strategic plans bear fruit. For example, in Santa Rosa, Calif., URJ Camp Newman is in the later stages of a $30 million overhaul that has replaced a majority of the housing and added additional conference and reception space, as well as a new health center. The final phase calls for a multipurpose dining hall and performing arts center. The enhancements, according to executive director Ruben Arquilevich, were “essential”—not just to satisfy summer-camp parents, “who basically said, ‘you
need to upgrade your facilities or we’re not sending our kids,’” but to bolster the camp’s mission to provide an immersive Jewish experience for as much of the community as possible. (Off-summer retreats currently serve some 4,000 to 5,000 people; the goal is to reach 13,000 annually.) In Georgia, Ramah Darom is in the midst of a capital campaign that will eventually add a new media arts studio, expanded trails and a black-box theater, as well as the leasing of adjacent agricultural fields as part of a vision to become a farm-to-table camp. Wisconsin’s Camp Herzl just capped off its own $8 million fundraising drive that, among many other improvements, will make the entire facility accessible under the Americans With Disabilities Act. All of the sprucing up comes at a price for parents: Modin starts at $11,900 for a full seven-week session, with extra options available; Seneca Lake charges $10,175. Nonprofits are only marginally less for campers paying full fees: Six weeks at health-and-wellness-focused Camp Zeke runs $7,900, about the same cost for eight weeks at Surprise Lake, which awards $1 million in scholarships each year. Of course, it isn’t just about the facilities; a camp is only as good as the quality of its staff and the cohesiveness of its experience. As Bader says, “It still boils down to the chemistry inside the bunk.” Yet every director interviewed was more concerned about upgrading the bunks rather than filling them. For-profits and nonprofits alike say they are always looking at the next capital improvement. Salzberg, for example, anticipates reinvesting at least a half-million dollars every year, whether it’s for new sailboats, an upgraded infirmary or any of a thousand unexpected expenses, such as a recent power outage in the middle of one summer. “Now there’s a $90,000 campus-wide generator system to make sure that the brisket is always ready on time for Shabbat,” he says. “In my day, we just had flashlights.” “It’s like the line from Pirkei Avot,” Arquilevich laughs. “The work is never complete, but neither can we stop pursuing it.”
Brain Balance offers hope
ope. That’s the word parents use most often to describe Brain Balance— hope for a brighter future for their child. Brain Balance Virginia Beach has been dramatically improving the lives of local students (ages 4–17) for more than two years. This specialized achievement center addresses the root causes of emotional, behavioral, social, and academic challenges, not just symptoms…challenges like ADHD, learning disabilities, Asperger’s, dyslexia, OCD, processing disorders, and more. Students participate in customized movement, sensory, and cognitive activities that stimulate immature areas of the brain. As weak areas mature, communication across the brain improves, reducing symptoms and unlocking the students’ ultimate potential. “It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever been part of,” says Tom Shenk, owner, center director and 2012 Hampton Roads Teacher of the Year. “Brain Balance truly gives students and their families Hope for a whole new life.” 757-644-6460, BrainBalanceVirginiaBeach.com.
WE HAVE SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. NEW! Intensive Reading Program SUMMER LEARNING - Your Summer “Brain Drain” Solution MAKE CBA - Entrepreneurship Camp & Makerspace BASKETBALL CAMP VOLLEYBALL CAMP Learn more and register online today! www.cba-va.org ∙ 757.497.6200 B”H
Gan Izzy 2016
amp JCC starts June 20 and goes through August 12, plus three weeks of post camp. Campers—16 weeks through 11th grade—can join for one week or the entire summer. Camp JCC provides children with a rich and unique day camp experience. A dynamic program allows every child to explore their own interests and try new activities within a safe camp atmosphere. Campers play sports, take swimming lessons, practice music, go fishing, create art, garden, and enjoy field trips. Each week boasts a different theme. Engaging and supportive staff members encourage campers to have fun, develop skills, and form meaningful relationships. The camp also offers a variety of support for children with physical, emotional, intellectual, and/or developmental needs.Learn more at CampJCC.org.
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jewishnewsva.org | March 14, 2016 | Camp | Jewish News | 21
Camp Camp JCC welcomes children with special needs to enjoy the summer with their peers by Laine M. Rutherford
his summer, as it has for the past 18, Camp JCC will welcome children with special needs to participate in all of the activities, fun, and camaraderie that camp has to offer. The camp’s Shadow Program is fully inclusive, making it unique among the majority of area day camps where children with disabilities can attend. Campers with special needs are included in the day’s schedule with their peers: when the bunk goes swimming, everyone goes swimming; when it’s time for music and drama, everyone joins in. The program gets its name from specially trained counselors, “shadows,” who can provide extra support if needed. Jewish Family Service of Tidewater facilitates the program in cooperation with the JCC. Michelle Fenley, a JFS special needs team member, consults, participates, and provides training for shadows and Camp JCC staff members. “Our shadow counselors usually have hands-on experience professionally or in college, and many of them have had personal experience, growing up with a sibling with special needs—and are very aware of both the situations that may arise, and how amazing this camp is for everyone,” Fenley says. “I always tell my camp counselors—and I train the whole camp, not just the ones who work directly as counselors—I don’t expect anyone to be an expert, or to even know exactly what to do, but to ask questions, don’t be afraid. Be welcoming. It’s part of our camp spirit!” An integral part of the program since it first began, Fenley says she’s seen a lot of camp staff who have never interacted with this population. By the end of the summer at the JCC, she says they’ll approach her and ask, “What do I have to do to be a shadow next year?” Lisa Best, Simon Family JCC programming associate, started working as a counselor for the shadow program in the summer of 2012. She is now the
lead counselor, and finds the experience valuable, on many levels—for the families of the campers, the counselors, and all of the campers. “It is so rewarding to see the children interacting and accepting each other for who they are,” says Best. “Watching all of the kids playing together, and helping each other out—the campers sometimes even “fighting” to be a buddy (best friend for the day)—makes this program so special.” “You can see what a great time the camper with special needs is having, and you can see the other kids opening up,” she says. “They realize that just because someone has Down syndrome or isn’t quite the same as some of them, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to play and have fun, too.” Throughout the summer, about 25 campers with special needs are expected to attend the various sessions. Most find out about the program through word of mouth, Fenley says, and children and families do not have to be Jewish to attend. At the 2014 Simon Family JCC Presidents’ Cup Golf Tournament, where funds are raised in part for the shadow camp program, Roy Zaletski spoke about what Camp JCC meant to his family. At the time, his son Gus was 10 and was excited to be returning to camp for his sixth summer. Gus has Down syndrome. “As you might imagine, finding fulfilling activities for Gus outside of school and over the summer can take some research. We were referred to the JCC Summer Camp program by an educational advocate,
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Camp Silver Beach
ocated on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, YMCA Camp Silver
Beach is 151 acres of beautiful forest and 1,200 feet of pristine Chesapeake Bay shoreline. CSB is the ultimate all-inclusive overnight camp for children 8 to 16. Building character and confidence through a wide variety of land and water activities, air-conditioned
specifically for the one-to-one shadows which the JCC provides…at no additional cost to the family,” Zaletski said. “Whether it’s during swimming lessons or singing and dancing each morning at Boker Tov, the degree to which Gus is supported and included at the JCC Summer Camp is incredibly unique and appreciated,” he said. “We are so very thankful to the JCC staff and all those whose generosity makes a camp experience possible for our son.” For more information about Camp JCC’s shadow program, visit www.CampJCC.org or call 757-321-2306, or call JFS at 757459-4640 and ask for the Special Needs Case Manager. The Simon Family JCC and Jewish Family Service of Tidewater are affiliate agencies of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. They receive funding for programs, such as this one, through generous donations made to the 2016 Annual Campaign. Make a gift today, at www.JewishVA.org/donation.
full bathrooms and a four to one camper counselor ratio ensure a comfortable, safe experience for all campers. Memorial and Labor Day Family Camp is a weekend jam packed with fun and exciting activities, just like summer camp, for the whole family. YMCA Camp Silver Beach Conference and Retreats is the ideal venue for any occasion. Stay for customized overnight and day meetings, trainings, or seminars. Weekly Overnight Camps— Teen Leadership Programs—Family Camp &
Camp CIT experience offers learning opportunity for teens
amp JCC isn’t just about the campers and counselors. It’s also about the CITs or, Counselors in Training. The CIT program provides meaningful experiences for rising 9th through 11th graders who seek a challenging, enriching summer with campers that will prepare them for future counselor positions. The opportunity to bridge the gap between being a camper and working as a counselor is one reason teens participate in the CIT program. “The CIT program allows participants to learn and grow,” says Erika Eskenazi, Camp JCC director. “This year we will allow rising 11th graders to continue their education so that participants can spend up to three years in the program before transitioning into staff. We are excited about everything that our CIT program offers in the balance of fun and development.” Designed as learning experiences for teens, CITs work closely with counselors and develop important lifelong skills. The
program provides a unique opportunity for teens to develop their own leadership style and enhance communications and problem-solving skills in a fun and energetic environment. Ilana Tall says she “learned a lot about what it means to be a good role model” during her summer at Camp JCC. Caleb Tall says he “really liked being with the younger kids and realized being a counselor is a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.” The camp provides CITs with an environment that is positive, dynamic and fun; one in which teens can grow, succeed, and take the responsibility to positively influence others. For a nominal cost, CITs can choose to participate for two or more weeks of camp and work with children three to 12 years old. For more information about the CIT program, contact Alicia Cohen Kraus at AKraus@simonfamilyjcc.org or 321-2323.
oin the adventure and explore the Virginia Zoo Safari Camps will inspire and educate all learners. Activities include crafts and games, learning labs, animal encounters, zoo hikes, behind the scenes adventures, keeper chats and much more. Camps begin the first week of July. For more information on Zoo Camp or to reserve a spot for a happy camper, email the education department or call 757-441-2374, extension 229.
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Ages 5 and up A high-energy, hands-on opportunity Choose a session: to learn all about Musical Theatre. J ULY 5-15 Campers act, sing, dance and JULY 18-29 perform in a One Act show!
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ECO-TOURS for KIDS
his is the program dubbed by The Virginian-Pilot, a Traveling Road Show and recently featured on WAVY TV-10’s Reck On the Road. For 20 years, it has provided exciting, educational and fun outdoor adventures for kids including: Kayaking, fishing, crabbing, swimming and more. A professionally trained staff closely supervises each activity. These weekly adventures continue all summer, every Monday through Friday, beginning the last week in June and continuing until the first week in September. Each day is packed with a new, exciting and fun adventure. The kids come home tired and happy!! Visit www.discoverva.com for all the information, detailed itinerary and registration, or call 721-9668.
jewishnewsva.org | March 14, 2016 | Camp | Jewish News | 23
Summer Camp at Chesapeake Bay Academy
ith something for everyone, Chesapeake Bay Academy offers a variety of programs. Intensive Reading Program, Grades: 1–5 This intensive, three-hour per day, course is designed for students struggling with decoding and/ or comprehension. Using manipulatives, memory strategies and language-based instruction to reinforce concepts, students have fun as they learn. Summer Learning, Grades: K–8 Opportunity for students to practice and cement concepts learned during the school year and keep skills fresh for the fall. Students are given screenings to assess their individual strengths and areas of need to better personalize their academic program. MAKE CBA. Grades: 2–12 Innovative hands-on learning in science and technology that is fun, challenging and rewarding. Perfect for those with career interests in game design, electronics and robotics. Basketball, Grades: 6–12 Focus on developing individual and team basketball fundamentals while building confidence and social skills. Volleyball, Ages: 8–13 Build confidence while having fun learning and perfecting the basics of passing, setting, serving and hitting. Team play opportunities and final tournament on the beach. Visit cba-va.org/summercamp for more information and to register.
Act Up With Hurrah Players!
urrah Theatre Camp is an opportunity for young people to learn all about theatre with hands on activities and workshop style instruction. No previous experience required…a desire to have fun is! In the mornings, campers participate in classes in Musical Theatre, Acting, Broadway Dance, Jazz, Tap, and more. In the afternoons, campers rehearse a One-Act Show. The final day of camp is Performance Day. Following a Pizza Party Picnic, campers showcase their hard work and talents for families and friends. Campers also receive a free ticket to attend Hurrah’s main-stage production of All Shook Up. July 5–5; July 18–29; August 1–12. 757-627-5437 or hurrahplayers.com.
24 | Jewish News | Camp | March 14, 2016 | jewishnewsva.org
Camp In Europe, a summer camp creates the next generation of Jewish leaders—and babies by Cnaan Liphshiz
SZARVAS, Hungary (JTA)—Escaping a sudden downpour in the summer of 2012, Andras Paszternak and Barbi Szendy ran to find cover inside an empty cabin at their Jewish summer camp, Szarvas, 100 miles east of Budapest. The two senior counselors, then 31 and 36, respectively, chatted as rain drenched the sprawling compound, where they had passed every summer since their early teens. “I suddenly noticed I was holding Barbi’s hand,” Paszternak, an ethnically Hungarian Jew from Slovakia, says in recalling the day when he began his romantic relationship with his Hungarian Jewish wife. The couple married in 2013 at Szarvas— the oldest and largest institution of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe—as a tribute to the camp’s centrality to their lives. Since its establishment in 1990 by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, dozens—if not hundreds— of Jewish couples have met at Szarvas, according to participants. In addition to its matchmaking capacity, the camp is also a major regional hatchery for Jewish leadership, awareness and global interaction for communities small and large. “We generally stay out of the boymeets-girl part of things because our help is not required in this department,” says Sasha Friedman, the camp’s director. “It happens on its own, on the margins of our core activities — which is to offer Jewish culture to these children, often for the first time in their lives.” JDC opened Szarvas in 1990 on a 17-acre plot in Bekes County, a rural area in southeastern Hungary known for its springs and sunflower fields. The camp began by serving groups of 200 children and has grown to its current capacity of 1,700 Jewish campers aged 8–18. Szarvas has over 20,000 alumni from more than 30 countries. Some of the couples who met at Szarvas immigrated to Israel. They include
Anna and Naftali (Grego) Deutsch from Hungary, who got together as counselors and are now raising seven children in the West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Yericho, where they moved in 2005. Others, like Gabor and Tunde Gordon, who met as campers and married in 1996, stayed in Hungary. Four of their five children are attending the camp. Szarvas now has four annual sessions, each 12 days long. Every Szarvas summer has a different theme—last year’s was “relationships in Judaism,” this year’s is “the Jewish home”—with its own unique activities, including the production of plays and song contests. That’s in addition to the regular repertoire of sports, costume parties, Hebrew-language games and Biblethemed treasure hunts. Spiritual life at the camp, which has a kosher kitchen and dozens of non-Jewish employees, revolves around Beit David—a synagogue that since its construction in 1998 is Hungary’s newest functioning shul. On Friday nights it is packed with children and teenagers, some visiting a synagogue for the first time. Many are amazed to see resident rabbi Szolt Balla—himself a Szarvas graduate—play guitar during singalongs, an uncommon sight in Europe, where Orthodox synagogues dominate religious life. Most campers, who are usually at least one-quarter Jewish, pay $250 or less for their attendance at Szarvas—25 percent of the true cost—with JDC subsidizing the rest. But for Szarvas teenagers, the official program is only part of the allure. Summer romance at Szarvas occurs in the camp’s orchards, where the silhouettes of young couples can be seen until late in the evening, or on the edges of the camp’s large swimming pool—a luxury built by an Israeli firm back when such amenities were rare in post-communist Hungary. “Yeah, it’s part of life here,” Friedman says. While boys and girls sleep separately at
Szarvas, counselors have a live-and-letlive policy when it comes to summer romance, he said. “Counselors keep an eye out for potential complications, sometimes reminding couples to act responsibly and not spin out of control or anything, but that’s pretty much it,” the camp director adds. In addition to couples, Szarvas specializes in producing Jewish community leaders. Among its graduates are a former vice president of the Jewish Community of Sofia in Bulgaria, the director of Warsaw’s main Jewish community center and a founder of one of Romania’s few Jewish kindergartens. “You take the knowledge, the contacts, the toolbox that you get at Szarvas and you apply them later inside the community,” says Szendy, who works at Budapest’s Balint Jewish Community Center. Friedman, 33, is himself a Szarvas graduate who rose through the ranks to become director in 2007. He calls Szarvas a “greenhouse for Jewish leadership.” But before he has a chance to explain, he is interrupted by a gaggle of Hungarian 8-year-olds who surround him, chirping “Shushi—their nickname for him—so they can tell him about their daily adventures. Last year, JDC incorporated Szarvas into its array of solutions for handling the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, where hundreds of thousands of people, including thousands of Jews, fled their homes because of fighting that erupted in 2014 between government troops and Eastern separatists backed by Russia. Additionally, of the approximately 120 Ukrainian campers in attendance last
summer, 26 were from internally displaced families living with relatives or in facilities provided by Jewish institutions. “In these harsh times, we prioritized these children because they need a sense of belonging and warmth now more than ever,” says Michal Frank, JDC’s director for former Soviet countries. At Szarvas, participants largely remain with members of their own country delegation, with whom they sleep, dine and undergo activities. But each nation group is paired with another group during daily “mifgashim” (Hebrew for “encounters”) sessions, when they get a taste of what Judaism means in the other country. On a continent with many small, isolated Jewish communities with high intermarriage rates, the international dimension at Szarvas means that for some campers, Szarvas is their best bet for finding a Jewish partner, according to Paszternak, who grew up in a town with 30,000 residents and a Jewish community of just a few dozen people. “No one enrolled me into Szarvas as a boy of 10 thinking I’d find a Jewish wife there,” he said. But, in retrospect, “for Jews from small communities especially, it’s often the only game in town where this sort of thing happens.”
jewishnewsva.org | March 14, 2016 | Camp | Jewish News | 25
Camp Vaccines and Jewish camps: What parents need to know by Gabe Friedman
(JTA)—“All of a sudden, bottles of hand sanitizer appeared all over,” says Rabbi Jason Miller, looking back at 2009, when the swine flu craze reached Camp Maas, a Jewish summer camp in Ortonville, Michigan. “Staff members would stand outside the dining hall with bottles,” he says. Aside from constant reminders about handwashing, the swine flu didn’t leave much of a mark on the camp. And now, similar worries about contagious diseases may soon be a distant memory. Seven years later—in a time that has seen a reinvigorated debate over the validity and efficacy of vaccines—Tamarack Camps, one of the largest and oldest Jewish camp systems in the country (of which Camp Maas, Miller’s former employer, is a part), now has a formalized vaccine policy. “Given the overriding value of Pikuach Nefesh (saving a life)…we are requiring that all campers, staff, artists-in-residence, volunteers, doctors, nurses and their families planning to attend/participate in any Tamarack Camps programs be immunized as outlined,” according to an email sent Dec. 30 and signed by multiple Tamarack program directors. The announcement stipulated that the camp’s attendees must receive the standard list of vaccines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control, which includes shots for chicken pox, meningitis and several others. The policy will be phased in over two years beginning this summer. Through the email, Tamarack Camps— comprised of a main campus and Camp Maas, along with a few “outpost” camps and travel programs—joined other Jewish camps across the country that have formalized vaccine policies requiring staff and campers to be immunized according to state requirements. The policies only allow campers to forego the vaccines for medical reasons (such as an allergy). Other Jewish camps with such policies include all those under the auspices of the Union for Reform Judaism and the Conservative movement’s Ramah umbrella,
as well as many independent and specialized camps. Some Jewish camps, however, stick to state vaccination laws, many allowing for personal or religious exemptions. California, which experienced a widely publicized measles outbreak at Disneyland in early 2015, joined West Virginia and Mississippi as one of only three states that outlaw personal or religious vaccine exemptions after passing a contested bill last summer. The vaccination rate among children in California has already risen even though the new law does not go into effect until July. Vaccines are generally accepted as a common-sense medical practice across most of the spectrum of religious affiliation in the Jewish community. However, some Orthodox communities have experienced outbreaks of preventable diseases, such as the whooping cough, in recent years. In 2014, the prominent Orthodox Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky called vaccines a “hoax.” JTA found last year that a range of private Jewish day schools had low student vaccination rates due to the personal or religious exemption loopholes. Cliff Nerwen, chair of the National Ramah Medical Committee, estimates that at least one family each year tries to send an unvaccinated camper to each of Ramah’s nine sleepaway camps. “I graciously tell them I respect their opinions, but in the light of the larger public health community, it’s a risk we’re not willing to take,” Nerwen says. In a sign of the times, Tamarack Camps’ announcement immediately started an online dispute. Dr. David Brownstein, the medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Michigan— the upscale heart of Detroit’s Jewish community—called the policy “draconian” in a blog post the next day. “Perhaps Camp Tamarack is unaware that over $3 billion has been awarded by the Federal Government to children and adults injured by vaccines,” Brownstein wrote. “I would like to see where Jewish law says it is safe to inject a neurotoxin into a baby or any living being.” Two days later, Dr. Peter Lipson, an
26 | Jewish News | Camp | March 14, 2016 | jewishnewsva.org
internal medicine specialist who also practices in the West Bloomfield area, called Brownstein’s post “dangerous” in a Forbes article. “Dr. Brownstein is wrong on the facts. That’s not my opinion,” Lipson wrote. “What is my opinion is that doctors like him are a threat to public health.” Tamarack Camps’ decision also caused a bit of a stir in and around the metro Detroit Jewish community. Dr. Kathy Erlich, a Jewish pediatrician against strict vaccine laws who worked in the camp’s medical clinic, resigned. And Miller, who wrote about Tamarack’s decision for Time, says at least one family left the camp over the policy. “Of course there are parents out there that have chosen not to vaccinate their children, and I think they always assume that either their personal or their religious reasons for not vaccinating will be accepted,” says Paul Reichenbach, the Union of Reform Judaism’s director of camp and Israel programs. The URJ camp system issued a formalized vaccine policy in 2008. “It came as a surprise to some people,” Reichenbach says. Still, Lipson, who covers science and medicine for Forbes, says that parents of
prospective campers should not lose sleep over the medical exemption rule. Some children have legitimate medical reasons to skip a certain vaccine—and they depend on the immunity of the other campers around them even more. As to whether or not parents should scrutinize camps that allow non-medical exemptions, Lipson says the issue is worth talking about. “Because this is such a new question, I’m just starting to ask [it] myself,” he says. “Personal belief exemptions are a nightmare.” Lipson points out that it can be tough for camps to hold their ground against parents on the vaccine issue because, while everyone has to go to school, they’re not required to attend summer camp. That’s partly why he was impressed with Tamarack Camps’ decision to publicly state a formal position. At Camp Tamakwa in Ontario, where Lipson volunteers, campers must hand in immunization forms, but he isn’t aware of a formal written camp policy. “I was actually kind of surprised that [Tamarack] did it,” Lipson says. “You put a bunch of Jews in a room, and what are the odds you’re going to get a consensus?”
amp Gan Izzy has been providing Jewish children in Hampton Roads with a fun and engaging summer program for 19 years. Gan Izzy campers partake in exciting and creative activities which are all infused with a love for their Jewish heritage. Gan Izzy campers enjoy field trips, gymnastics instruction, swimming, water activities, baking, games and arts and crafts. Each day at Gan Izzy includes a Jewish lesson and multiple opportunities to perform Mitzvot. The staff at Gan Izzy is kind and caring and willing to go the extra mile to guarantee smiles on the faces of all campers. www.ganizzy.org