2019 Summer Camp

by | Mar 22, 2019 | Uncategorized

Camp provides a time and space for fun, as well as for development of confidence and new skills—all in a protected and caring environment. In fact, studies consistently demonstrate the long-term benefits of a summer camp experience for both campers and counselors. Perhaps that’s why approximately 11 million kids in the United States attend some form of summer camp each year.

With today’s vast options, choosing a camp, whether day or overnight, can be a confusing or exciting challenge…depending on your point of view. Either way, the best way to proceed might be to get out the calendar, gather the brochures, and start filling in the weeks.

Within these next pages are suggestions for making those decisions—either through articles or advertisements. We hope they help set whoever is filling in the blanks on those June—August calendars on the road to an exciting and fulfilling summer!

Terri Denison

One Happy Camper and Sababa Surf Camp are a big hit for the Lemke family

I can’t say enough positive things about Sababa Surf Camp and the One Happy Camper grants program.

As I changed my career, the prospect of paying for a sleep away experience was overwhelming. I learned about One Happy Camper (supported by the Tidewater Jewish Foundation and Foundation for Jewish Camp) from my Aunt Leslie, and Cousin Megan. It was the perfect opportunity to make this camp experience a reality for my son MJ (age 11).

This summer, my daughter, Breckin (age 8), is eligible and has received the grant. Now both children will be receiving this wonderful gift of Jewish camp, thanks to the Tidewater Jewish Foundation!

The fact that Sababa Surf Camp is run here in Virginia Beach was especially pleasing that our fundraising efforts benefited a local operation providing a wonderful and unique Jewish experience for our youth here and from around the country.

Thank you for this amazing opportunity!

Shawn (and Ashley) Lemke

California Jewish camp to try out all-gender cabins this summer

SAN FRANCISCO (J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA)—After attending a few LGBTQ family weekends at Camp Tawonga, Jonathan Brunn felt ready to attend sleepaway camp there. But Jonathan’s mom, Nancy, was nervous.

Jonathan, 10, has identified as nonbinary—a gender identity that falls somewhere outside the category of male or female—since age three. Because of that, the San Francisco child has been subjected to bullying at school.

But it didn’t happen at Camp Tawonga, which has been ahead of the curve in welcoming nonbinary and LGBTQ campers and staff.

It turns out that Jonathan isn’t the first nonbinary camper to attend the Jewish camp near Yosemite National Park, and certainly won’t be the last. To accommodate the increasing number of kids like Jonathan among its campers, for the first time Tawonga will have two all-gender cabins this summer.

While the move is pioneering, it isn’t precedent setting: According to the Foundation for Jewish Camp, Habonim Dror’s Camp Moshava in Maryland has offered all-gender cabins since 2017, and the foundation itself offered the option to camp counselors attending its Cornerstone Seminar last year.

Jonathan first attended A Taste of Camp, a five-night session for younger campers going to sleepaway camp for the first time, in the summer of 2016. While Jonathan’s mom and camp staff had decided beforehand to place Jonathan in a girls’ bunkhouse, the cabin-mates took it upon themselves to call the bunkhouse “all-gender” to make it more inclusive.

The decision to officially create two such cabins came about organically, according to camp director Becca Meyer. In the previous several years, Tawonga had added all-gender restrooms and started a “beyond the binary” campfire in addition to separate girls’ and boys’ campfires. Meyer estimated that last year, approximately 20 of the 600 campers chose the third option.

“Tawonga has a long history of only offering girls’ and boys’ cabins, but it’s become clear in recent years that that doesn’t work for all kids,” Meyer says. “So, we wanted to create another option so that all kids can live in a cabin that reflects their gender identity.”

The two cabins—one for children going into fifth and sixth grades and one for those going into seventh and eighth grades—will each accommodate 12 campers and be offered only during the fourth session of camp as a pilot program. After that, a decision will be made about making the arrangement permanent.

Unlike the boys’ and girls’ cabins, the all-gender cabins will have a no-nudity rule. Campers can choose to change in the bathroom, in their sleeping bags, or behind a privacy curtain.

As for who will staff the cabins, Meyer says that a lot of counselors have expressed interest.

“We haven’t decided yet, but they will be excellent counselors who get additional training in working with diverse campers,” she says.

Meyer adds, “As we approach our 100th anniversary [in 2025], we’re doubling down on our commitment to social justice and inclusion, and offering all-gender cabins is one way we’re doing that.”

The response in the Tawonga community has been overwhelmingly positive, Meyer says.

Alix Wall


Benefits of exploration through Summer Programs


Oddly enough, summer programs share similarities to lunch and dinner buffets. However, summer camp’s most important parallels include ample opportunity to explore new activities without a long-term commitment, while providing a twist of fun and excitement to the daily routine.

Understanding summer camps

The American Camp Association estimates more than 14,000 summer camps, both overnight and day camps, operate annually across the United States. With more than 11 million students attending camps, families have a wealth of options offering students the opportunity to maintain a daily routine, make new friends with similar passions, and explore new interests in a fun, no-strings-attached atmosphere.

On the other hand, students who do not participate in summer camps may experience the “summer slide,” or summer learning loss. Research shows this phenomenon likely leads to a student losing the equivalent of up to two months of academic instruction. Students attending summer programs are able to not only retain, but also enhance math, reading, and writing skills throughout June, July, and August.

As a bonus, attending summer programs allows students to maintain a routine, which brings a slew of benefits. Maintaining a routine helps build confidence and independence, especially with school-aged children, and produces healthy habits, constructive behaviors, and a sense of stability. Also, for many working families, knowing their child is safe and having fun yields peace of mind.

Endless opportunity

Much like a favorite lunch or dinner buffet, summer programs come in all shapes, sizes, and offerings. Maybe you want to try a new dish, or indulge in a favorite meal in copious amounts for a discounted price. Summer programs give families a choice of trying something new each week or the option to participate in the same activity for as long as it is available. Some families focus on a singular subject, while many others focus on wide-ranging selections. Either way, summer camps are unique in creating an environment for families to tailor a camp schedule to the exploration of new ideas and activities or the development of a former interest.

Typically, programs offer a broad range of selections encompassing the arts, athletics, and academics. The possibilities are endless to mix and match camp schedules. The choice may differ from family to family, and camps encourage families to test the waters. But most importantly, it gives the camper confidence outside of their comfort zone, and, as an added bonus, the nature of many summer programs allows for families to decide, to an extent, how long to participate in the camp.

Decide commitment

Summer camps often have opportunities for morning, afternoon, or full-day sessions, as well as extended care options. At a minimum, most day camps offer as little as three hours a day and as many as six hours a day, with discounts for multiple registrations also available. Campers can enrich acting skills in the morning, learn the basics of coding in the afternoon, and attend an academic workshop the very next week. With summer programs, families are not tied down or married to choices and are able to plan the summer one week, two weeks, three weeks, or all at once. Plus, summer programs allow students to explore new ideas on a week-to-week basis while maintaining similar hours and timelines as the school day’s routine.

Exhilarating enjoyment

A routine can be one of the most critical aspects of daily life, and much like a buffet that provides a fun twist to eating at the dinner table, summer camps offer a balance of enjoyment and excitement while maintaining a vital part of the daily regimen. Summer programs provide an environment where campers can do something familiar with close friends, try something new, or celebrate with a favorite theme. Participating in summer camps provides the internal clock a healthy balance after spending the last 180 days in a classroom setting. Camps are a rewarding and exhilarating approach to break from the day-to-day routine and keep the internal clock in check.

Tyler Faubert is director of auxiliary programs at Cape Henry Collegiate. For information on Cape Henry Collegiate’s Summer at the Cape for campers ages three-17, which begins in June and runs through August, go to summeratthecape.com or email summeratthecape@capehenry.org.