If you’re looking for a summer filled with imaginative and exciting opportunities, look no further than J Camp! Recruitment for J Camp 2019 is well underway with multiple camp experiences available for youth in Kindergarten – 11th grade.
“One of the great things about J Camp is that every day is different,” said Amanda Welsh, Assistant Director of J Camp and Youth Programming. “J Camp is a fun, safe, and engaging place for children to be friends and enjoy summer. Each day and every week is a new experience for our campers as there are always new things going on different than the day before.”
Welsh explained that the JCC offers a variety of options for our campers. “I have worked at other comparable camps, and none of them have offered the variety that J Camp has,” she said. “This comes with both the JCC facility as well as the individual programs we offer within the camp. We also offer expanded cultural experiences as we bring Jewish and Israeli culture to camp daily by raising the Israeli flag, singing the HaMotzi blessing at lunch, including a Camp Shaliach (Israeli culture specialist), and celebrating Shabbat on Fridays as a whole camp family.”
J campers range from rookies to veterans, which is part of the combination that makes J Camp so special. During camp drop off in the morning, campers flee their parents’ cars and run to hug their counselors and learn about the activities the day will bring. Counselors corral campers into a camp-wide circle surrounding the flagpoles before singing ‘You’re a Grand Old Flag’ as the American and Israeli flags are raised.
“From this point on, you can see, hear, taste, and feel J Camp all over campus,” Welsh said. “Our groups split up by age and start their individual schedules. You might smell older campers baking sweet treats in the Youth Lounge kitchen, or get splashed by younger campers swimming in the pool during their instructional swim time. You can see older campers playing a game of Gaga (Israeli dodgeball) or War ball and hear the campers cheering for their favorite counselor to hit the backboard. At any time during the day, you can feel the energy that both our campers and counselors bring to J Camp. This energy is uplifting, positive, and filled with enthusiasm.”
Some of the annual traditions campers look forward to at the JCC include Colors Wars, J Camp Talent Show, and Harry Potter Premiere Camp. Each year these weeks are the most popular of the summer.
“Great traditions are what keep campers coming back, and are a consistency within our otherwise ever-changing camp,” Welsh said. “Summer camps, J Camp included, are always looking for ways to change things up and improve on their programming, but there needs to be some traditions rooted in the programming so the campers have something to come back to each summer.”
Welsh pointed out that with younger campers, traditions make them feel more comfortable, as well, by knowing some of the activities to expect summer after summer. J Campers know that each summer they will experience Color Wars, Friday Fun Days, Pizza Fridays, field trips, and more along with all the other activities that are constantly changing.
Welsh has been around camp environments in a variety of capacities since she was eight years old. “I was fortunate enough to attend a resident/overnight camp 1-2 weeks each summer from when I was 8 until I turned 17,” she said. “My overall favorite memory from my camp experiences are the relationships I built over my years at camp. I would only be at camp for a week or 2 each summer, but in that short time I built relationships with people who I still consider some of my best friends. My core group of camp friends would make sure to go back to camp the same weeks year after year. Some of my other favorite memories include meal times when we would stand on tables and sing at the top of our lungs, all-camp games where the entire camp would be running around, and campfires where we would sing songs and reflect on the day.”
J Camp 2018 left quite the impression on campers, counselors, parents, and the JCC community. “One memory that sticks out in my head was our talent show,” Welsh said. “It was wonderful for me to be able to see all the groups working so diligently on their group acts and then to see it all come together was truly magnificent. The variety of acts such as dancing, synchronized swimming, and thumb wrestling truly made our talent show great. Another memory I have is an all-counselor game of Gaga during one of our Friday Fun Day Activities. The most fun part of this was watching the campers cheer on their counselors. Throughout the summer there were countless times when our campers were excited, but the level of excitement at that moment could not be topped. Campers were screaming and chanting at the top of their lungs for their favorite counselors, and then running up to them and comforting them if they got eliminated.”
Each J Camp week offers different benefits and opportunities that impact all parties involved: J Camp campers and families, staff, and community members. “I think everyone comes out of their camp experience with something different,” Welsh said. “I hope that our campers leave camp with one new “thing” on top of many new memories. That “thing” could be a new friend, a new skill, or even an interest in something new. I hope that our staff members gain self-awareness and confidence in themselves as they spent a summer caring for children and giving them the best experience possible. I hope parents gain security with the JCC and J Camp, and that we are doing all we can to offer the best for their children.”
J Camp is always changing from year to year, and the Youth Department staff is always looking to make improvements. One of the biggest changes coming to J Camp in 2019 is a focus on engaging 4th-7th grade campers. J camp will be adding more team-building and leadership programming as well as some older camper perks including overnights, weekly field trips and archery. Friday Fun Day activities will grow and change as staff strive to make these into a daylong event for the entire camp as a fun way to end the week.
“Changes in camps are always necessary to keep things interesting for the campers who come back year after year,” Welsh said. “We want to provide something that will make campers excited to keep coming back every summer. This is especially true for our older campers, some who have been at J Camp since Kindergarten. We need to find a way to keep campers engaged and excited about returning. This will then, in turn, give our younger campers something to look forward to as they get older.”
J Camp is open to both JCC members and non-members, and the J is always looking to engage new campers and their families. Welsh shared some of her best tips when considering J Camp for your children:
- First and foremost, ask questions. There are multiple resources here at the JCC available to help answer questions about J Camp. The Youth Department staff want to make sure that whatever camp you are sending your child to is the right fit for your whole family, and if we can help in this decision process we will gladly do so.
- Come and check out the JCC if you have never been here. We can tell you everything about J Camp and the JCC, but sometimes it is best to come and see where your child will be spending the day (or summer!).
- During your visit, get the answers to some of our most frequently-asked-questions: What does the pool look like where my child will be swimming? Where will my child eat lunch? Is there adequate room for my child to run around and enjoy nature? These are not things we can tell you over the phone or email, but we are happy to walk around and show you the entire multiple acre campus to help you feel more at ease.
- After registering your child for any of our J Camp experiences, plan to attend both the New Parent Orientation and Meet the Staff Ice Cream Social. Both of these will alleviate any stress you may be feeling about sending your children to a new place. You will have the opportunity to get any last-minute questions answered, and your child will recognize several friendly faces on their first day of J Camp.
“Summer Camps are a wonderful experience for ALL children,” Welsh added with a smile. “Camps give them the opportunity to make new memories and friends, try new things, and self-develop. Every camp offers something different for campers and there are plenty out there that will fit your family. We would love J Camp to be the camp that fits your family’s needs. Please reach out to one of the Youth Department staff if you have any questions and to see if J Camp is a great fit for you!”
2019 Early Bird Registration
JCC Members: opens February 4
Non-Members: opens March 4
For more information about JCC Youth Department programming and J Camp 2019, please contact Amanda Welsh, JCC Assistant Youth Director at awelsh@jccomaha or 402.590-2152.