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Camps roundup: grants, grins, and games
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Camps roundup: grants, grins, and games

At a May 14 pre-camp get-together, One Happy Camper grant recipients decorate pillowcases, which they will take to camp.
At a May 14 pre-camp get-together, One Happy Camper grant recipients decorate pillowcases, which they will take to camp.

The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey reports that more than 100 summer camp scholarships had already been awarded and dozens more were still available as of the first week in June. 

These scholarships vary in both character and amount, said Laura Safran, federation’s director of planning and allocations. 

They include 54 Israel teen grants totaling $54,000, 20 One Happy Camper grants ($20,000), nine camp grants for campers with special needs ($15,870), and 36 need-based camp grants ($12,500). 

The numbers climb weekly, she said. 

Funding for Israel Teen grants and grants for campers with special needs come from designated endowments, said Safran. “The rest is allocated through our general grant-making process.”

Safran urged anyone interested in pursuing a scholarship to visit the federation website, jewishmiddlesex.org/children_teens.

Safran said the One Happy Camper grants “incentivize families who were already thinking about overnight camp to consider a Jewish overnight.” 

One Happy Camper is open to youngsters who have not attended Jewish overnight before and do not attend a Jewish day school, she said. 

This year’s crop of scholarship awardees was invited to a pre-camp orientation and day of fun held May 14. More than 100 campers and parents attended. 

“Countless studies have shown that participating in an intensive Jewish experience has a direct correlation to the child’s development of Jewish identity,” said Safran. “Inspiring children to live Jewishly is not only an explicit part of our mission; it is our lifeblood. Federation is committed to finding innovative and impactful ways of providing immersive Jewish experiences to children of all backgrounds.”

A Schechter summer

The Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth County is introducing a new camp experience this year for children from 18 months through eighth grade.

“The camp will focus on fun, creativity, and learning for all participants,” said Maxine Macnow, chair of the board at the Marlboro-based school. 

For students in grades one through eight, the camp will tie in with the school’s summer enrichment efforts at its Marlboro campus, which include a mix of academic courses, sports, performing arts, Hebrew, and other specialized activities. 

The camp’s Early Childhood component for children 18 months through five years old offers the flexibility of enrolling for either a week at a time or by the month. 

Under the direction of camp leader Jaclyn Ringer, each day’s program will feature a specific theme. Every Friday will be focused on Shabbat. 

The camp has received a grant from the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ, which is being used for equipment and supplies, Macnow said. “We’re grateful for federation’s support and its recognition of the importance of bringing Jewish children together in a welcoming environment.”

Noting that SSDS is still accepting enrollments for the inaugural season, Macnow said, “This was the right time for us to tackle this new venture. This is the only camp in the area associated with a Jewish day school.”

Two-day taste 

Another day camp benefitting from a federation grant is Camp Olami, an unusual short-term experience that will be located at Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls.

Scheduled for two days only, Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 25 and 26, it is designed to give students entering grades four through six a “deeper sense of Jewish pride and identity” as they participate in games, movies, music, movement and dance, sports, and crafts activities. They also will learn about Israel and will have the opportunity to eat traditional Jewish food.

Olami is intended to bridge the gap between summer and the religious school year, said the camp’s directors, Doreen Laperdon-Addison and Gayle Kaplan.

The two-day program is priced at $50, and the deadline for enrollment is July 15.

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