Summer camp is back!

 

Last summer, according to the American Camp Association, only 18% of the country’s overnight camps welcomed kids. Too much was unknown at that point about COVID-19, and restrictions in many states didn’t permit camps to open.

This year, camps are looking to welcome kids back, with many of the restrictions we have grown accustomed to: enhanced handwashing, mask wearing and physical distancing.

Gone will be indoor group singalongs and large gatherings. Campers will mingle in smaller groups, eat and participate in activities with those they share a cabin with.

Despite the changes, camp will still be a wonderful experience where children can get outside, away from the constant pull of electronic devices, and make new friendships that can last a lifetime.

We posed some questions to camp staff about their plans for 2021.

 

Josh Harrington

Mittleman Jewish Community Center
Day camp in Portland, OR

Josh Harrington, seasonal summer camp manager for 2021

What are some of the changes that you have implemented for the 2021 summer camp season?
This year comes with the similar challenges of the 2020 summer, and as such, we’ve adapted our program to make the experience on our campus feel fresh every day. With different weekly themes, scavenger hunts, arts and crafts, and games, campers will experience something new each day.

What would you like to tell parents to alleviate their concerns about sending their child to camp this summer?
The MJCC goes above and beyond the state mandate to provide a safe and fun experience. Our staff is highly trained in health and safety guidelines which include sanitization. We ran a successful nine-week program in 2020, and we are excited to do the same this year.

What are you most looking forward to this camp season?
I’m looking forward to working with our camp team and offering a program to our community that allows children to socialize, learn and grow in a safe and fun environment.

What’s your fondest memory of camp when you were young?
My fondest camp memory is going on hikes, swimming in the lake, and making long-lasting friendships.

 

Marina Levy

Habonim Dror Camp Miriam
Overnight camp in Vancouver, BC, Canada

Marina Levy, part of the youth leadership team at Camp Miriam

What are some of the changes that you have implemented for the 2021 summer camp season?
All the madrichimot (counselors) are looking forward to the time when we can reconnect and do the fun Camp Miriam things we love to do together, like Shabbat at the Point, toranut in the Chadar Ochel, and playing gaga with our friends. Our goal this summer is to bring as much of the Camp Miriam magic to as many chanichimot (campers) as possible. This means that we may be on Gabriola Island or do a kaytana (day camp) again in the city.  At this time, we sadly do not know if coming to Canada will be a possibility for U.S. kids due to the Canada/USA border closure.

What would you like to tell parents to alleviate their concerns about sending their child to camp this summer?
Staff work closely with our COVID-19 and medical committees to create our health and safety protocols.  Our tzevet (staff) are passionate  about creating super fun and creative programming that can be executed safely and still bring people together. They receive training on how to best support youth who may be struggling with the uncertainties and loneliness of life in a pandemic, something that everyone is dealing with right now. We know that Camp Miriam will be a safe place to find togetherness and community in whatever form camp takes this summer.

What are you most looking forward to this camp season?
I am looking forward to all of the Shabbat traditions that are a part of camp, especially doing Rikkud on Friday. Doing Israeli dancing in such a fun, silly and inclusive space has always been one of my happiest camp memories, and I can’t wait to do that again!

What’s your fondest memory of camp when you were young?
Picking the fondest memory of camp seems impossible because I have so many wonderful memories, but one that comes to mind is our Yom Meyuchad theme days. The theme of one of the first theme days I was ever a part of was Alice in Wonderland, and I will never forget how camp turned into another world and my madrichimot (counselors) became Alice, the Cheshire Cat, and the Queen of Hearts. It was truly an experience of Machaneh Miriam Magic!

 

Bette Amir-Brownstein

B’nai B’rith Camp
Day camp programs in three locations in Oregon
Overnight camp on Devil’s Lake near Lincoln City, OR

Bette Amir-Brownstein, camp director
Michelle Koplan, chief executive officer

What are some of the changes that you have implemented for the 2021 summer camp season?
In alignment with the American Camp Association’s Field Guide, Centers for Disease and Prevention, and Oregon Health Authority’s overnight camp guidance and to accommodate COVID mitigating protocols, BB Camp will make adjustments to our 2021 overnight camp sessions. Modifications will be made to various areas related to transition times, the flow of activities, physical distancing in program specialty areas and reduced cohort sizes regarding bunk capacity. Large all-camp programs, including meals, evening programs, and all-day programming, will be modified and restructured to ensure COVID safety protocols are prioritized.

What would you like to tell parents to alleviate their concerns about sending their child to camp this summer?
Throughout the 2020 spring and summer months, BB Camp staff became experts at adapting to the COVID-19 Oregon Health Authority Summer Camp Guidelines. We operated four day camps in three different locations while adhering to summer day camp protocols. BB Camp is committed to creating meaningful camp experiences, while staying flexible with our operations, and communicating with parents every step of the way as we approach summer 2021.

Michelle Koplan

What are you most looking forward to this camp season?
This past year has been incredibly challenging for all of us, but especially our campers, as they have had limited (if any) in-person time to socialize and develop much-needed social and emotional skills. We are so excited to welcome our campers back to BB Camp. We can’t wait to be a part of their joy, Jewish identity-building, and having them play outside (and away from screens) with their kehillah (community)!

What’s your fondest memory of camp when you were young?
My fondest memory of camp is Havdalah. Havdalah is a coveted ritual and a time for the entire camp to pause and appreciate our community together. When I looked around, I saw BB Camp’s core Jewish values of kehillah (community) and shalom (peace) come to life. Camp felt more peaceful to me during Havdalah than any other moment, allowing campers and counselors who might have had challenges throughout the week to take that moment to reset and look forward. BB Camp is a wonderful place to teach the importance of reflection and of moving forward.

Chanel Bourdeau, BB Day Camp Portland, camp director
Michelle Koplan, chief executive officer

Chanel Bourdeau

What are some of the changes that you have implemented for the 2021 summer camp season?
The health and safety of our campers are always our highest priority. In 2020, BB Day Camps successfully served campers at our four day camp programs in three different locations. We anticipate summer 2021 guidelines will be similar to last summer’s guidance; however, we know there will be changes as information about COVID-19 continues to develop. Once we receive new Summer Day Camp Guidelines from the Oregon Health Authority, our professional staff will implement the accommodations necessary to provide safe and meaningful experiences at BB Day Camps this summer. We are proud to have had zero COVID-19 cases at BB Day Camp Portland in summer 2020!
In 2021, we are excited to offer our new BB Day Camp Portland Middle School Program, designed around daily outings to discover the city through engaging and fun activities specially crafted for middle school campers!

What would you like to tell parents to alleviate their concerns about sending their child to camp this summer?
As BB Camp staff plan for the 2021 summer, we want to ensure continued transparency surrounding our evolving COVID-19 mitigating operations. As our plans develop, BB Camp continues to follow the research and recommended guidelines created for summer camps from the American Camp Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Oregon Health Authority and other health-related agencies. The health and safety of our camp community are always our highest priority.
Sending your child to Camp in any given summer can feel like a big step. We want our parents to know that we are with you every step of the way. We would love the chance to meet you and discuss how we can create an amazing summer for your child and family at BB Day Camp.

What are you most looking forward to this camp season?
Reconnecting with our returning camp families and meeting our new ones! If there is one thing we learned last summer ­– our campers, parents and staff all benefited enormously from a summer at BB Day Camp in what was such a tough year. We are so excited to see our campers again!

What’s your fondest memory of camp when you were young?
Without a doubt – my counselors! We know first-hand the magic of having a compassionate, approachable and fun counselor as a role model. This is why before BB Day Camp camper sessions, we host an entire week dedicated to staff training, ensuring our counselors have all the necessary skills to be all of these things and more!

 

Jason Bronowitz

Camp Daisy and Harry Stein
Overnight camp in Prescott, AZ

Jason Bronowitz, director of camp experience
Jennifer Walker, assistant director

What are some of the changes that you have implemented for the 2021 summer camp season?
This summer, we’ll be spending more time outdoors, taking advantage of our beautiful campus in the Prescott Pines, together with cabin-mates. We’re increasing cleaning and sanitization, we’ve replaced our sinks with touch-less faucets, and are designing new outdoor dining spaces.

What would you like to tell parents to alleviate their concerns about sending their child to camp this summer?

Jennifer Walker

We’re so excited to be back up in Prescott and look forward to once again creating the magic of camp. We’re developing new programming and experiences with your camper’s health and well-being in mind. We know how difficult this past year has been for so many and can’t wait to welcome your children into our community. They’ll make new friends, take a break from technology (no Zoom!) and spend time outdoors. We’re ready to all return back to our summer home!

What are you most looking forward to this camp season?
We’re looking forward to seeing all of our campers and staff in-person soon! Grilled cheese and tomato soup, Shabbat in our Pearlstein Chapel, and Maccabiah await!

What’s your fondest memory of camp when you were young?
JB: I’ve always loved Shabbat at camp, especially Chef Moe’s broccoli and Shabbat chicken! It’s been so meaningful to see my campers become counselors themselves, and now join us on the leadership team at Camp Stein!
JW: One of my favorite memories from when I started at camp was hanging out in the cabin with my campers and co-counselors.

 

Celinda Llanez

Portland Jewish Academy
PJA Summer Discovery day camp in Portland, OR

Celinda Llanez, PJA Summer Discovery Program

What are some of the changes that you have implemented for the 2021 summer camp season?
Classes will be limited to 8-11 students and we are offering three weeks of programming from June 28-July 16. PJA is mandated to follow the ODE/OHA guidelines.

What would you like to tell parents to alleviate their concerns about sending their child to camp this summer?
Summer Discovery classes are taught by experienced, professional teachers who have your child’s safety and well-being in mind. Classrooms will be set-up to meet the distance requirements and classroom materials will not be shared. We will schedule frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing and social distancing protocols will be enforced as much as possible in all areas of the school. All staff and attendees will be required to wear a mask.

What are you most looking forward to this camp season?
Welcoming back to our PJA campus previous and new students for Summer Discovery! It is exciting and fun to see and hear about all the fabulous projects and learning happening in the classroom.

What’s your fondest memory of camp when you were young?
I have very fond memories of meeting new friends, many of whom are still my friends today.

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