On the first day of camp — whether a day camp or overnight camp — kids will find a blend of old and new. Time-honored traditions will go alongside new amenities, favorite activities with fresh programs.
Here’s a preview of the latest things that some of the camps popular with Washington-area families are planning to roll out this summer.
Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington
This summer’s theme at Camp JCC is “Rio in Rockville” to celebrate the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
The center is introducing two new sections of its sports camps: Junior Maccabiah for grades 1-3 and Senior Maccabiah for grades 4-7.
Maccabiah campers choose their sports and customize their schedules, according to the center. Activities are led by college-age athletes and local coaches. Sports may include baseball/t-ball, basketball, soccer, floor hockey, volleyball, lacrosse, and instructional and recreational swim in the outdoor pool. There will be field trips and Shabbat celebrations. jccgw.org
“It’s a big summer,” says Greg Feitel, director of the camps at the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center.
The center’s traditional “ruach” camp will feature an artist-in-residence each week, including a performance group and a woodworker. Activities include cooking, gardening, magic, jewelry-making and needle crafts.
Pirate Week won’t be all parrots and eye patches. Campers will also learn about the engineering that goes into boats, Feitel says.
Specialty camps include Lego camp (this year’s theme: Star Wars) and a travel camp for entering fifth, sixth and seventh graders. The travel camp will visit an amusement park, a water park and a historical site. washingtondcjcc.org/kids-and-parents/camp/summer-camp.html
This summer’s additions to the camp in Adamstown, in Federick County, include a nine-hole mini-golf course with Jewish-themed elements, says Phran Edelman, director of operations. “The elements include ‘parting of the Red Sea,’ ‘par-mitzvah’ and ‘Jacob’s ladder.’”
Mini-golf joins the expanded challenge course and a life-size foosball court where two teams play each other, both of which debuted last year.
“We are also in the process of building another family cabin to will give us additional space for group learning and sleepovers,” Edelman says. The cabin will have four bedroom/classrooms, two bathrooms and a living area. shoresh.com
Camp Louise and Camp Airy
Camp Louise girls camp in Cascade, Md., will be enjoying its new adventure park for the second summer, says director Alicia Berlin.
And campers will experience “Jewish Chicks Rock,” a week of girl power, song writing and performing,
Over in Thurmont, Camp Airy for boys is taking extreme sports to an extreme, says director Marty Rochlin.
The camp is expanding its use of scooters on its BMX race track. And drift trikes (“like a Big Wheel, but rugged,” Rochlin says) will make their debut this summer.
Airy is also upping its game by bringing more experts on staff — “connoisseurs of paint ball and more skaters” — to lead activities.
Other new things are so new that even Rochlin doesn’t know what they are. In March, he’ll go to Atlantic City for the American Camping Association’s tristate convention, where many new ideas come from. Last spring, Rochlin saw a demonstration of a Key Log — a 20-foot-long floating synthetic log filled with water.
By summer campers were Key Log rolling in the swimming pool. airylouise.org
Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake
As many as 50 kids from the Washington area head up each summer to New York’s Hudson River Valley to attend Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake, according to director Helene Drobenare .
This year the camp is tripling its aquatic center with the addition of a second swimming pool outfitted with slides, giving the facility a waterpark feel. A beachfront entrance will make the center accessible to kids with physical challenges.
The camp is erecting a greenhouse to add to its organic farming program.
And it is introducing a week-long basketball program in Hebrew, led by two Israeli athletes. “That will bring our kids closer to Israel and improve their basketball skills,” Drobenare says.
Also new this year is a parkour program, in which participants pass obstacles by running, climbing, jumping and other movements. “It’s for kids who might not be a team sport kid,” she says. cyjsproutlake.org
Camp Judaea Hendersonville, N.C.
This Zionist camp in southwestern North Carolina attracts about 560 kids over two summer sessions, says Elana Pollack, director of communications.
This summer is sandwiched between two years of big changes. Campers will benefit from last summer’s introduction of a new curriculum — a value-based approach to Jewish values and camping, Pollack says.
And this is the second year of the camp’s inclusion program to welcome kids of all ability levels. Camp
Judaea has a camper-care specialist on staff “to help facilitate situations with campers who might need a little extra support or counselor who needs support with campers,” she says.
On the drawing board is a new dining hall, planned to serve its first meal in the summer of 2017. campjudaea.org