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.

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

Jennifer Walker

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.

 

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

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

Marina Levy

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.
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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!
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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!

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