When the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center introduced their Jcation Staycation – Summer Splash Series program last year, they had no idea that the Sunday events would become so popular. “People have been asking all year long if we were going to be doing it again,” says Kim Subrin, chief operating officer at The J.
The wondering and waiting are over! Jcation Staycation returns to The J every Sunday in June and July (with the exception July 22 – that week it will be moved to July 21) with water fun in the pool and splash pad, music, rock climbing wall and more. This year they have added Club Splash, featuring special staff-led activities for the kids.
Jcation Staycation initially was created as a way to say “thank you” to members. “We were trying to decide how we were going to use this beautiful new aquatic center,” says Kim. “And it’s really important for us to let our members know how much we appreciate them. They have a lot of choices out there where they can go, and we want to thank them for choosing The J. So, it’s a way to thank our members every single Sunday, by giving them a free pool party.”
In addition to the fun, there is always an ice cream truck supplying frozen treats, but you can also purchase food from the restaurant located inside The J, Milk + Honey. “It’s so nice to have Danny (Danny Marciano, owner of Milk + Honey) be able to do this because then it truly makes the pool party all-inclusive because whether you keep kosher or not, everything will be there for you,” says Kim. Milk + Honey also received its liquor license last year, so you will be able to enjoy a refreshing cocktail out by the pool this summer.
Kim attended almost every Sunday last year. “I loved seeing everybody on the pool deck connecting and building relationships,” she says. “You start seeing people come week after week, and make these great relationships.”
She comments that it’s an excellent opportunity to meet new people or stay connected with friends that you may not see otherwise over the summer. Also, more and more people are staying in the Valley and not traveling over the summer; this gives them a place to come and something to do.
“I think that the parents love that the kids are so well taken care of, so safe out there with all of our lifeguards,” she comments. “The parents get an opportunity to be social and have a good time – and the kids have a blast.”
Tweens and teens also have fun hanging out by the rock wall or in the pool, joining the basketball and volleyball games. There are also oversized lawn games like Connect Four and Jenga to entertain all ages.
Kim also noticed a rise in memberships last summer when the program was originally offered. “Last year in August alone, we had close to 150 new units of membership.” Units consist of either an individual, a couple or a family.
“I think that people join because The J works really hard to show the community that this is where you come to hang out. I don’t think that a couple of years ago there were that many opportunities that were making your membership as worthwhile. But now we are proving that by offering these programs – your membership gets you a lot.”
In addition to free admission to the weekly events, The J will hold two individual members-only appreciation pool parties this summer. The 4th of July Splash Bash will be held on July 4 from 11 am to 2 pm and a Labor Day Cookout will be held on Sept. 3 from 4 to 6 pm. These events include live entertainment, activities and complimentary hot dogs, chips, drinks and dessert.
“It’s always our goal to be extremely comprehensive,” says Kim. “We have great things happening during the week with our preschool Kochavim camp and Shemesh camps, so this is a way to make our weekends extra special.”
Also starting this summer are “Wine Down Wednesdays.” “After camp is over on Wednesday, Danny is going to come out and barbeque on the pool deck and bring his bar out,” says Kim. “Moms (and dads, too) can hang out and the kids can play, so it’s a social time and now we get to add a cocktail to it.”
Another change this summer is that The J is now running PJ Library. This is a joint program between the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix and The J. “Starting on June 6 and continuing every Wednesday, we are doing something called ‘PJ by the Pool,’ ” says Kim. “Marcy Lewis, the director, will do an hour-long program combining stories, bubbles, time at the splash pad and a popsicle.” PJ by the Pool will also be free for members and $5 for guests.
For more information on all of the programs offered this summer at The J, visit vosjcc.org.
Jcation Staycation Schedule
10:30 am to 1:30 pm
Free for members and children under 2; $5 per person for guests
Opening Weekend with Hawaiian Luau
Father’s Day – T-shirts for the first 50 dads
Ice, Ice Baby
Mermaids & Pirates
Watermelon Splash Bash
Neon Twilight Party (no pool party July 22)
End of Summer Beach Blast