Are there trips out of camp?
Everyone goes on trips out of camp. All campers go to one beach trip per session. 7-12 Graders have an overnight at an off-site campsite. As campers get older, the trips get more extensive and more plentiful. 10-12th graders go on a two day trip during our second session, one of the highlights of the camp experience.
How is Judaism expressed at camp?
Our Jewish program is fabulous! It is designed to be fun, interesting, child-friendly, and has multiple entry points for campers with little or no Jewish background. We recite short blessings before and after each meals. Camp-style services on Friday evening and Saturday morning are awesome, full of music, singing and spirit. Saturday morning we have Shabbat Nature Hike Service, an unstructured time supervised by area when siblings and friends from different parts of camp traditionally visit with one another. We don't offer crafts or creative specialties on Saturdays, but we do swim, play ball, and use electricity. We have an Israeli culture program as well as Yom Yisrael (Israel Day). Each unit has age-appropriate Jewish cultural programs: activities, games, songs, skits, etc. Camper's have a great opportunity to connect with their Judaism in a way that has meaning for them.
How often do siblings see one another?
If they are in the same unit, siblings will see each other several times every day. If they are in different units, they will see each other a couple times a day and during mealtimes.
Can we see the camp?
We regularly have family fun days throughout the year, and they typically include a camp tour. If those dates don't work for you we are happy to schedule a tour for you at a more convenient time. Please contact our office, or click on the website link to schedule to schedule a tour
How big are the cabin groups?
Most cabins have between 6-14 campers and at least two full-time counselors dedicated to that cabin. Most cabins will have 1-2 specialists (lifeguards, sports, etc) in the cabin as well. Please feel free to call the registrar and find out how many campers are in the cabin with your child.
Can you tell me about your counselors?
For the first two sessions, the youngest counselors must be both 17 and a high school graduate. Most are college students. 25-30% come from abroad, including Europe and Israel. All are personally interviewed, references are checked, and there is a one week orientation prior to camp. Supervisors are mature adults with supervisory experience and special training. After second session, the CITs (Counselors in Training) graduate their program, and we select the very best to join our staff team. This means that for session 3, there may be 12th graders who are counselors and specialists. For each staff person we verify references and run a background check.
How is the food and what food options will there be?Our food is great! We take great pride in serving healthy and delicious food. Many of our kitchen staff have been with the camp for over a decade. We maintain a Kosher kitchen (without Rabbinic supervision) year-round. Our carefully prepared menus are "kid-friendly" and varied. There is always something healthy and delicious to eat.
Breakfast always includes cold cereal and a hot entrée such as pancakes, eggs, or French toast. There is also a breakfast bar that includes an assortment of fresh fruit and yogurt. Lunch and dinner entrees include various chicken and beef dishes, and dairy meals like grilled cheese and pizza. At lunch and dinner, there is a salad bar that provides a choice for campers who are looking for something in addition to the meal's main course. If there is a meat meal, there will be a protein-based vegetarian option. At breakfast, soymilk is available. Camp JCA Shalom is a nut free camp. We have gluten-free and dairy-free options. Special dietary needs or restrictions can be accommodated and should be communicated to the Director prior to camp. Campers are served a snack in the mid-afternoon. Additionally, fresh fruit is available throughout the day.
Will my child be with all new campers?
No. Groups are balanced to include both new and returning campers. Groups and counselor assignments are completely rearranged at the beginning of each session to avoid any disadvantage to newly arriving campers.
How do you handle homesickness?
Homesickness is natural and does occur in many new campers. We are experts at handling it. Staff is trained during orientation, and Unit Heads, who are essentially camp guidance counselors, provide professional care if needed. We work with campers to help them get past their homesickness and are successful almost every time. Part of our technique is to NOT put them in touch with their parents. We've found that this can greatly increase their anxiety, and typically results in the camper going home. Please read the parent handbook which has some suggestions on how to prevent homesickness before camp starts. We will also address this topic and many more at a new family orientation.
My child's birthday occurs during camp. What does the camp do for birthdays?Birthdays at camp are fantastic. Imagine celebrating your birthday with 200-300 friends. That's what it feels like at camp. We call a camper up after dinner and sing "Happy birthday" to them. Then we give them a birthday cake and have them make three wishes. One wish for yourself, one wish for camp and one wish for the WHOLE world. (This is actually a Jewish teachable moment as Rabbi Hillel once said, "Wish for yourself but also for the whole world too.") Afterwards, we have them skip around the dining hall with their counselors, and eventually we put them up in a chair. Most campers wouldn't want to be anywhere else on their birthday!
What do we do with laundry?
For one and two week sessions, there is no laundry service. Please pack accordingly. We have a commercial laundry service once during a three-week session that washes, dries and folds. It is usually returned in two to three days. This service is not recommended for delicates, colors that have never been washed and may bleed, or anything of value (monetary or sentimental).
How much spending money will my child need in camp?
None. Camp provides everything your camper will need, including snacks. Part of our goal is to treat all kids equally. A decent portion of the camp population comes on scholarship, and a "camp store or canteen" can allow some kids to spend money where others cannot. This is one of the reasons there is no place for campers to spend money while at camp. There is a camp "shuk" that is open on the last day of camp so parents can buy camp gear when they come to pick up their campers.