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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2017 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

June 16, 2017  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

New Jewish summer camp is ‘best experience’ of kids’ lives

By JAMIE SHAPIRO
Jewish Press


Freyda Pardoll, Kylie Longstreet and Rome Baror were asked to take a moment to stop and dwell in the moment, being aware of their senses and what they smell, hear and feel while on the dolphin watching boat ride. Freyda Pardoll, Kylie Longstreet and Rome Baror were asked to take a moment to stop and dwell in the moment, being aware of their senses and what they smell, hear and feel while on the dolphin watching boat ride. On a rainy Tuesday afternoon, more than 40 children gathered inside, away from the torrential rains outside, and had a blast.

Exhausted from a visit to the Highland Recreation Center pool in Largo earlier in the day, these kids didn’t let a little rainfall dampen their good spirits during the second day of the first-ever summer camp run by the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties.

The children were separated by age into two different activities, while summer campers in grades six and seven assisted the camp counselors. A sleepy group of second to fifth graders gathered around for their Judaic lessons, while just down the hall, an energized group of kindergarten and first graders assembled for a wild dance class. Jumping, spinning and rolling on the floor, these kids paid little attention to the storm outside, and gave their full attention to dance instructor Jennifer Rosoff, as they followed her instructions with zealous obedience.


Avery Lurie and Morgan Harrington rock climb together. Avery Lurie and Morgan Harrington rock climb together. The new Jewish Community Camp is being held at Temple B’nai Israel in Clearwater. The first session will end June 23, but kids can still sign up for one or both of two additional three-week sessions, one starting on June 26 and the other on July 17.

Besides dealing with the rain, there was at least one other hiccup at the start of the camp’s first session. While traveling between the camp and the Highland Recreation Center pool, a bus broke down.

After placing a call to the county, a replacement bus was on the scene within 15 minutes, bringing with it its very own police escort to keep the kids from harm as they transferred busses on the side of the road.


Camper Eli Levy making apple tarts for the Shabbat celebration. Camper Eli Levy making apple tarts for the Shabbat celebration. “The kids really liked the police escort,” said Maxine Kaufman, a camp staff member and the director of Arts, Culture and Education for the Federation.

Besides swimming, campers’ days are packed with sports, music, arts and crafts and opportunities to explore their interests and have fun as well. During each three-week session, campers are offered a variety of activities, both within Temple B’nai Israel’s facilities and through various field trips around the community including snorkeling, ziplining and taking in a Tampa Bay Rays game.

One activity that will occur once during each of the sessions is the camp’s “Undernight.” “It’s basically the opposite of an overnight,” Kaufman said. “The kids stay here until 10 p.m. and there’s lots of games and activities going on.”

Leading the new camp is Josh Gamson, who previously worked at several other Jewish summer camps.

“The beautiful thing about every Jewish camping experience is the connections that the campers make to each other and to their own sense of identity. In our first days of camp, our camper – and parents – have seen this first-hand as they make challah, learn new songs and make new friends,” said Gamson. “We’re working hard every day to provide them with meaningful and memorable experiences.

To hear some of the kids tell it, the camp is succeeding.

“I want to go to camp for the rest of my life,” said 7-year-old Lauren Sirotkin.

Added Avery Lurie, 8, “The JCC camp is the best experience of my whole life. I want to come every year.”

* * *

Bus transportation is available to and from camp to various parts of the county. For more information about the Jewish Community Camp, contact the Federation at (727) 530-3223.


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