Escape from New York

Gideon, 5 (left) and Jonah, 8 (right) dressed up for OFJCC J-Camp Colors Wars Day (pictured with their Savta Ruth)
Gideon, 5 (left) and Jonah, 8 (right) dressed up for OFJCC J-Camp Colors Wars Day (pictured with their Savta Ruth)

This summer, Donna B., her husband and two sons decided to escape their home in Brooklyn for a little bit of the West Coast. They searched for a Hebrew-immersion summer camp option for their boys and were overjoyed to find the Tayasim Hebrew language program with J-Camp at the OFJCC. They were also able to reconnect with grandparents and friends from childhood. Read on to learn more about Donna’s family’s experience!

Q: How did you find out about J-Camp at the OFJCC? 

A: I grew up in Saratoga, where my folks still live and are active in our temple and in the greater Silicon

Jonah at camp

Jonah at camp

Valley Jewish community. Early this past summer, when COVID was still hitting New York City incredibly hard (and California was yet to experience a spike in cases), my family made the decision to travel from Brooklyn to the Bay Area to spend time with (and get support from) my parents, escape the NYC summer heat, and to hopefully find some kind of activities for our two boys, whose camps had all been cancelled.

We started by checking out the local JCC options and were so thrilled to learn that the OFJCC was offering a camp program that fit ideally with our travel timeline. It really felt like a miracle that not only could our boys have some kind of summer camp experience, but that it would also be in a Jewish, Hebrew-speaking program – which is what we’d originally planned for them to do in NYC this summer.

It was also personally special for me to reconnect with J-Camp’s Eryn Alvey, whom I’ve known since elementary school!

Q: What was your experience like? 

A: Both our boys had a great time at J-Camp. We could tell they were happy in their groups, made friends, and loved their counselors. Of course, our biggest concern was health and safety, and we were impressed with how organized the safety policies and procedures were, and how carefully the staff communicated them to parents and adhered to them on-site.

Q: What was the social aspect like for your sons?  

A: It was wonderful to see both our kids make new friends and come home every day so happy to have been able to play with other kids. The lack of in-person social interaction has been by far the most difficult challenge for our children during the pandemic. Being able to play in a safe, small-group environment was such a gift.

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Andrea Longini

Written by Andrea Longini

Andrea Longini calls herself the Communications Manager at the OFJCC. She also calls her family long distance in Pittsburgh and her in-laws even longer distance in Belgium. She believes part of living fully is staying in touch with people you care about. An example of how this can be done is by sending them links to meaningful blog posts. Now that's what she calls communicating!

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