Camp J to take its campers on memorable adventures this summer

Guni Saar (let) and Zohar Zipori are this year’s Camp J shlichim from Israel. (Community photo by Jessica Budnick)

Where are you going on your summer vacation? Camp J is taking kids on trips around the world.
Well, sort of.
This year’s camp theme is “Summer Vacation: Are We There Yet?” Each week features a different virtual destination, as well as a coordinating camp value, according to camp Director Mindye Mannel.
Some places campers will “travel” are the beach (friendship), Maccabiah (sportsmanship), mountains (courage) and the rainforest (tikkun olam). Beach week will feature waterslides and Maccabiah week will end with a field day.
One physical place where campers will be going this summer is the old Anshei Sfard synagogue. The building, which the Jewish Community of Louisville recently purchased, is being used as indoor event space instead of the upstairs classrooms in The J. Camp circle will be held on its grounds, and pickup and drop-off will be on the synagogue driveway, alleviating traffic congestion in the J’s parking lot.
Camp J’s field trips this year differ from many places campers have visited in the past.
“We just try to be a little more creative so that if we do go to a place where parents take their kids, the kids are experiencing the things at those places that most parents won’t do,” Mannel said.
Trek campers will do some actual trekking this year with overnights at Camp Livingston in Indiana, the Gordon JCC in Nashville and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus (Ohio). Young Leaders campers also go on two field trips a week: one to somewhere just for fun and one where they will work on a service project.
Some of the field trips this summer include visits to Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest to see the Forest Giants, Schimpff’s Confectionery and Marengo Cave.
Special visitors to camp this year include Tikiz Shaved Ice and the Kasey Program, an organization that teaches fire and life safety skills using Kasey, a Labrador retriever.
During Israel week (compassion), the Tzofim Friendship Caravan will perform.

Specialty camps

Among Camp J’s variety of specialty camps this summer is a Camp Livingston Sleep Away from Aug. 5 to 9. Campers will leave on Monday and return on Friday, spending the week at Camp Livingston Indiana.
“They spend the entire week at Camp Livingston fully supervised.” Mannel said. “I was so excited when Livingston agreed to do that with us.”
There also are two weeks of basketball camp with Doug Davenport, Bellarmine assistant men’s basketball coach, and two weeks of chess camp. There will be Medieval Mania, a specialty offering in which campers learn to make catapults and battle each other’s fortresses, Science Olympiad and the Sound of Science, where campers will learn about sound, making their own musical instruments (and a lot of noise).
The last week of camp will feature a drone camp, in which kids will learn history and safety, then progress to racing.
Camp started June 10 and continues through Aug. 14.


This year’s shlichim (Israeli counselors) are Zohar Zipori, who is from a small town between Hadera and Netanya, and Guni Saar, of Ra’anana, outside Tel Aviv. Both were finishing their time in the Israeli army when they learned about Camp J.
Guni was a tank commander in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Due to injuries, though, he spent his last year mostly off duty. He plays guitar and piano and will focus on teaching music to the kids.
Zohar was an IDF search and rescue combat soldier who will be working in the theater camps.
This summer, Israeli culture will be incorporated throughout the camp instead of campers coming to the shlichim as in the past. All camp counselors are well-versed in Israeli culture.
Guni looks forward to teaching the kids about Israeli music.
“I hope to get better at communication with kids, improving my teaching skills, especially in music,” he said. “I have played for a lot of years, but I’ve never really taught music, so I think it’s a great opportunity.”
Zohar wants to open new worlds to campers.
“I hope to make the kids have fun,” she said, “maybe not to become actresses or anything, just to have fun through the drama. Maybe it will expose them to worlds they never knew.”

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