There’s eight-year-old Owen who loves basketball camps. And then there’s four-year-old Claire and her deaf twin sister, Elizabeth; both of whom love to swim.
Elizabeth’s hearing equipment has to be switched depending on the activities she’s doing, so it could be scary to entrust responsibility on a camp counselor. It could be difficult to find camps suitable for each of their children’s interests.
But for the Yoffes, there are no could-be’s. Kristen Yoffe said The J’s summer camps allow her children to do what each of them love, and even more importantly, they give her and Bryan peace of mind.
“Knowing I can drop my kids off in a safe environment to highly-trained staff members who are there every year – it’s a safe feeling. And you want to know that your kids are safe,” Yoffe said.
Because camps include pool time, every camper is tested at the start of camp and placed into a swim level based on their skills. The staff methodically works on swimming with the children and sends home progress reports to parents.
Yoffe said the swim program distinguishes summer camp from all other camps in the region.
“It’s amazing to see the progress the children make in swimming. Our kids amaze me! They come away with so many more skills than they had at the beginning of camp,” Yoffe said.
“We have a planning and training meeting with the staff and Elizabeth’s camp counselor prior to camp. The camp administrators help set a plan for how she can enjoy the camp experience and how to handle her hearing loss equipment,” Yoffe said.
As for Owen, he can dribble around the court and swish the net at the Wylie Brown Basketball Camp. Claire and Elizabeth can have their pick from the wide array of summer specialty camps. There’s culinary arts, theater, sports camps and special agent camps, just to name a few.
Yoffe said her children are never bored and excel in the camps they do.
“Another selling point for us is the way camp weaves Israeli culture and Jewish learning into daily activities. The Jewish kids there come away with a stronger Jewish identity,” she said.
Yoffe said it’s comforting as a parent to see the same staff coming back every year.
“I feel like there are camps out there that have high staff turnover. The staff at The J genuinely love being there and they’re very well-trained, Yoffe said.”
In fact, The J’s Summer Camps are ACA Accredited which means the program has undergone a thorough (up to 300 standards) review of operations – from staff qualifications and training to emergency management.
People like 19-year-old Alex Reczek have loved working with the children so much, this summer will be his fifth year.
“I love working summer camps at The J! There’s a different job every day and the kids are always surprising me with the funny things they do and say,” Reczek said.
Reczek, an Environmental Studies Major at Stetson University, said he enjoys providing guidance to the children.
“For the kids, getting to interact with different people and form relationships is so important at summer camp. I like knowing that I become a role model for them,” he said.
Camp also correlates with what Reczek learns in ROTC at Stetson.
“In ROTC, we’re taught we have to adapt and use critical thinking for different situations and summer camp helps me apply that better than anything,” he said. “To be able to interact in different environments, whether its sports or arts and crafts or even field trips, the kids learn to adapt and use their social skills so much.”
Registration for The J Summer Camp is open and the first week begins June 6. Week-long camps are offered all summer, June 6-August 5 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. with extended day options available from 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Choose the weeks that work best for you. Scholarships and discounts are available. To register, visit www.JCCLouisvilleCamp.org.