On Monday December 19, The J’s annual Winter Camp kicked off with adventures and exploration. Each year, this seasonal camp is held for two weeks during Louisville schools’ winter breaks.
“We provide this fun service for kids while their parents are either working or perhaps shopping,” says Betsy Schwartz, senior director of camping and youth services at The J.
As campers journey through camp and cold weather, their activities will focus on travel. This year’s theme is an east coast road trip from Maine to Florida. Each day, campers will learn about a new state or set of states.
“We are trying to focus our games, arts and crafts, and other activities to revolve around things that are special to that state,” Schwartz says.
Week one began with Maine and New Hampshire Monday. Former Summer Camp Specialty Camp Unit Head and current Winter Camp Counselor Loren Been explained that campers were creating animal sculptures from potatoes, of which Maine is a major producer.
“Today is going great, and the kids are having fun painting potatoes,” said Been.
On Monday, campers swam indoors, played gaga ball, ran relay races, learned pickle ball and participated in parachute games. Marlesha Woods, artist in residence at The J, brought the New Hampshire theme to life with map and hamster-related crafts.
As camp progresses, campers will explore Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C.; Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida through themed activities. Michael Fraade, The J’s Jewish Outdoor, Food and Environmental Education fellow, will teach campers about the lives of bees, and Benji Berlow will conclude both weeks of camp with song and dance in honor of Shabbat.
Campers, during week one, will visit Schimpff’s Confectionery and will meet with Cooking Camp Instructor Chef Gina Brown to learn about Pennsylvania chocolate. During week two, campers will tour the WHAS news station to learn more about the broadcasting industry, as Georgia is home to CNN headquarters.
Winter Camp not only brings excitement with new activities and themes but also brings back excitement with familiar faces, as many summer campers and counselors return for winter fun.
“It is so great to see all the faces from summer,” says Elizabeth Mundt, a former kindergarten unit head and current winter camp counselor.
Schwartz expresses a similar sentiment.
“My favorite thing is seeing the kids,” Schwartz says, “A lot of our summer campers come, so I get to see them for the first time since summer. I just wish I could keep them coming back more and more because I dig seeing them. It enlivens the building again.”
As Winter Camp progresses, it is clear the camp spirit stands strong in both the sunshine and the snow. A few spots are still available for December 26-30. For more information, visit www.jewishlouisville.org/wintercamp. The J will also offer a Schools’ Out Day program on January 2. Visit www.jewishlouisville.org/SOD for more information.