Growing Up at the J

(Published May 23, 2019)

Meet Alex, James and Katie

All have been friends since they were babies, and they have the J to thank for it. They grew up together in ECE classrooms, and though elementary school sent James to a different school than Alex and Katie, they maintain their friendship through the J’s afterschool care program and especially CampJCC. Having someone to do life with makes big transitions easier. For Alex, Katie and James, knowing that the J is their home base and that they have each other there makes them feel safe and confident as they move through the world. The warmth and sense of community at the J are unmatched, since the kids have known several of their counselors for years, too. As Katie’s mom Betsy said, “It’s their place.”

Growing Through Play at CampJCC

When asked to share his favorite thing about CampJCC, James said, “All the fun activities.” All three sets of parents agreed: There’s so much for kids to do at the J as they make daily use of spaces like the pools, the gyms, and the nature trails, and they learn valuable skills while they’re at it. James’ parents Justin and Alison, for example, were amazed at his comfort level in the water when they took him swimming at the end of the summer and he jumped right into the deep end, popped back up and swam the length of the pool. “If you could just teach them how to ride bikes!” Alex’s dad (another Alex) and mom Linda joked.

Camp Time is Family Time

It’s easy and convenient for parents to send their older kids to camp at the same place where the younger ones are in ECE, but it also allows for bonding time. In the summer, both ECE and CampJCC kids get to swim in the Eskenazi Water Park, so Alex and James took the opportunity to meet up and play with their younger brothers Eli and Evan – and see their old preschool teacher, Mr. Mills, at the same time.

Eli, Evan, and Katie’s younger sister Anna know their turn for CampJCC is coming soon, and they can’t wait. Eli and Anna are excited for their special camp backpacks, and when Alison and Justin talk to Evan about going to kindergarten, he’ll recognize they’re missing a step and correct them, “I’m not going to kindergarten, I’m going to camp!” For the kids and their families, going to CampJCC is a rite of passage.

CampJCC Crosses Cultures

This summer, Alex’s family and Katie’s family will be participating in another CampJCC tradition: They’ll be hosting shlichim, Israeli counselors who spend their summers at CampJCC. Both families are excited to give back to the J and share in this cultural exchange, and for Betsy, there’s another bonus: “The [shlichim have been] awesome counselors, all the kids love them,” so spending time with the shlichim outside of camp should be tons of fun for all involved.

Neither Alex’s family, Katie’s family, nor James’ family is Jewish, but as Katie’s dad Jason put it, “it doesn’t matter. We’re big on diversity […] and there’s great diversity here.” The exposure the J provides to different cultures, religions, faiths and ethnicities is “awesome, just for life. For the kids, us, anybody.”