Camps for All

Barak Hermann

From the opening of Camp Woodlands in 1948 to Camp Milldale (est. 1966) to our current J Camps summer programs, the JCC has been at the forefront of creating Jewish summer camps where kids can play, create and explore — places where kids can learn and develop life skills, experience Jewish values and Israeli culture and be part of a diverse community.

I grew up attending Jewish camps — specifically the Union of Reform Judaism URJ-Eisner Camp Institute in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. There, I became passionate about Jewish camp culture, community and Jewish values. These summer experiences created a foundation that motivated me to become a Jewish communal professional.

At URJ-Eisner Camp, I played a lot of sports. I loved free period too, when you could try new things such as arts and crafts, nature hikes, softball — you could do anything. I also loved Camp Shabbat. I loved the community and feelings Shabbat created. I loved the spirit of Israeli Dancing with friends and staff. Camp creates that culture where you can be comfortable doing things you might not do during the school year.

I have been a camper, a counselor, a unit head and a camp director — Jewish summer camp defines who I am!

Today, I am blessed and fortunate to work with a dynamic team of professionals to create a nurturing, inclusive summer community where kids and teens can grow up — J Camps!

At J Camps, you can do karate, sports, theater, swimming, science and ropes course, and then, every Friday, we welcome in Shabbat. We emphasize Jewish values and Israeli culture, and in partnership with Jewish Volunteer Connection we engage our campers in Shabbaba weekly community service projects.

We have expanded the JCC’s camping program since Camp Milldale’s closure in 2015. Last summer, we had 1,300 campers in 10-plus J Camp summer programs. This summer — 1,400 campers.

From our early childhood camps Noah’s Ark and Camp Ami to Habimah Arts Camp to Koolanu for Orthodox boys in Park Heights to J Day and Maccabi Sports, J Camps offers a great menu of summer camps. We have expanded our specialty camps offering one-week options from Circus and LEGO® camps to STEM Camps. We are also partnering with Pearlstone Center to offer an outdoor nature Tiyul Camp and with Krieger Schechter Day School for a Young Innovators STEM Camp.

Getting J Camps to where they are today has been a team effort. Our lay leaders, our partners at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and our talented staff and our families have worked together to make J Camps an amazing Jewish summer experience for our incredible campers.

Barak Hermann is CEO of the JCC of Greater Baltimore.

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