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What's Happening at Camp at the J

What’s Happening at Camp at the J

Posted by Mayerson JCC on January 25, 2017 | Share

Camp a the J Summer Camp in CincinnatiDid you know that summer never stops at Camp at the J? We work year round and are excited to announce great news! Here’s what’s happening this month.

Camp at the J, an American Camp Association (ACA) accredited camp, complies with over 300 standards to keep our camp up to date and safe so every camper has a great camp experience. In January, our professional staff attended the ACA Ohio Camp Conference in Columbus to meet with other camp professionals and study best practices together. While at this conference, we presented in conjunction with Camp Livingston on a topic valuable to all camps, accepted an award on behalf of Mercy Health, and also received a grant to enhance our nature program!

Camp at the J has a small nature trail where many birds migrate in the winter and feed during the summer months. This inspired us to create a meaningful environmental education program which will be led by our in-house Nature Specialist who is a Hazon JOFEE Fellow (Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming, and Environmental Education). Through ACA, we has a received the funding to make this program possible.

Camp at the J Summer Camp in CincinnatiCampers will participate in sessions led by a guest Naturalist who specializes in Birding from Great Parks of Hamilton County. First they will research and learn about native birds then they will study how to identify birds by sight and sound, and learn how to keep a bestiary. Campers will focus on the current conditions of the natural world and how modern culture has caused a displacement among wildlife, and how the birds will benefit from the bird houses they will create. Campers will spend time investigating bird habitats and shelters, and learn how engineering approaches can be applied to natural systems. Then they will design birdhouses according to the design plans laid out by the Division of Wildlife “Nest Box Plan” to provide warmth during the cold months, a place for breeding, and safety from predators. This will give them the opportunity to work in peer groups and learn to use tools safely. By the end of the summer, campers will be able to predict which birds will show up at the different houses and feeders.

The purpose of this project is to enhance our current nature program at camp. While the obvious goal of educating children about birds is itself worthy, we are also using this curriculum as a new and creative vehicle to heighten each child’s physical, cognitive, creative, social, and emotional development. In this way, the benefits to campers are both immediate and long term.

Camp at the JDirectors from Camp at the J and Camp Livingston work closely together throughout the year creating goals for campers and staff, and training our staff and recruiting campers together. At the ACA Ohio Camp Conference, we presented on our experience of working with each other and how it has benefited each of our camps. Did you know that our summer staff spend an entire day at Camp Livingston for team building experiences? Resident and day camps have many differences, but we also have many similar situations that occur during the summer so we find it beneficial to train our staff together on topics like group control, gender sensitivity, enthusiasm, and Jewish values. This opportunity allows day camp staff to see where some of our campers go for part of the summer and it allows resident camp staff to practice their teaching skills on adults first. Most importantly, it provides networking for every camp staff person.

Sponsor Spotlight: Mercy Health-Jewish Hospital has been an amazing resource for Camp at the J. They have provided us with our summer nurse who is available when we need assistance and also checks every camper health history profile before camp begins. They offer summer staff continuous training in a variety of topics relevant to youth development. During the summer they come to camp and run Healthy Habit programming with the campers. Sometimes this includes heart health, learning how to call 911, or simple hygiene techniques. This year they will teach our entire camp staff CPR and First Aid! We nominated them for the Friends of Camping award through ACA and they won! We are very grateful for everything that they provide us throughout the summer.

We are excited for our birding program to begin this summer and so happy we have friends at Camp Livingston and Mercy Health. We love finding ways that strengthen our camp and make for a great summer experience for our campers! We hope you see the efforts we are putting into the planning and execution of camp.

Happy Camping!
Nikki Downey
Director of Camp, Inclusion, and Athletics