JCC Camp Kingswood

By Amy Hart

Attempting to summarise my time at Kingswood so far has proven impossible. Condensing 2 months of laughter, tears and hard work into actual words cannot do justice to the gifts that camp has given me and many others.

A particular element of camp that many people do not consider is how much you can learn. Being propelled into a world full of traditions that you are not aware of may be daunting for many, but camp has definitely enabled me to learn to appreciate diversity. Working alongside so many different people has shown me how every person you meet has so much to give and qualities for you to take from them. It’s strange to think that people I have only known for 7 weeks have left such a mark on my life, but it only highlights to me that in our busy day-to-day lives, we don’t always notice how incredible certain people are and camp ensures that we do become aware of these little things that make people who they are.
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To say that my time at camp has been special is an understatement. I never thought that I would embark on a journey that would have such an impact on me. The fact that writing this piece has left me in floods of tears is an obvious indicator of how much camp means to me. I’m not sure what can beat the smiles on my campers’ faces, nor will I ever be able to describe the elated feeling of a camper telling me that I made their summer special. I wish I could capture the atmosphere of camp and keep it in a bottle at home for a rainy day. I may never be able to explain in words how wonderful this summer has been, but what I can say is that camp has made me a better person and I will forever be indebted to Jewish camps USA and JCC Camp Kingswood for giving me this opportunity to learn, grow and enjoy the magic of camp.

For anyone considering working at camp, I urge you to do it. It may be tough, tiring and cause you to have regular breakdowns, but as I sit staring at the sunset in Maine, reminiscing about all the lifelong friends I have made and how I have grown as a person, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Jewish Camps USA at the JCC Camp Conference

In September we went to the JCC Overnight Camp Conference for the first time, and it was a great success. A big thank you to Camp Barney Medintz for hosting us and to the JCC. It was great to spend lots of time with all of our close camp friends. 

B’nai B’rith Camp (Oregon)

By Alex Parker

After just a few weeks at B’nai B’rith Camp, I felt right at home. The fact that BB camp is a small camp compared to others means that I made friends with all the staff instantly and can name everyone. The leadership team are also so approachable and will always help with any problems that arise. BB camp includes staff from all over the world including countries like Ireland, Holland, Israel, Australia and of course America and England.

Staff week was a blast, it was a week full of activities that brought me closer to my fellow staff members and also helped me to get (slightly) prepared for when my campers arrived The highlight of staff week was definitely a sunset hike in the mountains followed by s’mores and songs by a camp fire on the beach.

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A typical day at BB consists of degel/flag followed by breakfast and then activities such as zip line, tubing, swimming or athletics. Campers also have the opportunity to learn a specific skill in “Skill Builders” such as life guarding and wacky science, which I lead. There is also plenty of free time which allows campers to do an activity of their choice. At the end of day the whole camp comes together and forms a friendship circle, we sing “Shalom Chaverim/Hello friends”. It is such a nice way to end the day.
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Shabbat at BB camp is something very special. It starts with the “Shabbat walk” where every single person on camp hugs and wishes Shabbat shalom to each other. This tradition really makes everyone feel part of the BB camp family and get in the spirit of Shabbat. Services by the lake and a banquet style meal then follow this. After dinner, Shabbat song session and Israeli dancing takes place. Everyone gets super sweaty, but this is definitely one of the highlights of the week for myself and many of the campers.

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Jewish Camps USA Unit Heads

Hi, my name is Gabby Kingsley, I’m currently in my final year at the University of Birmingham studying Geography with urban and regional planning. I have so far done 2 unbelievable summers at Camp JCA Shalom. This year I am the Unit Head at Birmingham, a role which I’m super excited for!

My aim is to get more applicants in Birmingham than last year and ensure that JCUSA has a presence on campus here in Birmingham. I’m also excited to meet all the hopeful applicants this year and expand the JCUSA family.

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When people tell you that you won’t shut up about camp once you’ve been, its true. The camp epidemic infects everyone with nostalgia and joy over the most amazing, life-changing experience. Choosing to be a camp counsellor at Camp Mountain Chai, in the midst of the San Bernadino Mountains of California allowed me to fulfill a dream of working at a summer camp. Not only did I learn more about myself (including that I could survive on little sleep), I learnt how much that kids can teach you.

I found another family; a home away from home. I am so excited to reunite with the lifelong friends I made and belt out the cheers, chants and songs that bring back memories that we’ll never forget. The CMC community bursts with support and love and is united in making every kid feel special in knowing that way up that tall green mountain is a place that we hold dearly in our hearts. I achieved making my kids feel involved and helping out wherever and whenever I could to give them an incredible summer too.

Advice? Be you! Be the best you you can be – the weird, fun, crazy one that involves everybody and make the most of this amazing opportunity.

Hi, my name is Sadie and I am the Leeds unit head for this year. I went to B’nai B’rith camp in Oregon the Summer before last and had the most amazing time and met some incredible friends from all around the world. It would be wrong to say it was the easiest thing I have ever done, it was definitely a challenge, but one that I learnt a lot about myself through as well as others.

I have stories that I could tell forever, and still annoy people with, but that’s what camp is about! I am really excited to be this years Unit Head, we have some amazing ambassadors in Leeds who I have the pleasure of working with, we are one giant family which I am hoping to expand even more this year! We have already sponsored some really fun events, such as a Friday night dinner and an American themed pre-drinks, and are hoping to do many more as the year goes on!

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Hey I’m Dean and I am the London Supervisor at JCUSA this year. My main role is to lead my team of JCUSA Ambassadors in London to find the most elite and top quality applicants to send to camp this summer. I spent two summers at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu and can only describe my experience as the most unbelievable and unforgettable time of my life.

Camp not only provides you with the possibility of changing a child’s life forever, but it also develops your character, enhances your perspective and in my opinion makes you the best person you can possibly be. My personal objective this year is to find applicants who are especially unique and not afraid to be different, because that is exactly what camp is all about!

As the London Supervisor I am really looking forward to welcoming new members to our family and provide others with the incredible opportunity of working at a summer camp with Jewish Camps USA. When you go to camp, you experience a love like no other. My Camp JCA Shalom family mean the world to me and I know I will always have a home away from home at camp. Camp doesn’t just end after the summer; it is with you for the rest of your life.

Shalom JCUSA Family! My name is Adam Nickels and I have the privilege of being the Nottingham Jewish Campus USA Supervisor this year. After spending the past three years working at Camp Interlaken in Wisconsin, I am still part of the epic JCUSA Family by acting as the Nottingham Supervisor. In the past, I have been both the Birmingham and London Supervisor.

Camp is in my blood, there is quite literally nowhere else in the world I would rather wake up than along the shores of Lake Finley in the North Woods of Wisconsin. I have an absolute passion for anything camp related and this passion extends to sharing my story with as many people as possible, to tell them the magic and wonders of camp and inspire them to go on this journey.

I am excited for the year ahead, to work closely with all of our wonderful Nottingham Ambassadors to encourage and motivate as many people as possible to not only become part of the Jewish Camps USA Family but to begin a part of their lives at the most special place on earth!