Lights, camera, action! Wait, wait, wait…that’s not right. Wi-fi, headset, Zoom….Camp Jenny 2021 is blasting off. That’s right, while this year has brought us many challenges it has also given us the opportunity to create a semester-long Camp Jenny program. Camp Jenny’s co-Directors, Ava Dinow and Ben Ragals always kept a positive attitude. They were ready to create something that had never been done, to handle the speed-bumps and the roadblocks, to empower their staff and to provide the best experience they could for their campers.
How, where, when, what? Those were just a few of the questions to answer when they started to meet with Adam Griff and me weekly beginning September 2020. One thing was for certain, Ava and Ben were open to creating something different by engaging their peers and satisfying the needs of the Camp Jenny campers.
So how did they do it, you may ask. Well, they met with teen leaders who applied back in December to be part of the CJ Leadership Team. They met with the year-round volunteer team regularly, communicated with the elementary school and asked lots of questions.
As a result we are proud to share, that for the first time, Camp Jenny is partnering with the school throughout the spring semester to offer some amazing programming:
- Two teen created and led evening programs monthly throughout February, March and April.
- Our “cabins” are now by homeroom class which we hope will help build community in their classes.
- A “mystery reader” program for teen and adult volunteers to virtually participate in a class to read a story to them. A simple and quick opportunity that makes a big impact!
- Care packages distributed throughout the semester with supplies needed for programs as well as some fun things to get them through the summer and Camp Jenny goodies they would receive if they were at camp.
- Our teens and adults create educational videos and they get shared with the proper grade at school. These range from addition and subtraction tutorials to learning about a compass rose.
- Saturday evening programs for the campers followed by a teen-led Havdallah service for NFTY teens and adult volunteers.
- Food collection and distribution when needed.
- A finale program in May for all of our campers.
Sound good? Yes, I think so, too! Ava and Ben never showed any discouragement, which would have been acceptable based on the state of our world. What they showed was true leadership, by encouraging their peers to apply to be a staff member, inquiring about resources, pursuing partnerships and spending time doing some serious brainstorming.
Tonight is our kick-off program and, even though I am sure we will learn as we go, I am very excited to see everything our teens have been working on be brought to life. Afterall, this is what Camp Jenny is – it’s a feeling you get, it’s a smile you share, it’s an experience you create and it’s a memory you hold forever. It’s Camp Jenny.
Camp Jenny 2021 Coordinator
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