I’m not really sure why running through the water sprinkler as a child demands peals of laughter and delight. I remember loving the oscillating sprinkler in our back yard and how much fun it was to run across the simple gadget as the pendulum action sprayed water on our lawn.

I traveled back to this time a few days ago when watching our summer camp preschoolers experience these same joys in our improvised waterpark. I could have watched for hours.

Summer brings a new flavor to our campus. The little ones are enjoying the outdoors and our older children are participating in Camp Shalom here at the CJCE and about town. In fact, today the Camp Shalom campers were on a special field trip to the Cincinnati Zoo. I know a significant activity was to visit Fiona, Ohio’s most famous baby hippo.

Earlier last month, Meryl Hattenbach, JCC Camp Shalom Director, caught me in the hall to let me know that our summer camp enrollment is up by 25%. This wonderful news made me realize that good things were happening. After a bit of prodding I heard a few of the possible reasons we have been on the upswing lately.

Our campers are returning for another summer, our counselors are returning and both look forward to sharing their summer together. Many of the comments heard in the pre-camp period is that campers couldn’t wait to see their counselor again. I know I remember all my counselors from summer camp and day camp with fondness.

In asking what makes our camp special is the same universal truth about camping and maybe life itself (pardon the philosophical pronouncement). That truth is that the relationships developed during a summer of fun are lasting and make each day a delight. Whether it’s playing “Four-Square” on our campus or going on the field trips the key ingredient is sharing the time with your best friend or the one who is going to be your best friend at the end of the summer.

This year, our theme is all about Superheroes. Included in the summer activities will be visits from some of the heroes in our community. But every day, our summer camp is making sure each child is thinking of themselves as a superhero.

Camping is one of the most important offerings of our JCC and JCC’s around the country. A significant amount of resources are available to help us with the fun part of building a great program and the important safety standards and everything in between. Thanks to Meryl Hattenbach, Jane Hochstein, Audrey MacKenzie and our national organization – JCCA for building a program we can be proud of.




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