How to Know Your Kid Is Ready for Camp

You think your child is ready for Jewish summer camp. You know you are ready for them to go to Jewish summer camp. But how can you be certain that this year is the one? Here are some great rules of thumb to consider before packing your child’s bags.

The first thing to ask yourself is whether or not your child can sleep away from home comfortably. Have they spent the night at a relative’s home? Maybe they have sleepovers with friends. If your child can handle these nights away without incident, it’s a good indicator that they are ready for camp.

The next thing to ask yourself is whether or not your child can swim. Every Jewish summer camp will have its own policies with regards to children in the water, but your little one should be able to swim at least one length of a pool. This will ensure they are able to take part in activities that the camp offers.

Lastly, ask your child if they are ready. While some kids relish the idea of time away from home, others become anxious at the thought. For these little ones, a day camp may be a better option and a way to get used to “camp” life before they take the plunge at an overnight camp.

There is financial aid for Jewish summer camp available. Reach out to the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta for more information on how your child may be able to participate in a camp near you.

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Perfect Birthday Gifts for Your “Year-Round Camper”

For some kids, a week or two of camp every year is more than enough time spent hiking, swimming and being constantly outdoors. But for others, going to Jewish summer camp is simply a supplement to a year-round urge to be in the wilderness. If your child is one who would rather spend their free time blazing new trails in the woods instead of playing video games, here are a few gift ideas for birthdays, Hanukkah and other holidays:

1. High-Quality Boots

Depending on how fast your child is growing and how often they are outdoors, they may outgrow athletic shoes seemingly as soon as you buy them. But for teenagers whose feet are pretty much done growing too much, a pair of high-quality hiking boots could be the perfect gift. Though they will be pricey, the right pair can last for years, even under rigorous conditions.

2. A Telescope

For young kids and teenagers alike, a telescope can make a wonderful gift for those who enjoy camping at night. They can be a bit complicated to set up, but once you have it figured out, telescopes are the gift that keep on giving. After all, there are few sights more beautiful than seeing a full moon in high magnification! Best of all, you can find great telescopes to fit nearly any budget and age level.

3. A Mountain Bike

Though hiking different trails is an invigorating experience, taking to the the path on a mountain bike is even more fun. Even if your kid isn’t a hiker, a mountain bike offers far more opportunities than, say, a road bike. Riders can go through fields, trails and other unpaved areas with ease. Just be sure to get the appropriate size bike — and helmet — for your bicyclist!

4. A Compass

While it may seem like a small gift, a high-quality compass can be the perfect addition to any outdoorsy kid’s gear. When children learn the skill of orienteering at a young age, they can feel more confident in unfamiliar territory when they get older. Plus, being able to use a compass effectively is becoming a lost art, so having that talent is definitely worth showing off!

Though your kids can use these gifts year-round, many of them will definitely be handy at summer camp. If you want to send your child to camp, but can’t afford it, we are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about the financial resources we offer for Jewish summer camp.

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Why Disconnecting from Tech Is Good for Kids

It’s no secret that our world is more connected than ever before. Between your phone, your laptop, your tablet and your TV, there isn’t much you miss these days. Chances are, your kids are just as connected. Even if they don’t have the same arsenal of screens as you, they probably rely on technology for everything from entertainment to education.

While a more connected world certainly has its benefits, it also has its drawbacks. It probably isn’t realistic to completely disconnect your kids from technology all summer long, but attending camp can provide a welcome reprieve. Here’s why disconnecting from tech for a week or two is good for kids:

1. Create Instead of Consume

When your kids are constantly connected to technology, there is little reason for them to be creative. At camp, the option to simply sit back and consume media all day isn’t available. As such, kids have to be more creative. Further, interacting with nature has been shown to boost problem-solving skills. Often, this newfound creativity comes back with campers, even when they are able to resume their normal level of media consumption.

2. Breaking Down Screen Barriers

Often, we use technology to (sometimes subconsciously) avoid talking to people in real life. And if you’re doing this, there’s a good chance your kids are, too. When you send them to camp, there is no smartphone barrier between them and their cabin-mates. Camp allows for your kids to make meaningful and often lifelong connections with fellow campers. Further, studies have shown that spending time in nature without technology helps kids become more social.

3. Disconnect to Reconnect with the Spirit

At Jewish summer camp, many activities revolve around ruach. The Spirit is always around us, but experiencing it is often hindered by the screen in front of us. Camp allows kids to reconnect with nature, the Jewish community and other aspects of ruach in a meaningful way while they have the summer of their lives. This reconnection is not only brought home right after camp, but often has lifelong effects.

Jewish summer camp is an experience every child should be able to experience. Yet, affording camp is often the greatest barrier. If you need financial assistance for summer camp, the Atlanta Jewish Federation can help. Contact us today to learn more about our financial resources for Jewish summer camp.

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The Secret Must-Have Packing List for Summer Camp

When you register your kids for Jewish summer camp, you’ll usually get a list of items that they must bring with them. It will seem to fully list everything your camper will need for their experience, from proper footwear to toiletries to Shabbat clothing. However, there are some items you may want to include that won’t be listed, but will make your camper’s experience even better. Here are just a few secret must-have items for your kid’s summer camp stay:

  1. A Headlamp

While flashlights are always helpful at camp, a headlamp is even better. It frees up your camper’s hands to build fires, pitch tents and do other activities without the inconvenience of finding somewhere to balance a flashlight while doing so. Plus, headlamps just look cool — experienced campers know the value of a good headlamp!

  1. Binoculars

Binoculars are a great tool for your camper. Though they may not use them every day, they can really come in handy on days when campers go on treks through the woods. Binoculars often aren’t included on packing lists because they can be expensive, but for older campers who are responsible, they can be a great investment.

  1. Eggcrate Foam Mattress Topper

If you’ve ever been to camp, you probably know that the mattresses in the cabin aren’t as comfortable as your mattress back home. An eggcrate foam mattress topper is a great solution. It will help your camper get the sleep they need to fully enjoy their experience. Eggcrate cushioning can also provide that extra level of comfort if your kid will be spending a night camping in the woods.

Before making your packing list, it’s important to find the right Jewish camp. Often, one of the most important factors is the price. If you want to send your kids to camp, but may not be able to afford it, the Atlanta Jewish Federation can help. Contact us today to learn more about financial resources for Jewish camp.

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Life Lessons Only Summer Camp Can Offer

Sleepaway camp is often the highlight of the summer — for kids and parents alike. Kids get to spend time learning new skills and forging new friendships, while parents get a week or two to themselves. Yet, when the kids come home, they often do so as new people. Though camp may be over for the summer, it transforms how they see the world. The life lessons they’ve learned at camp will stay with them for a lifetime:

  1. A Bolder Self-Image

At camp, one of the main goals is to get kids out of their comfort zones. No leap is too big at camp, especially when your new friends are cheering you on. Even when campers come up just short of the goal, the valiant attempt is celebrated. In everyday life, this translates into being more confident with one’s self, especially when trying new things. Plus, those new friendships are often ones that last a lifetime!

  1. A More Equitable Worldview

Campers come from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Yet, at camp, everyone is equal. Status disappears as every kid is simply being a kid. No matter what neighborhood you come from, you are just as much a part of the camp community as the next kid. This fosters a sense that, at the end of the day, we are all just people, and all deserve encouragement and empathy — a valuable lesson to bring home.

  1. A Stronger Sense of God’s Presence

When your kid goes to Jewish camp, there is always an underlying feeling of God’s majesty in every activity and in the nature surrounding them. It is often at camp that kids truly fall in love with Judaism, from its traditions to the community to what it truly means to be Jewish. In fact, kids who attend Jewish camp are much more likely to stay engaged in their faith as an adult.

Going to summer camp is a valuable experience for every Jewish child, but we know it can be difficult to afford for some families. The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about financial resources for Jewish camp.

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