What is the Goal of Messianic Jewish Day Camp?
The goal of having a Messianic Jewish Day Camp is to connect youth to Messianic Judaism in a fun and memorable way. At day camp, long lasting friendships are made and children develop a connection to their Messianic community and to their Jewishness. Camp is staffed by adult volunteers from the congregation and teens from the congregation who act as camp counselors to the young campers. There is a Camp Director and an adult Teen Leader who oversees the teen camp counselors. The camp helps to form a positive connection between the teen camp counselor and the campers, and campers form close relationships with the others children they meet. When children are involved in camp it also draws in their parents to be involved with the congregation, and all parents are encouraged to bring their children to the camp finale that occurs on Shabbat when the camp counselors and campers help lead the Shabbat service, campers receive their certificates of attendance, and a video highlighting the week at camp is shared with the congregation. There is a fee for the camp, which is kept at an affordable low rate, so that all are able to send their children to camp and scholarships are made available for those who do not have the funds for their children to attend. Some of the cost of camp is offset by donations of camp supplies that the congregation members contribute.
What is the Structure of Camp?
At day camp, a full week of fun and learning is planned for the campers. Each year there is a specific theme that the camp curriculum is wrapped around, and there is also a daily theme, which the activities of the day reflect, the following is an example:
Monday: Camp Yeladim Opening Day
Tuesday: Mayim (Water) Day
Wednesday: Field Trip Day
Thursday: Pool Day/Sleepover
Friday: Mitzvah Day/Nursing Home
Each day at camp starts out with morning songs, which leads into a fun group activity, a Bible lesson, and creative projects that reflect the Bible lesson, and then all join in the Hamozti and eat lunch together. The afternoon offers campers the opportunity to have some freedom to explore their interests as we have offer a variety of activities such as kickball, riding scooters, drama, and painting. Near the end of each day all of the campers work on memorizing the daily scripture through fun games and then before leaving to go home for the day the campers all sing Shalom Chaverim in a circle together. Also for the week of day camp there is a Tzedakah Project, where the campers raise money for a charity. Also, one day of camp is devoted to a mitzvah project of going to the local nursing home and signing for the residents, taking them a gift and "kibitzing" with them.
Also on Thursday night, the campers have an overnight at the synagogue. That evening after a long day of going to the swimming pool, the campers come back to the synagogue and have free time to play and relax, while dinner is prepared. After everyone has had dinner, the campers braid dough and then bake the challah in preparation for Shabbat. Later that evening we have a campfire where we sing songs, have a devotion led by the rabbi, and make smores. After the camp fire, everyone gets on their PJ's and we all go watch a fun movie before falling off to sleep.