We are a first-generation JCC Camps at Medford family, but we could not be happier with this choice for our children! My husband grew up in Northern New Jersey, and I came to the US as an adolescent religious and political refugee from the Former Soviet Union and grew up in Texas, so whilst we were familiar with big Jewish camps and had great experiences there, we relied entirely on reputation when we signed our older son for his first Medford summer. We have not looked back! Max, 9, and Ada, 6, have both thrived at Medford, and they cannot wait to be back for Summer 2021.
For us as parents of young children, having our kids experience a summer outdoors within the safe confines of appropriate adult supervision, was of supreme importance. We did not want our children indoors in the summer, hooked to screens, and we were thrilled that the camp was designed for children to be outside, hiking, fishing, swimming, playing, crafting and having all manner of outdoor fun. We were also impressed with the level of security and supervision provided by the camp, as our children are still quite young and were both barely 5 when they had begun camp, so they needed help with toileting, eating and getting dressed after swimming. It was a relief to see how well-trained the counselors were in providing appropriate supervision, and how empathic, thoughtful and encouraging all the staff were with children, guiding the children and helping them without infantilizing or enabling them.
My husband and I were also impressed by the variety of programming available, guaranteed to appeal to various interests. Our sports-loving son, an energetic, athletic and competitive boy, adores playing soccer, flag football and gaga, and our daughter, who loves dance, singing and theater, loved being a part of her first ever camp show and brought home crafts and art projects all summer long. Both had known a few children in camp through their synagogue daycare and through school but made a lot more friends over the summer, and both prided themselves on receiving several awards and came home filled with ruach. They both love “free swim”, and my husband and I were astonished by how much their swimming skills had improved with the instruction they had received with instructional swim! They were both very proud to advance to the next “color cap”. They have even enjoyed the bus rides, and they both loved the food at camp – to the point that I had emailed Sara Sideman asking her for the camp baked ziti recipe, as apparently, my homemade baked ziti paled in comparison to the camp baked ziti! Also, apparently, camp fudge pops taste better than regular fudge pops, but I would imagine that any fudge pop tastes great when eaten on a scorching hot summer day surrounded by friends! Of course, Maccabiah Color War is the highlight of the summer! Our kids look forward to that week all year long. Last and certainly not the least, our children’s religious identity was continually strengthened at JCC Camps at Medford, which is of paramount importance to our family. Both children enjoy participating in weekly Shabbat services, and both have learned a lot about Israel.
We were sad to not have had a normal camp experience this past summer; as a dual-frontline healthcare worker family, my husband and I chose to keep our children at home with babysitters during summer 2020, and our children were devastated to not have Medford to look forward to but are looking forward to Summer 2021 with much excitement!
Dina, Ben, Max and Ada Silverman