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December 1, 2021

“Do not separate yourself from the community.” – Rabbi Hillel, Pirke Avot

At Camp Solomon Schechter, we create a community where our kids can be their full selves and experience the power of belonging. Over the past two years, they have been through an extraordinary number of challenges and hardships. I was losing sleep at night worried our campers and staff would miss another summer at camp, so I created the Washington State Camp Coalition, representing the 145+ camps in the state, which advocated for the importance of resident camp at the state level. In collaboration with the Governor’s office, we wrote the state guidance for reopening resident camps. In late April, our guidance was adopted, and the state approved us to reopen. We celebrated and then shifted to the joyous work of welcoming campers back to camp.

Fast forward to opening day, Sunday, June 27th. Yes, it was 116 degrees out! (I’m still shvitzing.) We had waited two long years to see our campers arrive back at the most magical place on earth; move over Disneyland! The pure joy and energy of watching our staff welcome the arrival of our campers was contagious. They smiled from ear to ear, embracing their camp friends with monster hugs. It was a beautiful sight to see and took my breath away. It was magical, inspiring, and everything of which we could have hoped and dreamed. It was the exact antidote they needed to remember what it was like to be a kid. As that transformation set in, all the hard work to reopen camp was worth it.

Kids need to run free, be courageous, be creative, be curious, and be compassionate. At camp we create a space for our campers to build confidence, surround themselves with friends on which they can count, build a deeper sense of community, and celebrate being Jewish. Campers get to shine at camp and be the best version of themselves. It is truly remarkable. Creating a safe and healthy place for our campers and staff was especially impactful this year.

“In summer 2021, I was able to attend CSS. This meant everything to me. I had a very hard year feeling isolated because of COVID, and my dad was very sick fighting colon cancer. Camp was a place where I could actually have fun, meet new kids, and be myself. I was able to feel like a normal teenager again with other people who were understanding and sensitive to me. Camp really helped me cope with all the hard things and allowed me to have some fun. It was very important to my dad for me to go to camp.”

–  Max, 2021 First Time Camper

We tried to anticipate the mental, emotional, spiritual, and social needs of our campers and staff. As much as we prepared, we were surprised in many areas. We knew some of our campers were going to struggle, we just didn’t know how much. We integrated therapists and specialists into the camp community to learn, listen, and talk with our campers. We intentionally hired additional staff to ensure we could meet the needs of all our campers.

The support system and network needed to support our campers was, and will need to continue to be, extensive. When you zoom out, summer 2021 was incredible and life changing, but it is important to call attention to the campers and staff who struggled. We want all our campers and staff to thrive at camp, but how do we continue to fully support them? How do we provide a safe community for our greatest gifts? How do we take the time to listen and not judge this vulnerable demographic?

Camp is the answer; the power of camp is real! Let’s make sure camp is affordable, available, inclusive, welcoming, filled with loving and capable childcare professionals and resources, and infused with Jewish values and immersive programming. We need to continue to double down and invest in our kids, who are our future and most prized possessions in the world.

Please join me in supporting the power of Camp Solomon Schechter and our campers with a donation of $18, $36, $180, or $360 paid today, monthly, or quarterly. Donate today by clicking here or on Venmo at @Camp-Schechter.

DONATE NOW!

Happy Chanukah!

Zach Duitch, Executive Director

 

PS:  Save the date for Schechter Spark. We will honor Judith & Garry Kahn, the 2022 recipients of the Rabbi Joshua & Goldie Stampfer, z”l, Migdal Or Award! It will be held virtually on Sunday, May 1, 2022.


July 3, 2021

Shalom CSS Community,

What a great first week at camp we’ve had! Our chanichim (campers) have settled well into the exciting daily routine at CSS. The first days of intense heat and adjusted schedules are behind us, and we are now enjoying a full range of chuggim (activities). The aqua park and boating continue to see lots of action, but campers are also now participating in a wide range of experiences such as sports, cooking, and music. The challenge course and teva (nature) teams are taking advantage of the cooler weather to get the campers out into the stunning nature around camp.

The natural beauty at camp provides the perfect setting for thought-provoking conversations and programs centered around the theme of wonder and awe. We give campers the opportunity to deepen their appreciation for the natural world and find meaning in things they may have thought of as routine or mundane. Our tefillah (prayer) program teaches campers new prayers and songs and how to enhance their connection with the concept and content of the daily prayers. 

The Judaics team has been exploring the Exodus narrative with campers and leading programming that asks the campers to explore the narrative through the lens of miracles, wonder, and awe. The campers have been showing incredible curiosity and contributing to the sessions with someamazing questions such as “what if Moses had never found the burning bush?” and “why was darkness a plague if it gives you privacy?” The Judaics team had a great time answering these questions with the campers. Our Bet and Gimmel campers have been making Pesach (Passover)-themed Rube Goldberg courses to encourage interpretation of the narrative. And, of course, we are excitedly preparing to welcome in Shabbat with our Friday challah bake for the entire camp. 

The evening programs have provided campers with awesome bonding experiences. They have participated in varied entertainment such as a camper talent show, inter-cabin “Jewpardy” and filming music videos to songs of the cabin’s choice. Campers are forming close friendships, and the counselors are developing meaningful relationships with their campers. We are so proud of the yedidut (friendship) that is developing at session one of camp. We are excited for the opportunity to further strengthen our community during Shabbat. Shabbat at camp is a magical experience, and we can’t wait for our campers to share that with each other. 

Wishing a Shabbat Shalom to the entire Camp Solomon Schechter family!

~The CSS Team


February 11, 2021

We are so excited to be welcoming back Ilana and Matt Lipman to camp this summer; and, of course, their four wonderful children. Ilana and Matt added so much to our camp program in 2019, and we can’t wait for them to share their expertise and ruach with our campers again this summer!

Ilana will be back as our Jewish Life and Learning Professional, overseeing Judaics and tefilla (prayer), and ensuring that all aspects of camp life are enriched with Jewish values and rituals. Ilana is a lifelong Jewish educator and currently teaches at Yachad High School in Modi’in. Ilana grew up in the Young Judaea camping movement, but she has quickly become a beloved part of the CSS community! Ilana’s favorite ice cream flavor is Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, and her favorite TV show is Shtisel.

Matthew is originally from London, England. He loves practicing his American accent, but most Americans tell him it isn’t very good!! Matthew is an Israel Educator and works in several college gap year programs teaching students about Zionism, Israeli history, politics, and culture. He is an avid soccer (but he calls it football) fan and enjoys listening to 90’s pop music while running through the streets of Modi’in.

Both Ilana and Matthew earned Master’s degrees in Jewish education from Hebrew University as well as certificates of advanced Jewish text study from the Pardes Institute of Jewish studies. Before immigrating to Israel, they taught Jewish Text, Study, and Practice at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD. They live in Modi’in, Israel, which is halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. They love hiking, going to the beach, and having family workouts together!!


May 17, 2019
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After an exhaustive search spanning multiple continents and dozens of Rabbinical schools and Jewish institutions of higher learning, CSS has finally found it’s dream Jewish Life and Learning Professional, Ilana Lipman! But wait, there is more! Ilana’s husband, Matthew, is also an inspiring Jewish educator, and he will be joining our staff as well! And as if that weren’t enough, they will be joined by their four wonderful children. We cannot wait to welcome the entire Lipman family to camp this summer! Check out their introduction letter below.

Shalom CSS Family,

We are all super excited to be joining you all at CSS this summer. We have heard so much about the ruach, the fun, and the wonderful people at CSS. We are looking forward to being part of this special place. We live in Modi’in, Israel which is half way between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Our family loves hiking, going to the beach, and having family workouts together!!

Ilana is joining the senior staff at CSS as Jewish Life and Learning Professional. Ilana hails from NJ (Exit 4!!), grew up in Young Judaea camps, currently is the principal of an online Jewish day school, and after camp ends will be going back to school to train as an English teacher. Ilana’s favorite ice cream flavor is Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, and her favorite TV show is Shtisel.\

Matthew is originally from London, England. He loves practicing his American accent, but most Americans tell him it isn’t very good!! Matthew is an Israel Educator and works in several gap year programs teaching students about Zionism, Israeli history, politics, and culture. He is an avid soccer (but he calls it football) fan and enjoys listening to 90’s pop music while running through the streets of Modi’in.

Both Ilana and Matthew earned their Masters degree in Jewish education from Hebrew University as well as certificates of advanced Jewish text study from the Pardes Institute of Jewish studies. Before immigrating to Israel, they taught Jewish Text, Study, and Practice at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD.

We can’t wait to introduce our four children to the American sleep-away camp experience. Noa is 11, learning for her Bat Mitzvah and is an active member of our local tzofim (scouts) chapter. Matan is 9, a dedicated tree climber and an expert stick collector. Adiel is 6 and will be joining Katan and some of the 2nd grade activities too. Don’t tell anyone but his alter ego is really Iron Man!! Neomi will have just turned three when they arrive to camp. She will be bring a selection of her baby dolls to camp with her.

Wishing everyone a great end of the school year and see you in a short few weeks at CSS.


March 24, 2017
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Parents, with summer fast approaching, we would like to update you with Camp Solomon Schechter's security profile. Schechter has a renowned Emergency Response Plan (ERP) that others seek to implement. Our ERP is routinely shared as a sample of best practices for summer camps, and our Executive Director, Sam Perlin, is often being asked for advice.


March 17, 2017
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Camp Solomon Schechter is pleased to announce that we are once again participating in Cornerstone. The renowned program offered by the Foundation for Jewish Camp. 3 – 5 Fellows who are counselors this summer along with assistant director Zach Snyder as the Cornerstone liaison will participate in a 3 day seminar in May at Capital Camps.


July 1, 2016
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I am always amazed at the hard work of the counselors and specialists during staff week. They are so excited to learn, grow, and have fun. This year is no exception: the staff enthusiasm is palpable. This past week staff have been training on safety, activity programing, role modeling, child development, challenge course, lifeguarding, inclusion, and how to be an effective Jewish educator.


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