When we think of summer sleep-away camp, we think of an idyllic cluster of cabins around a lake somewhere in northern New England. There would be canoes and campfires; kids would be busy going from softball to arts and crafts. Campers would sleep in bunk beds and make lifelong friends. For many this would be the perfect summer; but not for everyone.
There’s another option for kids whose idea of a perfect summer is creating computer games, learning to fly drones, and working to protect the environment. Campers live in dormitories instead of bunks and eat meals in a gourmet dining room. Too good to be true? Well, it’s not. A few years ago, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) opened 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, a science-themed Jewish summer camp.
As Anna Kaplan, a Temple Sinai seventh-grader, says about her experience last summer: “We looked at things under microscopes and dissected a brain, a heart, and an eye. Learning about science but not being in school made it all more interesting and made me really want to understand it. We also did outdoor activities, such as soccer, swimming, and other sports. The food was awesome, and the chance to use all the new tech was great.”
Located in Byfield, MA, about an hour north of Brookline, the camp uses the campus of the Governor’s Academy, with its state-of-the-art computer labs, plus access to acres of wetlands and woods, to give campers a unique summer experience. The camp’s Jewish values are connection (kesher), curiosity (sakranut), discovery (taglit), respect (kavod), and patience (savlanut). As Anna says: “Because everyone around you is Jewish, you can talk about Hebrew school, bar/bat mitzvahs, services, and how much Hebrew you know. You can compare Jewish traditions, and talk about holidays. It’s also fun to be in the morning mini services with your friends and see which ways to chant the blessings you know.”
At the end of the morning service each day, the staff safely blow something up; they call it Boker Big Bang (Boker Tov). Many of the computer games the campers invent have a Jewish theme. One summer a group of campers worked together to invent a game called “Finding The Lost Torah.”
The camp’s director, Greg Kellner, is a lifelong camp enthusiast who was the Assistant Camp Director at both Eisner and Crane Lake Camps. Greg is also an accomplished musician; the campers love his song-leading. Greg recently received the prestigious Covenant Foundation Award honoring Emerging Jewish Educators for the work he did as the founding director of this revolutionary camp. Anna, who is returning to 6 Points Sci-Tech camp this coming summer, says: “I met new friends that I am still in touch with now, and can’t wait to see next summer at camp! Going to 6 Points meant that I met a lot of people who shared my interests. I wouldn’t have ever gotten to know them otherwise. Even though you only see your camp friends for part of a summer, you spend all day seeing them throughout your activities, so you can really get to know them.”
To find out more about camp, go to facebook.com/CJPcamp.
Going to camp for the first time? Find out if you’re eligible for a grant!