Summer... it’s the time of year that parents dread and kids can’t wait for, and it’s almost upon us. Are you unsure what to do with your kids all summer? Do you have a few special weeks planned with the family, but need a way to fill in the gaps? Are your kids too old for what they call baby camps but too young to leave home alone while you go to work? Are your kids – or you – not quite ready for sleepaway camp, but the kids really want some independence? If the answer to any (or all) of these questions is yes, fear not, because Camp J at The Roth Family Jewish Community Center in Maitland has you covered.
Camp J, established in 1973, is your one-stop shop for all things summer camp. While the camp offers a full-day program including swimming, outdoor activities, arts and crafts, community service, Judaica, and field trips for children entering kindergarten through 10th grade, Camp J Junior (housed in the preschool building) is specially designed for kids 18 months through four years old. The popular theater camp for children entering second through ninth grades also puts on two impressive productions throughout the summer.
This year, under the tutelage of camp director Kacie Zemel, middle schoolers are in for a real treat. Students entering sixth through ninth grade get to customize a portion of their summer-camp schedules with options like art, music, sports, dance, and digital video, giving them real control over their camp experience. They’ll also be going on two separate five-day trips to Miami and Atlanta, plus an additional pair of two-day trips to other destinations in Florida. During the weeks that campers are in town, they’ll go on field trips three days per week and have a choice of electives on the other two days.
“We asked kids what they wanted, and they overwhelmingly told us that they want to be with their friends, having more independence and getting to really visit different cities,” says Kacie. “So that’s what we designed for them.”
Kacie, a UCF graduate who, until recently, was a teacher in South Florida, has worked at Camp J in several different roles over the years. Much to the delight of Camp J families, Kacie agreed to take on the role as full-time youth and camp director in 2017.
“I love everything about this particular JCC – it has become my home away from home,” says Kacie. “I always went to summer camp and sleepaway camp as a child, and those are some of my fondest memories. I cannot wait to continue the tradition of making incredible memories for our campers. It has become my passion.”