Local | Tots to Teens

Local day camps promote science, fitness, leadership — and love of Judaism

Seeking an enriching day camp environment for your kids this summer? Tucson offers several Jewish day camp options.

Jane Hiller (left) enjoys a creative movement class at Congregation Anshei Israel’s summer camp.

Congregation Anshei Israel’s summer camp, which serves children ages 2-6, runs through July 27. Along with water play, arts and crafts, songs and stories, the camp offers two areas of special concentration: creative movement and science.

Chris Leonard is CAI’s creative movement expert, with 13 years of experience working with children. Using balls, small beanbags, cones, tunnels and other gear, she disguises fitness exercises as games, with instructions in rhyme often adding to the fun.

As part of the science focus, lead teacher Emily Riley-Saxton recently demonstrated projects involving reactions to a group of 2- through 5-year-olds. The first experiment took place outside on the lawn, where Riley-Saxton dropped five Mentos mints into a liter bottle of soda, causing foam to shoot six feet into the air. Inside, the campers made volcanoes out of modeling clay, with baking soda, vinegar and food color providing the eruption.

CAI offers weekly sessions of three or five full or half days; contact Lynne Falkow-Strauss at 745-5550 or [email protected] caiaz.org.

Chabad’s Camp Gan Izzy, for ages 2-12, runs June 25-July 20. The camp offers diverse activities from swimming to challah baking, along with field trips and Mad Science demonstrations. “Our counselors are hand-picked for their responsibility, creativity, dedication to Judaism and fun personality,” says Feigie Ceitlin, youth director of Chabad of Tucson, who notes that three of last year’s out-of-town counselors are returning this summer.

Desi Rosenfield, a mother of two boys who attended Camp Gan Izzy last summer, gave a glowing but honest testimonial: “If you are looking for the best facilities, then this is not the camp for you. If you are looking for the most sports oriented program, then this is not the camp for you,” she says. But “if you are looking to give your kids the privilege of being inspired by girls who love Judaism and transmit that love and sincerity to the little campers in a way that makes them love being Jewish, then this is an experience like no other.”

Weekly sessions are available; contact Ceitlin at 869-4971 or [email protected] ofTucson.com.

The Tucson Jewish Community Center’s Camp “J” offers a variety of programs for children from kindergarten through 12th grade, plus an Early Childhood Education camp for ages 2-5. Camp sessions run through Aug. 3, with a post-camp session Aug. 6-8.

Camp “J” includes sports-oriented options, trip-based camps and an award-winning special needs inclusion program. Among the specialty camps is a leader-in-training program for grades 9-12. Participants work with campers of all ages, learn CPR and first aid (if enrolled four or more weeks); take part in workshops with business professionals and go on exclusive field trips.

JCC membership is required for many Camp “J” options; for more information visit tucsonjcc.org or contact Scott Zorn, Camp “J” director at 299-3000, ext. 192.