Camps and Summer Fun | Local

Camp builds character, resilience says new Camp J director

The Tucson Jewish Community Center’s Camp J — the only day camp in town accredited by the American Camping Association — is gearing up for summer with a new director, Josh Shenker; 11 specialty camps, including a new junior robotics camp; traditional camps that cater to four age groups; and morning and afternoon extended care hours now included in the cost of camp.

Camps run from May 28-Aug. 3 with pre- and post-camp options for May 24 and 25 and Aug. 6, 7, and 8.

Shenker, who serves as the Tucson J’s year-round director of children, youth and camping services, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Judaic studies and nonprofit management. Before moving to Tucson, he was camp director at the Richmond JCC for four years.

“Camp in an intentional experience that can shape one’s character by providing a controlled and safe environment for [children] to make their own decisions and their own mistakes,” Shenker says in the introduction to the 2018 Camp J brochure. “At camp kids can interact face-to-face, while nurturing and enthusiastic counselors are dedicated to showing them how to make friends in person rather than online. Not only will campers learn about others but they will also learn about themselves. The character traits parents wish their kids to obtain such as independence, confidence, resilience, relationship-building and grit — all are legitimate outcomes for children who have successful camp experiences.”

Campers at Camp J enjoy the use of the J’s state-of-the-art 110,000-square-foot facility, including the indoor play space, kosher demonstration kitchen, youth gym, mind body studio, and youth-only locker rooms, as well as the full-size gym, pool, splash park, outdoor fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, computer lab, art studio, dance room, music room, and youth lounge.

The traditional camp options start with children entering grades K-2, which includes a daily swim and swim instruction. The camp for kids in grades 3-5 includes their choice of activities and a weekly field trip. In grades 6-8, campers take a variety of day and overnight trips. Participants in the leaders-in-training camp for grades 9-12 will work with campers of all ages under the guidance of Camp J staff, with plenty of time for social interaction. There also is a sports camp available for grades 3-5 and athletic conditioning camp for grades 6-8.

Morning specialty camps include tennis, available for all 10 weeks, plus one-week camps such as “Excell Tri Youth Triathlon Camp,” “Bricks 4 Kidz: Heroes and Villians,” “Play-Well Teknologies: Jedi Engineering with Lego,” “Pottery Camp” and “Comic Book Creations.”  An optional afternoon camp starts with lunch and includes swim and other activities.

Early Childhood Education camps are available for ages 2-5.

All Camp J staff are CPR and first aid certified. Emily Malin, the J’s special needs services director, helps develop support strategies for campers with special needs.

To view the Camp J brochure, visit For more information, contact Shenker at 299-3000, ext. 192 or; Malin at ext. 168 or; or Corey Cravens, assistant director of children, youth and camping services, at ext. 256 or