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J’s varied camp experience builds character

Swimming is one of the many offerings for children at Camp J each summer.

The Tucson Jewish Community Center will offer its Camp J this summer from May 26-Aug. 27, with a variety of programs for kids of all ages. Camp activities include arts and crafts, archery, STEM, swimming, field trips, and a variety of electives.

Christy Ball has been sending her sons, ages 6 and 9, to Camp J for years. Ball and her family have no relatives within the Tucson community, and the Tucson J has become their family since moving here. She feels the counselors at Camp J really understand her children’s wants and needs.

“Their counselors are trained to really get to know these kids,” Ball said. She has even asked the counselors for advice on her kids and child development questions.

Ball is excited for her kids to experience all Camp J has to offer. Her boys both enjoy sports at the camp, and her youngest is involved with the camp’s cooking and gardening programs.

Ball says her kids learn valuable lessons from participating in the camp. She says that each day, the camp weaves in a lesson aimed at building character.

“It really hit the message home through action,” she says.

“The J is a second home for us. [We love] Camp J, we don’t even have to question it,” Ball says.

Josh Shenker, director of children, youth, and camping services at the J, emphasizes camp as “an intentional experience” more than just a childcare program.

“When done correctly, summer camp has a lasting impact on children and their development. Camp has the unique ability to provide unparalleled opportunities for children to explore, try new things, challenge their abilities, take risks, and gain new skills while under the care of nurturing and enthusiastic counselors,” he says.

“We put a lot of careful planning into every aspect of that experience at Camp J.  The character traits that parents wish for their kids — independence, confidence, friendship-building, resilience, grit, etc. ­— are very real outcomes for kids who have quality camp experiences.  A mantra that I have ingrained with my staff at every meeting and staff training is that ‘We teach kids skills for life.’”