Spots still open for JCC day camps

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published April 16, 2014

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Allowing children a chance to dig deep into their imaginations and experience daily adventures, the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit offers over 100 day camps that run mid-June through Labor Day.

Whether it’s immersing the mind in eight weeks of Hebrew, sipping tea with a Mad Hatter, performing a Broadway play or engaging in Krav Maga, Center Day Camps is a sure way to occupy kids with fun activities throughout the summer.

Depending on the program, the camps run one week, three weeks or four weeks. Hebrew Immersion is the only camp that runs for eight weeks. Unless otherwise noted, the camps are 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Latchkey is available before and after the camps, starting at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m. The deadline for registering is May 1.

“Our program is unique. With so many programs to choose from, children have a chance to do what they love or try something new,” said Center Day Camps Director Tal Siegmann in a press release. “Each year, we work to expand our programming with new camps.”

What’s unique about the Center Day Camps is the number of programs — which is more than any other center in Michigan, organizers say — and the free transportation.

“We feel (transportation) is our competitive edge. We do try to  make it as easy as possible,” Siegmann said.

The transportation service is available for campers who attend the core day program — 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The Center Day Camps bus will take campers to camp and back to a pickup address.

Formerly, the sports camps, Splash Adventure and the month-long Traditional Camp have been the crowd favorites, Siegmann said.

For the water lovers in the family, Splash Adventure offers children the opportunity to race down water slides and ride the waves in a wave pool with daily trips to surrounding water parks, including Rolling Hills in Ypsilanti, Waterford Oaks Waterpark and Soak City at Cedar Point.

The Traditional Camp has two month-long sessions and is intended for children ages 2 1/2-8.

“This is probably something that most of us parents grew up in,” Siegmann said. “We believe that no kid should be left inside.”

Campers are split up based on age, and the aspects change daily. Some of the activities include sports, Red Cross-certified swim lessons, canoeing, biweekly field trips and archery.

“We try not to do the same thing every day so kids want to come every day,” Siegmann said.

New this year to the Traditional Camp is a day dedicated to self-defense. Siegmann said that Center Day Camps has arranged for an Israeli with an advanced degree in Krav Maga to teach campers combat techniques. Krav Maga is the official self-defense combat system developed for the Israeli military.

Novi resident Debbie Emmer has been sending her two children, ages 9 and 6, to the camps since they were in preschool, starting with the Traditional Camp.

“This is my son’s first year doing the specialty camps. My daughter, who is 9, has been doing specialty camps — this will be her second year,” Emmer said. “They just love it. Plus, there’s a bus service, and they love riding the bus.”

Emmer heard about the camps while her children attended preschool at the JCC. This summer, they will be attending various weekly camps that offer a large variety of activities.

“You can’t beat it. They offer everything. … Just doing a babysitter — keeping them home all day — this way, they have kid interaction. … They get to do whatever they want and have a fun time doing it,” Emmer said.

Some of the new programs this camp season are Animal Extravaganza, C.S.I. and Alice in Wonderland.

Animal Extravaganza week teaches campers about various animals in Michigan and their habitats, as well as how the Michigan State Police K-9 unit helps with tracking and performing searches, Siegmann said.

Designed to replicate a forensics laboratory, C.S.I. Camp teaches the ins and outs of solving mysteries.

In accordance with the fairy tale “Alice in Wonderland,” campers will re-create different scenes of the story at Alice in Wonderland Camp. The camp is designed to envelop campers in Wonderland-themed fun, filled with croquet games, a Mad Hatter tea party and an unbirthday celebration.

The cost for the camps varies, but they start around $250. Scholarships are available for those with financial need. The JCC distributes close to $400,000 yearly in assistance, Siegmann said.

For a complete list or to register for day camps, visit Completed waivers and financial assistance applications, if applicable, are required upon registration.