Repairing the World One Child at a Time

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Sustainable living, eating healthy, organic food, buying local and greening are just some of the common buzz words we hear on a daily basis. With parents’ fears of “stranger danger” and children’s desires to spend their time interacting with technology, kids are spending many more hours indoors rather than in the great outdoors. The Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds provides a rural, natural, and rustic outdoor environment for our agency camps to provide their campers with the interactive hands-on total outdoor experiences that only a day camp in the country can provide.

Our agency camps take full advantage of our magnificent park-like setting to teach their campers about their natural environment, leading healthy active lifestyles, and “saving the earth” through hiking, gardening, outdoor living skills, and sustainable eating. They integrate the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, into their programs, helping campers understand that it is up to each one of them to do their part.

Here’s what some camps at our Staten Island site are doing.
Staten Island JCC’s Lillian Schwartz Day Camp:

  • Started a small composting program this year, having their campers separate their fruit and vegetable scraps from the rest of their trash.
  • Learned about solar energy.  The campers toured the solar panels on the roof of their JCC
  • Created solar ovens out of pizza boxes in Outdoor Cooking where they made nachos and cheese.
  • Promoted healthier eating through serving apples and bananas twice a week for camper snack.

Marks JCH Day Camp:

  • Campers learn about recycling and composting. Daily trash is separated into 4 different bins with the most undesirable one being the yellow devil bin for non-biodegradable items like plastic bags and styrofoam.
  • Campers sit around the fire pit they built learning about pollination and planting a bean garden and then work in the garden pulling weeds and creating a border.

New Country Day Camp is all about sustainability:

  • Last summer, after spending almost a year doing the research, New Country Day Camp found a local farm that would deliver fresh fruit to camp. Continuing the program this year, three days a week campers are treated to blueberries, blackberries, and other seasonal fruits that are healthy for the campers and for our planet.
  • The camp has two gardens. One is planted before the summer so campers can see what a thriving garden looks like and one is planted by the campers at the beginning of camp so they can see and learn how to start and maintain a garden.
  • The entire camp participates in a composting program. So far this summer they have collected over 800 pounds of compost that they bring back to the 14th Street Y’s composting program.

Lots of gardens are blooming in Pearl River.
92nd Street Y’s Camp Yomi:

  • Camp Yomi has a new vegetable garden this year. Now the Camp Yomi campers, many of whom have no access to gardening, can see how their food grows and use it in their cooking program.
  • They are learning about sustainable food, organic gardening, and bees and pollination.
  • Campers were very excited to see small watermelons growing on a vine.
  • They did a seed project where they learned about how plants make seeds and then were able to wear their seed packets proudly around their necks.

JCC in Manhattan’s Day Camp @Pearl River:

  • Their garden is the heart of camp.  Campers work in the garden to plant and care for their produce throughout the summer.
  • Hands-on study of the environment brings campers into a closer connection with their natural surroundings.

Bronx House Day Camps has had a gardening program for years.

  • Not only do campers learn about the process of growing vegetables but they get to work in the garden and see and taste “the fruits of their labor.”
  • For many this is the first time they have the opportunity to eat fresh vegetables and herbs picked right from the garden.
  • And if it’s a good gardening year, the campers may even get some produce to take some home to share with their families.
First we cook them. Then we eat them. Yum!

First we cook them. Then we eat them. Yum!

Campers learn about pollination before the work in the bean garden.

Campers learn about pollination before the work in the bean garden.

It's hard work making a garden grow!

It’s hard work making a garden grow!

Cucumbers, tomatoes, basil and okra are just some of the vegetables in the garden

Cucumbers, tomatoes, basil and okra are just some of the vegetables in the garden

Did you ever see watermelon growing on the vine?

Did you ever see watermelon growing on the vine?

Campers add water to their pea seeds.

There is a saying in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers), “It is not up to you to finish the task, but you are not free to avoid it.” Camp directors know that they can’t save the world on their own but by giving their campers hands on interactive experiences with our natural environment they can hope to “repair the world one child at a time.”

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