What would you get if you mixed an incredible bunch of talented professionals with a fabulous facility loaded with incredible amenities, a beautiful suburban setting and eight weeks of amazing summer fun? The answer is simple—Camp 613, now entering its 15th season of camping.
In its earliest days, Camp 613 was a small specialty summer program for girls in the Monsey area, but with each passing year, the camp has continued to evolve and grow in popularity. This summer will mark nine years since Camp 613 developed its boys’ program and 10 years since the camp found a home at Lifeplex, an incredible state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Monsey that boggles the mind. With an Olympic-size pool, ice skating rink, rock climbing and professional gymnastics, dance and visual arts studios, campers are treated to an incredible array of exciting on-site activities. Add in indoor and outdoor tennis and basketball courts, and baseball and soccer fields, and rain-outs are non-existent at 613, whose campers hail largely from Teaneck, Bergenfield, Monsey, Fair Lawn and Riverdale.
Aliza Fischman, Camp 613’s assistant executive director, has been with the camp for 13 years and has seen enrollment grow to 300 boys and girls ranging in age from preschool through eighth grade.
“My kids started out in camp before I did,” Fischman told The Jewish Link. “I started in camp nine years ago as the preschool director and since then have moved to more day-to-day running of the camp, so I have had the ability to see the camp from different perspectives. What impresses me most is that the leadership of the camp truly understands the nuances of each child and each staff member and is able to help each one realize their fullest potential.”
The highlight of the summer for the girls’ division is a gala musical performance, with campers learning different dance styles and choreography for their big moment in the spotlight. Previous musicals have included Mary Poppins, Peter Pan and a Lion King/Jungle Book mash up. Announcements identifying this year’s performance as The Wizard of Oz have already created a buzz on social media from eager Camp 613 devotees.
The annual show echoes the family feel that is the hallmark of Camp 613, noted Tamar Sheffey, director of the girl’s division.
“There are no big parts in the show,” explained Sheffey. “Every bunk, including the preschool, gets one or two numbers and there are numbers that include the entire camp as well. Everybody learns to sing and dance as part of a cast and everybody gets to be a star.”
That sense of camaraderie extends beyond the show into the many other activities that make up every fun-filled Camp 613 day.
“We can have first graders sitting on eighth graders’ laps and when the preschool girls have ice skating, the seventh and eighth grade CITs come so that even our youngest girls have one-on-one help on the ice and can learn to skate,” reported Sheffey.
While both boys and girls have many sports-related activities, there is an extra focus on sports in Camp 613’s boys’ division, reported Rabbi Daniel Hermann, director of the boys’ division.
“One of the great things about the camp is that it is a manageable size,” observed Rabbi Hermann. “The kids get a tremendous amount of individual attention, and while the sports are all about fun there is a strong focus on instruction so our campers come out of the summer with their skills greatly improved. It’s amazing what they can accomplish in six, seven or eight weeks and it is a tremendous boost to their self confidence.”
Leagues add another exciting element to the boys’ division, which also offers a rare summer camp activity: on-site ice hockey.
“Floor hockey is great, but to be able to have ice hockey is amazing,” said Rabbi Hermann. “We have campers as young as first and second grades putting on helmets, participating in drills and playing mini scrimmage games. It is definitely a unique opportunity.”