Thursday, June 20, 2019

Camp Shalom campers are all smiles.

Camp Shalom, a not-for-profit Modern Orthodox summer day camp, officially has a new home. On March 13, the Teaneck Board of Education voted to lease Benjamin Franklin Middle School to the camp for its upcoming summer sessions. The news comes after more than a year of tireless efforts by the camp’s director, Rabbi Yehoshua Gold, who had been hoping to make the camp more accessible to Teaneck residents. While the camp may be shifting its base of operations, the core Torah values upon which the camp prides itself and that has made Camp Shalom so unique will not change.

According to its website, Camp Shalom gives children the opportunity “to create lifelong memories in a day camp that provides a safe, fun-filled, Torah environment.” Using a model that tailors the camp experience to each child depending on their individual interests, it combines ruach and fun activities for an exciting and enjoyable summer. In addition to the traditional sports options, the camp also boasts an exciting array of extra offerings, such as zumba, Tae Kwon Do, science and STEM specialties.

For Rabbi Gold, who has been with the camp as the camp director since 2007, this move to Ben Franklin Middle School marks an exciting point in the camp’s history. As he sees it, the move really helps make the camp more accessible and affordable for the campers’ families.

“This is big and exciting news for Camp Shalom,” Rabbi Gold said in an interview with The Jewish Link. “I’m a big proponent of informal learning, and I feel that children grow exponentially from camp experience, whether it’s socially, emotionally or religiously. One of the most integral parts of camp is how the activities and learning are woven together so campers feel the excitement of Torah learning intermixed into their daily schedule. This local move will benefit our families by lowering or eliminating the costs of transportation.”

In addition to his work with Camp Shalom, Rabbi Gold is also the associate director of the Maor High School at Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, which is a division of Sinai Schools. Currently, he works at the camp alongside his wife, Leah Gold, who serves as the head of specialists and programming director. She works at Yavneh Academy during the school year. Before the move, the camp was originally housed in East Ramapo, which required a roughly 30-minute ride from the Teaneck area. For some parents, the trip will now be as easy as a short drive. For Rabbi Gold, this was an important and necessary change.

“Another benefit of this local move is it allows us to create a bridge between the camp and the Teaneck community,” Rabbi Gold shared. “The money from our lease will directly benefit the Teaneck public schools. It means that we can be a true community organization.”

Dr. Christopher Irving, superintendent of Teaneck Public Schools, commented, “The Teaneck Public School District represents a wonderfully diverse community. We welcome afterschool and summer programs that can foster greater understanding and compassion for our differences in race, gender and religious beliefs.”

Rabbi Gold is very excited for the camp’s move to its new venue and looks forward to seeing the transition come to life. Though the physical space might be new, he stressed that the fundamental values of Camp Shalom will remain the same.

“We’re really excited about the new facilities,” Rabbi Gold added. “Ben Franklin Middle School is a truly beautiful building. The grounds are well kept and the rooms are spacious and accessible. We can’t wait for summer to arrive and welcome back all of our campers for another eight fun-filled weeks. Just because we’re moving venues doesn’t mean the camp itself is changing. The face of Camp Shalom may be changing, but our heart and soul remains the same.”

Camp Shalom is an eight-week program. It is currently accepting registrations for its upcoming summer sessions. If you would like to learn more about the camp or would like to register a child, please visit the website at http://campshalomnj.org/. Additionally, you can follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CampShalomNJ/.

By Adam Samuel

Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at adamssoapbox.com.