DALLAS TWP. — A young camper scrambled down the hill toward camp Director Rick Evans, two other youngsters followed in his wake.
“Mr. Evans, do you know where the ga-ga ball is?” the young camper said referring to the special gear used for a Jewish version of dodge ball.
It was only Wednesday. Camp didn’t start until today, but during an open house for the first round of summer campers at the Jewish Community Center’s sprawling Lehman compound, youngsters already were getting reacquainted with the place synonymous with blissful summer freedom.
A few new things have been added this year at the JCC camp. Guitar lessons have been added to the campers’ music class choices, with guitars on loan from Music Go ‘Round in Wilkes-Barre Township.
Four new cabins have been built, and for the first time, the JCC offers overnight camping.
Crestwood football coach Greg Myers is bringing his gridiron experience for campers to glean from during football lessons. Campers also can get a taste of tennis and field hockey.
There’s archery and swimming, crafts and a ropes course. Evans skimmed across a poster-sized grid hanging on the camp office wall, an activity schedule that left nary a moment of daylight unfilled.
Each camper, too, will find instruction on Israeli heritage and Jewish culture.
As in years past, the JCC is hosting a young Israeli to give campers an authentic perspective on life in Israel.
Yarden Rapoport just completed her three years of mandatory service in the Israeli military, where she attained the rank of lieutenant.
Rapoport is to spend the summer with JCC campers as their resident “shlicha,” or emissary, and will give instruction on Israeli culture and faith.
Her message: all kinds of religion can relate to Israel.
Judaism, Christianity, Islam, even Buddhism, they all have roots back to Israel, she said. “You need to have some kind of connection to Israel.”
Rapoport also is to lead lessons on Hebrew cuisine, music, history and important places in her homeland.
During his welcome address, Evans called out folks from the bleachers behind him where they sat inside the camp’s gym. The camp nurse, the pool staff director, the transportation coordinator all got a nod as dozens of camp counselors lined behind him ready to meet their wards for the summer.
Don Flynn, the staff supervising director, said the new activities this year add to the whole experience.
This isn’t just a job, Flynn said. “I want to be here, and I’m excited about it.”