The JCC’s Bulletin dates back to the 1930s, when it was a premier source of news for the local Jewish community. We are proud to continue this tradition of keeping our JCC community informed via our virtual Bulletin.
The bulletin circa 1974
From Our CEO: The Magic of Camp
Summer is always a magical time at the JCC, but this year, we are having even more fun. With over two thousand campers enrolled in all our programs, it is also a very busy time of year for us!
This year, we were able to do something special to over a dozen Ukrainian refugee families. For those in need, we were able to offer full scholarships to our day camp—which has allowed children who have been through extreme trauma to embrace the joys of childhood again. We are grateful to the Butler Foundation, A Chance In Life Foundation, and UJA-Federation of New York for allowing us to expand our camp scholarship program and support Ukrainian families in our community.
You may have heard the story of Maria, one of our Ukrainian campers. On her first day of camp she was extremely shy and spoke no English. Thankfully, we had Russian-speaking staff who were able to translate for her. Within a week, Maria was named “Friend of the Week” by her fellow campers—which was truly remarkable, but not out of the ordinary for our camp.
Photos courtesy of the Staten Island Advance
Last year, we saw a similar story play out when we offered scholarships to two foster children from Colombia. They had a blast at camp—making friends even though they did not speak English and were not familiar with American customs. It turns out that summer camp fun is the universal language! This story also has a happy ending, as we recently learned that the children were adopted by their host parent.
Last week, I visited one of our community-based camps at the Gerard Carter Center when we were visited by the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD). Commissioner Howard and I were so excited to see the kids engaged in STEM activities, dance, and sports—and the commissioner even took part in a game and bowled a spare!
Camp at the Carter Center is one of many summer programs we have throughout the community, including our Cornerstones, Beacons, and Summer Rising sites. In addition to these, we are also running basketball, soccer, and aquatics camps at the Bernikow Building.
Our newest mini-camp is called Summer Strings @ the J, an intensive program for intermediate and advanced young musicians. Our faculty member, Yvette Washington-Wheatley, has a special connection to us, as she was a scholarship recipient at the JCC’s own music school many years ago. We are very happy to welcome her back and to see how much the children are enjoying the program!
As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our Dorothy Delson Kuhn Music Institute later this year, it is inspiring to see the tradition of excellence continuing on.
No matter which camp program, our children go home at the end of the day with smiles on their faces—and that’s what’s most important to us. It truly warms my heart and reminds me why we do what we do. We know these kids will always remember the wonderful summers they spent with us and the friends they made along the way. The JCC is proud to be a place where magic happens every day!
-Orit Lender, CEO
Marvin’s Camp for Children with Special Needs is set to open for a full summer of fun in the sun! This summer, the JCC is pleased to resume two of its services for Marvin’s campers—transportation and trips—that were placed on hold during the height of the pandemic. Camp families will have the option to have their child transported to and from camp via bus for free each day.
Marvin’s Camp, located at the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds, provides an educational, creative, social, and safe environment for kids and teens with developmental disabilities. Led by highly experienced staff with degrees in special education, social work, and school psychology, Marvin’s campers participate in a wide array of fun and enriching activities. Campers enjoy swimming, boating, and playing sports, along with hands-on activities like crafts and woodworking. Low staff-to-camper ratios ensure that each child receives excellent care and attention.
JCC CEO Orit Lender noted, “The Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island is committed to the idea that all children—regardless of ability—should have the same opportunity to have an unforgettable summer camp experience. That’s why the JCC is planning another amazing summer for campers in Marvin’s Camp for Children with Special Needs.”
Additionally, the camp will resume offering its Marvin’s M.O.R.E. division for campers ages 15 and up. Marvin’s M.O.R.E. campers will have the opportunity to go on trips to exciting destinations twice a week, with transportation provided. When they aren’t going on trips, campers will enjoy fun activities on the campgrounds.
Ms. Lender said, “We can’t wait to welcome our Marvin’s campers back for another incredible summer! We’re especially thrilled to be able to bring back trips, as we know our Marvin’s M.O.R.E. campers look forward to going on fun, enriching adventures with their friends each year.”
The JCC is currently accepting registrations for Marvin’s Camp for Children with Special Needs. You can learn more about the camp here. To register, contact Laura Irizarry at LIrizarry@SIJCC.com or 718-475-5268. The JCC also offers an inclusion program in its traditional camp for those who would benefit from it. An interview is required for all new Marvin’s and inclusion campers.
From Our CEO: Acceptance and Inclusion
February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month. Our JCC welcomes individuals of all abilities, rooted in the shared Jewish values of dignity and justice.
Serving people with disabilities is a core part of our agency’s mission, and we strive to provide inclusive programming that everyone can enjoy. One example of this is our collaborative Girl Scout troop. The troop is unique—the JCC’s Troop 5772 and its sister Troop 5312 are the only troops in New York City that serve girls with disabilities alongside their traditional peers.
Troop 5772 functions like any other troop—the girls work together on projects, participate in fun activities, and even sell cookies! You can purchase cookies here to support the troop.
The girls and their families were so excited to be profiled by PIX11 at their February meeting. You can see the whole story here.
As one of our Girl Scout moms, Kathreen Torres, told reporters, “Having a special needs daughter, it tends to be more difficult for her to make friends, so this is a safe place for her.”
Kathreen is the mother of six, and our Girl Scout troop allows four of her daughters to all be in the same group at once. Within the troop, the girls have made friends and love being together.
Our Girl Scout troop is just one of many programs we run for children with disabilities. During the school year, we offer our First Foot Forward special needs preschool, Dr. and Mrs. Megna Kids Club for Special Kids, Teens After School Program, and an inclusion program in our Explorers After School Program.
In the summertime, Marvin’s Camp for Children with Special Needs provides an educational, creative, social, and safe environment. Marvin’s Camp is a unique recreational summer program customized for children with disabilities. With a wide array of both social and developmental activities, children are engaged by professionally-supported trained staff to create some of the best memories of their summer. This year, we are excited to bring back transportation and trips for our Marvin’s Campers! You can learn more about Marvin’s Camp here.
For young adults, we offer our Day Habilitation Without Walls program. The program, which continues to grow, offers social, recreational, and vocational activities at the JCC as well as in collaboration with our partner organizations. Young adults take part in activities such as delivering meals to the homebound, music and aquatics classes, and working with various departments in the JCC. We engage our participants in opportunities to be healthy, social, and active members of the community with a maximum degree of independence.
In all of our programs, we emphasize the importance of creating a space where everyone feels welcome. The JCC is proud to be a place where people of all abilities can feel at home, make friends, and have fun.
From Our CEO: A Summer of Learning
We know that this summer is critical to ensure continued learning, to build trust, and to create space for young people to re-connect and re-engage with one another. To help compensate for the loss of learning that many students have experienced during the pandemic, we are offering several programs to help kids back on track while still having fun this summer.
Our newest program is Summer Rising, which we will run for free at various schools in conjunction with DYDC and the DOE. This is an academic enrichment program that aims to help prepare students for school in the fall. Summer Rising will provide opportunities for young people to learn, to get outside, and engage with peers and caring adults in safe, supervised, and enriching robust programs, readying them for a return to school in September.
In our JCC Day Camp programs, we are partnering with Catapult Learning to provide a summer learning program to enrolled JCC campers. The Summer Learning Experience has been funded through the generosity of a grant from UJA-Federation, which allows us to provide this service to campers free of charge.
In our Lucille & Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island, we also include STEM as part of our programming. Projects are tailored to children’s ages and abilities. This week, campers learned about engineering using pipe cleaners, sticks, and marshmallows!
These programs are only able to run thanks to the generosity of our donors and funders. This Monday, we will host our 41st Annual Golf & Tennis Classic. Funds raised at this event will allow us to award camp scholarships to children in need, including kids with special needs. While the golf portion of the event is sold out, we still have a few tennis slots available. By playing or donating to the event, you are helping our children thrive in the face of adversity. You can learn more about the Outing here.
We are proud to be able to provide these services, and with your support, we can help even more kids make academic progress before school begins again.
-Orit Lender, CEO
After a successful summer last year, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island is preparing for another safe, fun season for hundreds of children in its camp programs across the Island.
Of over 700 campers and 250 staff members in JCC programs, none tested positive for COVID-19 at any point last summer. There were also no cases among over 250 staff members. The JCC credits its robust COVID-19 safety protocols, developed with input from a committee of medical professionals, with keeping everyone healthy while having fun.
This summer, the JCC will continue to implement these tested practices, which are in line with the most recent CDC and state guidance.
In addition to temperature checks and health screenings for both campers and staff at the start of each camp day, the JCC places campers into families/pods that are kept socially distant from other groups. Face coverings are optional for campers when outside. Staff members sanitize shared spaces regularly and have adapted activities to comply with government standards.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC, said, “We’ve demonstrated that despite all the challenges, we can give children a memorable summer experience while also keeping everyone safe. These kids deserve to play outside and make special memories with their friends now more than ever. We can’t wait to welcome them back to camp in a few short weeks.”
Camp programs take place throughout the borough and include Traditional Day Camp, Marvin’s Camp for Children with Special Needs, Trident Aquatics Camp, Core 24 Basketball Camp, Soccer Camp, Gymnastics Camp, Performing Arts Camp, Lucille & Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp, and camp programs at several Cornerstone and Beacon sites.
Families interested in JCC Day Camp can learn more and register here before camp begins on June 28. The JCC will also host a final Open House for prospective camp families at Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds on Sunday, June 13 from 2-4pm.
To help compensate for the loss of learning that many students have experienced during the pandemic, the JCC Day Camp is partnering with Catapult Learning to provide a summer learning program to enrolled JCC campers. The Summer Learning Experience has been funded through the generosity of a grant from UJA-Federation, which will allow the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island to provide this service to campers free of charge.
Campers who opt in to the Summer Learning Experience will receive 2 weekly instruction sessions—one math and one literacy—taught by highly qualified staff. Instruction will take place at the campgrounds during the camp day, in small groups based on age. Campers will observe social distancing and follow other CDC safety guidelines.
The summer learning experience includes literacy intervention using the Achieve Literacy program. The program is designed specifically to support foundational reading skills, increase fluency, and improve comprehension. Additionally, the Achieve Math program will help campers improve their foundational skills and improve their math fluency. The program ranges from basic concepts and computation to problem solving, data collection, geometry, and algebra.
The program will be open to JCC Day Campers entering 1st grade up through those entering 9th grade, as well as children enrolled in Marvin’s Camp for Children with Special Needs. Capacity is limited, and campers will be enrolled in this program on a first-come, first-served basis.
“This is a great opportunity for campers to regain some of the educational losses they’ve seen over the past year of remote learning,” said Glenn Wechsler, Camp Co-Director. “For families that opt in, this program will supplement the fun activities we will have throughout the summer in our Day Camp and Marvin’s Camp programs.”
Typical camp programs, including swimming, sports, games, arts & crafts, and special events, will continue this summer. Other fun STEM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) will also take place in addition to the Catapult Learning program. Recently added programs include woodworking and LEGO robotics activities.
Founded in 1976, Catapult Learning is the leading provider of intervention, professional development, special and transitional education programs. Catapult Learning’s intervention programs support struggling learners with instruction tailored to the unique needs of each student and is built on the critical components of effective programs, as reviewed in current research, including the National Reading Panel and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Across the country, Catapult Learning partners with 500+ school districts, including 18 of the 20 largest, to produce positive outcomes that promote academic and professional growth.
For more information about JCC Day Camp, visit Camp.SIJCC.org or call Glenn Wechsler at 718.475.5231.
In addition to its traditional summer camp offerings, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island will offer sports camp experiences, including basketball, soccer, gymnastics, and swimming, along with a performing arts camp.
Specialized sports programs will include Core 24 Basketball Academy Camp, JCC Soccer Academy Camp, USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic Training Camp, and Trident Aquatics Camp. These camps offer instruction tailored for children at every skill level, from beginners to more advanced competitors. Beyond building athletic skills, campers will learn positive values like good sportsmanship while also having fun and making new friends.
Basketball, soccer, and gymnastics camps will take place from June 28 to August 20, with options to register for up to 8 weeks. Aquatics camp will take place from June 28 to July 30, with options to register for up to 5 weeks. Sibling discounts are available for all sports camps.
The JCC will also offer a performing arts camp, run by IlluminArt Productions. Now in its second year, the program gives children a taste of all aspects of theater, including improvisation, acting, dance, and music. At the end of the program, campers will perform an original play to showcase all that they learned.
Parents can choose one of two weeks for performing arts camp, which will take place the week of July 12 and the week of August 2. The JCC is offering a discount when registered performing arts campers refer a friend.
Last summer, the JCC implemented COVID-19 safety protocols and dedicated itself to giving children across the island as normal a summer as possible.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC, said, “Whether your child is returning to camp, joining us after missing last summer, or signing up for a JCC program for the very first time, know that our campers’ safety is our top priority. Our specialty camps are a great opportunity for kids to do the things they love or discover a new passion, stay active, and socialize. We know how important these programs are to so many children because of how much they’ve missed in this past year.”
The JCC’s specialty camps are part of a robust menu of camp offerings, including traditional day camp, Marvin’s Camp for Children with Special Needs, Lucille & Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island, and free community camp programs at sites across the Island. Last year, these programs served over 700 campers at 9 locations, with no positive COVID tests at any point during the summer.
You can learn more about the JCC’s specialty camps and register here.
From Our CEO: All eyes on summer
Though the weather has been cold lately, we have our eyes on summer!
Earlier this month, we launched registration for JCC Day Camp and unveiled our brand-new camp website! It has been incredibly exciting to get feedback from parents on how much their kids are looking forward to coming back this summer. To help parents who are struggling financially, we are pleased to announce that we were able to keep rates the same as last year.
In addition, our Early Bird pricing gives a discount, so if you sign your child up before February 15th, you can take advantage of this offer. We also offer scholarships for those in need, and you can click here to request an application. I invite you to check out our new website, and if you’re a new camp parent, to sign up for our Virtual Open House on January 31st to learn more about camp.
Despite having the odds stacked against us, last year was one of the best camp seasons we’ve ever had. Even with smaller groups and new regulations, we were able to have an amazing summer, giving children the sense of normalcy they needed in difficult times. Kids enjoyed nature, made new friends, learned to swim, played sports, tried woodworking and other STEM activities, and most importantly, got a break from their screens. For children who had been isolated for months, camp was exactly what they needed.
With increased safety protocols, we were able to ensure the safety of all our campers and staff. Of over 700 campers at our 9 JCC locations throughout the borough, none tested positive for COVID-19 at any point throughout the summer. I am grateful to our diligent and dedicated staff members, who made it their mission to give our kids a safe and fun experience. We have no doubt we will exceed expectations again this year.
In addition to our Traditional Day Camp, we have opportunities for children of all interests and abilities. Last year, we advocated fiercely for Marvin’s Camp for Children with Special Needs to open alongside our other camps. Halfway through the summer, we were granted permission to open. This year, we are hopeful that we can give these children a full summer experience.
We have already begun registering Marvin’s and inclusion campers in anticipation of having them back at camp and will continue to advocate on their behalf with governmental agencies.
Our Lucille & Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island serves children with cancer and their siblings. Due to the fragile nature of our campers, we decided to hold a virtual camp last year. Campers were able to do art projects, play games, and do other camp activities from the safety of their homes. While we don’t yet know what this year will bring, we are preparing multiple options for Sunrise Day Camp. As soon as it is safe to do so, we will be back in person with our Sunrise campers once again.
Soon we will also begin registering children for our sports and performing arts camps, as well as the camp programs run through our Beacon and Cornerstone sites throughout the borough.
While the days ahead seem cloudy, we can see the bright light of camp shining through. We are counting down the days until summer, when we can see hundreds of happy faces back at camp!
-Orit Lender, CEO
It has been said that a positive attitude is a little thing that can make a big difference in one’s life, one’s relationships and, of course, one’s summer camp experience. The difference between a vibrant, successful summer camp and one that is merely functional is a difference of attitude and enthusiasm.
At our camp, we are guided by an attitude that applauds effort, celebrates accomplishment, and never loses sight of the principle that from a child…everything is beautiful.
When walking through our campgrounds, we see children engaged and enthralled by their counselors’ positive attitude and enthusiasm. On any given day, you can see children prospering in an environment full of sweetness, fun, and joy. Whether they are swimming with friends in the pool, singing songs and dancing at Shabbat, learning about animals and nature in a hands-on manner, dressing up in color for our spirited season-ending Maccabi Games, or performing community service to help others, our children feel a connection to the people and world around them and experience the warmth of a caring community throughout all of their camp experiences.
Positive attitudes, modeled by the love and enthusiasm of our camp staff and fostered in every activity our campers pursue, make our camp the truly special place it is—one that our campers (and our staff!) can’t wait to return to each summer.
Legendary children's TV personality, Fred "Mr." Rogers, once shared with his listeners how his mother helped him deal with frightening situations when he was a child. Rogers said, “When I was a boy, I would see scary things in the news. My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
In the Jewish tradition, we call the impulse to help others gemilut chasadim. Acts of loving kindness and helping others is at the heart of our camp program.
We promote values such as caring for the environment, honoring the elderly, and using kind words through activities, storytelling, and in the ways that we interact with one another at camp. Charitable giving, tzedakah, is encouraged throughout the summer and during special events like the Day of Caring and Sharing, a special day on which our campers help raise money for children with cancer, families in financial need, and others.
Moreover, at our weekly Shabbat celebrations, children are selected by camp staff for being the “Mensch of the Week.” A mensch is a person whose thoughts and actions make our world a better and more compassionate place. In the Jewish tradition, it is the highest compliment one can bestow upon another. Week after week, it is inspiring to witness our campers being honored for doing things, large and small, that make a difference in the lives of others such as welcoming a new camper to their group, being a compassionate listener, and offering words of encouragement to a fellow camper.
Written on the back of the Mensch of the Week shirts that the honorees receive is the phrase, “One Good Deed Leads to Another.” These children—with their kind hearts, contagious smiles, and thoughtful compliments—brighten everyone’s day and inspire all of us to do the same.
Similarly, during this pandemic, many members of our camp families are helping the community in a myriad of ways. Whether they are doctors, nurses, health care workers, first responders, caregivers of the vulnerable or other helpers in the community, we are inspired by their acts of selfless kindness. As Mr. Rogers said, we would be wise to focus on their efforts.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
1466 Manor Road
Staten Island, NY 10314
485 Victory Blvd
Staten Island, NY 10301
1297 Arthur Kill Road
Staten Island, NY 10312
BERMAN EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER
2221 Richmond Ave.
Staten Island, NY 10314