Family camps build bonds | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Family camps build bonds

Overnight summer camp is one of the most pivotal experiences in a young person’s life. When campers return home, as parents can attest, they regale their families with camp-adventure stories for weeks after. For parents who attended overnight camp as youths, their children’s stories often conjure fond memories of their own. For parents who never went to camp, perhaps they feel a tinge of regret at having missed out on the overnight camp experience?

Well, there’s good news for parents who are nostalgic for the summer camp feeling, or for those who never experienced it at all, thanks to Family Camp, a program of the Steve & Shari Sadek Family Camp Interlaken JCC, which is the resident camp of the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Whitefish Bay.

It takes a village (to have fun)

“It is amazing to watch your children have fun, to run around outside, safely, with other children,” said Toni Davison Levenberg, director of Camp Interlaken JCC. “It’s a place where you really get to apply the ‘It takes a village’ model to raising children.”

The Bernstein Family: Avi, Jake, Andrea and Sasha.

Davison Levenberg said there are activities that appeal to adults, children and, of course, families.

“There are separate activities for adults and their children in the morning,” she said. “Adults can water ski, windsurf, challenge themselves on the ropes course, play sports and participate in group exercise.”

Children are divided into age groups and are supervised by camp counselors. Activities include swimming, art, sports ropes courses and more.

Families that camp together, stay together

Glendale resident Angie Domnitz and her family — husband Ari and children Jakob, 11, and Lucy, 7 — started attending Family Camp in 2015.

“You can delve into being with your family in nature and not having to worry about details you’d have to worry about if you were on vacation,” said Domnitz. “Everything is planned out [by the camp’s staff] and taken care of.”

Andrea Bernstein, of Bayside, and her family will be attending their fifth Family Camp this summer. Naturally, her children — Jake, 12 and Sasha, 9 — love the many activities.

“Sasha loves the ropes course,” she said, adding that Jake’s favorite activity is playing tushball (which has nothing to do with one’s tuchas).

Camping community

After a long day of activities, nights are usually spent around a campfire. On Shabbat, families participate in a unique community-building activity — the Shabbat walk.

Family fun at camp! The Domnitz Family: Ari, Angie, Lucy and Jakob.

“It’s one of my favorite things about the camp,” said Domnitz. “Families walk from cabin to cabin, adding people at each cabin. It’s like you’re touring the camp and keep adding people.”

“You get the best of both worlds,” said Bernstein. “There’s family time, kids’ time and then [after the kids go to bed] there are adult evening programs.”

Camp slots for 2018 have been filled, although there is a waiting list. To get on the waiting list or to register for 2019, call 414-967-8240.