JCC’s Road to Rainbow program expanding

Nonprofit to welcome 100 more at-risk kids to free day camp

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MILWAUKEE — A Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center camping program serving at-risk youth is expanding this summer, partnering with local organizations to welcome 100 more children from across southeastern Wisconsin.

With a goal of having all children enjoy a summer camping experience, Albert & Ann Deshur JCC Rainbow Day Camp is broadening its partnership with local and regional organizations and schools to bring nearly 450 children to camp this season through its “Road to Rainbow” program.

At camp, children in kindergarten through eighth grade will enjoy a myriad of activities together – everything from boating and swimming to gardening and cooking – in a picturesque, “unplugged” setting. Camps will take place between June 17 and Aug. 9 at JCC Rainbow Day Camp in Fredonia, Wisconsin.

Meeting a need

The program’s expansion is in direct response to community need, Lenny Kass, JCC Rainbow Day Camp director said.

“We’ve expanded the Road to Rainbow program to meet the needs of partner organizations like Hmong American Peace Academy, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sheboygan and several others.” Kass added.

“We recognize that not all children are provided with the same opportunities in life, but we believe that every child – regardless of their circumstances – deserves the chance to participate in an enriching summer camp experience. JCC Rainbow Day Camp and Road to Rainbow are here to help bridge that gap.”

Organizations new to the program this year are Jewish Family Services and Hmong American Peace Academy. They join the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sheboygan County, Journey House, Milwaukee Jewish Day School and the Syrian Refugee Program, Henry David Thoreau Elementary School, and United Community Center. The organizations work with the JCC by referring children in need from throughout Milwaukee, Ozaukee and Sheboygan counties to the camp. 

Funding for Road to Rainbow camp at JCC Rainbow Day Camp is provided through corporate and individual sponsorship.

New experiences

This year Road to Rainbow campers will participate in a culture and cooking program during each one-week camp session. Led by a local chef, children will learn about food items specific to particular cultures, discuss their significance in that culture, and then prepare a meal which incorporates those food items in the camp’s outdoor kitchen. Campers will then enjoy the cultural lunch together.

Additionally, children at the camp will get a chance to participate in a wide variety of specialty, sports, nature and art camp options, as well as a fully integrated program for children with intellectual disabilities.

Counselors in training

Also new for Road to Rainbow this season is a unique opportunity for teens to have a great summer job. Road to Rainbow campers who are sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school will be eligible to participate in the camp’s Counselor in Training (CIT) program during two, four-week sessions between June 17 and Aug. 9. Joined by JCC Rainbow Day Camp teens, Road to Rainbow kids will learn from experienced counselors the skills necessary to become camp leaders. 

Sponsored by Bader Philanthropies, the CIT program provides kids from all walks of life the opportunity to learn about each other and make new friends as they work together to become JCC Rainbow Day Camp counselors. Beginning as a pilot project in 2018, Road to Rainbow CIT is now an annual program.

For more information regarding Road to Rainbow and sponsorship opportunities at JCC Rainbow Day Camp, contact Lenny Kass at 920-994-4614.