Memories and mitzvahs
By Deb Silverthorn
When life gives you a summer without camp, make Camp Lemonade. That’s what Julia Cruz and Debbie Weinstein have created for girls in grades 3 to 6. It’s a four-hour weekday camp via Zoom, with an all-volunteer staff and all proceeds going to charitable organizations.
“It’s not the traditional camp experience but we are making memories, new friendships and having a great time,” said Weinstein, who served the Aaron Family JCC as gymnastics team director for almost 30 years. “It’s better than I could have imagined and the kids and counselors are all having a blast.” The camp runs through June 26.
The idea of an online camp developed just two weeks before its June 1 launch. It’s open to girls everywhere. Camp fees are $100 per week, with all proceeds being donated; participants decide the beneficiary organizations, which must be either affected by COVID-19 or with a mission to further tolerance.
Camp Lemonade’s staff is all volunteer; the fee covers camp supplies not commonly found at home.
“There’s a lot going on right now between the pandemic and the societal issues and our kids have surrendered a lot,” said Weinstein. “They also know they are in a position to make a difference and to leave the summer having had fun while doing good all at once.”
In just the first week, campers spent four hours each day in various activities, including making magnetic slime, setting off rockets, learning dances and a cheer. Each camper receives a supply list and directions for each activity and online they practice their projects in different time slots.
“I never expected you could do so many cool things over Zoom for a camp,” said 8-year-old Sophie Gendason of Dallas. “My favorite thing is getting to see my friends and counselors and I’m so thankful I get to do this.”
Other activities included making lava lamps with food coloring, water, oil and Alka-Seltzer, while learning about density and weight to understand the science. While making magnetic slime, the girls learned about the properties that created the attraction of the magnet to the slime; who knew science could be accompanied with great giggles?
Snack time was for smoothies and smoothie bowls, cookies and chia pudding, with healthy and nutritious ingredients that the girls can recreate on their own.
For physical exercise, the girls practiced yoga and learned a cheer. Joining Cruz and Weinstein on Camp Lemonade’s all-volunteer leadership team are Rachel Berkowitz, a rising sophomore at Emory University; Lea Meyers, a rising senior at Washington University; and Megan Ungerman, a senior at Dartmouth College.
“The girls pushed us to be creative and inventive, and we hope we succeeded in giving them a great camp experience,” said Cruz, a schoolteacher with 25 years of experience as a camp director. “We were entering uncharted territory, but we definitely had the treasure map!”
For details for the weeks of June 14 and 21, email CampLemonadeSummer2020@gmail.com and to register visit tinyurl.com/Camp-Lemonade-2020.