Thanks to a new shliach-led initiative in partnership with CKids, day camps across the country are investing in major upgrades that will give their programs an edge for years to come.
As thousands of Jewish kids start an action-packed summer at Camp Gan Izzys across the globe, they’ll be gearing up for the caring counselors, the exciting activities, and the meaningful learning. But something they’re not expecting will also be awaiting them this summer: exciting new upgrades to camp equipment from the CKids Camp Resource Hub.
It started in the winter, when two Shluchim, Rabbi Levi Weinbaum from Birmingham, Alabama and Rabbi Sholom Block from Plano, Texas, were sitting together at the Kinus Hashluchim and discussing their plans for camp. “My dream is to install an Olympic-sized swimming pool—but obviously that’s way out of budget,” Weinbaum told Block.
“We realized that with investing just a few thousand dollars every year in purchasing fun out-of-the-box activities, we could drastically improve the camp experience,” Block says, “tremendously upgrading the experience, especially for Gan Izzy’s in smaller ‘out-of-town’ communities.”
The pair did some research, sourcing high-quality products that they could buy in China at wholesale costs and offering them to Shluchim. They compiled a list of big-ticket items that could be reused every summer—go-karts, silent disco sets, archery, race cars, and water slides were just some of the fun camp gear to choose from.
“Year after year, summer after summer, kids come back to camp,” says Rabbi Zalmy Loewenthal, director of CKids International, who supported and promoted the initiative using the CKids broad network that was already in place. “These investments will pay off big time.”
Camp Gan Israel of Raleigh, NC, was one of the 35 participating CGIs. They purchased a massive inflatable water slide with their CGI logo proudly emblazoned on the front. “We’re thrilled with the decision. It gives kids another solid activity that we can offer a few times a week,” says Rabbi Mendy Wilschanski, camp director. “It’s a huge relief for head counselors, who already work so hard coming up with activities.”
Kids are excited about the new items too. “We had a camper skip overnight camp because he wanted to get a chance to use the go-karts,” says Rabbi Sender Engel of Silver Gan Izzy in Huntington Beach, CA.
This year’s success is just the beginning of a joined focus on investing in Camp Gan Izzy infrastructure. “It’s an investment in our camps that if we keep up every year, we can bring CGIs worldwide to an entirely new level,” says Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Executive Director of Merkos 302.