I spent every summer from the ages of 14 until 22 at a URJ sleep-away camp. I met my husband and all 6 bridesmaids from our wedding at a URJ sleep-away camp. My children spent the first few years of their lives as day campers as my husband and I returned to URJ camps as adult staff. I knew Jewish sleep away camp was where my children’s’ Jewish identities were going to blossom. The first summer my oldest was eligible to attend sleep-away camp, she got her first theatre gig in a Summer Stock production of Aladdin. The second summer she landed roles in Cinderella and 101 Dalmatians. My 10-year-old sat ME down and explained that, although I grew up attending summer camp, her dream was the stage and Summer Stock was her opportunity to land bigger roles during the year. I was crushed!

Now a Director of Education for a reform congregation in a small Jewish community, I knew my daughter would learn Jewish history, holidays, and stories, but I was saddened that she wouldn’t have the experiences of shared cheers, camp traditions, and friends from other cities with whom she could countdown the days until summer. I had resigned myself to the fact that I had a theatre kid and Jewish sleep-away camp wasn’t in the cards for us. Then I heard that the URJ 6 Points family was extending beyond sports and sci-tech to the creative arts. I was thrilled! FINALLY, there would be a place that represented everything I hold near and dear to my heart about URJ camping AND spoke to my theatre child’s passions as well. We were hooked!

Normally, I would be hesitant to send my child to a brand-new camp, but knowing that this is a URJ camp, as well as how successful the 6 Points model has been, calmed 60% of those fears. The other 40% of my worries disappeared after hearing who had been announced as the camp’s inaugural director. Jo-Ellen Unger was the matron of honor in my wedding, a dear friend, someone I trust as an educator and professional, and a person who I know will care for my children like her own. The partnership of the URJ, the Foundation for Jewish Camping, and Jo-Ellen was all we needed to feel confident that we’d found a summer home for my daughter.

Within hours of registration opening we were signed up to spend two weeks at 6 Points Creative Arts Academy. Amazingly enough, I also discovered that my favorite counselor (from the URJ camp I grew up at) had registered her daughter in those first few hours as well. I am so grateful for the connection that URJ camping has provided for me and my family. We can’t wait for this summer and are looking forward to meeting other inaugural season families and creating the new URJ 6 Points Creative Arts community together!

Contributed by Danielle Gamson
Director of Education, Temple B’nai Israel