Some kids have been home since March 14. No school, no camp. No social activity. But Jewish children everywhere have been able to tap into a major resource for learning and entertainment, filling the long summer days with fun, discovery and Jewish experience at Out of The Box CGI Virtual Camp.
A project of CKids at Merkos, Suite 302, the camp is for ages four through twelve. It’s had kids in over 145 locations entertained and learning about Judaism from the safety of their homes or small groups. Some local camps who are running over Zoom use the program as well.
The children log onto the camp website each morning and are treated to a full schedule of activities—starting with davening led by Rabbis Chaim Baruch Alevsky and Benny Hershkovich and learning a Jewish concept with Rabbi Berel Paltiel.
The theme of the summer is the Ten Mivtzoyim. The first week the children learned about Tzedakah and enjoyed activities that relate to the mitzvah like crafting their own pushkas and experimenting with different cleaning agents to shine pennies. Marketing materials, instructional videos and printables are provided by CKids.
Baking, Zumba, art, scavenger hunts. All the iconic CGI activities are done by the children at home or in socially distant settings. “Just because their plans were upended, they shouldn’t have to miss out,” says Rabbi Mendel Raskin, director of Out of The Box CGI. They even get to participate in a Shabbos party and bake challah on Fridays. The day ends off with a presentation by a professional entertainer like an illusionist show or a talent lesson.
Hinda Pinson says it “made her life easier.” The director of CGI in South Bay, California, is using the program as a resource for running her local in-person, socially-distant camp. She used CKids’ prepared camp shiur classes last year too. “CKids’ resources are exactly what I wish I could do but just don’t have time for,” she says. “And way more professional too.” She says the children learn more from the videos than they do from a counselor-taught shiur.
Coordinated by experienced camp director Rabbi Zalmy Kudan, the camp is planned by a committee of shluchos with years of camp experience behind them. The volunteers include Aidel Bryski, Devorah Bush, Lieba Grossbaum, Kesem Mia Hetsrony, and Bini Rivkin.
“Trying to work without childcare hasn’t been easy for anyone,” says Rabbi Zalmy Loewenthal, director of CKids International.. “Virtual camp keeps the kids occupied with exciting, meaningful and thought-provoking activities for 2-3 hours daily.”
“Camp is so important for children,” says Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, director of Merkos 302. “It’s changed people’s lives. For some kids it’s their only Jewish experience all year. We’re grateful that we can continue providing that connection for children even if it’s out of the traditional camp setting.”
CKids is now opening their camp to all children of all ages and backgrounds.
With an option to order supplies kits straight to your door.
Visit CKids.net/campsignup to join.