YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood

Camp Yomawha: Delivering the WOW!

Starting well before June, you can feel the camp spirit in the air at the Y. That’s because camp is a 365 day-a-year business for us. Parents and young people have certain expectations for Camp Yomawha year after year, and we work year-round to deliver those expectations and more.

            This year we introduced our new camp director Adam Benmoise. Adam came from a strong camp background, and started in his position with one goal in mind: deliver the WOW! With the introduction of new programs like photography, gardening and culinary arts (just to name a few), we have set the Camp Yomawha standards higher than they have ever been. And with record enrollment year after year, we know that Washington Heights parents understand that Camp Yomawha provides an enriching experience for all.

            One of our newest Y programs is our innovative Jewish Caravan program. It started as a free after-school elective, but has now been incorporated into the camp curriculum. Jewish Caravan, run by Jewish educator Megan Sass, is designed to give children from all walks of life a fresh viewpoint of different world cultures through a Jewish lens. Our campers travel the world and embark on a true learning experience, exploring cultural influences on music, food, dance, dress and more. She even incorporates elements of pop culture like this year’s camp theme of “superheroes.” We have heard positive feedback from parents on this program, and we look forward to it becoming a staple in our youth programming lineup for the future.

            The camp staff worked hard to create a unique camp experience for every camper. This involves brand new initiatives, the likes of which Camp Yomawha campers have never seen before. For example, for the first time ever, the entire camp went on a trip together to the Action Park water resort at Mountain Creek. Months of planning went into the logistics of a camp-wide trip, and thanks to a top-notch staff, the trip was a huge success. The campers were given specific instruction on how to behave within the park in order to ensure maximum safety and fun was achieved. At the end of the day, it was an incredible experience for all.    

 Studies have shown the positive influence that sleep-away camps can have on a child. They prove that children get to develop a sense of independence, boosting their self-esteem. At a sleep away camp, kids are encouraged to make new friends and step out of their comfort zone, gaining adventurousness and the willingness to try new things, and to develop leadership skills.

We believe in fostering and nurturing these qualities, and for the first time we have introduced a longer sleep away stay as a stepping stone for future camp experiences. Camp Yomawha campers are taught the importance and benefits of being in a summer camp, and we do what we can to prepare them for the next stage of their camp careers. This year, we held two 3-day overnights at sleep-away camps. For each overnight, campers were able to choose between two sleep-away camps. The first session was held at the New Jersey Y camp and Surprise Lake Camp, and the second at Camp Zeke and Poyntelle Lewis Village. Each camp had something very specific to offer, from sports-intensive to health & wellness. These factors played into each camper’s decision as to where to spend their three days. To get a better sense of how it went, here is an excerpt from an e-mail sent to parents from Adventurers division head Joe Roman:

“All of our campers engaged in high rope elements and zip lining, lake elements and water slide at NJY Lake, banana boat rides, and a pool party. The Adventurers enjoyed a delicious BBQ at the Lake and capped the evening off roasting marshmallows and star gazing. “

The day camp experience alone would not be complete without star gazing… Only overnight experience can provide your child with this magical view..

And then, a follow up note to the parents:

“I would also like to mention the number of compliments our Adventurers have received during their stay at NJ Y. Everyone has come up to myself and my staff and told us how wonderful and well-mannered our kids are and how they wished they had us for longer. Thank you all for allowing myself and my staff to spend time with your magnificent children and share in the joys you witness as parents everyday!

We have put in much hard work into Camp Yomawha, and we are proud of the results. We know from verbal testimonials and from warm goodbyes that our families are happy with our achievements and growth. We only anticipate further growth in our beloved Camp Yomawha. Won’t you be a part of it?  

About the Y
Established in 1917, the YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood (the Y) is Northern Manhattan’s premier Jewish community center — serving an ethnically and socio-economically diverse constituency — improving the quality of life for people of all ages through critical social services and innovative programs in health, wellness, education, and social justice, while promoting diversity and inclusion, and caring for those in need.

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