Campers gather each morning to learn the “Hebrew word of the day.”
Young people play in a swimming pool as others learn how to make a flute out of clay.
It is a typical week at Camp Chaverim, the summer camp sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City.
Marcy Price, the federation's programs director, said this is the 25th year the federation has run the camp at Temple B'nai Israel, 4901 N Pennsylvania. Price said Temple B'nai had a summer camp for Jewish children, but the federation took over the camp's sponsorship in 1988 and opened it to the community at large.
She said throughout the years, the camp has attracted young people from the non-Jewish as well as the Jewish community.
Price, and the camp's longtime director, Pamela Richman, said Camp Chaverim offers activities such as swimming, sailing, music, sports and arts and crafts in three-week sessions. Older campers were treated to a scavenger at Penn Square Mall in conjunction with the camp theme “I Spy ... A Summer of Friendship and Fun.”
However, the camp's uniqueness comes from the sharing of Jewish cultural practices with youths from different backgrounds.
One a recent morning, campers totaling about 110, gathered for morning group activities that included learning a new Hebrew word — tove, which means “good.” Price said the camp counselors perform a skit using the word and campers have fun it throughout the day.
A special part of the camp is the mitzvah or Jewish commandment to perform charitable acts. Price said teens working as camp staff members performed community service projects at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and Infant Crisis Services. She said young campers are being encouraged to donate food to a campwide food drive. Price said campers also are bringing pennies and other small change to go toward a charity which will be the Respect Diversity Foundation this year. She said money raised will be given to the foundation in the name of Holocaust survivor Meyer Kornblit, who died this month.
Price said diversity is taught in many different ways at the camp. She said the federation teamed up with the Respect Diversity Foundation to bring American Indian artist Albert Grayeagle to the camp.
Grayeagle, a Respect Diversity Foundation artist, spent several days teaching the campers how to make small flutes called ocarinas out of clay. Grayeagle showed the youths several flutes he made beforehand, including one featuring an Oklahoma City Thunder logo and Thunder star Kevin Durant's jersey number 35.
Price said the artist's sessions, along with a robotics presentation and other special activities, help make Camp Chaverim popular with young people.
“This camp has been around for 25 years and we've really built a strong following in the community,” Price said.
“I think the general community appreciates this camp that is well-rounded with activities and also teaches respect for diversity and doing good deeds. There's really something for everyone.” she said.
For more information about Camp Chaverim, which runs through July 27, go to www.jfedokc.org.
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