Putting books in the hands of our campers
by Kara Rosenwald, Educational Consultant In June 2015, PJ Our Way launched the PJ Our Way at Camp program at nine pilot summer camps and Camp Ramah in Wisconsin was excited to be selected as one of the camps. This summer we join a cohort of 46 camps participating in the program, funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.
Campers can experience stories in a variety of ways, but nothing is really like having a new book in your hands - ready to take in the story shared on the pages, starting with reading page 1.
The staff at Ramah Wisconsin was excited to be accepted to PJ Our Way at Camp again this year and looked forward to expanding programs started last summer, and seeing what new things could be done.
In 2015, we instituted the “Sefer Mobile” (Book Mobile) as a way of rolling out this fantastic program to our campers. This summer, Halutzim, our rising 6th graders, participated in a “camper selection” model to pick between two book choices. They played a four-corners game that, based on their answers, led to selecting the right book based on their interests. The books were delivered to the campers the next day via the “Sefer Mobile.”
PJ Havdalah is another way PJ Our Way was incorporated into camp culture. Our youngest campers got into pajamas and met on the tennis court to end Shabbat together with Havdalah. Little did they know a special guest would be there to act out the plot line of the book they were all about to be given. The campers listened carefully and got caught up in the story...and then the guest announced that they would have a chance to find out the ending of the story by reading their new books from PJ Our Way! Books were passed out to all, while the guest continued to tell them that they each were getting two more gifts from PJ Our Way - a bookmark and a flashlight so they can read in their beds after the cabin lights go out! Perfect for summer camp!
This program, starting at camp, gets even better because it continues for campers once they return home. PJ Our Way has a great website https://pjourway.org/ and campers can select a new book each month. All parents of 9-11 year old campers will receive an email with info about the program.
Todah Rabbah to the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the staff at PJ Our Way for their support and to the Ramah staff members who have incorporated these stories into their summer programming.