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JCC State of Mind – June 28, 2024

Posted by Admin on June 28, 2024

Connections, VALUES, growth and fun!

With camp in full swing at the South Hills JCC, it is time for one of my favorite programs of the entire summer – Mensch on the Bench – where counselors pick a camper in their group who most embodies the weekly middah (value). Every Friday, as the entire camp gathers together for Shabbat, campers count down the seconds until their group’s Mensch is announced. As our South Hills Day Camp Director, Emma Litwak says, “There is truly no greater moment than watching our campers light up when they hear the name of each Mensch called out.” And while the campers get most excited over this moment of public recognition, what’s at work is much deeper and much more foundational approach to camping that sets our camp apart from others in the field.

The Mensch on the Bench program is an engaging and interactive way to encourage community spirit and positive behaviors. While many camps focus solely on fun and recreational activities, we integrate character-building into our daily routine. The Mensch on the Bench program emphasizes the importance of middot (values), such as kindness, respect, courage, creativity and perseverance, helping our campers grow into responsible and caring individuals. By recognizing and celebrating positive behavior, we create an environment where campers are motivated to act with integrity and compassion. This positive reinforcement encourages a supportive and more inclusive camp culture.

Our program also fosters a sense of community and belonging. Campers not only learn to appreciate their own achievements, but they are excited to celebrate the successes of their peers, strengthening the bonds within our South Hills Day Camp family. And no matter what the weather might be, our Mensch on the Bench program adds an extra layer of excitement and anticipation to the camp experience. Campers look forward to our weekly Shabbat celebration and are eager to embody the qualities of a Mensch, making their time at camp both fun and meaningful.

Although the formal programming of our summer camps may only last for eight or nine weeks, the middot (values) learned at camp extend well beyond our campgrounds. Campers take these lessons with them, applying them in school and at home. Through our intentional (and fun) approach of instilling values, our camps help children better understand their role and responsibilities within their respective communities. Campers learn the importance and the excitement of contributing positively to society and helping others, which prepares them to be more engaged and compassionate citizens.

Here’s to all of the Mensches throughout our camps. We can’t wait to see what you do next!

Wishing you and your families a Shabbat shalom,


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