Westminster's Camp Kind combines day camp concept with altruistic activities

Camp Kind combines day camp concept with altruistic activities

Posted 3/13/16

Rabbi Benjy Brackman, of the Chabad House Synagogue and Cultural Center, is also a parent, and so he knows the challenges of finding positive activities for kids over the summer.

With that in mind, the rabbi — who with his wife, Leah, has more …

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Westminster's Camp Kind combines day camp concept with altruistic activities

Camp Kind combines day camp concept with altruistic activities

Posted

Rabbi Benjy Brackman, of the Chabad House Synagogue and Cultural Center, is also a parent, and so he knows the challenges of finding positive activities for kids over the summer.

With that in mind, the rabbi — who with his wife, Leah, has more than 25 combined years experience running a Jewish-themed summer camp — hopes Chabad’s new Camp Kind will kindle interest in altruism and charity in people of all denominations.

Brackman acknowledged there’s a plethora of camps to fit almost every child’s preferences — sports camps, academic camps, day camps and overnight ones. But, he said, they all share something in common: “They’re self-serving.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m a parent myself and guilty of the same thing,” he said. “We kind of run around making ourselves crazy looking for things our kids can do over the summer. But, in the end, the common denominator between all those activities is that they’re self-serving.

“And that’s fine — we want our kids to be the best they can be and having them engaged is a good thing,” he added. “But what I’m suggesting is that kids are capable of so much more. They’re capable of enjoying altruistic activities and giving back.”

Camp Kind is a day camp with a goal of providing children with fun, hands-on volunteer experiences that allow them to exercise their inherent nature of being helpful and considerate to others and to the environment. The camp is open to kids of all backgrounds and religious affiliations.

Camp Kind will partner with local charity and nonprofits such as Iron Gait Ranch, Ekar Farm, Foothills Animal Shelter and A Precious Child to blend exciting “kind” opportunities with such traditional fun camp activities as trips, sports, crafts and drama.

The idea to open Camp Kind began last summer when Brackman, director of the local Jewish outreach center Chabad of NOW Metro Denver, received a phone call from a local mother who was looking for a volunteer experience for her son. The boy had been in trouble at school and had 50 hours of community experience to fulfill. Brackman suggested the boy paint the outreach center’s fence.

When the project was completed, the boy expressed such satisfaction for the work that it prompted the rabbi to think about opening a day camp to give local kids a similar fulfilling volunteering experience, working with local charity and nonprofit organizations.

“To see the kids enjoy the experience would basically validate this idea I have that kids will happily offer a week of their summer vacation to engage in these altruistic activities and help others, and that they’ll find it as meaningful as those kids who painted my fence,” he said. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”

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